Employment Branding….it’s not too late

After the last post regarding the candidate experience, it seems that everyone is writing about the topic.   Perhaps it is not unlike the experience we might have once we buy a car; you know how it goes… it starts to seem like everyone you see driving around is also in that same car you just purchased.  But on with the story.  Soon after the “Candidate Experience” post, the Talent Board announced the inaugural Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards based on research data gathered over the past year.  And then just last week on an ERE post, the article “Packaging the Candidate Experience” by Balazs Paroczay and Jillyan French-Vitet provided an excellent look at taking the experience even further.

Depending on where you sit in the industry space, the definition of the candidate experience may vary a bit, but it seems that most do agree that this ‘experience’ does in fact begin early in the process of attracting the attention of potential candidates both active and passive.  In my work in recruitment communications and advertising, we call the vehicle in which we begin to capture the candidate’s attention, the Employment Brand.  The belief is that without an organization understanding who they really are (or are not) and expressing that message succinctly and clearly on their career site, much of the hard work done by the HR and TA teams can sometimes be to no avail.  If a new employee is wooed into the organization by a message that does not ring true once they are on board, then things begin to get complicated.

But what is an employment brand anyway? To begin, first, let’s define ‘brand’. The American Marketing Association defines it as:  “a name term, design, symbol or any other features that identified one seller’s good or service distinct from those of other sellers.”  Philip Kotler adds:  “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services…”  But an employment brand is a bit different. We are in essence ‘selling’ our companies as a place to work…so our ‘service/product’ is a little different than what our marketing teams might be working towards promoting.

 

SHRM defines an employment brand as:

“…the image of the organization as a great place to work in the minds of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders). The employer brand captures the essence of a company in a way that engages employees and stakeholders. It expresses the firm’s value proposition, reflecting the organization’s culture, systems, attitudes and employee relationships.”

Expressed in another way, Peter Weddle, a leading HR consultant, defines the employment brand in a four pronged approach.

  • Defining the enterprise as an employer of choice
  • Ensuring alignment between brand and business actions
  • Implementing a brand internally
  • Implementing a brand externally

The process of identifying the employment brand of an organization can be approached in many ways and often from the onset appears to be much more laborious than it really is.  Over the years having had the opportunity to work with organizations in different industries with this ‘message discovery’ process I can attest that it can be quite simple and straight forward, or it can be very in depth and detailed.  Regardless, it is always very enlightening for the companies as well as the employees that participate.

Having consulted with driving the discovery process in quick serve restaurant companies, engineering & mining companies, call centers and in  healthcare, I have found generally speaking, that employees want to enjoy their work and therefore be engaged at their place of employment.  When you begin the process with senior leadership on board,  it is amazing how everyone becomes excited.  The time invested to listen to the existing employees and take their stories, experiences, and insights to heart, then incorporating this information as a foundation of the employment brand message, helps to deliver a credible employment brand that lasts for years assisting the organization with both recruiting and retaining employees.

For organizations that have not yet made the move to develop an employment brand message, it is never too late.  Regardless of company size and geographic footprint, an employment brand can work for you.  With our always evolving digital world, there are many places where this message can live…not just on the career site anymore.  Incorporating the employment message on specific social media pages for careers only, increases the employment brand footprint significantly and assists in reaching a much wider audience than ever before.  The message can live boldly a Facebook page, a LinkedIn branded page, on a YouTube channel as well on Twitter and Pinterest.    It is never too late.  Don’t get left behind!

 

Amanda Shewmake is a veteran in the recruitment communications industry and has been involved in many aspects talent acquisition communication efforts with a focus on employment branding. Her role at Bayard involves new business development. Amandas@bayardad.com  The May 2012 Employer Branding Conference and Universum Awards Ceremony in NYC is being sponsored by Bayard; look for us there. http://employerbrandingconference.com