When you think about how to attract top talent to your company, you likely think about what salary and perks you should offer. You may think about the candidate's career path, learning opportunities, and the chance to engage in exciting work. But how much do you think about what candidates perceive about your company itself?
If that question isn't top of mind, it should be. A newly released survey by the recruiting company ManpowerGroup Solutions shows that 25 percent of job-seekers consider an employer's brand as one of the key factors in their decision to accept a job offer.
That's an increase from previous years. It's also a big opportunity. Research shows that fully half of all employees don't believe their current employer is open or honest. With more job seekers than ever before looking for an employer they can respect and trust, creating a positive brand in prospective (and current) employees' minds puts you several steps ahead of the crowd in an increasingly competitive labor market.
Creating a great employer brand is related to but distinct from creating a great brand for customers and the general public. How do you go about it? Here's ManpowerGroup Solutions' advice:
1. Make it consistent.
In customer-oriented branding, consistency is key, and the same rule applies to employer branding. Keep this in mind to make sure your messaging is on-brand as much as possible and consistent among HR, job ads and other recruitment tools, outside recruiting companies, and in what hiring managers communicate directly to job candidates. Ideally, the pool of available talent out in the world should have a clear idea of what working for your company would be like.
2. Take another look at your website.
Whether or not you think of it this way, your website is your most powerful recruiting tool. In the survey, 86 percent of respondents said they use a company's own website as their primary source of information about a prospective employer-and not just the "careers" pages. They will review the site overall to get a sense of your company's culture, philosophy, and style. So review your whole website with a critical eye. What does it communicate about your company as a place to work?
3. Take the muzzle off social media.
Many companies seek to control their branding and message on social media, allowing only a few designated individuals to post carefully vetted messages on behalf of the company, and sometimes even forbidding employees from discussing anything about their employers on social media. This is an understandable position to take, given how quickly trivial things can turn into major events in the social media world. In one particularly silly example The New York Times' recipe for guacamole with peas in it has unleashed a flurry of response unseen since...the potato salad Kickstarter project.
Nevertheless, says ManpowerGroup, a carefully controlled corporate message is easily identified as such by prospective job candidates and it's a real turnoff. Instead, its experts advise, give employees some training on what is and isn't appropriate to post to social media and then turn 'em loose! Companies that take such an approach will have to be "error tolerant," they acknowledge. Still, "the authenticity of voice and the creation of trust among employees have outweighed the downside risks."
4. Stay engaged with potential job candidates.
"One of the most powerful strategies for attracting and recruiting top talent is the cultivation of talent communities," according to ManpowerGroup's report on the survey. Do this by sending occasional correspondence to potential job candidates and with applicants or potential applicants you don't have an opening for at the moment. It's also smart to stay active in and communicate with any industry groups or professional associations that may be applicable to your talent pool. Keep this conversation going all the time and when you have an opening you need to fill, recruiting and hiring will be a much faster process because you'll already be familiar to prospective candidates, and some of them will be familiar to you as well.
5. Deploy employee ambassadors.
Engaged and happy employees may be your single most powerful recruiting tool. Use that tool to fullest advantage by identifying potential employee ambassadors, getting them involved in onboarding and employee training, giving them platforms and incentives to help with recruitment, and sending them to job fairs. They have a lot more credibility with potential job candidates than HR representatives or executives do.
6. Conduct interviews in person.
While a phone call or Skype meeting might seem most convenient for both you and the job candidate, it can be counterproductive. In the survey, 72 percent of employees said they preferred an in-person, one-on-one job interview to a phone interview, group interview, or interview by Skype. Keep in mind that your goal is to build a positive employer brand, not just hire the best candidate for an individual position. If a job candidate-even one who's not a good fit-has a generally happy experience with your company, he or she is likely to share that with others. If the experience is an unhappy one, the sharing becomes even likelier. Either way, it will affect your employer brand overall.
7. Get HR talking with Marketing.
After all, Marketing is where your best branding talent resides. Marketing can best advise HR, as well as top management, on the hows and whys of creating an effective brand in general, and likely offer specific help and support in creating an effective employer brand. Just as important, coordinating these two areas will make for a consistent brand across both your customer, internal, and recruiting communications.
8. Make sure managers are on board.
People join an organization but they leave a manager, according to an old adage. From what I've seen (and the jobs I myself have quit) I would say it's very true. All your work to create a powerful and attractive employer brand will be wasted if a manager in your organization says something abrasive during a job interview, or tells a candidate to expect endless hours of work, or undermines your brand or your culture. Even worse, you may successfully recruit and hire a top candidate only to have that employee leave because of a manager's poor management or communication skills. Now, when the labor market is tight and getting tighter, is a good time to make sure the supervisors and managers in your organization are actually creating the organization and culture you promised in your branding.