Ah, employer branding. As with any popular—dare we say trendy?—topic, discussions of employer brands and employer branding are often loaded with misconceptions. Some people are confused about what it is, some are confused about how it works, and some are confused about how to do it. The result? General difficulty for recruiters trying to create, leverage, or refine a strong employer brand, owing to the many and manifold myths that surround this critical recruiting topic. Luckily, we’re here to help! Here are a few myths about employer branding, debunked.
1. It’s a One-time Activity
For some, the phrase “employer branding” conjures up images of big pushes towards a single splashy marketing campaign. For others, it might evoke a boardroom full of executives “deciding” what your employer brand is going to be. Neither of these images is quite correct. Rather than something that you do once and then never have to do again, employer branding is an ongoing activity that requires continual attention, consideration, and effort. Think of it this way: no one considers traditional branding to be a one-and-done activity—that would be absurd. So why should we expect a given company to be able to pick an employer brand that suits them, broadcast it to the world exactly once, and then never think about it again?
2. If You Don’t Build an Employer Brand, You Won’t Have One
This next myth relies on the same type of logic we saw in the one above. “Employer brands are created in the board room,” the reasoning goes, “so they must not exist before those meetings and discussions take place.” On the contrary, you do have an employer brand whether you’ve deliberately crafted one or not. Because employer branding specifically refers to the way a business is perceived as a place of employment, everyone who’s ever worked for your company has helped to create a public narrative about how your business treats its employees. Some of this might reflect positively on you, but in all likelihood, if you’re not taking steps to control this narrative, you’re not going to like it. A few disgruntled employees might easily derail your positive image, and if you’re not actively working to create a strong narrative about your company in people’s minds, you run the risk of never recovering that positive image. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the case of employer branding your target candidates will fill in the gaps with unpredictable information if your messaging doesn’t reach them.
3. Employer Brand and EVP are Interchangeable
In the post up to this point, we’ve tried to convey a fundamental truth about employer branding: no company is in complete control of its public image, but real, ongoing effort can go a long way towards creating a positive narrative in the minds of your ideal job candidates. With that out of the way, we can get a little bit more into the weeds in terms of the myths that adversely impact recruiters’ attempts to build strong employer brands. This first one might seem a bit subtle, but you’ll have to trust us that it’s important: employer brand and EVP are not the same thing. Yes, your employer brand should absolutely be strongly influenced by your EVP (i.e. the various ways in which your company provides value to employees, including everything from salary and benefits to educational opportunities, career advancement, and office perks), but that doesn’t mean your EVP is the only thing at play. Letting potential job seekers know who you are and what your story is can be just as important as giving candidates a sense of what’s in it for them. It might seem like perks and money are the most important things for talent acquisition, but in point of fact the biggest hurdle that stops people from taking a job at a new company is being unable to envision what their lives will look like going forward. By giving candidates a strong brand narrative that they can latch onto, you help them to understand not just the benefits, but the day to day realities of a position at your business. Rather than seeing your company as little more than a provider of cushy benefits, applicants should be able to see where they fit into an ongoing brand story that’s inspiring, delighting, and engaging.
4. It’s Only for Large Companies with Huge Budgets
Crafting a strong employer brand requires active effort on the part of your business, but that doesn’t mean it has to completely break the bank. In the first myth, we discussed the fact that many people picture employer branding as a boardroom-based activity; not only does this lead people to erroneously believe that employer brands can be manufactured out of whole cloth, it leads to the belief that only large companies with vast marketing budgets and lengthy lists of C-level executives are in a position to undertake strong employer branding efforts. Luckily, this simply isn’t the case. Especially with the rise of social media as an alternative for sourcing and attracting job candidates, recruiters can increasingly manage their employer brands with the same tactics that modern marketers are using. Consistent, engaging social media posting, consistent blogging, and other daily branding activities can go a long way toward establishing your business as an employer of choice within your field, even if you can’t splurge on a big, splashy marketing campaign.
5. It Can’t Be Measured
This last myth is one of the most pernicious. Many recruiters think that because employer brand is a somewhat abstract concept, it can’t be measured. On the contrary, businesses can and really should take steps to measure the strength of their employer brand. Because your employer brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum, the success of employer branding activities like posting on social media will tell you a lot. High or increasing numbers of likes, shares, clicks, and other engagements can be a good indicator of brand strength. By the same token, you can use your cost per click (along with clicks per submitted application and applications per hire) on these same platforms to calculate a rough employer branding ROI. By doing so, you set yourself up for the kind of ongoing recruiting success that strong employer brands are supposed to provide—and that’s no myth.