ManpowerGroup Solutions’ survey concerning candidate priorities while making career decisions showed that one in four job seekers considers brand/company reputation to be one of the three most important factors. When candidates are contacted by recruiters, brand reputation leaps to number two overall in priority – second only to the quality of the job description. This means that for most candidates, a company’s brand or reputation is as important as compensation and type of work. And while candidates’ perceptions may be shaped in part by a company’s market brand, it is a company’s employer brand (e.g., vision, values, culture, transparency, relationship with current and potential employees) that sets them apart and has a pertinacious effect on candidates. The survey message was clear: build a strong employer brand and top talent will line up at the door.
Our Solutions’ research also pointed us towards several emerging practices for building a superior employer brand. These strategies all place the candidate at the very center of the process. From new twists on old techniques to using video games to test skills and build a relationship with the company, employers are investing in building an engaging employer brand. Here’s a more insightful distillation of these solutions that can help organizations realize answers to the query of how to create an employer brand:
In an age of talent shortages and skill gaps, companies with the best talent will win. Successful companies are aligning their marketing and HR departments to create a powerful and effective employer brand. The most successful HR professionals look at talent through the lens of marketers and apply marketing tools to optimize their sourcing and recruiting processes. This appears to be especially important in attracting candidates who have been in the workforce for a long time.
This allows the two departments – HR and Marketing to leverage each other’s strengths in defining the company’s EVP and enhance their talent acquisition strategies. Ideally, a company’s employer brand should be in complete alignment with the company marketing plan. Marketing and HR can come together around a meaningful dialogue about why candidates would want to work at the organization and develop messages and strategies that persuade the most qualified candidates to join the talent community or take a position. Taking into account passive candidates’ unique motivators, customizing the approaches and materials for them helps recruiters engage the best talent in ways they are not being engaged now.
Contriving an emotional connection with candidates is more important than ever. It is what separates one employer from another among today’s job seekers. Employers should resist the impulse to attempt control what brand ambassadors say and do on social media. Savvy users of social networking sites can spot contrived or forced contributions that seem inauthentic. Such activity can actually do more harm than good to employer brand.
To establish a genuine and lucrative connection with the candidates, employers should increasingly focus on making the interview process more candidate-focused, streamlined and transparent. As the results of the ManpowerGroup Solutions’ research showed, candidates clearly prefer in-person interaction when it comes to the interview process. Both the tone and process of interviewing have a powerful impact on an employer brand. Getting the right people in front of the candidate faster and personalizing interviews create a positive experience – a reflection on the employer and the overall company brand regardless of the outcome.
When it comes to hiring there is an old adage: people join an organization but they leave a manager. Even the tightest alignment between Marketing and HR can ultimately lead to poor results if managers and recruiters are not on the same page about employer brand. From job postings to employee blogs, from interview experiences to employee development, the employer brand should speak in one voice with a consistent tone and core values. Consistency will avoid the perception of a “bait and switch” candidate trap as well as speed the development of the employer brand. Put marketing guidelines in place for recruiters so that they know what messages to impart about a company.
Employers need to reflect internally the cultures described on their websites or must risk having employees expose the contradiction. Companies are rapidly realizing that the alignment of managers and recruiters with employer brand creates an environment where people both talk the talk and walk the walk. To this end, best practices for recruiters include being very specific and consistent about the information conveyed about the company.
Employers need to be aware of what is being said about them – good and bad – true and untrue. Perceptions are reality for job candidates. Have a technology team constantly evaluate all the tools including Twitter Facebook and even Glassdoor to Get Rated. Do not discount a new tool that has only been around a few months as it may wield real influence in the marketplace.
To further streamline this process of receiving consistent and authentic feedback, companies have even started incorporating candidate polls and surveys into their recruitment processes. The act of surveying candidates serves two purposes: 1) it provides timely, valid feedback about the candidate experience, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the employer brand, and 2) the survey itself sends a powerful message to potential candidates that their feedback matters to the company, no matter what the outcome of the process is. The opportunity to provide feedback may also, in itself, be cathartic for the candidate, mitigating the effects of negative experiences and the subsequent need to broadcast them through social media or job rating sites.
Some companies have not rewritten their job requisitions/job descriptions in 10 years. Take a hard look at your company’s job descriptions and those of competitors with whom you share a talent pool. Make sure they talk about why a candidate would want to work at the company and why people stay there. Likewise, encourage the use of less traditional creative outlets such as “selfie videos” of daily workplace activity by employee ambassadors or testimonials to convey the employer brand. And, think creatively about how to better use the employment section of the company’s website.
Employers can also look into games and technology as a means of immersing people in real-life challenges that demonstrate their job skills and simultaneously engage candidates with the employer. For many millennials, gamification makes a powerful statement about the employer brand and a company’s willingness to meet them where they live. Some companies even employ game developers as part of their recruiting budgets.
One of the most powerful strategies for attracting and recruiting top talent is the cultivation of talent communities. Talent communities are composed of people who may not be quite ready to apply for a job or for which there is no appropriate position open. Cultivate talent communities for months (if not years) before the company needs to fill open positions. By building a robust pipeline in advance and reinforcing the employer brand through ongoing dialogue, a company can secure a real competitive advantage for attracting top talent and loyal passive candidates when openings arise.
Make joining a talent community as easy as one click on a website or mobile device. Communications with the community members should be ongoing and purposeful in an effort to keep them engaged and view the company as an employer of choice, whether or not they are actively job-seeking. Building a talent community also presents an opportunity for an organization to better understand and profile talent for future opportunities.
When online reviews are negative, do not be defensive. Address the issues being raised and, if appropriate, follow up when they have been rectified. When reviews are positive, use it as an opportunity to provide deeper insight as to why it is important to the company and how it reinforces the EVP. Authenticity matters.
A new and efficient way to assign proficiency to the recruitment process is engaging employees as brand ambassadors. Identifying and supporting engaged employees to speak out about the company and the workplace can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient recruiting tools available. Active and passive candidates likely find employee peer experiences more credible than any other sources of information. Employers are can provide employee ambassadors with platforms for sharing their passion in internal capacities (e.g., job training), at job fairs, conferences and on social media.
For some HR professionals the fact that the employer reputation is increasingly being shaped online – often by forces they fear they have little control over – may be a hard pill to swallow. This is why some employers prohibit employees from talking about the workplace on social media. However, hesitation or denial is no solution. New marketplace dynamics require courage beyond the usual limits of conventional thought.
Savvy companies encourage employees to use social media. They should encourage employees to speak freely rather than try to control their messaging. This, however, also requires some training on what is expected in terms of tone, content and overall appropriateness. While employers acknowledge such policies must be error tolerant, the authenticity of voice and the creation of trust among employees have outweighed the downside risks.
Employer brand is an increasingly powerful tool for creating competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. HR professionals who build and reinforce a compelling, candidate-centric dialogue with employees and potential employees can find top recruits approaching them frequently. Creating a robust talent pipeline for filling present and future positions within the organization is crucial. Consulting reputable recruitment service providers like Manpower can help companies develop effective workplace solutions vital to succeed in this environment of high risk and low predictability. Consult our experts today to know more about these solutions.