To the average person, the field of employer branding has been turned upside down. Once proven strategies just aren’t working any more. Things are changing within this field at incredible speeds and it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why knowing these best practices of employer branding will help keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
It all begins with the realization that your brand might not actually be what you think it is. People are always connected today. This means that their perception is always turned on. Employee loyalty has been trumped by social engagement. You might think your brand speaks one message, but people might be reading something very different. Get authentic feedback and then get to work on these best practices.
It wasn’t that long ago that companies would invest thousands of dollars into promotional videos that showed how awesome it was to work for them. The slick approach worked because it was dominated by happy employees working hard and enjoying the perception of a high paycheck.
Then reality set in. The working class in the United States hasn’t seen comprehensive pay increases in three decades. People stopped believing the marketing and started doing research about potential employers. What people say about you will influence public perception. Being authentic is the only way to go. If people aren’t happy, find out why and fix it.
Employer branding must be accessible at every level. It needs to do more than just show off the history of a company or how much value you think it has. It must deliver a consistent experience across every medium where you have a presence. Talk is cheap. Visual evidence will always be a better tool to use. Videos, photographs, and other multimedia are all tools that can help people experience your brand on a first-hand basis. These miniature “demonstrations” will show the value that your brand really contains.
In 1990, people were building websites because they looked “cool.” That engaged people because they were just getting onto the internet for the first time. Most people would sit in AOL chat and maybe visit 3 websites a week at most. Today’s websites have to be more than just cool. They need to be useful and so does your employer brand.
A potential candidate has specific needs that must be met. If you can focus on what these candidates are looking to find in your company and then become useful by making it available to them, your brand will be seen as responsive and useful because it’s looking at the big picture instead of meeting some basic short-term goal.
How can you know what people really want to see from your employer brand? Instead of letting the talk go around you in an unfiltered manner, you should be joining the conversation. This will allow you to see what it is that your audience is really interested in hearing from you. To engage with people, there isn’t a better tool to use today than social media. You can speak with candidates, people you don’t know, and even your employees to check in on how they’re thinking or feeling. All responses, including heavily critical ones, are feedback that you can use.
With every conversation you have, you’re also creating a solid foundation for a long-term relationship. That’s what engaging in daily conversations is so important.
Employer branding has dramatically changed. Instead of meeting the needs of active candidates and current employees only, employers need to be looking at what the message sent to passive candidates happens to be. Just because someone isn’t actively seeking out a new role or position doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in one. Most people will take the right opportunity if it happens to come their way.
Why is the need to build relationships that can be ongoing such an important part of modern employer branding? It’s because the average employee is only going to stick around for 2-3 years at most. It’s expected that the latest generations may not even last that long. Without ongoing relationships being forged, employers will experience huge turnover rates that will result in employee shortages.
How is your audience segmented? Have you even started the segmentation process? Employers today need to know the specific information that makes up their ideal candidates and then they need to know where to find them. If employers wanted to target stay-at-home parents as a potential candidate group, would it be more effective to place information about their brand at the grocery store? Or would it be more effective to place it on a billboard downtown? Continually connecting to each candidate demographic must happen over the long-term because short-term results will always change.
What makes you different is what should make you better. Candidates want to see a certain level of exclusivity that comes with forging a relationship with your brand. How you started and how you’ve accomplished are only part of the package. Candidates want to see what you’ve got to offer in the way of assets right now. The focus can’t always be on money. The focus should be on what you plan to accomplish with your mission. Being clear in how you communicate all of the specific assets that you have is what will set you apart from the average brands that exist today.
No one knows your brand like the people who work for you. Allowing your employees to be able to speak about their experiences isn’t risky like it used to be. It’s seen as an authentic, almost grassroots way of communicating with candidates. There’s always the risk of a disgruntled employee doing damage, but the rewards are more targeted candidates that you want within your employee pool. Balance the risks well and your branding will be better than ever.
Employee branding has some unique challenges today and sometimes there’s some risk involved as well. With these best practices, however, any brand can see reputation improvement almost immediately.
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