Working as part of an RPO in a company that is making significant changes to its hiring strategy is fascinating. Recruitment is generally complex, and although it takes many elements to make a process successful, I have noticed that one thing in particular has the ability to impact on the entire process before it has even begun, and that is employer branding. When you are looking to attract talent, your company’s reputation and branding is absolutely key.
Employer branding is an essential tool in attracting top talent to your company, and also keeping them. It is the driver that communicates your company’s culture and values to the marketplace. Whether you realise it or not, your company already has an employer brand – it is your reputation and the public’s perception of your company culture. Your employer brand is at its most powerful when wielded in the recruitment process, and should reflect the image of your company that you want potential employees to see. For example, these messages can be transmitted through recruitment marketing documentation, word of mouth recommendations or even something as simple as a tag line. Microsoft’s “Your potential. Our passion” and Apple’s “Think Different” both send strong messages to prospective employees that they are innovative and dynamic places to work. Your company must be distinguishable and communicate a unique message of its own to stand out from competitors.
When it comes to developing your own employer brand, there are several steps you must take.
1. Assess the state of your employer brand as it stands by reviewing all of your recruitment marketing collateral, including social media channels, careers pages, logos, colour schemes, the tone and style of language used in documents sent to candidates and so on. Is there consistency? Does the material accurately convey your key messages as an employer? All of these elements help to form and communicate your brand identity and must be honestly reviewed before you can progress.
2. Identify what attributes, values and goals you want to have associated with your company. Build a list of key words and themes you want people to be saying about and associating with your business. Once you determine what and how you would like to be recognised as an employer, it will be much easier to build a campaign around it. Consider elements such as:
3. Encourage collaboration between your HR and marketing teams to develop appropriate messages and material for promoting your brand. You will know what you want to say as an employer; your marketing team will know when and how to disseminate what you want to say to your target audience.
4. Make sure that these messages complement the company’s overall product/service strategy and existing corporate brand by involving your employees in every aspect of the employer branding process to create a brand that is honest and accurate. This is the time to gather honest feedback by conducting research such as EVP surveys to examine the current employment experience and focus groups to determine how suitable the proposition is as it stands. It is futile trying to develop your reputation as an employer if there is a conflict between the messages you are trying to promote and what is actually happening within your organisation.
5. You need to live and breathe the image that’s promoted and ensure it’s adopted across the entire company. This involves dedicating time and resources to managing your employer brand, ensuring that any changes within the organisation are accurately reflected in your branding efforts.
Remember: the aim is to distinguish your company in the eyes of your target audience. As your employer brand grows, it will impact on the success of your recruitment campaigns.
When you’ve got top talent applying to your company, you begin the next phase in strengthening your employer brand: the recruitment process. In today’s competitive market, candidates have high expectations of employers and can be particular when choosing who they want to work for. There are a number of key areas of the recruitment process that can help uphold and strengthen your employer brand when hiring.
The most common complaints candidates have when applying for a vacancy is that they hear nothing back from the organisation or recruiter dealing with their application for several weeks, or sometimes not at all. People are quick to talk about their negative experiences, and mismanagement of applicant responses is guaranteed to have a negative impact on your employer brand, and your ability to attract talent.
It is important to ensure all applicants receive a response within a reasonable timeframe that acknowledges their application and advises applicants how and when they will be contacted regarding their application. This small but necessary action shows candidates that their efforts are being valued. Creating a template ready to send to applicants will help ease this process and make it quick to do.
When applicants are shortlisted for interview, they should ideally receive ample notice. The first point of contact should always be by phone or email depending on the candidate’s preference. Always make sure you follow up by confirming the interview in an email with directions and details that they need to know prior to their interview. Most candidates will also want to know what the remaining stages of the process are; instead of playing gatekeeper and withholding this information, as so many employers seem to do, be open with candidates and let them know roughly what they can expect to happen if they are successful.
For every successful applicant, there will be several who unfortunately are not, and they need to be notified accordingly. Notices to unsuccessful applicants need to be handled with due consideration for the candidate. After all, their hopes of a new and gainful employment experience may rest with your organisation.
A professional and courteous letter or email advising applicants that they were unsuccessful can help maintain goodwill and goes further to enhance your company’s positive reputation in the market. You may find that candidates that are not successful this time around might be suitable in the future. If this is the case, let the candidate know you would like to keep in touch and ask them if they would be happy for you to keep their details on file; this will allow you to create a pool of engaged and brand-aware talent which you can go back and contact if more suitable positions become available in the future.
By acting in an ethical, professional and efficient manner, you will be communicating to candidates – both passive and active – that your organisation has strong values and is an organised, cooperative place to work. This will further enhance your employer branding efforts and you will continue to attract top talent.