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Effective Employer Branding Begins with the Right Fundamentals

Effective Employer Branding Begins with the Right Fundamentals

How to make Employer Branding effective? What are the fundamentals to consider?

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by Cheong Khai Meng

In a 2015 global survey conducted by the Manpower Group, it reported that 38% of employers surveyed globally are experiencing difficulties in filling jobs. This is the highest figure reported since before the global economic recession started in 2008.

To compete in the talent war, many companies are turning to Employer Branding as part of their talent acquisition strategies. In a Harris survey commissioned by Glassdoor, it reported that company spent an average of $129,000 on Employer Branding. There are clear key benefits of having a successful Employer Branding program, such as, ease in attracting candidates, recognition as an employer of choice, reduction in recruitment cost, and higher job acceptance rate.

Whilst Employer Branding can be an effective strategy to gain some grounds in the talent war, we have also seen companies getting dismal results despite investing extensively in employer branding.

We can build the tallest and the most magnificent building in the world, but if the foundation is not built on solid ground, it is not going to withstand the elements. Similarly, the best employer branding strategy will not work if certain fundamentals are not in placed and firmly rooted. The late Randy Pausch, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, puts this across aptly, "You've got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work."

"You've got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work."

You can have the best Employer Branding strategy in the industry but if your job seekers' actual experience differ from what the brand says it does, then the Employer Banding strategy has not only failed but will adversely affect the overall image of the company.

For a start, here are two fundamentals that you may wish to consider as you build your Employer Branding strategy.

Fundamental #1: Treat Your Job Seekers As Your Customers
As with product branding, Employer Branding aims to attract "customers" and influence them to "buy" your products or services. In the context of Employer Branding, "customers" here refers to your job seekers. From the point you reach out to the job seekers, to the point you interview and offer them a job, does your company's recruitment practices reflect the employer brand that you promote? How's the total "customer" vis-a-vis job seekers experience like, such that they would consider "buying" your "product/services"? In this tight talent market, job seekers often have more than one option to choose from. If we do not treat them like customers and pursue them, they may walk away and "buy" from the store next door. Gone are the days when companies have almost domineering control to pick, choose and eliminate. Today, talents have more commanding power to select, and negotiate the types of company that they want to work for.

John Henry, a director with Deloitte Services LP wrote in an article, “Employers that think they can treat recruiting like an episode of “Survivor” or “Wipeout” don’t realize the extent to which candidates judge companies and their work environments by the recruiting experience."

"Employers that think they can treat recruiting like an episode of “Survivor” or “Wipeout” don’t realize the extent to which candidates judge companies and their work environments by the recruiting experience"

Here are some simple actions that you can adopt.

  • Understand What Candidates Want - Take time to understand the candidate's aspiration and explain what your company can do to support it.
  • Follow-up with Candidates - Follow-up with candidates on the status of their applications regardless whether they are being selected. Candidates including those who are being rejected can be your powerful unofficial Employer Brand ambassadors if they have a positive experience throughout the hiring process.
  • Pay Attention to the Small Details - If you are interviewing candidates within the company premises, make sure that the physical environment is conducive for interview. A sub-standard environment creates a bad impression for your "customers" and he or she is unlikely to "buy" your "product". That said, you do not need to invest in a Google-look-alike office to impress your candidates. A decent non-cluttered meeting room with proper fixtures is often good enough. My buddy shared with me recently that he went for an interview with a reputable multi-national corporation. He got a rude shock when he was being asked to proceed to a store-room for the interview. According to him, the store-room was cluttered with cardboard boxes and files and the chair that he sat on almost broke. Needless to say, he declined advancing to the next stage of the recruitment process.
  • Demonstrate the "Product"- Invite your candidates to tour the work environment or showcase some of your company's proudest achievements so that they can have a more tangible sense of the "product" that they are "buying". Nothing beats seeing the actual "product" even if you have all these information available on your company's social media platforms.

Fundamental #2 - Engage Your Employer Brand Advocates

Employer Brand advocates are more than just your Human Resources department. They should include leaders of the organization, hiring managers, and employees. For Employer Branding to work effectively, your Employer Brand advocates need to be aligned and be ready to affirm what the Employer Brand promotes. Employer Brand advocates need to understand the importance of Employer Branding and what they can do to be a part of it. The voices of Employer Brand advocates can be a powerful source of influence. For example, employees who regularly post exciting company news or activities on their personal social media platforms send across a very credible and appealing message to passive and active job seekers which are far more effective than just having a "Why Work With Us" career page on the company's website.

Here are some suggestions on how to engage your Employer Brand advocates.

  • Get Early Buy-in from your Brand Advocates - Involve your employees in contributing their ideas on how you build and implement your Employer Brand. They are likely to be more committed in promoting the Employer Brand if they feel that their opinions are being valued and have contributed to the process.
  • Train and Educate the Hiring Community - Provide training and educate your recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers on how to engage the candidates in order to create a positive impact. This is more than just understanding the recruitment process. Such training helps the hiring community to understand how, through their interactions with the candidates can create a lasting impression of the company that is consistent and compelling.
"Your brand is only as good as your reputation"

As Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson puts it, "Your brand is only as good as your reputation." The value of your Employer Brand will only be maximized if job-seeker experience resonates with the brand message. For this to happen, it requires more than just building a robust Employer Branding strategy. Beneath that, solid fundamentals need to be observed and practice in order to unleash the full power of your Employer Branding strategy.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn