4 Unique Ways to Create an Employer Brand and Recruit Top Talent

Mar 10, 2015 -

As a recruiter representing your company, you’re only as successful as the talent you bring in. But in today’s hyper-crowded marketplace, drawing top talent to your company takes more than just putting a “Help Wanted” sign in your window.

Candidates today want more than a decent salary or nice job title; they want a job that fits their goals, values and vision for their lives. Millennials especially are more interested in the opportunity to make a difference, forge meaningful work relationships and enjoy work/life balance, according to Forbes.

That’s where employer branding comes in.

What is employer branding, and why does it matter?

Simply put, employer branding is your chance to tell potential candidates why you’re precisely the place they want to work. John Fleischauer, Talent Attraction Manager at Halogen Software, elaborates:

"Employer branding is about convincing candidates that what your organization has to offer is better than what they have now or than what the competition is offering. For top candidates, choosing which job opportunity to pursue is not just about the job itself. It's about clearly articulating how they can contribute to the organization and what they get in return. There needs to be some reciprocity to the employee-employer relationship. So, treat recruiting like marketing and use your employer brand to inspire and excite potential candidates."

Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics, is another firm believer in the importance of employer branding. “There are lots of statistics available about the benefits of a strong employer brand,” he says. These include:

  • A CareerBuilder study reveals that organizations with a strong employer brand attract at least 3.5 times more applicants per job
  • Companies with a strong employer brand can reduce cost-per-hire by 50 percent
  • A well-managed employer brand sources from 60 percent of the labor market, versus the 40 percent reached by unmanaged brands.

So, how can you create an employer brand that makes potential candidates inspired and excited about your company? (Click here to tweet this post about employee branding.)

1. Identify what makes you different

Creating a standout employer brand is just like creating a standout consumer brand; you simply switch your focus from what the market wants to what your ideal candidates want.

“Recruiting and marketing are two sides of the branding coin,” says Liz D'Aloia, founder of HR Virtuoso. “Employers are usually adept at branding towards consumers, but candidates are often an afterthought.”

Just like creating a consumer brand, creating an employer brand is about getting, and then staying, on message. "Branding begins with developing a logo and consistent message that you can promote across your communication,” says Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo. “Be able to summarize your company goal in a few words and endorse that in everything your company does.”

Are you big on innovation? Workplace flexibility? Fostering leadership? Use your company website, blog, social media accounts and careers page to convey that message so that when potential candidates hear you’re hiring, they already know what you’ve got to offer.

2. Create an awesome workplace culture

Getting your unique offering out there is one part of building a great employer brand; another part involves nurturing the talent you already have. Why? Because, as Claffey says:

"As much as HR departments attempt convey a specific employer brand message, employees ultimately drive employer brand. They live and breathe the workplace culture on a daily basis. They are the ones who spread the word about what’s truly like to work for an organization -- good or bad. They are the voice of your organization. They are an organization’s brand ambassadors."

The best way to turn your employees into positive brand ambassadors is by creating a great workplace culture that makes them want to recruit for you.

From rewarding your best workers to offering attractive perks to fostering a real sense of community and connection, the more you create a positive company culture, the more word of mouth will start to spread about how great it is to work for you.

3. Let people know about your awesomeness

Word of mouth is fantastic, but don’t depend on it alone. You also need to do a bit of (humble) bragging to really get the word out about how great your company is.

Stephanie Ciccarelli, Chief Marketing Officer for Voices.com, advises:

"One way to leverage an amazing corporate culture is digitize it. Dedicate a page of your website to 'Culture & Life' with the goal of recruiting talent. Use this page to paint a picture of what life could be like if someone were to join your company. Feature employee photos and testimonials, infographics that highlight work benefits and showcase current job openings with a means for interested candidates to apply online."

Every company out there wants candidates to think they’re the best, but if you can show the actual social proof of your office culture in action, it’s easier for candidates to envision themselves working there.

4. Don’t forget about your recruitment brand

A great employer brand can attract candidates to your company, but don’t forget to treat them well throughout the interviewing and hiring experience, too. Just like positive word-of-mouth from current employees, positive word-of-mouth about your recruiting process can help your company be seen as an organization that knows how to treat its employees (both current, and prospective).

Gail Tolstoi-Miller, CEO and Chief Staffing Strategist at Consultnetworx and Speednetworx, has studied what it takes to make (or break) a company’s recruiting brand. In her ebook Build a Better Recruitment Brand: 11 Candidate Experience Success Stories, she shares key tips for building a strong recruitment brand, which include:

  • Open and clear communication with candidates about the company and the position.
  • An easy-to-use application process.
  • Offering a “warm decline” to candidates you’ve decided to pass on.
  • Requesting feedback from applicants on what they liked/didn’t like about your hiring process.
  • A seamless and enjoyable interview process.
  • A structured and welcoming onboarding program.

Before you write your next job ad or sign up to host your next candidate networking event, ask yourself what your employer brand is telling potential candidates -- and how you can make it impossible to ignore.

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.