How To Battle The Talent Shortage With Employer Branding

These days, attracting talent isn’t as simple as putting out a recruiting advertisement or listing your job openings online.

Job seekers have now become job shoppers. In fact, 80% of job seekers today will research an employer online before deciding whether or not to apply to a position. And they’re not just looking to see if you have a website and a careers page; they’re looking for an inside glimpse into what it’s like to work with you. This is where employer branding — currently an extremely hot recruiting topic — comes in.

A company’s brand is different from their traditional marketing brand in that it’s the organization's reputation as an employer. Employer branding came to the forefront of recruiting between 2004 and 2008 in response to growing competition for talent, and it’s only increasing in importance given today’s candidate-driven hiring climate. Worldwide, we’re facing the biggest talent shortage since 2007, so being able to attract (and retain) the right candidates through recruitment marketing is crucial!

In this post, we’ll cover how you can build a strong employer brand online. If you need inspiration before taking the first step, the following companies showcase a mix of vibrant careers pages, benefits and perks:

Step One: Develop Employer Brand Guidelines

Showcasing your employer brand confidently and consistently on your website, social media, job listings, and more will send a positive message to candidates that your company is an employer they’d be proud to work for.

To bring your hiring goals and the benefits of working for your company together, define what you’d like to be known for as an employer by answering the following questions: 

  • What are your company’s unique strengths and passions?
  • What types of people make the best candidates? (more on that below)
  • What is unique about your company culture?
  • How do you show pride in your employees and celebrate wins?

The resulting guidelines should serve as a living, breathing document that everyone in the company can refer to. Make sure to share them in your internal wiki or through an internal communication channel like Slack for easy access. 

Step Two: Know Your Audience

As you put the finishing touches on your employer brand guidelines and begin to plan for how you’ll execute on them, be sure you identify who you’re looking to attract.

Consider the positions for which you’re hiring and the types of people you’d want to work with day to day:

  • What do they value in a workplace?
  • What are their goals?
  • Do they thrive in collaborative team environments or prefer to work solo?
  • How much structure do they want/need?
  • Are they more oriented toward innovation and creativity or precision and accuracy?

Taking the time to visualize what kind of employees are ideal for your company will help you build and maintain the kind of company culture that will attract them. Your employer brand won’t (and shouldn’t) attract everyone, so don’t be afraid to get specific. If you understand who you are trying to appeal to, you can be much more targeted in your messaging and therefore more likely to reach the right people. 

Step Three: Be Vocal on Social Media

Social media gives you the opportunity to speak directly to prospects and customers, of course, but it's also an opportunity to showcase your company culture to potential hires. You'll want to coordinate with your marketing team to make sure that you can achieve both hiring and marketing goals within your branding efforts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

As part of this process, decide how you’ll deliver hiring-related content to the marketing team to make this process seamless for them. You’ll likely be sending a mix of pictures, videos, award announcements and thought leadership content, so pick a communication channel (e.g. Slack, email, Dropbox, Buffer, etc.) that works for both parties. The best way to encourage collaboration is to designate one person in HR and one person in marketing to be responsible for sharing and gathering this content on a regular basis.

Ideas for content to share on social media to demonstrate your employer brand include:

  • Photos from team outings, lunch-and-learns, retreats, and training
  • Video testimonials from employees
  • Thought leadership developed by employees and executives
  • Photos and videos of employees interacting with customers and working on interesting projects

As Ashley Ryall, Founder and Social Selling Coach for UntapSocial explained to us in a recent interview: 

Candidates want to see a company’s thought leadership, understand the structure of the organization, and validate that they are current on industry trends.

One way to do this, Ryall suggests, is by leveraging company spotlight sites like Boston’s own VentureFizz BIZZpages and other local and national spotlight pages.

Step Four: Mobilize The Entire Company

Attracting new talent shouldn’t just fall on HR; it’s the responsibility of everyone within your company. Candidates are far more likely to want to work for you if they hear great things from current employees rather than via a job listing or a recruiting advertisement, so employee advocacy and engagement on social media should be a key part of your employer branding to-do list.

Now, this doesn’t mean asking employees to dedicate time each day to promoting the company. After all, they have full-time jobs to tend to. What it does mean is ensuring everyone understands the value and importance of the employer brand and their role in helping to sustain that brand by promoting it where and when appropriate.

Make it easy for employees to promote your company by providing them with content they can share to their own social media networks. Some great content to arm employees with includes:

  • A blog post by your CEO evangelizing the company culture
  • Behind the scenes video interviews on what’s it like to work for your company
  • Job listings (of course!)
  • Q&A blog posts featuring different employee projects each month

An easy way to share content like this with employees is by providing them free access to a social media publishing tool like Buffer or Hootsuite, or employee advocacy tools such as Sociabble or GaggleAmp.

Employees should also feel empowered to post their own content, showcasing interesting projects they’re working on, work-related trips they’re going on, and anything else that excites them about working for your company (within reason, of course—if there is proprietary or sensitive info to be concerned about, make sure your employees understand the boundaries).

Step Five: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Quirky

One of the best (and, in our opinion, most fun) ways to demonstrate your employer brand is by highlighting the off-the-beaten-path aspects of your company culture. They’re what make you stand out from all the other companies a candidate might be considering!

If your team is really into trivia, for example, and has a monthly trivia outing, share that proudly on your careers page. Do you have a funny blow up cartoon character in your office that everyone loves? Post a photo to your company Facebook page.

Videos can also be a great way to highlight what’s truly unique about your company. Right in our backyard, Sam Adams brewery created an employer branding video (see below) that does a great job of connecting the people who make their beer with the people who drink it. The video unites the Sam Adams brand and consumer audience by demonstrating what it’s like to work for a company that believes in what they do.

Another great employer branding video from a local company is Wistia’s “Rap-Up.” These annual recaps cover the past year in terms of company growth, milestones, new product features and inside jokes, complete with catchy music and great graphics.  

If you’d like to see the direct impact of employer branding done well, just check out the comments section at the bottom of their video landing page:

Mission accomplished!

While both of these examples are extremely high quality, keep in mind that you don’t need a fancy, professionally produced video to showcase your company culture. Your content can be as simple as a raw video your team took on their iPhones, or pictures of employees unwinding at the end of the day in the office, doing something fun.

Whichever approach you choose, highlighting the quirky, weird, and enjoyable aspects of your employer brand can really help a candidate to picture what life is like working for your company.

Step Six: Making Employer Branding A Priority

Employer branding is meant to support long-term hiring needs. As such, it can’t be a one-and-done effort. To keep employer branding a top organization-wide priority, we suggest that you assign dedicated owners. You can also conduct periodic new employee training about how to best promote the company’s brand - and even offer rewards for doing so.

Considering the competitive state of the hiring market today, you can't afford to rely solely on recruitment advertising to build a positive employer brand. As employee advocacy and social media have become more instrumental to hiring efforts, your reputation as a company job seekers want to work for will ultimately depend on how well you can communicate the secret sauce that makes you special. 

Ready to find your next great hire?