Ask a few people near you what it’s like to work for Google. You’ll probably hear words like “innovative, collaborative, techie, cool, open” and the crazy part is that the people you asked probably have never even worked at Google. The same test usually works remarkably well for Southwest Airlines.
And that’s the amazing thing about employment branding—just like a corporate brand, the reputation can often precede the experience. We don’t need to work for a company to have an understanding of their employment brand. Somehow, we just know.
What is an employment brand?
An employment brand is the market perception of what it's like to work for an organization. In other words, it’s the image that your prospective, current and past employees have in their minds about the employment experience at your company.
Why build an employment brand?
Regardless of the current employment rate, there is always a war for candidates. So if your company wants to recruit more job seekers or top talent, you need to have a strategic advantage. After all, why should a candidate want to work for your over your competitor?
What are the elements of a strong employment brand?
- Creates a sense of urgency and excitement about working at your company
- Engages the mind, heart & dreams of candidates
- Complements the company’s product/service
- Provides a clear, compelling reason to work at that firm
- Is consistent with what employees believe about working at that firm
- Evokes feelings of fun, prestige, challenge or rewards
What are the benefits of a strong employment brand?
1. Attract the right people for your organization
People often talk about hiring the best talent or the best person for the job. But the reality is that you also need people that are a fit with your organization. Take for example, a software developer. This person may be by all accounts the perfect job fit based on their knowledge and proficiency in programming languages. However, if you have a collaborative, nimble, agile development culture and the candidate is used to working remotely and independently, the candidate may not be the right candidate for your job, afterall.
By clearly stating who you are as an organization and what you offer, you’ll help them to understand what it’s like to work for your organization. Through this communication process, you will begin to resonate with certain people and inadvertently help the others "select out" by showing you aren’t the right fit for them. The stronger the brand, the more successful you will be about attracting the people that are the best fit for your company. This means you’ll spend more of your recruiting time with the right people because you’ve already screened out the ones who aren’t an organizational fit early in the recruiting process.
2. Compete on a dimension other than solely compensation
Michael Porter stated two general strategies to achieve competitive advantage in a broad market for customers: differentiation or cost leadership. To attract customers, you can basically either ”compete on price” or “be different ” with a unique competency valued by your audience.
The same is largely true in recruitment, you can offer something unique to your talent or you can pay them the most. And for the average company, paying the most is not a long-term viable recruitment strategy. So, having a strong employment brand can be the difference, allowing you to compete not on salary, but on some other dimension.
It could be the diversity that your company culture offers, or flexible hours, or the type of technology used - whatever it is that you have to offer, make sure that it resonates with the people you are trying to attract to your organization
3. Sets expectations and improves retention
By communicating upfront and clearly what it’s like to work for your organization, you set expectations about what it means to be a successful employee. And as we’ve mentioned before, having a strong employment brand will help you attract the right people for your organization. Therefore, you will experience higher employee retention and overall superior performance than organizations with a weak employment brand. You can showcase the skills and traits that are highly valued in your organization, so that new hires know to emulate them upon starting.
Complete an employment brand assessment
So, how do you know if you have a strong and clear employment brand? Give yourself the employment brand 3-step assessment:
The self assessment - Why did you join the organization? What do you enjoy most about working at your company?
The logo test - Go to your careers website and put your hand in the top left-hand corner so you are covering the company logo. Look at the images on the pages and read through the text. Could this be any number of companies in the local area or in your industry? Or is this clearly a unique company, with a strong culture and a clear message?
The employee check - Do you get employee referrals? What do your employees tell their friends and prospective candidates about working for your company?