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Build an employer brand

by Bryan Adams
Indian Management October 2021

"Busting the following myths-
MYTH 1: An employer brand should help my organisation attract talent
MYTH 2: The more applications, the better
MYTH 3: Candidates trust what our company has to say
MYTH 4: If we build an employer brand, our teams will use it
MYTH 5: Employer brand and consumer brand are two different things"

Did you know that up to 69 per cent of job-seekers would reject a job offer from a company with a bad reputation—even when unemployed?

In today’s world, brand reputation is everything. It does not matter whether you are marketing to consumers or hiring talent, how your company is perceived can either send your business soaring to new heights or crashing to the ground.

To help shape this perception and build an employee experience that benefits the company and its people, many organisations have invested time, resource and budget into the development of an employer brand.

Despite the best intentions, a high percentage of companies fail to capitalise on the opportunities of a well-designed employer brand and EVP (employee value proposition).

This does not have anything to do with a lack of intelligence, exuberance, or investment. Quite the opposite, in fact. It has to do with a simple yet radical shift in the way we approach and think of employer branding.

In this article, we will break down five of the most common myths that permeate the employer brand space—and provide you with actionable tips to avoid these pitfalls and ensure your organisation comes out on top.

MYTH 1: An employer brand should help my organisation attract talent
Employer brand 101 says an employer brand is designed to attract talent. Google it and you will find that basic premise all over the internet.

But here is the surprising truth: it is wrong! I believe the most valuable use of an employer brand and EVP is to help your organisation repel talent. It sounds illogical, but stay with me.

Think of your employer brand and EVP as a smart filter that sits between your recruitment marketing and your recruitment, helping to weed out people that are not suitable.

An authentic employer brand should articulate the harsh realities, vulnerabilities, and challenges that people are willing to overcome—and pair that with the benefits they stand to receive in return.

If you do this right, it will turn most people away.

“But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an employer brand?”

No, of course not. An employer brand isn’t solely about attracting talent to your organisation—it is about repelling the many to compel the few.

Myth 2: The more applications, the better
There is a common myth in the talent attraction space that generating more candidate applications is a good thing. While this could be true in a few cases, for most companies an employer brand should not aim to drive a higher quantity of applications in isolation.

When employer brand is used solely to increase applications, this can cause a surge in volume that leads to problems—hiring teams can quickly become overwhelmed, applications can go unread, and the candidate experience will suffer.

Over the years, I have consulted with many different businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether they realised it or not, not one of them ever wanted to generate more applications alone.

What employers really want are more of the ‘right’ applicants—based on competency, potential, culture alignment, and diversity. If we stop thinking of EVP as a tool to attract people to a brand and start thinking about it like a smart filter designed to reduce the number of applications, then we can craft messages that help people self-select out of the recruitment process (who ultimately wouldn’t be happy working at your organisation).

This will help you compel the right individuals that will thrive under the unique conditions and expectations of your employee experience.

Myth 3: Candidates trust what our company has to say
Many companies, especially the most successful ones, assume that their experience, heritage, and success in the marketplace somehow makes them a voice of authority that people will inevitably trust.

This is far from the truth. Today’s job-seekers are increasingly sceptical about what companies say–and are quick to call them out.

According to LinkedIn, candidates trust a company’s employees 3x more than the company itself to provide credible information on what it is like to work there.

This is exactly why review sites such as Comparably, Glassdoor, and Trust-Pilot are so popular—because consumers and candidates are more wary, cautious, and apprehensive of companies than ever before.

If you want to create a powerful employer brand rooted in authentic human values, then you need to leverage real stories that people can identify with. And who are the most powerful brand influencers out there?

Well, the good news is you probably have an abundance of them—it is your employees! To build a brand that resonates with people on a personal level, you need to create an affinity and empathy for personal circumstances. Employee stories can help you achieve this. Even the smallest stories that demonstrate personal circumstance can convey empathy and compassion in ways that big budget marketing or employer brand campaigns cannot.

Myth 4: If we build an employer brand, our teams will use it
One of the most common myths of employer brand is that talent acquisition teams will magically know what to do with it once it has been defined. The truth is, handing a playbook to talent teams and expecting them to hit the ground running without any context is asking for trouble.

To move the needle, organisations must evangelise the employer brand internally, taking the time to teach recruiting teams how to use the EVP to connect with candidates.

The most successful organisations use storytelling to demonstrate and celebrate their EVP. This ensures that hiring managers can promote your brand externally with confidence and enthusiasm, while also making candidates aware of the challenges that must be overcome.

Myth 5: Employer brand and consumer brand are two different things
While employer brand and consumer brand are ostensibly focused on different audiences, your candidates and customers only see you as one brand.

This is one of the most popular myths in the industry, and it stems from an internal-toexternal view of the organisation. While you may have separate departments for marketing and talent attraction, people outside the walls of your company do not see these internal divisions—all they see is one face, one brand. Making this distinction is an important step, and it can help you improve not only your recruitment goals, but also your customer acquisition and retention. Today, the way you treat your employees has a direct impact on how people shop and spend with you.

When Microsoft announced an additional three months’ parental leave to help parents cope with home-schooling, did that change how you feel about the brand? Or look at how Brian Chesky, Founder and CEO at Airbnb, handled the mass layoff of 1900 people during the pandemic. Rather than simply let staff go, he offered every single one of them a generous 14 weeks extra pay.

The lesson is clear: employer brand values and ethics that you put into action will change how people perceive your company. You can either take proactive action to shape this perception for the better, or take no action and have it shape you.

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