I recently dove into the 5 impacts a strong Employer Brand can have on your company. The impacts are real, and you’ve got to set up a consistent process to achieve them. If you believe in the value that is possible, the next question is…where do you start?
There’s good news and bad news as you get started…your Employer Brand already exists. The first steps you take in building your Employer Brand are really just revealing it. Once you gain comfort in revealing your Employer Brand, you can begin the process of shaping it.
It’s been argued that you should start your branding process with an audit & analysis. It’s absolutely true that you need analytics to understand the good and bad in your Employer Brand. Brent Minchington has brilliantly mapped the components of an Employer Brand in the ecosystem shown below. There are many areas of impact that you will need to understand.
That said, you can’t let audit & analysis get in the way of doing. I’ve often referred to “paralysis by analysis” during the course of my career. This is no different. Doing is when you find out what your company culture is really all about.
In revealing your Employer Brand from a recruiting perspective remember that candidates are looking for three things as they discover new jobs: who would I work for?, who would I work with?, and what is the work environment like? Approaching your communications in this way gives you a better chance at aligning your company with top candidates.
As you reveal your brand, you are going to find things that aren’t complimentary. Perhaps it’s a low Glassdoor rating, or maybe your company does not index well on Payscale. There are going to be tweets, reviews, comments, and pictures that may not be representative of the Brand you prefer. However, reality is what candidates are looking for…so get out of your comfort zone.
Remember, conducting an audit & analysis is important, but don’t let it get in the way of doing. Taking your first steps in revealing your Employer Brand will open up new channels of discovery and communication.
Here’s 3 steps to get started:
1. Think Internal…then External
Your first instinct may be that Employer Branding is a series of outward facing marketing campaigns. You’re certainly going to push content outward, but you also need to think inward. A good place to start is to look inside your company for stories, news, and events that get your own employees excited. These items may be around recent hires, the latest company outing, or upcoming enhancements to your company benefits package. Make a quick list of content that may get your own people excited.
Next you can start to look at external influences on your company. Again, these can be topics that get your own employees interested. That is a great barometer of what will work externally. If your internal team is not excited about a topic, that will come across to your outside audience. Stories focused on external topics may be the latest customer case study, someone that is using your product(s) in innovative ways, or news on key competitors.
As you aggregate your list of personal stories, company news, and milestones keep both your external and internal audiences in mind. You’ll look at what your internal audience is interested in first, then start to look outward .
The list you compose will be a starting point, and it will come in handy for Step #3. And by the way, the list should not take you more than 30 minutes to compose. Just look at the Employer Branding ecosystem chart, and you’ll have plenty of ideas.
Brett Minchington’s ecosystem places several key components of an Employer Brand on internal functions. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on internal content before broadcasting out.
2. Gather Stakeholders
You’ve got people on your team who are the folks you want meeting top candidates during the final interview. You consider them your closers. They know their stuff, they are outgoing, and they believe in the company mission. Now is the time to give them a stronger voice.
Pick out a person from each department, and ask them to contribute to the Employer Branding effort. You don’t need to be overbearing about the requirements. You just need to get their commitment in helping you once a month for 60 minutes. Make sure you get a variety of people from different departments. The more diverse the better.
This team should be comprised of 4-6 people. Don’t run a vote, don’t ask around, just engage the right folks. You know who they are because they have likely helped you before. If things go well, you’ll have other folks wanting to get involved too.
Don’t schedule meetings and make involvement cumbersome. Utilize collaboration tools such as Google Docs to share your ideas, and have your stakeholders chime in. You want to empower this group to speak their mind, not feel like this is an obligation. It’s got to feel like an opportunity. An opportunity to positively impact the direction of the company.
3. Launch an Employment Blog
Now you’ve got to choose a venue for you and your stakeholders to start expressing yourselves. There are plenty of free services to use, or ones that have minimal cost. I’ve personally utilized WordPress for the majority of my blogging. It’s fairly easy to use, you can set up your stakeholders with permissions, and you can scale your usage from small to very large. Other than WordPress, lots of folks like Tumblr. The advantage of Tumblr is that it’s very visual with a more simplistic setup.
You’ll also have to choose a title and URL. “Employment blog” likely won’t make for a good title. I’d suggest using something straightforward that goes with your culture. Top Employer Brands like Adobe and NPR have chosen titles such as Life@Adobe and #NPRLife. Just make sure you don’t get too cute. Choose something simple that makes sense, and will be long lasting.
A key decision to make when setting up your blog is to enable commenting. You may choose to use a service like Disqus or Livefyre. These are good choices as it allows people options for commenting via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. WordPress should make this easy for you.
Once this is done, get started on your editorial calendar. Get your stakeholders lined up one by one, and start releasing content at least once per week. Consistency is the key. Your employees will come to expect the communications, and you’ll quickly get a sense of topics that gain traction…even if they are topics full of feedback for improving your company.
As a side note, make sure to buddy up to someone on your web team for helpful hints. Your company may already have a blog you can tap into, or the web team may already have an understanding of what you are trying to do and will help. You’ll also want their help in linking your Employment Blog to your Careers Page
Big bonus: Your new Employment Blog will be 10X easier to update than your Careers Pages itself. You can also take more liberties and have some fun with it.
As you start to reveal your Employer Brand, it’s going to get downright scary. However, you’ve got to be an excellent listener to build a top-notch Employer Brand. What you learn from your candidates and employees will likely be superior to anything you learn from a static company survey.
Be mindful of the brand you are striving for, but trust that authenticity is what your employees and candidates crave. No doubt you’ll want to curate any communications that are lewd or out of line, but that is likely to be rare.
As you start listening, you are going to get loads of new ideas. Try to remember that you are just getting started, and that you will not optimize your Employer Brand overnight. Your starting point is simply to start dialogue for all to see in a venue that is authentic. With consistency, you will start to see many opportunities for the long-term.