A common question in today’s market is “How can I hire the right people when I need them in such a competitive market?” While some organizations have household name recognition or limitless compensation resources, most of us have limited market presence and resources. This does not mean we are not great places to work or fail to offer a superior work environment or opportunities, it is just we are not known to potential candidates. In order to counteract the “hidden gem” problem, a growing number of organizations are turning to employer branding.
What is employer branding? In the simplest sense, it is the application of the marketing concepts and tools utilized to gain customers to attract and hire potential employees. An employer’s brand is the perception that current, past, and potential employees have regarding what it is like to work for your organization. These perceptions include most major elements of the workplace experience, including culture, work environment, management style, opportunities, and rewards. Just like with many major products or brands, certain words, phrases, or descriptions will correspond with each employer and the associated workplace. Moreover, when combining perceptions, a hierarchy develops that current as well as potential employees rank employers.
While all employers have a brand by design or not, it requires serious and continuous commitment to have a successful brand that attracts and secures the most desirable candidates. A successful branding process typically includes:
- becoming familiar with the characteristics of your organization;
- assessing the characteristics and needs of your potential candidates;
- gaining insight into the brand and approach utilized by your competitors;
- defining your value proposition or what makes your organization superior to your competitors; and
- developing and executing your brand and branding strategy.
A first step to launching as well as maintaining your organization’s brand is to conduct a comprehensive and open assessment of what is positive and negative about your organization. Very few, if any organizations will only have positive traits, so it is important to have a realistic image of the traits present within your organization.
If your organization subscribes to the idea that potential employees would be lucky to work here, many strong candidates will opt to look elsewhere. In the current labor market, organizations have to be selling their workplace and not expecting high quality hires to focus on sell themselves. Consequently, it is important that employers have a good understanding of the preferences, needs, and interests of the high quality candidates that they are interested in recruiting,
Since most employers do not have the luxury of being the sole, desired employer, it is critical to understand what your competition is offering and how you can demonstrate your competitive advantage compared to opportunities in their workplace.
Based on the strengths of your organization and knowledge of your competitor’s practices, what you offer potential employees that differentiates your organization should be defined and the associated communication materials developed.
Defining your competitive advantage provides the basis for your brand, but your strategy puts your brand into practice. In the most successful organizations, the brand strategy impacts potential candidates as well as current and past employees.