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How To Create An Employer Branding Strategy That Attracts Top Talent

Written by: Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I worked in recruiting for many years before transitioning to becoming a global coach for individuals and firms trying to improve. I worked with a number of firms that did extraordinary work to become a magnet for talent. Then, there were the others. They were the firms that hired the leftovers from the others and had to work hard and spend more money than they wanted to hire the talent they needed. The key difference I saw was in their employer branding and the effort they put into an employer brand strategy and delivery on that strategy.

Employer branding is a must-have for any successful business. It’s the practice of creating a positive image of your company and its culture, to attract and retain the best talent. An effective employer branding strategy can help you stand out from the competition and make your company an employer of choice. It also helps you to attract top talent who are looking for an environment that is stimulating and rewarding. Creating an employer branding strategy isn’t easy, but with the right planning, it can make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals.

Think of it like how firms create an image for their product. When I say generic brand, most people associate it with cheaper. When I say Mercedes-Benz, The New York Yankees, Apple, or “Three Guys in a Garage” startup, each carries an impression that you associate with that business. Creating an employer brand strategy is like for you as an employer. It is the launch point for attracting and keeping the people you want.

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is the process of building a compelling and consistent message around your company’s culture, mission, and hiring practices. It’s a way of representing your company tailored to potential employees and their unique wants and needs. An effective employer branding strategy will help you attract talent to your company and retain your best people. It should be seen and accepted as a critical part of your recruitment strategy. When you take the time to develop a strategy that is authentic to your business, you’ll be sending a strong message to the marketplace about the type of company you are and the people you employ and want to hire.

Why is employer branding important?

Employer branding will help you differentiate your company from other employers in your industry or market area and make your company an employer of choice, attracting new talent that might not otherwise be familiar with your firm. Employer branding is all about creating an honest and positive image of your company and the culture that exists within it. It’s about communicating to both existing employees and new hires that they are valued and essential to your organization. It can help increase recruitment fill rates, reduce time-to-hire, reduce turnover and help you to create a competitive edge. When you create an employer brand, you’re not just selling your company or department— you’re selling the experience that comes with being part of it. This translates into cost savings for your firm.

For example, in working with one firm and helping them reduce the time to hire from 4 months to 7 weeks, there are real cost savings. In helping another firm look at its culture and reducing turnover from 37% per annum to 23%, there is real money involved!

Identifying Your Target Audience

One of the first steps in creating an effective employer branding strategy is to identify the target audience you hope will be interested in what you have to offer. To do this, you’ll need to do research and get acquainted with the job market in your locale and industry, as well as the commonalities of your current staff. Start by taking a close look at your industry and the types of jobs you currently have open. This will help you to identify the types of candidates you need and the types of skill sets they’ll need to possess. Although some may suggest considering age range, and gender, as well as the location, and level of experience of the candidates you are hoping to attract, I want to discourage you from considering age and gender for much the same reason as race. It is illegal in the US and many other nations to use these attributes as part of your decision-making process, plus it results in homogenized thinking that misses blind spots and lacks a diversity of thought and experience.

Like politicians and senior leadership that only hears one opinion, you will wind up with a homogeneous environment that loses the benefit of different eyes and voices.

Crafting Your Employer Value Proposition

Your value proposition is the reason why a potential employee should work for your company. It’s a clear and concise message that spells out the advantages a potential employee would receive by working at your business. When developing your employer value proposition, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, you don’t want to focus on what your company needs — you want to take into account what the employee receives, too. After all, you don’t have any control over what they take away from the experience. Second, you’ll want to keep it short and simple. A good rule of thumb is to keep your employer value proposition to 10 words or less. Doing this ensures you keep the focus on the advantages that come from working for your company and its people. Seth Godin states it simply, “People like us do things like that.”

Then, if you are running ads to attract people or having leadership talk about the firm and the environment, you want there to be unified messaging that tells people what’s in it for them to join and then back that up with how they are treated, managed, and led once on board.

Developing Your Employer Branding Strategy

Once you have a better idea of the type of person you want to attract, it’s time to put together a strategy for how you will introduce your company to this audience. This is where your employer branding strategy comes in. There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when developing your strategy. Start by identifying the type of employees you want to hire. What hard and soft skills do you want them to have? What type of attitude and culture do you want them to possess or come from? How do you want them to feel about working for your company and this department? These are all questions that you’ll need to answer when putting together your employer branding strategy. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be a misleading or outright lie to people. You want to provide a clear and honest representation of your company. This is going to come through in the content you create to promote your employer brand and the experience you create for people when interviewed and onboarded.

Creating Your Employer Branding Content

Now that you’ve put together a strategy for how you will introduce your company to potential employees, it’s time to start creating the content that will be the foundation of your employer branding strategy. The content that you create to promote your employer brand will vary in terms of what format it takes. It could include everything from your firm’s mission statement (you do know what the mission statement is) to a video showcasing your company culture, to a podcast interviewing employees who work for your firm. The key is to find different ways to introduce your company to potential employees and show them why they should work for your firm. When creating content, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Get to know your audience ‒ Who are they? What do they care about? What do they want from their career? This will allow you to create content that is tailored to their needs and interests.

Share your company’s story ‒ What is the history of your business? Why did it start? What is your mission? This will help you create content that truly represents your organization and the culture that surrounds it.

Find your company’s voice ‒ Now that you’ve gotten to know your company’s story or become reacquainted with it, and have created content that reflects it, you’ll want to find your company’s voice. This is the tone and style that will come across in all of your content. When companies find their voice, it will differentiate you from the competition and will keep you from sounding like everyone else. No one wants to work for a company that is the same as any other. What makes yours unique?

Amplify Your Employer Branding Efforts

Once you’ve created a robust employer branding strategy, you’ll want to make sure you’re amplifying your efforts. This will help to ensure that you are reaching the largest audience possible and that you are effectively communicating your employer brand. Some ways to amplify your employer branding efforts include:

  • Hiring a branding or marketing firm ‒ You may want to hire a branding or marketing firm to help elevate your efforts. They can provide you with valuable insights and expertise while helping you get your branding efforts off the ground.

  • Invest in a social media marketing strategy ‒ Social media is a great way to increase the reach of your employer branding efforts. When done correctly, it can help you connect with new employees and can help to reach a broader audience.

  • Create or re-engineer a robust website that emphasizes working for your firm An employer branding website or a significant section of your existing site is a fantastic way to introduce your business to potential employees. It can also be a great way to keep current employees engaged and motivated. You can also use a section of your current site to communicate with people. Remember: Focus on what they need and want, not your needs and wants. Focus on making them fall in love with your firm and thinking to themselves, “I hope I can interview with them.”

Measuring the Impact of Your Employer Branding Strategy

Now that you’ve put together a robust employer branding strategy, it’s time to see the results and tweak your efforts if you need to. The best way to do this is by tracking the progress of your efforts to help you to better understand how your employer branding efforts are impacting your business and allow you to make adjustments if necessary.

There are a few ways to track the progress of your employer branding strategy.

  • Track candidate source ‒ Track the source of your candidates and new hires to see how many are coming from your employer branding efforts. This will give you a better idea of how effective your work has been.

  • Measure social media traffic ‒ Track the number of contacts you receive from different social media platforms and efforts and how many new interviews and new hires occur. Remember, you probably won’t get instantaneous results from your branding efforts. They will occur over time.

Recessions come and go. Boom times come and go. Spending too much time finding new people to fill seats at your firm is very expensive. An employer branding strategy can provide immense benefits to your organization, department, team, etc. while creating a work culture that yields huge results.

The final point I want to make is that it often takes a year or more to create a branding strategy and a moment to harm or destroy it. Monitor places in the firm where turnover is reoccurring to see what remedial efforts can be made to correct it and get it in sync with your climate and culture.

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Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, is a career and leadership coach who helps people with their careers, including job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading, and resolving workplace-related issues while being the person they want to be in life. He has written 9 books and guides to job search and hiring, including "The Ultimate Job Interview Framework" and "The Right Answers to Tough Interview Questions." He is the host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio, the #1 podcast in Apple Podcasts for job search with more than 2100 episodes, as well as on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, Apple TV, and 90+ smart sets. Jeff works with clients worldwide and is a popular speaker.


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