There’s a lot -- A LOT -- of advice online about employer branding strategy and recruitment marketing. Unfortunately, though, a lot of is really higher-level or talks about something akin to “having great employees who vouch for you.” Yes. We all want that. But you can’t initiate that as an employer branding strategy and expect it to bear fruit one day later. That’s actually more of a long-term cultural shift in your company, which often requires even higher levels of buy-in than recruitment marketing does to be successful. Long-term plays aside, here are a few quick wins you can start acting on today.
Create a mini-task force with some reps from HR and marketing on it
HR and marketing absolutely need to talk in most organizations more than they currently do, but if you’re going for it with an employer branding strategy, they absolutely need to talk. Some of the questions that should come up in this task force are:
- How do we represent the brand externally, to customers?
- Do we have a style guide and voice?
- How have employees contributed to this branding?
- Do we have any campaigns focused around employees and the work they do?
- What are the essential talking points?
- How has this impacted the business?
- How does sales interact with marketing?
We don’t propose a task force to make you have more work or attend more meetings, although that might happen in the short term, yes. Rather, HR needs to understand how branding works, and marketing needs to understand what HR plans to do around employer branding. The two sides need to work together and course-correct where appropriate.
Start collecting stories
Stories resonate with the human brain more than almost anything, so you’re going to need stories to have a successful employer branding strategy. You want to find stories on:
- Employees loving their job
- Employees going above and beyond
- Teamwork really making the dream work
- Perks you provide that seem rare in the market, be it around paid leave, time off, flexible work from home, etc.
Also think about the channels to tell these stories. It should be a mix of:
- Blog posts
- Glossy campaigns (direct mail, even)
- Visually-driven (Instagram stories or multi-photo posts)
Make a list of the best stories you have related to employees, their work, and their benefits -- and start mapping out how you will produce those for larger audiences.
Clean up your social media presence
How are you looking on the big platforms? Is anything off-brand? Is it a mix of stories that could resonate with customers as well as future employees?
Pay particular attention to:
- LinkedIn (obviously the “professional” one)
- Facebook (at largest scale)
- Instagram/Snapchat (best for recruiting younger people right now)
If something isn’t working or fitting on those platforms, clean it up. Get rid of it and make it more authentic and in line with your actual brand. If you want a good example of employer branding strategy as relates to social media, look at MailChimp’s different social accounts.
Have a communication plan for all job candidates
Whether this involves using chatbots or tech to communicate faster and answer basic FAQ questions, that’s fine -- but have a plan around communication. The No. 1 reason people sour on a recruitment marketing / employer branding process is because once they decide to enter your hiring funnel, you never acknowledge them until a 2-3 line “Sorry!” email weeks later. Have a more consistent communication plan. There should be acknowledgements at:
- Initial apply
- 1 week later
- 3 weeks later
- Abilities to check in, potentially via a bot
- Full transparency about what’s happening in the process from the recruiter or hiring manager
If you do this, you’ll alienate a lot less potential employees, and they might come back looking for future open roles -- so you’ve started a successful employer branding strategy right there by net-positive acquisition of more candidates.
Create a referral program
Here are two great ideas from HRTX Atlanta:
Idea No. 1: You create a ticket system. Every time an employee refers someone and they get an interview, that employee gets 1 ticket. If the candidate is hired, the referring employee gets 50 tickets. Each year, you put up $100,000 towards this program. Once a year, you pull five tickets — and each of them gets $20,000. The more referrals you’ve done (and the more successful ones), you have a greater chance to win $20,000. Unless you’re a pre-existing executive, $20,000 is a sizable bonus at most companies. Some might balk at giving $20,000 off random lottery from referrals, but this is important. It says “We care about you wanting to surround yourself with the best people possible to grow us all together” and it also says “We will reward that caring.” Those are both very palpable messages to be communicating to employees.
Idea No. 2: Scrap the money idea. Yea. Scrap it. It can get political and contentious and oftentimes the only incentives end up being for developer roles. Instead, do this: if a referral becomes a hire, pay for a night out for that employee and his/her family. Just a night out. Dinner, drinks, movie, Go Karts, whatever. The message is “You helped build out a function of this company, so we think you should have a fun Friday night.” Beautiful and simple little employer-employee contract, right? A night out for a family of four might be $150 max. Even if you had 100 successful referrals a year, you’d be spending around $15,000 on this program. That’s less than Example 1 above, and pennies to most high-growth companies.
What other quick win ideas have you seen around employer branding? We’d love to hear your thoughts!