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How to improve your employer brand

Companies with strong, identifiable brands generally outperform their market peers when it comes to attracting top-performing talent in their respective industries, according to a study by Alexander Mann Solutions, a talent management firm.

The firm quoted a 2013, LinkedIn and Lippincott research looking at the intersection of talent brand and corporate brand, as measured by their own proprietary indices. In looking at hundreds of companies, research showed that companies with both a strong talent and corporate brand had a five-year cumulative growth in shareholder value of 36%.

For companies that fell short in both areas, shareholder value decreased by 6% over the same time. That brand matters when it comes to acquiring top talent is an insight not lost on talent acquisition leaders.

According to LinkedIn, 75% of talent acquisition leaders acknowledge that their ‘talent brand’ or ‘employer brand’ has a significant impact on their ability to attract and hire high-performing recruits.

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The  relative power of this employer brand is rooted in the experience that a candidate has whenever they interact with an organisation, whether that interaction is passive or active.

According to a 2014 survey of nearly 95,000 candidates by the Talent Board, 52.3% indicated they had some type of previous relationship with an organisation— everything from being a customer through having a family or friend who works there.

The importance of the employer brand will only increase as workforce demographics skew towards the ‘Millennial’ generation—those born between the early 1980s and the late 2000s. Indeed, a 2013 report by PwC found that a company’s reputation—that is, the strength of its brand in the marketplace—was the second most important criterion when millennials chose to accept their current job.

In other words, Millennials choose employers much like they choose which products or services to buy. If they feel an affinity for the organisation, they’re much more likely to pursue career opportunities there. What’s more, if it lives up to their expectations, the more likely they are to recommend it to others.

By developing and implementing a proactive strategy to measure and invest in their talent brand, a company has the best possible chance of recruiting the top talent available.

Below are the key factors necessary to creating and maintaining the kind of employer brand that attracts the best of the best.

Think like a consumer marketer

Employer brand managers and talent acquisition professionals must make a transition and approach the process as how a consumer marketer would. This includes social media, which can be used as a platform to not only tell those compelling stories, but enables them to be shared with a much wider audience.

They must also, as marketers do, constantly measure the impact of their messages and their channels—and course correct as necessary.

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Reinvent the way you interact with candidates

Look for ways to improve the candidate experience throughout the talent acquisition process. Create convenient, personalised experiences every step of the way—not just when you’re trying to build a talent pool for a particular position.

Base your process on the candidate experience

Start first by mapping out the ideal candidate experience and alter your process to facilitate the experience. Look at your competitor’s candidate experience and learn what you should avoid or co-opt.

Get insight into your audience

Consumer marketers go into a great amount of detail to understand their consumers by creating fictional personas—a hypothetical group of customers that identify patterns of behavior, goals, skills, attitudes.

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Implement consistently across all touchpoints

It’s also important to deliver a consistent experience at every stage of the candidate experience. Candidates should feel just as special on the day they begin their new job as they did on the day they had their first interview with the hiring manager, or on the day they received their job offer.

Measure everything

Consider measuring candidate experiences using a measure like the Net Promoter Score. Ask qualitative questions of candidates once they have completed the process: What did they enjoy most? What was most frustrating? Why did they apply in the first place? Track your performance over time and constantly look for opportunities to improve.

Communicate throughout the process

If you do a phone screen, give the candidate some honest feedback. If a candidate comes to your careers site, acknowledge the visit with an email explaining your hiring process, or a video that espouses your company’s values.

Think like a candidate

Another timeless reminder: treat others as you’d like to be treated. This Golden Rule is especially important if you want to ensure every candidate has a positive experience.

Be a person first, and an HR manager or recruiter second 

People want to deal with people. Make your hiring process as personal as you can. You’re not a robot and neither are your candidates – yet!

Set expectations

This is part of the communications process but it deserves special attention. Don’t leave people wondering where they are in the process, or if they’ve been disqualified. Let them know what your process is, when they can expect to hear back, and how quickly you’re planning to make a decision.

The candidate experience is a two way street

It’s vital to remember that today’s candidates are assessing you as a potential employer as much as you’re assessing them as a potential employee. As much as they present themselves in a way that makes them attractive to you, it’s important that you put your best foot forward as well.

(Photo courtesy: Shutterstock)

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