Winning The Employer Branding Game With Authenticity

Kelsey Louise Ozuna
31.01.20 15:31

For a lot of industries, sectors, business areas and what have you, there is a tight battle for talent amongst companies and organizations. Everyone seems to be scrambling in trying to attract and retain the talent they both want and need for their business to boom. But not everyone is in the know on how to succeed and beat their competitors for top talent.

Enter employer branding. It's the compelling reason for why a candidate should want to come work for you over a competitor, and why an employee stays instead of being tempted by other offers.

As an employer branding strategist, I work with a multitude of companies that want to do just that, attract and keep the best talent. They want to reel in the crème-de-la-crème of candidates and turn them into dedicated long-term employees. Employees who will increase performance and as a result, profits.

It seems though that some C-level execs and HR managers haven't gotten the memo that for an employer brand to be effective, it has to be the real deal.  And by the real deal, I mean authentic as heck.

These top dogs seem to have gotten it in their heads that they are the ones that should decide what their employer brand is, instead of how it actually is. I've been asked a few times to look at what Google is doing and copy them. Which should go without saying, is all sorts of wrong. 

We live in a reality where 75% of candidates consider a company’s brand before applying. So, why would you want to copy someone else's brand when you have a perfectly unique brand that already exists within your company? I'm passionate about employer branding done right, so below I've gathered up a few reasons on how an authentic employer brand can help your company grow the way you want it to.

You attract the right fits

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, employer branding helps you find the right people. People who will not only be a great match in the roles you have available, but who will also fit in nicely with your company’s culture. It’s important to attract the right candidates, as it simplifies the recruitment and hiring processes (as well as making these processes more cost-efficient).

Did you know that employer branding helps bring in candidates that are 50% more qualified and it reduces employee turnover rates by 28%? Of course, this is all dependent on how things like your company’s culture and values are communicated. Your vibe attracts your tribe, so to speak.

By leveraging your culture and values, candidates get the chance to see what makes your company different from the rest. And I’m not even just talking about active candidates (people who are on an active job hunt), but also passive candidates (people who are currently employed and may be open to new opportunities). A lot of people don’t realize they are candidates until they come across a role or company that sparks an interest and on a whim decide to apply.

And for the record, I strongly advise against slapping on a few generic values to your career website and calling it a day. Most companies take the lazy way out and add “hard-working” to their list of values. It’s the basic bitch of company values and comes across as unoriginal and boring. Hard-working should be a given for any company that aims to be successful. It isn't a value.

What’s worse than the basic bitch of core values is copying from companies that you admire and look up to. In this case, imitation is not the best form of flattery. Your values need to be unique to help you stand out from the crowd, not blend in with the rest.

A company's true and lived-in values should have something to say on how your employees treat each other, interact with customers, solve problems, and approach conflict. Values directly communicate what people can expect from your company; candidates, employees, and clients alike! The right candidates will see those values and compare how they match up with their own. Which only makes for a more effective workplace.

People are good bullshit detectors

We live in an era where the term “fake news” has become apart of our realities. Most people nowadays are generally more careful about accepting information at face value, and they’re not afraid to investigate before making up their minds. We want to be informed, and we want to be informed now. With an endless amount of information available at our fingertips, transparency is important when it comes to a company’s employer brand.

Take into consideration our collective obsession with rating and reviewing services, restaurants, hotels, and more on Google, Yelp, and Tripadvisor. We lean more towards what’s real, and a company’s reputation as an employer is no different. 

….And we don’t want to feel tricked

No one likes the feeling of being duped. And this is precisely what you risk if your internal and external employer brands don’t add up. If new hires are genuinely shocked at what it’s actually like to work for you, then that should clue you in on that something isn’t right.

If you market yourself as a workplace that's relaxed and chill, and new hires get there and it's actually high pressure and stressful, then you have a sure fire way of losing the talent you worked so hard to get. People want to know what they are getting themselves into. Don't tell candidates what you think they want to hear, tell them exactly what they can expect once they transition from candidate to employee. 

It’s like that old saying:

Be yourself because everyone else is taken.

 

It empowers your existing employees

An employer brand isn’t something that should come from the top-down. It’s an all-hands-on-deck-sort-of-deal, where everyone from the newbies to the top dog execs should be involved. And if you don’t include people from across your organization, you risk creating a brand that’s true only to those at the top. Which believe me, their experiences are very different from the people in the lower levels of the proverbial food chain.

By giving your employees a voice in how they perceive their workplace, you’re engaging them and showing them their opinion matters. Everyone wants to feel like they belong to the place they spend a third of their day at. And, when we feel like we belong, we become that much more loyal to the company, which enables us to spread the gospel about what a great employer we have.

In terms of recruitment, your existing employees are always going to be more relatable, and trustworthy, to candidates than your actual employer brand is. They are the ones who can tell anyone who is interested, exactly what it's like to work where they work. Share their stories, journeys and projects with the outside world. Encourage them to be real and honest, and find the gems that speaks to candidates on a human relatable level.

People trust people. So, don't be afraid to ask your employees to get involved with your employer brand marketing.

The bottom line is...

Employer branding and authenticity are like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. Nobody likes being fooled or lied to, and we want our workplaces to be how we perceived them when we were on our candidate journey. Do this by giving real and authentic insight, so that everyone is on the same page on what it’s like to be on the clock from Monday through Friday within your four walls.

Involve your employees, across roles, functions, and responsibility levels, in your employer branding initiatives. Doing so will guarantee that you strike the nerve of your company's genuine brand.

Share your employees' actual experiences in an effort to attract others who will make a great fit within your company. Encourage your employees to share their stories about what it’s like to work at your company, and I guarantee, you’ll find a few golden nuggets that your marketing department couldn’t dream of even if they tried.

People trust people more than they do companies and brands. And your candidates will want to hear from your existing employees before actually applying for whatever role you have available.

If you manage to do all this, well then, I promise that you’re well on your way to winning the employer branding game.

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