3 Employer Brand Traps to Avoid When Developing Your Strategy

Jen Leon is a senior consultant on our Strategic Consulting Services Team. She has great passion and experience with employer brands. You can check out her previous HireClix blog post here.

Over the past 10 years, the value of ‘employer brand’ has risen drastically. We have been witness to many organizations successfully grasping all that employer brand entails and embedding it into their overall talent acquisition strategy.  Yet, there are many others who are just starting to take notice and considering how they can do the same.

As with any new endeavor, there is a considerable amount of due diligence that must be done in order to familiarize oneself to learn best practices and capture the insights/knowledge to assist in making these decisions. Fortunately, there are a lot of fantastic examples out there to learn from, but on the flip side, there are also a lot of blunders.

Before you Google “Top Employer Brands” take a moment to consider some of the common traps that companies fall into when they are developing their employer brand.

Employer Brand Trap #1: Trying To Attract Everyone

It’s not about attracting EVERYONE, it’s about attracting the RIGHT ones. You aren’t going to hire everyone, so why put in the effort to attract those that aren’t a fit? You already know that you want a very particular candidate to sit on the other side of the desk from you, someone who connects with what your organization does, what they stand for, and what they deliver. A well-executed brand strategy will allow you to weed out those who are not that right fit with your organization, while deepening the interest of those who do fit into your values, culture, structure, and roles. If you focus on attracting the right ones, then conversations become more meaningful, hiring cycles are shortened, and the quality of candidates increases.

PREVENTION: Determine who the company is speaking to. They might not necessarily be speaking to you, so don’t be alarmed if you aren’t impressed. Be alarmed if the audience isn’t impressed. Develop personas by understanding who exactly are the good fits for your organization. Identify your star performers, brand advocates, high potentials, and leaders and interview them all. Find out what it was that attracted them and what it is that makes them stay. Furthermore, understand where they spend their time (both online and off), their personalities, and their interests. Once this is established, a tailored message can be made to resonate with an audience who is similar to these people.  And remember to not take this message everywhere. Just be where they are!

Employer Brand Trap #2: One Size Fits All

What works well for one organization may not work for another. Do not assume that just because a competitor is doing something that it will be the right thing for your company. Your organization is its own entity and should be treated as such. As business strategy changes your hiring needs adjust to it; aligning your brand to business strategy, direction, and need is a must as well. Your story must be cohesive, meaningful, and connected, which will only increase your brand integrity with your audience.

PREVENTION: Take the opportunity to understand your own business. Work closely with your leaders and know where they are going, changes that are happening, and how the industry/economic trends may impact your business. Research various brands out there who may have a similar business strategy and are trying to attracting similar personas as you. Even if an organization is different, understanding their lens will better enable your assessment. Then, as you plan your initiatives, keep what you have learned on both sides close to mind to ensure your strategy can support current and future objectives.

Employer Brand Trap #3: Sexy Must Mean Great

Looks can be deceiving. During your research, you will likely come across some pretty impressive employer brands, stories, and imagery. They may be so impressive that you are wondering how on earth you could even get the budget for anything close to what they are showing. The reality is, unless a brand is authentic, real, and meaningful, there won’t be any success in those efforts.

PREVENTION: Before becoming enamored with the glitzy videos, ask yourself ‘Are they really that wonderful to work for?’ There are plenty of ways to validate this (see a future post!). For yourself, take the time to truly understand your organization’s value proposition, conduct phone interviews, focus groups, surveys, and even work with a firm who has a non-bias approach to ensure authenticity. Share the good and explain the why and how. Carrying this throughout your entire candidate experience may take your brand further than anything else!

To all of those beginning this fun and incredible journey, stay focused, but most importantly – no matter what your budget – be true, know your audience, and be thoughtful in your engagement.