How To Build A Strong Employer Brand

As job markets continue to become more congested it becomes increasingly challenging for growing businesses to attract talented candidates. In competitive industries employer branding becomes a vital factor to the success of an organization. If you can’t attract the attention of top talent, you fall behind.

Even if your company has great perks and awesome culture it may be lost on candidates due to poorly executed employer brand marketing, a faulty onboarding process, or even a few bad reviews.

Follow these steps to improve your employer brand and use that momentum to build a successful business.

What is an employer brand?

It’s important to understand all that goes into an employer brand. It’s not just the reputation your organization has as an employer. It includes the value proposition you provide to your employees and is made up of your company culture, the story you tell about your company, and the process an employee experiences from start to finish. Many factors contribute to employer branding such as your companies mission statement, the benefits you offer, workplace atmosphere, onboarding processes, HR procedures, the technology you use, and your employees' salaries. An effective employer brand frames your company as an awesome place to work. Several departments have a hand in influencing employer branding such as human resources, operations, marketing, and of course, senior leadership.

Why is your employer brand important?

If you’re reading this you probably understand that employer branding is important. But you may not understand exactly how important it can be. The positive effects of good employer branding can be so impactful, but the negative effects of bad employer branding can be even more so.

Positive effects of good employer branding:

  • Increase application rates, giving you more options
  • Attract the most talented candidates for your open positions
  • Improve customer brand perception
  • Develop a better company culture
  • Differentiate your company from competitors
  • Stand out in a competitive job market

Negative effects of bad employer branding:

  • Lower quality applicants
  • Low application rates, limiting your options
  • Reduced customer brand perception
  • Company culture suffers

Understanding brand perception

Brand perception is viewed from several different angles but almost all facets of your company can affect all forms of brand perception. One of the biggest driving factors of employer brand perception occurs when employees use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Glassdoor to share their experiences. Glassdoor reported that the majority (70%) of candidates read reviews before making career decisions.

While sites like Linkedin and Glassdoor provide notifications when employees review your business, the same is not true for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. For this reason, social listening services such as Hootsuite can become valuable tools for monitoring your companies employer brand perception. Listening is just half the battle. Responding to reviews in an appropriate way is important.

By listening to your employees you can identify the pain points that will influence the work needed to improve your employer brand. This will also give you an opportunity to identify brand advocates and incorporate them into your brand narrative.

Evaluate your employer brand reputation

In order to make progress, you need to know where you currently stand. Brand monitoring with social listening tools is a good place to start but there are several other tactics to employ that will aid in properly auditing your brands' reputation. Polls and surveys are a great way to get feedback from stakeholders within your organization. Exit interview procedures that measure satisfaction and identify pain points can provide invaluable insights as well. Based on the feedback received, you’ll want to create a strategy to improve your employer brand reputation.

Define your message

Once you’ve identified areas of improvement you’ll want to define a concise brand message. To do this effectively you want your message to be authentic. It should match the voice of your brand and clearly articulate what employees can expect working for you. This message should speak to candidates as well as existing employees. This message will influence the content used on your careers site, in advertising, and in video content. This conversation should be consistent with your customer-facing brand. The goal should be to present a cohesive visualization of the organization from the inside showcasing the human element while differentiating your brand from other companies in your space.

Identify your ideal candidate

This should be a persona more than a list of skills and requirements. This ideal candidate should fit into almost any role within your organization. When identifying their personality traits determine what their expectations are for your company. When putting together offers and benefits packages make sure the expectations of this ideal candidate are being met on a consistent basis. Everyone from the top to bottom of your organization should feel like their expectations are being met by you, their employer. Experiential programs such as employee value programs can aid in making employees feel valued. However, if these programs are neglected they can have a negative effect on your brand. Quality should be your focus and in tern, you’ll attract high-quality candidates.

Be in the right place at the right time

Once you’ve identified your ideal candidate you need to make sure they can find your job posting. Make sure you promote the position where your target talent is most likely to be present. This means exploring options such as Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Stack Overflow, or Indeed. Do some research to identify the best place to promote your jobs and whether or not you can afford to promote them on networks that have passive candidates rather than active candidates.

Promote Everything You Offer

When structuring your benefits offering make sure you’re properly showcasing all value propositions properly. Training courses, continued education, tuition reimbursement, and other tertiary benefits often don’t receive as much attention as the more well-known benefits. Think of your offerings as the solutions to problems that candidates are facing and promote them as a feature of your employer brand.

Messaging this from your official channels is essential. If you want to take it to the next level you want to leverage your employees to promote these benefits. Do this by providing a structure for employees to share their stories. Create a hashtag dedicated to your employer brand and encourage your team to tell their stories using the hashtag. The key here is that you follow through. Give them something to be proud of. This can be in the form of philanthropy, charitable giving, and volunteer work. Positive, fun, and engaging company culture stories will resonate well with potential candidates while helping build your employer brand. Give them something to be proud of being involved in.

Foster your company culture

Engage every individual within your organization and build a strong company culture based on the human element. Promoting your people is one of the best ways to build employer branding. When you showcase people and share how great they are it inspires candidates to put themselves in the same situation. When hiring select people based on how well they fit with the company’s values. The most skilled candidate isn’t always the right fit for the job. When developing employees focus on the positive impact their role has on the overall health of the company. This helps to make employees feel valued and keeps them focused on achieving their individual, departmental, and overall company goals.

Invest in your people to help them grow and feel like integral parts of the team. Learning and individual development initiatives have a major impact on employee satisfaction. If your employee sees you investing in them, they’re more likely to have a positive perception of the companies employer brand. Company cultures that provide opportunities for advancement have higher retention rates which allows them to keep top talent from leaving.

To improve company culture you’ll want to focus on personalizing the onboarding process. The saying “first impressions are everything” is true when it comes to employer branding. It can be difficult to come back from a bad candidate experience. A key factor to employee retention is a personalized experience and that starts with onboarding.

Start by mapping out talent progression. Map out a career roadmap for new hires that clearly identifies the opportunities they have within the organization. This roadmap should include the process by which they can advance such as required degrees, experience, skills, etc. Provide opportunities like tuition reimbursement, flexible schedules for employees attending school, on the job training, pay for online classes, etc. This customized plan makes new hires feel valued and motivates them to achieve their career goals within your company rather than looking outward in order to get ahead.

Continue to build good company culture by nurturing relationships with your staff. Good company culture involves everyone. From the executive level, down make sure that relationships between supervisor and subordinate occur. This will aid in building camaraderie among the workforce resulting in employees who feel like they have genuine connections with their coworkers. Open lines of communication are crucial to healthy company culture. Clear communication ensures that individuals understand the impact of their work, and their role in the story of your company. Internal communication tools like Slack can help foster open lines of communication as well. Embrace these forms of technology to promote proper communication.

Recognition for achievements and contributions also plays a big role in healthy company culture. Recognition boosts morale and furthers a sense of accomplishment. Showcase top performers on social media and with internal newsletters as well as gifts and perks to further foster good company culture.

Tell a story. Have a conversation

There’s no quicker way to turn off potential candidates than to seem stuffy and corporate. Avoid this by talking conversationally in communications with job seekers as well as customers. Tell compelling stories to represent the human element of your employer brand. Storytelling can be present in every step of the process from the job listing through the entire employee experience. Tell the story of your people and your company in your job descriptions. Include videos that tell the stories of your staff on your career pages, and share stories about your current employees on social media and within the organization.

Storytelling is an opportunity to make your brand unique. Tell the stories of your people using engaging relatable narratives that vibe with your company’s culture. By telling the story of employees who already fit the perfect mold of what you’re looking for it will attract talented candidates that likewise fit that mold. Draw from the experiences of your staff and all them to tell the stories of their own experiences. This will help your stories feel more authentic rather than coming from a corporate voice-over artist.

Take care of your reviews

As most shoppers read customer reviews online before buying so to do candidates before applying. Even if you do everything else correctly to build a good employer brand, if you neglect your reviews you could miss out on top talent. Third party review sites like Glassdoor are the primary source for this type of window shopping. Monitoring your company’s reviews on sites like Glassdoor and utilizing social listening tools you should be able to stay on top of negative reviews. However, it’s not just negative reviews that can have a negative effect on employer brand perceptions. Lukewarm and even positive reviews and social mentions should be given attention as well. Being receptive to praise and presenting your company as a caring organization can be achieved by engaging in conversations of all kinds, not just rebutting negative feedback. If you do get a negative review, reply back. The simple act of conversing about the issue results in an increase in perception.


In highly competitive job markets strong employer branding can be the difference between success and failure. Attracting the right candidates and reducing turnover is vital to maintaining a productive workforce and minimizing costs. The real cost of recruiting new employees is often far greater than the cost of making current employees happy. Several prominent studies have determined that the financial cost can be as high as six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. The intangible costs are extreme as well as turnover can have a ripple effect that stretches far throughout a company’s staff. Additional costs such as productivity cost (the time necessary for a new employee to perform at full capacity) and opportunities cost (lose business opportunities from a lack of sufficient human resources) further inflate this calculation. Combine all of this with lower productivity, workflow disruptions, and increased operational costs and the big picture quickly comes into focus. Retaining quality employees is important and deserves significant investment.

So we all agree that engaged, happy employees are more productive and it’s more effective to retain talent than it is to find new talent. How do we achieve this? This guide does a great job of offering several action items to move you in the right direction. It’s important to note that the most important factor cannot be found in a list of benefits or in a story on social media. The primary factors are company culture, values, and opportunities for advancement. Most of us aren’t working for benefits, we’re working toward a goal. Offering a path to that goal is the most relevant benefit any company can offer an employee. Culture and values needs to be fostered from senior leadership down.

As Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

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