Much time is spent encouraging and coaching candidates to create and present a Personal Brand to make the right impression on potential employers. But many organisations are not as in touch as they should be with their employer brands. By that I mean how they are perceived not just by current employees, but by prospective candidates. For many the concept of employer branding is some part of a passing social media fad which will be replaced by the next fashionable trend within weeks. To others it’s the domain of large conglomerates with massive budgets.
But like it or not all organisations have employer brands. They just don’t realise it or even know what their brand is. Very often leadership teams scratch their heads in wonder when their company fails to attract the best talent, blissfully unaware that their brand has tanked to all time lows.
One thing for sure is that the concept of an employer brand is definitely not a fad. It will not go away and will become more important as economies move into recovery. Companies will need to start flexing those brand muscles to attract and retain the best talent for their organisations. A pristine employer brand will be key in any upcoming war for talent.
Flexing brand muscles
Today any news travel fast, but bad news travels faster. Online research allows all information to circulate with speed and unfettered. Poor employee and candidate experiences do the rounds at high velocity. So when employees complain about long hours, salary issues, lack of strategy, unfilled vacancies, not being able to take vacations, reduced perks and poor leadership, it’s not a case of “if” these problems seep onto the wider market – but when.
Only 13% of employees are reported to be engaged at work. The much touted war for talent is seemingly on the horizon as we move into recovery. More than 66% of employees are categorized as actively passive (executive search speak for open to the right offer!) creating a strong and appealing employer brand is critical in today’s market to maximise a talent management strategy.
Damien told me yesterday that he had been contacted by a recruiter earlier this week. The consultant made five sloppy mistakes that left him feeling uncertain if he wanted to proceed: he was late for the telephone interview, he did not send the necessary job profile beforehand as promised, he called via a VOIP platform where the connection was so poor he couldn’t understand what was being said and then did not follow-up promptly with paperwork. An interview proposed on the phone has not been confirmed in writing. He has now filled his afternoon.
These are small things, but cumulatively they become compounded to form an overall negative impression, especially when the competitor’s hiring team is on the ball.
The candidate journey should be a seamless and incremental process where he/she becomes familiar with the organisation to such and extent that they are so highly motivated that they are ready and waiting with pen at the ready to sign a contract shortly after receipt of a written offer. Every level of engagement should be “on brand” and convey the essential message of the core values of the organisation.
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This brand plays an integral role at every stage in the candidate development process and should be firmly embedded for maximum success across every intersection of interaction:
- Website – easily navigable and informative giving clarity and consistency to the brand image and core corporate values. This is usually the first point of contact and can “make or break” at this stage.
- Use of technology – text, social media invaluable for entry-level recruitment particularly.
- Application process – user-friendly and simple to follow with numerous possibilities to save information and modify afterwards
- Communication – timely, positive, effective for keeping the candidate warm.
- Screening – thorough, professional, open
- Interview – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image to convey
- Interaction – timely, effective, professional
- Offer – uncomplicated, ethical and transparent
- Rejection – empathetic and encouraging paving a way for the future
- Welcome pack and induction instructions should be clear, informative and motivating
- Onboarding support – to achieve a seamless transition
The employer brand is intrinsic to the whole spectrum of the recruitment process. It is not just about what companies do that sends resonating messages, but what they fail to that will set warning bells clanging.
It’s time for many companies to go through a thorough self-assessment to establish what shape their employer brand muscles are in.