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Employer branding: A Guide to Showing Em What You’re Made Of

Proving and communicating the strategic value and ROI of employer branding efforts to leadership.

Alex Her
Employer brand manager with over 6 years experience in employer branding and recruitment marketing
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If there's one thing I love the most in the world, it's strong employer branding. Unlike other industries, marketing an employer value proposition lets one create, curate, and collaborate on stories with teammates across multiple locations and departments. On top of that, you get to use so many amazing tools and social platforms to amplify the content marketing that you're creating.

In This Article

Before I dive in, let me provide some context behind what employer branding is and how I look at it.

Why Employer Branding Matters

Employer branding is the process of promoting a company, or an organization, as the employer of choice to a desired target group. Specifically, this target group is the talent pool from which you’d ideally like to recruit. Essentially then, employer branding is how people talk about your brand when you’re not in the room.

Job seeker reading bad employer reviews online.

Having said that, employer branding is also an industry that comes with high risk and high reward. When the company’s reputation is resoundingly positive, times are good, and you can be the unsung hero. However, when bad testimonials and a poor employer reputation come to light, you find yourself one of the first to be let go. When this happens, the work you’ve done is easily disregarded, and the cumulative effort falls flat as it is picked up time and again by new employer branding strategy consultants.

This begs the question; how do we stop this revolving door of practitioners from being on the front lines of a layoff?

While there's no silver bullet that makes one invincible from a layoff, there is one big thing you can do. Show ‘em what you're made of.

The Backstreet boys giving advice on recruitment marketing.

Yes, it's the title of one of my favorite Backstreet Boys songs, but it's also very valid when it comes to employer branding. It's so easy to get lost in the external elements of the job that we forget that we have to tie everything together to show the true value of the employer brand. While it may be challenging and scary for some, it's necessary to justify the work that you're doing and why it matters.

Highlighting the Importance of Employer Branding (Show ‘em what you're made of)

If you want to change the narrative and show your company the true value of employer branding, there are four things to consider and do.

1. Don't Keep Employer Branding Efforts a Secret

This one may seem pretty obvious, but it isn't. While we pride ourselves as practitioners for coming up with great graphics, videos, and messaging, you can't do it alone, nor should you. Don't work in a silo. Include your teammates. Whether they're in Talent Acquisition, Engineering or Sales, you want them to know what you're doing to promote your company culture, the work environment, and open roles to potential candidates as well as current employees.

Have them be a part of the action.

Educate, Educate, Educate!

Don't assume that everyone knows what a positive employer brand is and what you're doing to add value. Your teammates likely see some of what you're doing but don't understand what it is and how it ties into the overall goals and KPIs attached to your efforts and the company.

Employer brand specialist sharing marketing efforts with team.

Presenting your work and the outcomes of it to various departments may take you out of your comfort zone, but trust me; you'll be grateful for doing it. A few ways you can do this are:

  • Hosting Lunch and Learn Sessions
  • Virtual Coffee Chats
  • Quick Connects on Zoom
  • Creating an Employer Brand Toolkit

Your Employer Brand Toolkit should include step-by-step guides and insight on the following:

The Importance of EB: To get buy-in from various departments, the team must first understand why a positive employer brand matters. Each person must also understand what part they play in creating a positive reputation.

How to show up on social: The more leaders and executives within the company have an authoritative presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, the more it benefits your employer brand. You could, for a start, put together some tips for creating engaging posts and a great looking profile on LinkedIn.

Social Channels to follow: Awareness of what other brands in your industry are doing is essential to knowing how you compare in the employment landscape.

A Menu of EB Services: Give an overview of touchpoints where employer branding efforts are in progress, and what value you can add per department.

Ways to be an Ambassador: Provide a guidebook on interactions that could potentially promote or harm the employer brand.

However, you choose to connect, make it simple. Assume that your audience knows nothing about the company’s employer brand. Explain the framework, why it matters in talent acquisition, and how your contributions work to promote the organization from start to finish. Heck, I'll even give you free access to my Employer Brand 101 Presentation that will help you do this!

2. Measure, Track and Report on Your Outcomes

How effective are your efforts to market the corporate brand?

Posting social updates, writing blogs, posting jobs, running ads, and creating videos are cool, but does it work? If you can't answer this question with pure confidence, you likely can't justify what you're doing to leadership. To avoid losing both of those battles, ensure that every effort you make is trackable, and measurable in terms of ROI (return on investment).

Employer brand marketing report.

Inevitably, you’ll want to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. Besides real results to report on, tracking your employer branding efforts means you can connect the dots of what is most effective at generating value for the recruiting team, and the organization as a whole.

Here are a few ways to do to accomplish this:

  • Use tracking links or UTM Codes in any online content you generate for the sake of corporate brand awareness. This differentiates each campaign’s incoming web traffic from the overall user numbers on your website.
  • Get ownership of your Google Analytics. Learn how it works, why it matters, and how you can track your various campaigns inside of it. For example, you can use Google Analytics to track traffic from various campaigns on your career site. By doing so you’ll be able to determine which of your digital marketing efforts generate visits to the career site, as well as the percentage of visitors from that campaign who submit an application. For example, how many job applications were generated from advertising on your company’s Facebook page vs. the newsletter.
  • Use source reporting from your organization’s career page and ATS (applicant tracking system).
  • Create a dashboard. If your ATS is able to integrate with any of your recruitment marketing platforms, use that ability. Having all of your data in one spot can help you understand which of your employer branding initiatives are running, how it's running, and if it's working.

3. Track and Refine Content Marketing on Social Media

Sure, you're creating phenomenal content, but give your leadership much more to work with. Look at impressions and clicks, locations where people are engaging with your content, what demographics are your best audience, and which type of content is performing. Establish whether you get more value from highlighting DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) efforts, job postings, employee spotlights, employee perks, etc.

This can be done by tracking things in good old Excel, Google Sheets, Tableau, Rally Recruitment Marketing Dashboard, or by using James Ellis Employer Brand Snapshot.

Don’t forget to include feedback gained from user-generated content. Review sites like GlassDoor and professional networks like LinkedIn are your first points of call. Your social media presence is partly what you put out there, and partly what users say about your company.

Example of a scarthing GlassDoor review written by a former employee.

This is why offering a positive candidate experience to your future employees is an essential part of employer branding. If you consistently give candidates a positive experience, they can only say positive things about your brand online.

4. Uphold Transparency — Share Details with Leadership

Outside of educating your teammates on what you do to promote the employer brand, you'll want to share exactly what it is that you're doing with leadership.

While they may enjoy what you're doing, you need to share the details with them so they can fully understand how vital employer branding is. To do this, I'd recommend the following:

Share Your Employer Branding Strategy

Start sharing your strategy with your team, the company’s leadership, and relevant stakeholders on a quarterly basis. Let them know what you're doing to improve the organization’s employer reputation, the candidate experience, and internal communications. Showcase our content marketing, recruitment marketing, partnerships, job boards, events, etc.

Make a point of communicating your target locations and audience, how much you're spending, and why you believe your employer branding strategy will work.

In the end it’s all about dollars and cents. A projected budget and ROI will help you visualize and convey how any accumulated spend will help you accomplish your goals, which will, in turn, help leadership achieve their quarterly goals for acquiring and retaining the best talent — a key factor in bottom-line gains.

employer branding specialist presenting and discussing recruitment marketing strategy wit leadership.

Share the Progress and Results - Employer Branding is an Ongoing Journey

Ask any marketing team and they’ll tell you — numbers speak volumes. This rings true with employer branding as well. Once you've finished a quarter, set up a QBR (Quarterly Business Review) with your leadership to recap how things went.

Whether good or bad, share how everything went and take them behind the curtain. Provide all results at a high level that can help them better understand your approach, what worked, what didn't work, and any additional learnings from the quarter.

Don't Neglect the Small or Quick Wins

Whether it's big or small, share it. Leadership needs to know that what you're doing is working. The below efforts may seem small, but they can paint a picture that will help you out:

Ask Candidates How They Heard About Your Company

Add this as a mandatory question on your application or web forms, and have recruiting coordinators, recruiters, and hiring managers ask this in initial conversations with job seekers. You'll be surprised to find out just how much value there is behind the content marketing that you're creating.

Survey Your Candidates and New Employees

Yes, surveys can sometimes be unnecessary, but they can tell you a lot about your candidates and how they perceive your employer brand.

Remember, your employer brand is evident in every touchpoint from the job description you publish, the company values you promote, the recruitment process (as viewed from the job seeker’s perspective), and the onboarding experience you provide.

Recrutiment team celecrating successful employer brandi results.

Market Through Your Existing Workforce

Although everything you say about your organization may be expertly curated to accomplish the positive employer brand you strive for, it is also just one piece of the puzzle. Your company’s existing workforce is a powerful voice that you can’t control.

Make sure the human resources department prioritizes the employee experience your company offers by looking after your company culture and the work-life balance of the team. Positive reviews and employee referrals from a current workforce that is truly happy and engaged are the real differentiators in employer brand marketing, and perhaps the most effective message you can place in front of potential new hires.

Naturally, the benefit of doing this does not end with employer branding. A positive employee experience also pulls through in the employee engagement and employee retention of your existing team.

The Employer Branding Toolbox

Google Analytics: An essential source of insight on what digital marketing efforts are working at driving traffic to your careers page.

Social Media: The platforms where you can best market yourself as an employer depend on your industry, your brand identity, and where you’ll best reach your target audience.

Social Management and Analytical Tools: Social media can be fun, but having a one stop shop to respond to all of your platforms and posts will make all the difference. Some great options when it comes to this are Sprinklr, Hootsuite, and Cliquify.

Writing Tools: Must haves to ensure your writing is up to par. Some of the best are Grammarly and Textio.

Reporting Tools: Whether you use Google Sheets, Excel, or Tableau, make sure you have a great tool for aggregating and analyzing data. You’ll also need a platform like Canva or Powerpoint to create digestible and presentable summaries that you can show leadership.

Design Tools: Designing is a key part of the job. Having access to the below will go a long way in designing graphics and videos:

Employee Advocacy Tools: These are platforms that can help you create content and messaging that your teammates can share externally to grow your employer brand:

In closing, you want to give your employer brand strategy the best chance to succeed. The principles shared above will help you educate your team, get buy-in from leadership, and provide the much-needed transparency that has been missing from the (considerable) work that goes into creating a positive employer brand.

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Alex Her

Alex currently resides in Austin, Texas, and enjoys all things employer branding, recruitment marketing, and candidate experience. Outside of work, he's also a co-founder of The EB Space, and is a founding leader on the Employer Brandwagon.

When he's not working he enjoys traveling, being with family, music, movies, podcasts, and mentoring others.

Featured in: Employer Brandwagon, Human Capital Institute, A-Z of Technical Hiring, Recruiting News Network, and Recruiting Daily.

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