We caught up with our TA recruiter, Charlotte Urban, to ask her about Employer Branding - what it is, why it's so important, and how to get one. Here's what she said:
What is an employer brand?
Every organisation has an employer brand, whether they think about it or not. Your employer brand is the way you differentiate yourself with prospective employees. It’s the reason people choose to work for you over some other recruitment company. It’s the way your people talk about you, the way they feel about working for you. It’s ultimately your secret weapon for attracting, recruiting, retaining and engaging your colleagues.
How’s it different from an employee value proposition?
This is a great question to ask, not least because if you’re asking it, you’re thinking about both of these things, which we would heavily encourage you to do! Think about it as ‘us’ and ‘them’.
When you’re putting together your employee brand, you’re thinking in terms of ‘us’. It’s all the things that make your company unique and special – your culture, values, and ways of working, how you talk about yourself and how your employees talk about you. It’s the messaging you put out into the world.
When you think about your EVP, you’re thinking about ‘them’. Your EVP talks about all the things that prospective employees want and need – salary, benefits, flexibility, holiday, perks, career progression.
To put it another way, it’s the difference between who you are, and what you give. Your EVP is part of your employer brand, but your employer brand is so much more than that.
Why is a good employer brand important for Talent Acquisition?
Attracting talent has become harder in the years since the pandemic. People’s priorities have shifted, and many workers (especially in the younger generation), expect more from their employers. There has been a growing trend of people choosing employers based on considerations like value alignment and representation, meaning recruitment companies are having to work harder at portraying the right messaging for the people they want to attract.
The TA market for recruitment is competitive! There are a lot of recruitment companies in growth mode at the moment, meaning there are a lot of options for both graduate and experienced recruiters. Standing out from the crowd is really important, but on top of that, the clearer your messaging is, the easier it will be to attract the kind of talent that you want for your company.
Okay, so how do you go about creating a good Employer Brand?
Well the first step is to understand your brand yourself! I know that sounds obvious, but actually, there are a lot of companies who have a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to the way they portray themselves – they feel like they’re supposed to be corporate, or smart, or professional or whatever picture they have in their heads, when in reality that’s not what their company is like at all.
If you’re a fun, youthful, casual kind of place, own that. If you’re a chaotic start up, own that. If you’re a super corporate, shiny and polished company, own that. It’s so important to know who you are, because that’s how to attract the people who will stick around. Start-ups aren’t for everyone, but neither are corporates. You need to tap into the audience that is right for you.
Good start. So you’ve got a handle on who you are internally. Then what.
Next you need to make sure the messaging you’re putting into the world matches that vibe. So this is where Talent Acquisition needs to work with Marketing to ensure that the website, the social media posts, the job adverts all align and put across the same picture of the organisations.
And there are some key things that you should consider here:
Diversity and Inclusion – Representation matters. If you want a diverse workforce, you need to make that clear. Your images should show diversity, you should have D&I statements on your job ads, your website should be accessible and talk about accessibility. If you have affinity networks or employee resource groups, talk about those. If you support LGBTQ charities, make that known. If you are a disability friendly workplace, talk about it and show how. Consider taking part in things like National Inclusion Week, your local Pride or becoming an Inclusive Employer. But remember – it has to be authentic. D&I isn’t a tick box, so if it’s not something you’re ready to be actively engaged in, don’t do it!
Glassdoor – There’s no better advocate for your company that your current employees. So leverage their opinions! Ask them to leave you reviews on sites like Glassdoor or on Google. Ask them to share social media posts with a comment on what they love about working for you. People thinking about joining you will want to know how people feel about working for you, so give them plenty of opportunities to see how much your employees love their job.
Values – Values matter more than they ever have before. As I mentioned before, more and more people are choosing their employer based on value alignment, so showcasing what matters to you – and more importantly – how you live that on a day to day basis, is crucial. Whether that’s fundraising for particular charities, being environmentally sustainable and eco friendly, having a focus on homegrown talent, being digital first, it’s really important to know your values and show how you embody them. That way anyone considering joining you will see at a glance that what matters to them also matters to you.
Culture – Like I said before, help people to see what they’ll be getting into when they join you. Your LinkedIn page should act as a window into your company – fill it with the faces of the people they’ll be working with, make sure the tone of voice you use matches the one that you use internally, promote the way you treat your employees. I don’t mean fill your feed with pictures of drunken nights out or extravagant incentive lunches – but make sure that you’re visible and intentional about rewarding employees for their hard work.
Okay! So, know who you are, then show who you are. Anything else?
Yes – my advice would be, think ahead. I think recruitment companies get caught in a trap of not thinking about their future hiring needs in advance. But bringing in new talent usually means 3 months of onboarding and training, and another 3 months before they’re up to speed and/or billing. If you add to that a minimum of 3 months to source candidates, interview them and have them work their notice, any company with growth plans needs to be thinking about hiring at least 9 months in advance at the absolute minimum.
A great TA has their recruitment strategy mapped out a year in advance, drip feeding their messaging in the right places, and knowing exactly when they need to ramp up activity to get people in for their next talent academy or training weeks or however their company does it.
Brilliant. So if you could give the recruitment company TA’s out there some advice, what would you say?
Get organised, and collaborate:
1. Sit down with your MD and Ops and map out the growth plan. Find out when they want increased headcount on the ground, then work back from there.
2. Work with Marketing to craft the messaging and to put together a library of imagery that portrays who you are as a company. Agree tone of voice and style with them.
3. If you have an L&D Manager, spend time with them to understand what training and onboarding looks like so that you can show potential employees how well supported they will be.
4. Work with Operations to create a smooth and seamless onboarding process for new employees, so that when they start they get the best possible first impression, and so that it doesn’t put unnecessary or unexpected pressure on Ops and IT when there are new starters.
And that’s about it – that should be enough for any TA to get started on making sure their recruitment company has an Employer Brand that works for them!