Do’s & Don’ts of Employer Branding as a Recruitment Strategy

By: Christina Zurek
employees participating in a photo booth

We spend a lot of time sharing our thoughts on how to engage and retain top talent. But there’s no denying that the race for recruiting those high-performers in the first place weighs heavy on the minds of company leaders, too. The ultimate question facing companies today: What can we do to stay top of mind with both active and passive job seekers to sustain the talent pipeline we need?

Two words: Employer branding.

Advertising Spend Is No Longer the Answer

Years ago, you could just pour more money into job ads and other traditional recruitment strategies to buy yourself more visibility where job seekers were looking. While those placements still play a part in an overall recruitment strategy, technological advances and fundamental changes in the job market have challenged talent acquisition teams to think bigger and bolder.
One way leading organizations are thinking big and bold is by controlling the narrative of their employer brand. This strategy works because it enables companies to share their unique stories in authentic and attractive ways. The end result? Potential new hires are captivated from the start—and the employees you already have are aligned and supportive advocates telling your story to their friends, family and communities. Talk about a win-win.
To amplify your efforts—and avoid potential missteps—here are five employer branding do’s and five employer branding don’ts you’ll want to keep in mind:
  1. Demonstrate Authenticity
    Authenticity must be a top priority in a successful employer branding effort. Establish an honest brand based on your personal experience and employee feedback. Be truthful and transparent when it comes to painting a picture of what it is really like to work for your company to avoid post-hire surprises and attract the talent that will like your company for who it really is.

    Related: See how these examples of great employer brands use the power of authenticity to attract and retain their top talent.

  2. Use Your Current Employees as Spokespeople
    To demonstrate this authenticity, feature honest perspectives in employees’ own words. Your story will be more credible for future talent and your current employees will feel honored that you want to promote their voices.

  3. Create Consistency in How You Share Your Employer Brand Message
    Using your mission statement, company purpose and core values as the foundation, create consistency in your messaging across all your company’s internal communication, recruitment and brand channels. Each of these channels should convey the same overall message to maximize branding effectiveness.

  4. Socialize Your Employer BrandIn addition to traditional brand channels, having a social media presence is expected in today’s market and for good reason: It’s a great place to promote your business and to create a unique identity for your company in a less formal way. In addition to promoting your brand directly through various social channels, ensure current team members know appropriate ways they can amplify the unique identity of your company through their own social channels.  In fact, brand messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus the same messages shared via official brand social channels.

  5. Align Your Employer Brand with Your Business Strategies
    As your business changes, your employer brand might need to as well—and that’s ok. In today’s disruptive world, companies often change up their areas of focus. An effective employer brand message should align with and support those strategies, so never think of it as a “set it and forget it” type of project. Just be sure your current employees know why (and how) the change is happening to ensure you bring them along with you in an open and transparent way.
  1. Ignore Online Reviews
    While an up-to-date website is essential, you cannot overlook company review platforms and social media. These have an even larger influence on your employer brand because job seekers see them as less biased and more accessible. Review sites and social media are most likely where your ideal candidates already hang out, too, so it’s easier to make an impact when focusing on those mediums.

  2. Set It & Forget It
    I know, I technically already shared this one—but it bears repeating. Your business of today might look very different in the years to come. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on necessary brand message evolution. Make it a best practice to periodically review branding materials to ensure they are consistent with current strategy and still feel like authentic representations of your culture and larger organization.

  3. Promote Your Message Through Only One Medium or Channel
    The universal truth in marketing right now is that personalization—the ability to provide content when and how a user wants it—is a trend that’s here to stay. The same goes for how you socialize your employer brand messages. Provide videos, photos, slideshows, blogs and other messaging to ensure you're reaching people the way they like to learn and via the places they like to learn from. But be sure to tailor your content for based on what medium works most effectively for a given channel. For example, consider putting full-length employee testimonial videos on your company website and clipped footage on Instagram.  

  4. Settle for a Surface-Level Brand Story
    The goal of employer branding should be for your company to stand out, which means you need to be selective in choosing what you want to highlight. Great people work at all companies. And most companies offer interesting work and a path for people to grow long-term. Push yourself to think deeper than these common messages so that you can zero in on what you can offer that others cannot.

  5. Confuse Employer Brand With Company Brand
    While you can certainly lean on the marketing team for ideas and best practices, don’t make the mistake of applying that company brand too closely to your employer brand. What will resonate with your employees or potential employees is fundamentally different than what your customers are after, and those messages need to be tailored by audience to be effective.  
At the end of the day, your employer brand message should answer one key question: “Why would someone want to work here?”
It’s a simple enough question but we know it takes time, effort and lots of introspection to answer. If you’re looking for more thoughts on this topic, check out my suggestions on how to build an employer brand strategy from the ground-up.

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

Christina is an experienced leader with a passion for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and workplace culture. Few things excite her as much as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar (be that a project, development opportunity, travel destination, food, drink or otherwise), though digging in to a research project is a close second.