Employer Branding & Recruitment Marketing: Which is Important?
What’s the best way to ensure you hire the most qualified employees?
Is it to have the best recruitment marketing strategy, or to have the most effective employer branding?
There are advocates on both sides.
The most competitive companies, those that are signing graduates from top tier universities, wooing passive job seekers from their comfortable salaries, and retaining their talent pool for an above industry average length of time, are likely to have a robust in-house debate about whether to lean towards marketing or branding.
In the end, however, both are necessary.
What is Employer Branding?
How do job seekers perceive your company?
When an applicant weighs job offers between you and a
competitor, what are the pros and cons that influence their decision? This is
your employer brand.
Think of Google, with its on-site healthcare, free lunches, fitness classes, and casual dress code.
Or the negative PR faced by Amazon due to employee allegations of unfit working conditions. These may be extremes, but good employer branding can lead to both a better workforce and even increased customer satisfaction.
How to Build an Employer Brand Strategy
It’s a mistake to let your HR department be in charge of your employer brand strategy. Not because I have anything against human resources, but because strategy needs to start at the top of your organization.
Even though a CEO won’t have their hands directly on every strategic decision within an organization, everything needs to align with the top-level business goals decided upon in the executive boardroom.
Define and Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition
Once you’ve set your brand strategy, it’s time to define and communicate your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition (UVP) is what sets you apart as a company. What do you have to offer that no one else does? The way you communicate that to job candidates is your unique selling proposition (USP). Ultimately both should flow from your company brand.
Think of it this way: Your UVP is the way you talk about your company internally, your USP is how you talk about your company to prospects. UVP is more technical and may have some insider jargon (like most job postings), while USP is the way people would talk about your company online and in blogs if they were excited about your brand.
Audit Your Current Employer Brand
If you’ve never audited your employer brand, there’s a good chance you don’t know what your external branding actually is. In one of the companies I consulted, upper management believed employees were wholly devoted to the company mission and couldn’t understand their high turnover rate. When I surveyed their employees, it turns out the majority of them were unhappy with working conditions and were skeptical of the products they were selling.
Once they learned of the problem, management was not only able to address employee dissatisfaction but shifted their product mix.
Some tools that can be used to assess your employer brand:
- Employee surveys
- Social media employee engagement
Use Current Employees as Brand Advocates
In a healthy organization, employees act as the most influential brand advocates. They have a direct impact on a company’s products and services and should feel passionate about their work (or at least the “pride and satisfaction of a job well done”).
To build a strong employer brand, try equipping them
to promote your company, whether with swag, social media, or shareable
Optimize Your Internal Processes for Better Employee
Employee experience starts with the interview process and continues through their last day at the company. Does your onboarding experience reflect the kind of brand you are trying to build? Don’t underestimate the power of someone’s first encounter with your company.
A supportive, engaging, and even fun onboarding experience can dramatically change how new employees perceive your company. But don’t stop with onboarding—utilize employee feedback surveys to get the temperature of all your employees.
But be warned: this can backfire if you don’t take action. Nothing hurts morale more than asking your employees to highlight the areas that need improvement and then neglecting to follow up.
What is Recruitment Marketing?
Modern recruitment marketing applies the best practices of both disciplines to find and recruit the most qualified candidates. Recruitment marketing starts with strategy and then leverages employer branding tactics to accomplish your goals.
6 Elements of Recruitment Marketing
1. Strong Employer Brand
A strong employer brand can result in better employees applying (and as a result, being hired), and it can also increase employee retention.
Use all of the techniques discussed above to create a strong employer brand.
Just like other types of marketing, recruitment marketing relies on accurate personas of the ideal candidate.
Personas include everything from education and number of years of experience, to personality profiles, and more. Invest in your candidate personas as you would invest in your consumer personas, and you will increase your likelihood of recruiting and retaining quality candidates.
Content is still king when it comes to marketing.
Recruitment marketing content can take the form of videos, blogs, social media content, and any other creative ideas that come to your team. Your goal is to communicate your company brand honestly and in a way that attracts the right persona for the position and culture.
4. Web Presence
Having a value-driven, high-converting website is an area where companies tend to drop the ball.
Many organizations have bland websites filled with mediocre content that does little to convince top applicants to apply. Focus your web content on converting the personas you’ve come up with using top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel content.
5. Recruitment Advertising Strategy
A strategy is nothing more than the set of choices you make about where to play and how to win. The first step is to decide what winning looks like— what would it look like if you achieved your goals and fulfilled your strategy? Would you be the go-to choice for Ivy League graduates? Would you have top-of-mind name recognition as an employer in your city?
Once you decide what winning looks like, you can make choices about where to play; where to advertise, recruit, spend your recruitment budget, and focus your search for new talent.
Then, the next step is to figure out how to achieve your goals on those channels.
6. Social Media
We can’t leave this section without talking about social media.
Social media is sure to be one of your channels for reaching new recruits. Why? Because such a large percentage of the talent pool is using Facebook daily. It would be absurd not to consider social media as part of your talent acquisition process.
Also, LinkedIn has become a mainstay of the recruiting world.
Use your work with personas to create meaningful social posts, job listings, and advertisements. If you’re looking for specifics on how to create ads and hit your target audience, you can read this article about setting up and launching Facebook ads to promote your job listings.
Either way, social media is a must for reaching potential applicants in the job market of today.
Recruitment Marketing vs Employer Branding: Tying It
By this point, I hope you’re starting to make the connection between employer branding and recruitment marketing. If you do one but not the other, you’re selling yourself short.
To invest in employer branding without recruitment marketing means a few people may know what your company does, and they may be excited to work with you, but your funnel is narrow at the top and you likely aren’t reaching the number of people required.
On the other hand, if you invest in recruitment marketing without first working on your employer brand, then it doesn’t matter what kind of tools you have, you will be recruiting haphazardly—filling positions possibly, but not building a coherent company culture that aligns with your overall strategy.
- Start by defining your employer branding. Don’t just make it up on the spot, seek to understand how it is already perceived by your employees and by people in the marketplace.
- When defining your branding, make sure it flows out of your overall strategy.
- As you build your recruitment marketing strategy, be comprehensive, and don’t cut corners. Your company is only as good as your employees. And to find the best employees, you need to showcase your USP everywhere your ideal candidates are.
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