In today’s tight job market, where the competition for talent is fierce, it’s critical that companies have strong, targeted employment brands. If you’re a marketing professional, you might not think you can make a significant impact on employment branding and on the success of your company’s hiring and retention efforts – but you can. In fact, there’s no group better suited than marketers to create resonant, candidate-facing brands that set their employers apart.
Marketing professionals can play a key role in developing employment brands because they typically have the brand-building background and skills that their HR and Talent Acquisition (TA) counterparts do not. With the pursuit of quality talent becoming more and more competitive, HR/TA professionals are often forced to focus on filling positions of people leaving their company and keeping up with adding headcount, rather than committing the resources to build a strong employment brand. As a result, many companies don’t consider their talent acquisition as a brand experience, which then leads to less-than-optimal recruiting results.
Consider the fact that, according to a recent MRINetwork study, nearly 70 percent of job candidates say a potential employer’s employment brand is important when considering or accepting a job offer. Also, in a survey of job seekers by hiring software company CareerPlug, more than half of job seekers abandon their pursuit of a company after reading negative reviews. Related, in the same survey, 44 percent of candidates left a positive online review of a company after having a positive experience in the hiring process.
It’s clear a positive reputation and a positive employer brand is critical to a vibrant recruitment and hiring pipeline.
Prospective Hires Are Your Company’s Customers, Too
If you think of prospective hires the way that marketers think of customers, it becomes easy to understand why marketing should have a seat at the table in the creation of an employment brand. Job seekers research potential employers in similar ways to how they research products—they comparison shop online. The MRINetwork study showed that 56 percent of job-seekers say they look at employers’ websites when determining who best meets their needs and how companies are different from each other. Nearly 40 percent look at review sites like Glassdoor. And they probably start their job hunt with an idea of who the most desirable employers are, based on perceptions created by those companies’ strong employment brands.
You can see why the traditional brand development process is critical to creating a compelling employment brand. Marketing professionals bring the right skills and experience to help the company understand and address target talents’ key decision-making factors. Companies should look to their marketing teams to:
- Research the needs of the types of candidates the company wants to hire: what’s important to them rationally and emotionally when it comes to an employer, what might be a deal-breaker, and how candidates recognize when a prospective employer embodies the characteristics of their ideal place to work.
- Understand the competitive landscape, knowing how each competitor for talent positions itself as an employer. This then leads to critical understanding of how a company can differentiate itself in ways that are meaningful to its target talent audiences.
- Remember that brands – including employment brands – are about promise and delivery, so aligning the employment brand with what a company can believably deliver on is key.
- Create segmented employment brand messaging that directly addresses the different needs of various target talent audiences.
- Develop employment brand activation strategies that map to target talent’s media habits.
Examples of Marketing’s Role in Successfully Developing Strong Employment Brands
When helping companies develop or enhance their employment brands, I’ve had the most positive experiences with teams that include marketing and HR professionals working collaboratively. A couple of examples follow.
One of the nation’s leading flooring companies leveraged the power of their marketing leadership to develop a new employment brand aimed at attracting corporate employees as well as outside sales reps and installers. The marketing team led the project with HR and TA staff contributing their insights about, and experience with, the recruitment process. The company also introduced traditional marketing metrics to gauge the success of the new employment brand, setting a goal of increasing their Employee Net Promoter Score in conjunction with their traditional customer Net Promoter Score.
In another assignment, the world’s largest commercial roofing manufacturer made the development of their new employment brand a specific segment of their corporate rebranding project, which was spearheaded by the marketing team. The team viewed prospective hires the same as prospective customers—as another key audience group that needed to be understood and communicated with in a way that resonated with their needs. Because marketing was used to treating audiences as customers who needed to be persuaded to choose this manufacturer over a competitor, it was easy for them to develop a strong employment brand that directly addressed what prospective hires wanted in a career.
Getting Started with HR/TA
Marketing often needs to make the first move with HR/TA when it comes to partnering on employment branding. Often, the best time to develop a new employment brand is in conjunction with a corporate branding project. Bringing HR/TA to the table as the corporate rebrand project is concluding is a natural time to introduce them to the refreshed brand platform and brand messaging. It gets HR thinking about how the company’s new brand might influence how they talk about the company as a place to work.
This is exactly the scenario that happened with one of the nation’s largest futures brokerage firms, which leveraged their marketing and HR teams to create their first-ever employment brand as a part of a larger corporate rebranding project.
If your company is not currently undergoing or considering a rebranding project, suggest to your HR/TA counterparts that today’s low unemployment rates and ever-increasing demand for qualified talent means being innovative when it comes to recruiting efforts. And that you (as a marketing professional) can help them create a competitive advantage, resulting in more qualified applicants and faster times to fill open positions by developing a resonant employment brand. You’re there as a collaborator and partner to make their jobs easier.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies to actively develop strong employment brands that differentiates them from their competition in ways that are relevant to the types of candidates they want to recruit. Marketing professionals, with expertise in branding, target audience insights, messaging and brand activations, have the skills and knowledge to partner with their HR/TA counterparts and play a critical role in shaping and bringing to life employment brands. Consider this your call to action.
Mark Shevitz is Executive Vice President, Director of Client Strategy and Planning, at Colman Brohan & Davis, Inc. (CBD Marketing). He has leveraged his corporate branding expertise to create employment brands for Aflac, Allstate, Chipotle Mexican Grill, OfficeMax, Pfizer, Sears and dozens of other companies. Mark also helped develop CareerBuilder’s employment branding practice.