Maggie BleharOctober 12, 2023
Topics: Recruiter Experience

Employer Branding Trends Too Good to Ignore

Employer branding is all about the reputation and perception held by an organization. A successful employer brand creates a positive and attractive image of the company in the eyes of current and potential employees. But the ins and outs of effective employer branding have changed dramatically over the years — and will continue to do so as tech like Generative AI alters the playing field.

Mark Conachan, SVP, Global Head of Creative at AMS, joined us on Talent Experience Live to discuss the employer branding trends companies need to pay attention to. Read on for key insights to better understand the critical role of aligning employer branding with hiring priorities in order to stand out in our competitive talent market.

You can also view the full episode of Talent Experience Live below.

What changes in employer branding have you noticed over the years?

“People haven’t changed much,” Conachan, long-time veteran of the marketing industry, said simply. “They’re still after the same things in life. It’s just how we go about [getting them] that’s changed immensely.”

That observation applies to both consumers and job candidates, with the evolution of digital marketing technology impacting the way people interact with retail companies and with potential employers. “It’s empowered customers, and if we translate that to our business, it’s empowered candidates. They have more power in the palm of their hands, and they want to use it. They to access information. They want to see transparency. They want to protect their privacy,” Conachan said.

AMS is a global talent solutions leader, and Conachan helps clients discover and share their employer brand, leveraging data, AI, and process automation to optimize messaging and reach. But he emphasized that before adopting new technologies, companies should do a deep dive into their existing resources.

“Before you take a huge leap, you’ve got to take a leap into what’s right in front of you and is achievable,” he said. “Is the company data-literate? Do you have infrastructure [that’s] ready to handle large quantities of data responsibly?”

Companies also should use existing capabilities to make changes in the candidate experience that will make a big difference, such as speed, job search functionality, career site customization, and privacy protection, Conachan said. “Let’s improve some of the basics that our consumers, the candidates, are looking for.”

How should an employer brand intersect with a corporate brand?

A company’s employer brand needs to have its own unique messaging while also staying true to the corporate brand. The two need to be consistent in their visual styling and in the values they convey. “That’s going to help you be authentic in your employer brand proposition — one of the key success factors for EVP,” Conachan said. EVP, or Employer Value Proposition, is a summary of the values, benefits, recognition, support, and culture that an employer promises to provide for its employees. The goal of an EVP is to enable employees to reach their highest potential — and connect with best-fit candidates who are interested in your company.

From there, Conachen says to do your research — gather insights from employees and candidates, and study your talent competitors to come up with a messaging strategy that targets candidates in your hiring segments.

Social media, on the other hand, is a slightly different story. Conachan recommends that social media for employer branding be kept mostly separate from the corporate brand.

Companies should have a dedicated career channel that speaks to employees and job candidates — a home for discussion on employment-focused topics like social justice issues and sustainability.

Overlap with the company’s corporate and/or consumer-focused social media pages will (and should) occur, he clarified, with sharing and cross-over happening. Developing a strong relationship with corporate communications is key so you can sync up on content calendars and brand tone.

But even when topics are the same, they should be articulated differently. “The audience is everything… you’re going to really benefit your channel and the experience for the audience [by] targeting the communications to them,” Conachan stressed.

Related reading: Why Genuine Employer Brands Resonate Louder

What lessons can talent acquisition teams learn from the retail industry?

“Candidates are ‘culture customers.’ We’re selling a different thing to them. We need to look at ourselves as a different type of product — but you need to cater to customers in ways that are familiar and expected by them,” Conachan said. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Use tactics to reach candidates where they are. Talent acquisition (TA) teams and recruitment marketers should consider sophisticated tactics that corporate marketers use. Depending on what’s available to you, try experimenting with targeted marketing, programmatic advertising, retargeting, sophisticated search, message testing, and geofencing, to name a few.

  2. Make it easy to do business. People can spend seconds considering a retail product and then buy it on a whim, all on their phones. Aim to make the application, hiring, and interviewing experience similarly frictionless, especially when it comes to hourly workers.

  3. Treat candidates like valued customers. Sixty-nine percent of consumers “are much less or less likely to shop with a retailer in the future if an item they purchased is not delivered within two days of the date promised.” Delays in communication can have a severe negative effect, which translates directly to the TA and HR sectors, with the need to keep candidates updated or risk losing a “customer.”

At the end of the day, you need “data-enabled ways to hyper-target people, improve their experience, and deliver what they’re looking for right in the moment,” said Conachan.

Related reading: 5 Employer Brands That are Getting Talent Experience Right

If you could give one piece of advice to companies wanting to refresh their employer brand, what would it be?

Global events and changing candidate perceptions will inevitably demand a shift in employer brand messaging and strategy, Conachan pointed out.

But whatever long-term changes you’re planning, don’t lose focus on short-term TA priorities — a hiring “hot spot,” a newly opened office, a workforce segment that needs attention. “It’s about really understanding what your resources can handle,” he said. “It’s always a good idea to get the ball rolling on the big initiatives, but what’s needing attention right now?”

Revamping or restructuring your employer brand to keep up with the changing market can take time. To dive deeper into creating effective employer branding, check out our Definitive Guide to Recruitment Marketing.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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