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Employment branding isn’t just the latest HR buzzword. Properly implemented, it becomes a comprehensive strategy that speaks to your internal audience – your employees – just as your external branding speaks to customers and the outside world in general. And, yes, it can also do wonders to boost the quality of your hiring, retention and overall productivity.

a manager and potential employee sitting across from one another in an office while the manager reads the applicant's resume

All branding is about reputation. Whether your industry is able to attract plenty of highly-qualified applicants or your competition is fierce, job-seekers are now actively looking for a great place to work, not just a job. It used to be that hiring was all about filling positions. The focus was on your company, and candidates were lucky to land a job with your organization. They may still be lucky to join your team, but today, hiring is all about marketing your firm so they want to choose you. Employment branding helps them decide if you’re The One for them. An effective strategy must incorporate all five of these elements:

  1. Clear value proposition

What does your company stand for? Do you have a mission statement, stated values, a vision of the future? Are these ideals communicated to your entire workforce? And do they embrace and follow them? Does your company differentiate itself as a particularly strong community neighbor, or an entity that offers creative benefits or working conditions? The bottom line: why would someone want to work for you instead of another company?

And on your side of the equation, what kind of talent are you most interested in hiring? How does (or could) your employment brand attract their interest?

  1. Authenticity

Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it’s real. Employment branding must accurately reflect who your company really is when it comes to your workforce. Maybe you aren’t quite where you want to be yet, but every company is a work in progress.

The best way to ensure authenticity is to involve employees in the development of your employment branding strategy. After all, they’re the ones that have to live up to the brand as they go about their daily business. If the brand doesn’t work for them, they’re not going to work for it.

  1. Culture

Employment branding must permeate your entire company in order to be effective. This isn’t about your HR department, it’s about the way your management team thinks and the way your policies and systems work. Remember that “work in progress” cannot happen unless you foster a culture of continuous improvement and encourage sharing that supports that. Experts suggest that cross-functional leadership training is one way to both improve collaboration and further employee branding efforts.

  1. Loyalty

Loyalty comes from trust. When your employees have a hand in brand-building and your corporate culture facilitates living the brand, you’ll find loyalty is a natural outcome. Happier employees who feel valued as individuals and as an integral part of the big picture work harder, are more creative and stay longer.

  1. Alignment of customer and employment brands

Perhaps you have your marketing brand well in hand. But if your employment branding doesn’t reflect the same values you’re projecting externally, you’re working against yourself. You’ll have friction instead of cohesiveness and a strong sense of purpose.

Like all other aspects of managing your business, alignment of internal and external messaging and actions requires constant effort. The world is a changing environment, in terms of marketplace expectations and in terms of hiring and retention practices. A brand that doesn’t also evolve will soon become stagnant and outdated.

How to Make It Personal

Competition for top people is tough in many industries, and in some it’s nothing less than fierce. Personalizing your recruiter pitch is one way you can boost your chances of attracting and closing the candidates you want most. Making it personal right from your first contact demonstrates your company is people-oriented, not just a facility with positions to fill.

Steps to Personalize Your Recruiter Pitch

Do your homework before making contact. It’s easier than ever today to learn about people via their social profiles. Read and “listen” for clues beyond their basic resume data. Do they have a sense of humor? What do they like, or like to do, outside work? What specific words do they use to describe themselves?

Armed with this information, you can tailor communications just for them. Describe your open position (or your company) as it relates to their interests and preferences, not yours. Use their language. Be friendly. Use their first name. You’ll make an immediate connection, because your message will feel familiar to them. Inviting. That instant rapport greatly increases the chance they will respond. It tells them your company is probably their kind of place to work.

Just as with any other marketing, the more you know about your prospect, the better your chances of attracting their attention and having a meaningful conversation with them.

Formula job postings and canned group emails speak volumes about your company, none of it appealing to candidates who expect to be treated like individual people. Most of today’s candidates are looking for an environment in which they will be accepted – or, better yet, applauded – for who they are as a person as well as their job-specific skills and experience. If your company offers such an environment, you’ll be in great demand. But only if your recruiting efforts communicate the “real you” behind your company name.

Remember that marketing is an ongoing process of nurturing leads. You might get a hit on your first contact, but you may have to make several contacts. Follow the lead of your marketing department pros here – look for relevant reasons to send a communication:

  • Email a link to an article you just read you think they might like.
  • Send a birthday card.
  • Email a reminder that they can apply online.
  • Call with your top three reasons why you want them and why they should want you.

Fewer Mass Presentations, More Personal Attention

For the same reasons today’s candidates respond best to one-on-one contacts, formal presentations to large groups and similar recruiting tactics are falling flat these days. In the past, the more people you could get in front of at one time, the better. You were a model of efficiency in spreading the word about your company, mass marketing style.

Mass marketing has lost its appeal in every respect. Candidates don’t have the patience to sit through a rehearsed lecture. They’re looking for a job that suits them, not everyone. And they can learn all that general information about your company online, whenever they want.

What they want to hear from you is what they can do for you and what you can do for them. Personalize your messages by emphasizing your approach and policies that promote creative problem-solving and collaboration. Or the cutting-edge tools, technology and other resources they will have at their fingertips. Their opportunities for training and promotion. And talk about your “people policies" that offer flexible scheduling, remote work options, etc.

Focus on establishing and building personal relationships with the candidates you most want to hire, and your recruiting pitch will be far more successful.

Branding is perception-building, based on truth. Many huge companies such as Google and Starbucks have made news because of their employment branding efforts. But every company can – and should – contemplate these components to develop a comprehensive employment branding strategy. Your future productivity and growth depend on it.

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