In my previous blog – Expectations vs. Reality – I discussed being able to hire in a timely and effective manner. However, there was one point that deserved a lot more detail. And that’s your employer brand – what do people really think about your company? Is your company attractive to potential new recruits?

Employer branding is important because with the advancement of technology, gone are the days of being anonymous and flying under the radar. In an age of information a potential recruit can find out more about your company, team, products and culture than ever before.  So what is the story behind your employer brand? Are you known? If so, what are you known for? This is especially crucial if you’re looking to hire the best of the best to join your team, because you are competing for the same talent pool, and your competitors are the likes of Google, Facebook, Uber, Apple and more; all of whom have very strong employer branding. From progressive work cultures and environments, to amazing company perks.

With the Millennial generation turning into the main market in years to come, they are also the biggest market to proliferate the workforce. They consume data and the bulk of it online, so it’s best to keep this in mind when marketing yourself to them. So what’s a company to do when they’re looking for top talent? First, ensure that your employer branding is on par by practicing the following:

Be honest about your culture – Do you have a great working culture or is it a “terrible” one? Whilst these things are subjective and personal, being very clear on your culture and what you expect will get you the right people. If your culture is highly competitive, with long hours and full on workloads, don’t shy away from stating this; some people actually look for and thrive in these environments.

Remember that everyone is an ambassador – Are your staff good ambassadors of your business? If they love your company and culture, then you’re already winning. A generous referral programme to attract new recruits, as well as content (photos of company events, blogs, etc.) that they can share in social feeds will build your brand and work wonders for it.

Communicate freely, internally – Keep your communication channels open. Everyone needs to feel engaged and more importantly, heard. This can be done several ways – through casual weekly or monthly meetings, internal newsletters or even apps such as Yamma or Slack. Your people need to know what’s going on, and the only way you can ensure that your brand message and values are shared, is to communicate them. In an age of readily available information, there’s no excuse to keep your staff in the dark about the company’s plans and progress.

Now that you’ve taken control of your company branding with the above, what’s next? How does this help you in the hiring process, and what can you do to attract the best talent?

Here are some ideas:

1)     Do some research into your brand

There are lots of companies out there with products that are well branded, positioned and communicated. But their employer brand doesn’t get the same attention or approach.  Commission someone to look at how you are perceived in the market; what people already know. Then decide what (more) you want them to know and how you want to be perceived.  Let the research guide you in what you should be saying to improve or alter perception.

2)     Have a good career page on your company website

Take a look at the career page on your company website – is it easy to find? Are the job ads on it predictable, or do they tell you about the character of the company? Also, is there additional information about the business and culture? This information is very useful for job seekers.

3)     Google yourself

What data pops up if someone Google-s your company name? Is it good or bad? Recent PR initiatives from your company, articles written by directors and other top management contributors on your company website is great stuff. The first few pages of negative reviews on sites like Glass Door… that’s not so great.

4)     Get social

Increase your social presence. Ideally, you should have pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; cover all bases. Failing which, choose the two best platforms that your company can do really well in. You can even segment it accordingly to audiences – you could use one platform for clients, and another for potential employees. Being active on social media also helps you recruit passively.

5)     Deliver a clear message when you recruit

Is your brief or job description clear? Does everyone – from recruiters to staff – practice what your brand preaches? The brand message needs to be clear among everyone. What can you offer to a potential recruit in terms of training and progression? What is different or interesting about your work culture? Why do your best employees like your company, and what do they get out of the experience?

Remember that recruiters, be it internal departments or external agencies, speak to a lot of people! Are yours saying the right things?

6)     Think about the experience people have when interviewing for your company

Any interview experience should be welcoming and informative. From the first person who greets them at your door, till when they leave – are your people approachable and informative? Bear in mind that even if you interview 15 people and only 1 candidate gets the job, the others who leave should still walk away with a positive experience. You do need to be thorough in interviewing people, asking difficult questions and being direct. But people should go away with your brand message and clear idea of your culture, business and career path.  Which brings me to my next point

7)     Don’t forget about what happens after

Take the time to thank people for coming down to the interview, and let them know if they were unsuccessful. Don’t wait for ages before following up and dropping them a note. If your company claims to value people, communications and relationships, forgetting about people simply because you found the candidate you were looking for is poor form. People took time to prepare and make their way down to meet you, the least you can do is thank them for it.

8)     Have your leadership team invest time into their talent community

Organise events and networking opportunities for the talent pools you want to attract.  This doesn’t have to be a hard sell event on your culture and job openings.  But if you provide the platform and contribute ideas and content to the community, you will automatically appear to be a more attractive company.  Everyone is busy these days but a few hours a month to run an event will pay off in the long run when more and better people apply to your company. 

Doing the above will help you in the recruitment process while also maintaining your employer brand. You’ll find your unicorn in (hopefully) no time. For smaller businesses and start-ups, it doesn’t mean you get the shorter end of the stick competing with the big players; it just means you have an opportunity to offer something unique that could be missing in the Fortune 500 players. If you take the time to figure out your branding, what you stand for, and how you will implement it, you will develop a magnetism that attracts the right people to join and stay in the long run.