Simon Barrow and Tim Abler defined employer brand in the Journal of Brand Management in 1996 as “the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company”. Can you explain your employer brand in a couple of sentences? Do you know what candidates think of your company? Does your company have an active, ongoing employer branding strategy? If you don’t know what your company’s reputation as an employer is, you have no way to change or improve it. A strong employer branding program helps attract and retain top performers, while a poor employer brand or lack of an employer brand both have the opposite effect on recruiting outcomes.

Know Your Employer Brand

Unless you have an active and documented employer branding program, you won’t really know your employer brand. Get to know your employment reputation by conducting surveys of employees and prospective candidates. Have your marketing department or an outside party conduct an employee engagement survey that asks how they like working there, what their opinions are about the company history, current status and future direction. Have a pop-up survey on your company’s career page. Ask prospective candidates how the company is perceived as an employer. Do some research to see how your company is perceived on the internet. Analyze this information and use it to develop an elevator pitch to use during recruiting that accurately and quickly describes your company culture and what it is like to work at your company.

Build Your Employer Brand

If there is no actual employer brand, work with the human resources and marketing departments to develop one. Create an ongoing employer branding program that uses a motto and logo with recruiting messages such as job postings, on-campus recruiting event participation and the company employment or careers page. Make sure you have a consistent employer brand message on all social media platforms. Ask top performing employees to participate in employer branding campaigns with video testimonials or profiles on the company website.

If your company has a poor reputation as an employer, there are plenty of things you can do to address and improve that challenge in recruiting. Be honest and acknowledge the company’s challenges, and let candidates know the company is working on improving conditions. Convince owners and senior management of the importance of employer branding and start to build a positive image for the company in the minds of your customers, the public and prospective candidates.

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Promote Your Employer Brand

Promoting your employer brand should be part of any employer branding development and management program. Promote on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and any other social media platform the company uses. Talk to candidates about the company as an employer in industry forums, on-campus with students, professors and placement specialists and with vendors and customers when possible. Use your employer brand to ensure a culture fit, explaining company history and culture during screening and interviewing processes. Create a fact sheet about company benefits, perks, expectations, business operations hours and work systems so candidates can get a feel for how everyone works at a glance.

It’s difficult to build, maintain and control an employer brand, but it’s even more difficult to try to hire top talent in a competitive job market with a bad reputation as an employer. When you have a clear employer image and a clear recruiting message, you have marketable tools to help you attract and hire candidates more easily, more quickly and more successfully. It’s not easy to become an employer of choice but it is well worth the effort to know your employer brand and to create employer branding initiatives that will support your recruiting process.

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