What does “employer branding” mean to you?
Most companies know what branding means as it relates to marketing to their customers. They invest in defining their unique selling proposition, determining how to set their products or services apart from their competitors, and identifying how to attract their ideal customers.
What many companies often neglect to do is to put in the same time, effort and money to establish their employer brand.
The essence of employer branding is determining what sets you apart as an employer and why someone would want to work with you rather than somewhere else. This is especially critical for entry level positions, where you are competing with every other employer out there, not just in your industry but in any industry that is looking for staff that will show up as scheduled, be trainable and put in an honest day’s work. How will your job opportunity stand out from the hundreds of other job opportunities available?
Here are three steps you can take to better communicate your employer brand:
1. Update your job postings
Most job postings outline what is required of the position: the education, experience, and skills required, along with the tasks to be performed. This isn’t enough to stand out. Sell the opportunity of working in your organization. Include what it’s like to work for your company. What’s the culture? What’s your reputation? What’s so great about working for you? It’s more than providing a competitive wage and benefits.
2. Change the narrative
We have a client that operates a very successful company in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, a neighbourhood with a reputation for drug use, poverty, crime, and homelessness. The client has been around for over 50 years and has many long-standing employees who live in the area. We talked to them about employer branding and they weren’t sure how to do it.
They shared how it’s difficult to sell working for them – wages are low, they don’t offer many benefits, there’s a lot of crime in the area so the employees’ vehicles are regularly broken into, and employees are often accosted by prostitutes and drug dealers … If that is the story you’re selling, who would want to work there?? How do you turn around the story and sell the opportunity about what makes this a great place to work?
We worked with them on determining what would appeal to the target employee they’re looking to hire. How about instead: We’re values-driven. We have sustainable operating practices. We have a long history in this community. We offer good employment opportunities in this community. We offer opportunities to grow and expand your career both here and in our other operations.
Which story are prospective and current employees more likely to connect with?
3. Be genuine
Be authentic and genuine with your employer branding message. Don’t create a story for your company that doesn’t exist. Stay away from clichés. Don’t try to sell a story because you think that’s what people want or that’s the right narrative to create, when it’s not true to who the company is. If the story you’re selling doesn’t match the reality of working in your company, that is where employee retention becomes a problem.
The heart of employer branding is two-fold. First, what is your offer (your employee value proposition)? These are the things that make your company a great place to work: your culture, your work environment, your people, your purpose, your mission, etc.
Second, the offer then leads to the story. How do you put those pieces together into an honest, genuine description of what’s appealing about your company that you can then repeat again and again in your job postings, your website, your social media, your interview process, your onboarding process, and any other interaction you have with employees.
Spending time and effort to determine your employer brand—the compelling offer that positions you as a desirable place to work—and then communicating and upholding that brand consistently, both internally and externally, is critically important to attract and retain ideal employees.
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