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Why you need an employer brand

– By Andrew Openshaw

Attracting and retaining the right kind of talent is central to any company’s ability to grow and this applies just as much to SMEs as it does to larger organisations.

There are many definitions for employer branding but they all explain a company’s ability to differentiate itself from competitors through a unique Employee Value Proposition (EVP).  A strong EVP will communicate the company values in a way that highlights what makes that workplace unique and attractive to individuals sharing the same values. As employer brands are based on intangible factors such as image, identity, and perception, being able to discover what it is about a brand that creates an emotional inclination and a sense of identification with the company, can prove invaluable to employers.

brand-loyaltyThe best place to start exploring what motivates people to join a particular organisation, why they stay and why they leave is internal feedback.  That might take the form of employee feedback, employee engagement and culture surveys, focus groups, employee forums, new hire surveys or exit interviews. But whatever method you use, getting feedback is the key to understanding prospective and existing employees’ experiences and attitudes.

According to one industry survey, the number of companies measuring, analysing and developing strategies based on ‘brand attractiveness’ is on the rise; four out of 10 businesses are expected to increase investment in employment branding strategy this year.

Current trends and best practice

Candidates as customers

In order to attract the right people, employers today need to create a positive ‘customer’ experience for candidates throughout the recruitment process. If candidates are treated in a way that makes them feel valued, the employer will benefit in a number of ways. For example, candidates often spread the word about their experience to their peer group, and the quality of their experience and the opinion they form of an employer will determine whether or not they will recommend a company to others.

Building a talent community

Often, candidates who apply for certain roles and are unsuccessful might prove suitable for future positions, which is why it is crucial for employers to build and maintain a talent community. By creating a good impression and maintaining relationships following the recruitment process, businesses can keep a talent bench active, which can only constitute an advantage.

Social and visual revolution

Social media has had a profound effect on employer branding, revolutionising the way we search and apply for jobs, assess our prospective employers, and communicate in the workplace.

If in the past, companies’ claims would rarely get publicly contested, social media now offers a platform for current and prospective employees to voice their own views and paint a more realistic picture of the workplace. Channels such as Facebook, Glassdoor, and Payscale in particular are now useful tools for candidates to research and assess an employer’s offering, and organisations must therefore ensure that recruitment messages align with employee perceptions.

For employers, social media has made it possible to build and maintain a large talent pool faster than ever before. LinkedIn remains recruiters’ preferred social channel for finding, contacting and keeping track of candidates (94%), while Facebook (65%) and Twitter (55%) are used by businesses to showcase the employer brand.

But other platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are now gaining popularity with employers, who now use them to share easily consumable video and infographics and create engagement with candidates. From global giants such as Apple, Google and Intel, to smaller companies such as Innocent Drinks and Hubspot, videos are becoming increasingly powerful tools for communicating companies’ organisational culture and the main things they look for in prospective employees.

Furthermore, although social media also has the potential to facilitate internal brand communication, the emphasis on this aspect (building employee engagement, searching for brand ambassadors on social media) is still fairly limited amongst employers.

Research suggests that almost a third of employers are planning to work less with recruitment companies and focus more on social media recruitment. However, although it is important to build a strong digital presence, it is impossible to build an entire employer brand online as undoubtedly, the quality of individual relationships and the value of specialist industry knowledge are still key factors in attracting the best talent.

Planning for change

Having an adaptable employer branding strategy is becoming increasingly important in today’s competitive landscape. Changing employment trends mean that companies need to stay agile and more aware of the social environment than ever before. As the number of temporary workers has increased dramatically over the past decade, companies face the challenge of building a common culture across companies, creating a sense of belonging for all employees.

Rapidly-evolving technology is also reinventing the world of recruitment. If you think that doesn’t apply to you, just think about your own company website – the first place people look for information about you. With 20% of all recruitment searches now made using a mobile device, having a mobile-friendly responsive website is becoming more and more important. So ask yourself what impression you’re giving to prospective employees if they come looking.

Nigel Wright has previously teamed up with researchers from Durham Business School to find out what attracted talented managerial and professional employees to particular organisations, and what elements of an employer brand are important to them. To read the full report, please click here.


Andrew Openshaw, is Senior Marketing Communications & Research Analyst at Nigel Wright Recruitment where he is responsible for producing and editing the company’s marketing content including thought leadership reports, articles, magazines, surveys, brochures and local market updates.

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