Are you struggling to attract talented employees to your company? Many businesses don’t consider that employee branding might factor into this challenge. Top candidates are already employed by companies with a high brand reach. Others want to be hired by companies that have a high brand reach and promote themselves as the best places to work. And in all hiring situations, top candidates know they add value to any business and want to work somewhere their contributions are recognized.

In other words, recruiting is a two-way street, with both employer and talent evaluating the hiring. In an ever-changing hiring landscape, your employer brand now stands out among the many factors candidates measure to determine that your company is the correct choice. Here are five steps to take to leverage your employer brand to recruit top talent.

1. Understand How Employer Branding Works

Your company probably has a branding strategy, even if you call it by a different name. “Branding strategy” is simply a series of activities aimed at encouraging your customers to choose your products over your competitors and come back for more.

The goal of employer branding is the same: you want to be chosen. However, in this case, we are talking about selling your company to future employees.

But how does it work? Here’s how to develop your employer branding:

  1. Start by verifying that you are doing the basics. Make sure you offer a workplace with a healthy environment, decent pay, and growth opportunities.
  2. Include benefits you might have missed, such as health insurance or paid sick leave. But don’t just pick what you think is right —whatever you choose should be aligned with what top talents are looking for.
  3. Start planning how you’re going to spread the word. Your company must be perceived as the right choice as much as being the right choice, so get ready to promote your employer branding. More about this later.

You’re in the process of building a personality for your company — one that candidates can quickly evaluate to determine if your company is a good fit.

This concept sounds abstract, but you can probably name companies that you would never work for. What is it about these companies that leaves a bad impression? Their reputation as an employer, their company culture, or something else? The key to employer branding is taking control of your own external perception as a place to work.

One way to find out how to get started is by checking what your competitors are doing — those attracting more talent than you, of course. You can find information in various places:

  • Search your competitors on the web and see if you find news articles or social media comments about how they treat their employees.
  • Analyze what kind of people they hire — what do they look for in employees? 
  • Check Glassdoor or another online forum to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

The key is to learn anything that can help you to find out what is unique about your competitors.

2. Audit Your Employer Reputation

As you conduct your research, you might suspect that the way your company is perceived needs to be adjusted. Some indicators to look for are:

  • It takes longer for you to hire someone new compared to the average in your industry.
  • The number of applications you receive is lower than your industry average.
  • Turnover is high and staff often leaves for better opportunities.

Your employees are your ambassadors, and it’s their word-of-mouth that will ensure the world sees your company as the right place for top talent. If you have trouble with employee retention, you may need to audit your employer reputation.

First, try the following:

  1. Check what current and former employees say about you on Glassdoor.
  2. Search for your company’s name on social media, even if it means joining groups or following hashtags.
  3. Evaluate past job offers to see how many candidates answered and their quality.
  4. Ask for feedback from previous candidates that declined a job offer.
  5. Conduct an anonymous feedback survey with your employees and ask how they see their employer.

Once you know the size and scope of your challenge, it will be much easier to decide how to improve your brand.

3. Do Some Housekeeping

Now, it’s time to act. As we mentioned before, you’ll need your staff by your side to recruit top talent through employer branding.

But during step 2, you may have discovered some harsh truths about how your brand is perceived in the hiring market. Your company might be doing (or not doing) things that are affecting negatively the way your current staff and prospective employees see your company. In that case, get ready to do some housekeeping:

Make Changes

If employee recognition is something that needs to be improved, make changes as soon as possible. To stay competitive in today’s hiring market, provide benefits and salary offerings on-par with your competitors for everyone in your organization, not just to new hires.

Communicate About These Changes

Real change happens in an open field. If you start changing your company behind the scenes, your staff and employees will be suspicious or confused about your efforts. Get your staff together and communicate to them about your suggested improvements. Be ready to answer questions and provide reassurance that these changes will help with recruiting.

4. Define Your Employer Value Proposition

The next step is to define your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Your EVP combines the values, culture, and opportunities you have to offer to your employees.

The purpose of an EVP is to have clear concepts of your values and explain them to your current staff and future employees. Your EVP will be added to your employer handbook, your job offers, your career page on your website. It will be the basis of your employer branding.

An EVP has one or two paragraphs. Similar in format to your company’s mission and values, it is designed to inspire and give the extra boost. 

On Apple’s Careers page, you will read the following:

“Join us. Be you. An open invitation to open minds. Come to Apple, where thousands of individual imaginations gather together to pave the way to innovation. Here, you’ll do more than join something — you’ll add something.”

The short sentences above provide crucial tips about Apple’s company culture and environment, which is centered around straightforward feedback and clarity. They also talk about their values and the type of people they want to hire. This is a great example of what you want to have in your EVP.

If you haven’t thought about it, then spend some time creating EVP. Have in mind the talents you would like to recruit. Then consider the following:

  • What kind of environment does your company offer?
  • Are there strict protocols to be followed? Or is it a more flexible workplace?
  • Is there a clear career path?
  • Is your company powered by teams or individual work?
  • Do you offer learning opportunities?
  • What do you do to reward your employees beyond paying their salary?

Answering these questions will help you to determine what should be included in your EVP.

5. Promote Your Employer Branding

At this point, your refreshed employer branding should be ready to be announced to the world. Remember that you should be seen as an exciting place to work, both inside and outside of your company.

Here are some essential things to do:

  • Update your internal communication tools, such as your intranet, newsletters, and notice boards to align them with your EVP. 
  • Update your website. If you don’t already have one, create a Careers page and use this space to promote your employer branding and available job openings.
  • Answer negative reviews on Glassdoor and other forms of social media. Take the opportunity to inform others about the changes you have made.
  • Write guest posts for reputable blogs discussing your view of employee happiness, new programs you are testing, and how you see the future of employment.
  • Frequently update your LinkedIn page. Your LinkedIn serves a dual purpose: to educate your audience on your offerings and showcase what a great place your company is to work.
  • If you don’t have one, create an employee handbook that outlines your company mission statement, core values, EVP, and policies. Every sentence should showcase  your strengths as an employer. Be sure your employees have it in-hand before their first day of work.

Above all, make sure your employer branding is consistent throughout all media outlets by keeping the same brand voice, from word choice to tone and style. Ultimately, your brand must sound human and relatable.

Employer Branding is a Long-Term Process

Once you get your employer branding up to par, continue improving it. Make sure you watch the changes in your market and always keep an eye on what your competitors offer. What was desirable ten years ago to candidates is no longer enough to recruit top talent. Consider the current demands for more flexible hours and extended paternity leave.

Also, be prepared to adapt case-by-case. Even though you can’t attend to every single need your employees have, consider accommodating some requests if the candidate is worth it. For instance, you might favor teamwork, having built a modern open-plan office to encourage it. Just be sure your branding follows what goes on the inside.