Employer Branding For Dummies book cover

Employer Branding For Dummies

Authors:
Richard Mosley ,
Lars Schmidt
Published: February 21, 2017

Overview

Attract the very best talent with a compelling employer brand!

Employer Branding For Dummies is the clear, no-nonsense guide to attracting and retaining top talent. Written by two of the most recognized leaders in employer brand, Richard Mosley and Lars Schmidt, this book gives you actionable advice and expert insight you need to build, scale, and measure a compelling brand. You'll learn how to research what makes your company stand out, the best ways to reach the people you need, and how to convince those people that your company is the ideal place to exercise and develop their skills. The book includes ways to identify the specific traits of your company that aligns with specific talent, and how to translate those traits into employer brand tactic that help you draw the right talent, while repelling the wrong ones. You'll learn how to build and maintain your own distinctive, credible employer brand; and develop a set of relevant, informative success metrics to help you measure ROI. This book shows you how to discover and develop your employer brand to draw the quality talent you need.
  •  Perfect your recruitment marketing
  • Develop a compelling employer value proposition (EVP)
  • Demonstrate your employer brand ROI
Face it: the very best employees are the ones with the most options. Why should they choose your company? A strong employer brand makes the decision a no-brainer. It's good for engagement, good for retention, and good for the bottom line. Employer Branding For Dummies helps you hone in on your unique, compelling brand, and get the people you need today.
Attract the very best talent with a compelling employer brand!

Employer Branding For Dummies is the clear, no-nonsense guide to attracting and retaining top talent. Written by two of the most recognized leaders in employer brand, Richard Mosley and Lars Schmidt, this book gives you actionable advice and expert insight you need to build, scale, and measure a compelling brand. You'll learn how to research what makes your company stand out, the best ways to reach the people you need, and how to convince those people that your company is the ideal place to exercise and develop their skills. The book includes ways to identify the specific traits of your company that aligns with specific talent, and how to translate those traits into employer brand tactic that help you draw the right talent, while repelling
the wrong ones. You'll learn how to build and maintain your own distinctive, credible employer brand; and develop a set of relevant, informative success metrics to help you measure ROI. This book shows you how to discover and develop your employer brand to draw the quality talent you need.
  •  Perfect your recruitment marketing
  • Develop a compelling employer value proposition (EVP)
  • Demonstrate your employer brand ROI
Face it: the very best employees are the ones with the most options. Why should they choose your company? A strong employer brand makes the decision a no-brainer. It's good for engagement, good for retention, and good for the bottom line. Employer Branding For Dummies helps you hone in on your unique, compelling brand, and get the people you need today.
Employer Branding For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Employer branding can be boiled down to two steps: First, make your company a great place to work, and second, make sure everyone knows your company is a great place to work. Of course, it involves more than that. You need to know what employer branding is, why it matters, how to develop your employer value proposition, and some best practices.

Articles From The Book

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Human Resources Articles

Tips for Delivering Content for Your Employer Brand

When you have a clear idea of the look, feel, and function of your employer brand and career website, you’re ready to turn your attention to the most important component of any website — content. As you gather and create content for your website, follow these guidelines:

  • Align your content with your employer value proposition.
  • Tailor your content to the different talent groups you’re recruiting.
  • Write job descriptions that attract the right people and make everyone else think twice about applying.
  • Streamline the application process, so exceptional candidates aren’t turned off by an onerous chore.

Tailoring content to target groups for your employer brand

Writing branded content about your company and what a wonderful place it is to work is relatively easy, but it may not resonate with specific talent groups. What makes a company a great place to work for marketing people isn’t what makes it a great place to work for programmers, product development specialists, or operations analysts. Target content to different talent groups. Here’s how:
  • When developing content, consult personnel in the talent areas you’re targeting. For example, if your company is in dire need of software developers, ask the software developers in your company to be involved in content development. Ask them to produce content, make suggestions, or at least review content before posting it to your career website. Nobody knows more about what appeals to a certain talent group than the people in your company who belong to that group.
  • Provide a balanced mix of content throughout your website to showcase various departments and personnel that have openings you need to fill, such as administration, business development, engineering, design, operations, and legal. You may want to include more content for talent that’s a higher priority or give such content more prominence on your career website, but provide at least some content that speaks to each talent group you recruit.
  • If your value proposition differs substantially for different employee populations, consider creating a separate page for each talent group and populate that page with content that speaks more directly to each group. You may even want to create a microsite that focuses on recruiting high-demand talent.

Trying to appeal to everyone often appeals to no one. Overly general messaging fails to resonate with any given target group. Identify key talent groups, and ensure your career website clearly conveys your EVP to your most coveted prospects.

Writing effective job descriptions

Job descriptions are one of the least evolved tools in the corporate recruiting tool belt. They tend to be written for the benefit of the employer, not the employee. When writing job descriptions, don’t simply list job features and qualifications (employer needs); focus more on how the position is likely to benefit the candidate (employee needs). Focus as much on the feel as the facts.

Here are a few suggestions on how to infuse your job description with both facts and feel:

  • Add links to additional content and messaging, such as press releases, awards, employee blogs, multimedia, company social channels, and so on. Linking to addition content makes the job description more dynamic and interactive.
  • Include a 30-second video of the hiring manger talking enthusiastically about the specific position in the company and the unique work environment and camaraderie the department fosters.
  • Share stories of employees in similar roles and their career growth.
  • Include LinkedIn profiles or other social profiles of team members, so the prospect can envision how cool it would be to work with these extraordinary individuals.
  • Embed photos or videos of the office that reveal the company culture.
  • Include infographics and other visual media to convey the opportunity being presented.

Prospects may not view job descriptions until after they investigate a potential new employer, but they’re just as likely to encounter a job description when they take the first step on their job search journey. A high percentage of active job seekers start their search on the Internet using job-related terms instead of the names of specific employers.

Here are three suggestions to increase the availability and impact of a job description:
  • Make it mobile. Assume your primary audience will be reading the job description on a mobile device.
  • Make it meaningful. Avoid boilerplate templates and laundry lists of expectations.
  • Make it dynamic. Add photos, videos, and links to bring the job to life.

Consider using tools such as Clinch to frame job descriptions with other relevant contextual content. Such content may include day-in-the-life video profiles, photographs of the working environment, and tailored brand messages that highlight aspects of the overall employer brand promise that are known to be most relevant and important to the type of people targeted for the role.

Making it easy to apply

Face it, applying for a job can be annoying and frustrating. You come across that amazing job, spend hours getting your résumé and application together, submit your application, jump through a series of hoops, and then wait … and wait … and wait. This is the unfortunate reality for most job seekers today. Here are a few suggestions to make your application process less painful:
  • Apply for a job listed on your career site. How long did it take? How pleasant was the experience? Did you ever hear back about the status of your application? If you received a reply, did it have a personal touch or was it obviously a stock template? Applying to your own jobs is a great way to understand the application experience. It can be eye opening, revealing why your drop-off rate is so high and applications are so few.
  • Optimize for mobile. Make it easier for mobile users to navigate the application. Use white space. Keep sentences short. Don’t overdo the word count. Be sure to keep this in mind when writing the copy for your career site.
  • Audit the application process. Using tools such as Google Analytics, find out where applicants are dropping out of the process and focus your efforts on those points. While you’re at it, eliminate any nonessential steps and nonessential fields on the application form.
  • Manage expectations. Let the applicant know upfront how much time the application generally requires to complete and how the process will unfold. Consider adding FAQs to your auto-response application receipt confirmations to help set expectations when candidates apply.
  • Provide feedback. Inform applicants of where they are in the application process and how much further they need to go. After an applicant submits an application, send a timely confirmation message with some indication of when the applicant can expect to hear back.

Approach the online application process as an opportunity to find out more about potential candidates instead of as a way to weed out unqualified applicants.

Personalizing your response letters

Most companies confirm receipt of the application by sending an impersonal, computer-generated email. Such letters typically say nothing more than “We received your résumé. Thank you for applying.” That’s what applicants have come to expect; yes, the bar is that low. The good news is that this standard, impersonal approach presents you with a golden opportunity to exceed applicants’ expectations. Here are a few suggestions for adding a personal touch to your response letters and proactively addressing candidates’ questions and concerns:
  • Include graphics. Add a colorful, branded header image and one or two interesting or entertaining graphics in the body of the message.
  • Provide a hiring process overview. Remove the mystery of applicant volume, how applications are evaluated, the interview process, and the time frame.
  • Let candidates know when they can expect to hear back. You can relieve a lot of anxiety simply by managing expectations.
  • Lighten up. Use appropriate humor or some other approach to connect with the applicant on a more personal level and alleviate any tension.
  • Give applicants something to do. Include a link to check the application status and links to social channels where you post additional jobs content.

Keep your EVP in mind when composing response letters. The overall appearance and tone of your letters must align with your core positioning and brand pillars. To brand your company as the fun, creative place to work, for example, make sure your letter is both fun and creative.

When composing a rejection letter, show some compassion. Acknowledge the fact that rejection letters can disappoint and discourage job seekers. Let the applicant know how stiff the competition was and how difficult the choice was. Do your best to make the candidate feel good about herself and her qualifications and hopeful in her job search.

Human Resources Articles

How to Ensure a Positive Employer Brand Experience through Induction and Orientation

Once you’ve made an offer and it’s been accepted, you may think that you can take your foot off the employer brand marketing pedal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Onboarding talent in the right way is just as important as recruiting the right talent. If you succeed, high expectations will fast-forward into high engagement and high performance. Get it wrong, and disappointment will lead to disengagement and early attrition.

Focus on the fundamentals for a positive employer branding experience

As you launch your efforts to deliver a positive brand experience through induction and orientation, focus on mastering the fundamentals first. Here are the five onboarding practices that are essential to effective employer brand engagement and identification as well as to hastening the new hire’s time to performance (the time required for a new employee to begin paying dividends):
  • Set global standards while allowing for local tailoring. Set up a consistent global onboarding process across your organization to ensure close alignment with the EVP, effective application of technology, and consistent feedback and metrics. As with other employer brand management processes, give other divisions in your organization the freedom, within certain constraints, to localize the standards and practices to meet the needs and preferences of regional cultures, local business units, and specific talent segments.
  • Start orientation early and stretch it out. Successfully onboarding new employees requires a great deal more than a day-long induction session. As soon as the selected candidate accepts the offer, start some form of preboarding process. Extend your orientation to a period lasting 3 to 12 months.
  • Establish clear ownership and ensure seamless teamwork. HR generally owns the onboarding function, but it’s definitely a team sport. The reason a formalized process is required is because effective onboarding requires the close coordination of many different functions within the business. Prior to onboarding new employees, make sure the following departments are onboard:
    • Recruitment team: Responsible for ensuring a smooth handoff of the new employee to the department that person is assigned to and to other members of the onboarding team.
    • HR management: In charge of the overall delivery of onboarding, providing support to hiring managers and updating the process to meet the changing needs of the business.
    • IT and facilities: Tasked with ensuring new employees are appropriately equipped and enabled from day one.
    • Learning and development: Responsible for evaluating the learning and development needs of new employees and providing the educational and training resources required. Responsibilities include the provision of e-learning support through induction and orientation.
    • Line management: Takes the leading role in welcoming new employees and orienting them to their new roles and to colleagues and bringing them up to speed on performance objectives.
  • Leverage technology. Technology can play a highly effective role in guiding both new joiners and hiring managers through the onboarding process, as well as providing a more consistent on-brand experience. Technology support may include task flow management, socialization, and cultural orientation. A number of these services can be built onto an existing human resource management system (HRMS) or ATS, but the best in breed according to benchmarking research conducted by the Aberdeen Group are custom-built portals that are fully integrated into the wider talent management system, such as Workday Recruiting.
  • Leverage the power of data to optimize performance. Onboarding provides an important data set that that enables you to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) such as quality of hire. IT links the data collected during the hiring process, data collected during subsequent performance management, and data gathered during development processes to provide full-stream visibility into the employee life cycle. Linking these three data sets enables organizations to better understand the kind of interventions required during onboarding to ensure people feel fully engaged and accelerate to full performance in the shortest possible time.

Preboarding new hires

Recruiting a candidate shouldn’t stop the moment he accepts an offer, and neither should your employer branding efforts. Because most recruiting structures are transactional, they stop as soon as the selected candidate accepts the offer. This is a real risk for recruiting, particularly considering the competition for top talent in today’s markets. You can be assured your competitors aren’t slowing down in their efforts to woo your new hire. Make your offer more “sticky” by developing a plan to have the hiring managers, team, peers, and others involved in recruiting your new hire maintain communication during those vulnerable weeks between offer acceptance and start date. Here are a few things to consider in order to create a “white glove” onboarding experience:
  • Create an onboarding checklist for everyone who has a stake in the new hire, including your hiring manager/team, recruiting, HR, facilities, and IT. Establish clear expectation of who will do what and when, in order to ensure a smooth onboarding experience.
  • If the recruiter is making the offer, have the hiring manager follow up within 24 hours. Your hiring manager should congratulate the new hire, answer any questions, and make herself available for anything that comes up.
  • Assign a contact person to each new hire. Make sure the person has a point of contact at all times for any questions.
  • Have someone check in with the new hire every week. Don’t let the new hire fall off the radar.
  • Help new hires make a graceful exit from their current employers. Prep them for the exit/notice meeting, potential counteroffers, work transition, and so on. Understand that this is an emotional experience for some employees, and let them know you’re there to support them.
  • Send the new hire any resources, documents, links, and so on that help with understanding the company, team, role, and so on. Be sure to let them know that this “research” is entirely optional. They may be buried with transition work for their current employers, so don’t add to that stress or pull focus by adding mandatory preboarding reading.

Providing a warm welcome

Starting a new job is as stressful as it is exhilarating. By making your new hire feel welcome and attending to her creature comforts, you can mitigate the stress and ease the transition while initiating your retention efforts. Consider adding one or more of the following steps to your onboarding process to create a pleasant and memorable onboarding experience:
  • Send a welcome letter signed by the hiring manager and members of the department or team that will be working closely with the new hire.
  • Prepare and send the person a detailed itinerary of her first week, including any and all orientation sessions.
  • Prepare the person’s workspace to provide everything he’ll need — desk, chair, computer hardware and software, sticky notes, and so on. Be sure that IT sets him up with a network username and password. Nothing sucks the wind out of day one more than waiting hours to get a computer set up.
  • Schedule a team lunch or happy hour near the end of the person’s first week.
  • Assign an onboarding ambassador to answer questions and shepherd the new hire through the first couple of weeks.
  • Provide a tour of the building.
  • Schedule meetings with senior leaders.
  • Introduce your new hire to others new/recent hires.
  • Check in at the end of week one.
  • Schedule regular (weekly at least) check-ins during the first 90 days.
  • Establish clear goals, deliverables, and priorities for the onboarding period.

Designing an extensive orientation process

Many organizations allocate only a day or a few days to orienting new employees, but for best results, extend your orientation period to three months at the minimum and up to a year. Create a three-column table with the scheduled time periods in the left column, the onboarding phases in the center column, and objectives for each onboarding phase in the right column.

Consider adding a fourth column for assigning each onboarding phase/objective to the department(s) or individual(s) responsible for that phase/objective.

Human Resources Articles

Apply Customer Experience Thinking to HR Processes to Improve Your Employer Brand

Customer experience is an important part of employer branding. People often take for granted the planning and discipline required to deliver an excellent customer experience. When companies get this right, it often feels easy and natural, much like a great athletic performance, but it generally takes considerable effort to deliver a quality experience on a consistent basis. Consider the brand experience of an airline customer, and the complex coordination of services required to deliver a distinctively positive experience. More often than not, the process starts online with a digital experience:

  • How informative and easy to use is the website?
  • On the way to the airport can the customer check-in using her smartphone and keep up to date with any changes that may be affecting the flight schedule?
  • How easy is it for the customer to check in her bags?
  • How friendly and informative are the customer service assistants at the check-in desk?
  • Once onboard, how comfortable is the seat?
  • What kind of entertainment is available?
  • How good is the food being served?
  • How attentive is the cabin crew?
Getting all these experiential elements right (at a competitive price) lies at the heart of successful customer marketing. Delivering an excellent employment experience requires a similar coordinated effort throughout the company, often under the direction HR.

Thinking differently about HR and your employer brand

The reason leading airlines pay so much attention to the design and consistent delivery of the customer experience is that airline passengers (especially frequent flyers) can generally choose between providers. Because employees (especially the most talented) are also free to choose between employers, it surely makes sense for companies to apply the same rigor and discipline to managing the employment experience. This has not been the kind of thinking HR has conventionally applied, but the HR function looks set to go through another period of transformation with significant signs of convergence between talent management and customer experience management thinking.

Stop thinking of HR as an administrative function and start thinking of it as a customer service department for employees.

Reviewing your current employment experience

Shaun Smith, the author of Managing the Customer Experience (Pearson FT Press), identifies three levels of customer experience, with the ultimate goal of delivering a differentiated branded experience that’s not merely reliably good in delivering against service expectations but distinctively great in delivering unique customer value. The employee experience is generally more complex than most customer service experiences, but your company would benefit from adopting a similar approach. The goal is to climb the ladder from brand busters to brand signatures.

Spotting brand busters

Brand busters are employment experiences that undermine the employer brand for any number of reasons, such as the following:
  • Inconsistent experience: Inconsistencies in the employment experience are typically the result of having no people management process in place or executing the process that is in place inconsistently. Induction and orientation processes are prone to these kind of inconsistencies in many organizations.
  • Unsatisfactory experience: Employees are typically dissatisfied with the employment experience as a result of poor process design, insufficient investment, or both. In many organizations, employees are most often disappointed with career development and mobility.
  • Off-brand experience: The preceding two brand busters may relate to any aspect of the employment experience, but an off-brand experience is more specific to your employer brand promises. If you promise “a world of opportunities” but have no process or investment in place to advance employees’ careers abroad, then you have a classic brand buster on your hands.
In small to medium-size companies, a strong leadership presence and tightly knit culture can sometimes deliver a consistently positive employment experience with very few formal people management processes. In larger companies, an absence of well-designed and well-executed processes almost inevitably leads to significant inconsistencies. Even with well-designed processes, insufficient time and investment applied to training and communication lead to similarly poor or inconsistent employee experiences.

Identifying brand builders

Brand builders are consistently positive employment experiences resulting from professional, well-executed, but relatively standard HR procedures. To step up from brand busters to brand builders, all you need to do is figure out what your competitors are doing well and follow their lead. You don’t need to do anything special.

Raising the bar: Brand signatures

If your organization has successfully turned brand busters into brand builders, and has a consistently positive and professional approach to people management process, the next level to aspire to from an employer brand perspective is the development of signature experiences — elements of your company’s employment experience that make the experience unique and superior to that offered by competitors. Signature experiences are of value to employees and to the organization, but they also serve as constant reminders of the company’s culture and values. Signature experiences may be different by degree, in terms of the amount of emphasis or investment dedicated to the underlying process or practice. For example, you may have a career path model that is similar to other companies, but better because you invested more than your leading talent competitors in the kind of software that enables employees to map out different career options and training requirements. Alternatively, the employment experience could be different in kind, which means it includes elements unique to your organization. These generally require greater investment in imagination than money. Signature experiences may define processes that are so central to the organization, they could be seen by many as defining its core ethos, such as Kaizen, Toyota’s continuous improvement process, or GE’s lean-thinking Work-Out. In other cases, it simply represents a distinctive aspect of the business such as IBM’s online collaborative Jam sessions. Some companies, including Google and Virgin, seem to be naturally drawn to creating signature experiences.