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How Marketers Can Help Their Companies Develop Powerful Employment Brands

Mark Shevitz

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Don’t count out job seekers in your company’s branding—creating a strong employment brand is crucial to employee retention and recruitment.

If you’re a marketer, you may not think you can make an impact on the success of your company’s hiring and retention efforts—but you can.

In today’s tight job market, where the competition for talent is fierce, it’s critical that companies have strong, targeted employment brands. In fact, according to a recent MRINetwork study, nearly 70% of candidates say that a potential employer’s employment brand is important when considering or accepting a job offer.

And there’s no group better suited than marketers to create resonant, candidate-facing brands that set their employers apart.

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Marketers can play a key role in developing employment brands because they typically have the brand-building background and skills that their HR and talent acquisition (TA) counterparts do not. And ironically, with the pursuit of quality talent becoming more and more competitive, HR and TA professionals are focusing on filling positions of people leaving their company and keeping up with adding headcount, rather than committing the resources to build a strong employment brand.

As a result, many companies don’t consider their talent acquisition as a brand experience, which leads to poor recruiting results.

Prospective Hires Are Your Company’s Customers, Too

If you think of prospective hires the way marketers think of customers, it becomes easy to understand why marketing should have a say in creating an employment brand. Job seekers research potential employers in similar ways to how they research products—they comparison-shop online.

The MRINetwork study showed that 56% of job seekers say they look at employers’ websites when determining who best meets their needs and how companies are different from each other. Nearly 40% look at review sites such as Glassdoor. The typical job seeker’s hunt probably starts with identifying their most desirable employers, based on perceptions created by those companies’ strong employment brands.

You can see why the traditional brand development process is critical to creating a compelling employment brand. Marketers bring the right skills and experience to help the company understand and address target talents’ key decision-making factors. Companies should look to their marketing teams to:

  • Research the needs of the types of candidates the company wants to hire: what’s important to them rationally and emotionally, what might be a deal-breaker, and how candidates recognize when a prospective employer embodies the characteristics of their ideal place of work.

  • Understand the competitive landscape, knowing how each competitor for talent positions itself as an employer. This leads to critical understanding of how a company can differentiate itself in ways that are meaningful to its target talent audiences.

  • Remember that brands—including employment brands—are about promise and delivery, so aligning the employment brand with what a company can believably deliver on is crucial.

  • Create segmented employment brand messaging that directly addresses the different needs of various target talent audiences.

  • Develop employment brand activation strategies that map to target talents’ media habits.

Examples of Marketing’s Role in Successfully Developing Strong Employment Brands

When helping companies develop or enhance their employment brands, I’ve had the most positive experiences with teams that include marketing and HR professionals working collaboratively.

One of the nation’s leading flooring companies leveraged the power of its marketing leadership to develop a new employment brand aimed at attracting corporate employees, as well as outside sales reps and installers. The marketing team led the project with HR/TA staff contributing their insights about, and experience with, the recruitment process. The company also introduced traditional marketing metrics to gauge the success of the new employment brand, setting a goal of increasing its Employee Net Promoter Score in conjunction with its traditional customer Net Promoter Score.

In another assignment, the world’s largest commercial roofing manufacturer made the development of its new employment brand a specific segment of its corporate rebranding project, which was spearheaded by the marketing team. The team viewed prospective hires the same as prospective customers—as another key audience group that needed to be understood and communicated with in a way that resonated with their needs. Because marketing was used to treating audiences as customers who needed to be persuaded to choose this manufacturer over a competitor, it was easy for them to develop a strong employment brand that directly addressed what prospective hires wanted in a career.

Getting Started with HR/TA

Marketing often needs to make the first move with HR/TA when it comes to partnering on employment branding. Often, the best time to develop a new employment brand is in conjunction with a corporate branding project. Bringing HR/TA to the table as the corporate rebrand project is concluding is a natural time to introduce them to the refreshed brand platform and brand messaging. It gets HR thinking about how the company’s new brand might influence how they talk about the company as a place to work.

This is exactly the scenario that happened with one of the nation’s largest futures brokerage firms, which leveraged its marketing and HR teams to create its first-ever employment brand as part of a larger corporate rebranding project.

If your company is not currently undergoing or considering a rebranding project, suggest to your HR/TA counterparts that today’s low unemployment rates and ever-increasing demand for qualified talent means being innovative when it comes to recruiting efforts. And that you (as a marketing professional) can help them create a competitive advantage, resulting in more qualified applicants and faster times to fill open positions by developing a resonant employment brand. You’re there as a collaborator and partner to make their jobs easier.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies to actively develop strong employment brands that differentiate them from their competition in ways that are relevant to the types of candidates they want to recruit. Marketing professionals, with expertise in branding, target audience insights, messaging and brand activations, have the skills and knowledge to partner with their HR/TA counterparts and play a critical role in shaping and bringing to life employment brands. Consider this your call to action.

Mark Shevitz is executive vice president of brand strategy at CBD Marketing in Chicago. He has created employment brands for Aflac, Allstate, Chipotle Mexican Grill, OfficeMax, Pfizer, Sears and dozens of other companies.