Here’s a question for business owners and top management.

If you were looking for a new job, and you had never heard of your company, would you apply for a position there?

Go and look at your career pages on your website and be honest with yourself. Does your company look like a good place to work? Are you putting your best foot forward? If the answer is ‘No’, or “Hmm, not really’, then it’s time to talk about Employer Branding.

This will be a series of posts that will go deeper into the importance of Employer Branding for attracting international applicants and Employer Branding and Storytelling. First though, let’s look at what Employer Branding is, and why you should be working on it. 

Employer Branding is the image of your company that you present to the prospective employees you are trying to attract.

Why is Employer Branding important? Skilled workers are in great demand and companies are competing for the best employees. If you want to attract the brightest applicants, you have to give them a reason to apply. Show them why your company is the best fit for them, how they would benefit from working for you, and make it easy for them to apply. 

The Limits of your Influence

There are certain viewpoints of your company image that are outwith your control. If you’ve ever had bad reviews on Kununu, you’ll recognise this problem. How people talk about your company is not an area that you can influence.

This goes for review sites, Social Media, word of mouth discussions between family and friends, and the consumer experience (e.g. if a prospective applicant has a bad experience when using your product or services, then they are less likely to apply).

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can influence other touchpoints, and these can be enough to persuade the applicant to give you a chance, even if they hear less flattering opinions elsewhere. 

Tell a Unique and Compelling Story

You are reaching out to a prospective applicant and telling them a story of how their life will look if they start working for your company. They will catch a glimpse of how their working day will look, what their future colleagues are like, what it will be like to live in this new town (or even country). You are telling a story and the hero of the story isn’t your company. The hero is the applicant.

Give applicants a quick overview of your company history, including the founders and their stories. Why was the company founded, what was the initial aim and has the company changed direction in the meantime? Don’t make this the focus or the first thing the applicant sees.

Introduce the management team but not via a boring CV – if applicants want a list of the schools you attended, they can go on LinkedIn. You’ve got a unique opportunity to introduce yourself to potential employees. Don’t waste it on a list of dates and positions. Tell a story of your life and your career, your interests, and your dreams.

The international alcoholic beverage company, Diageo has over 30 000 employees in 180 countries around the world. In 2018, they launched a new Employer Branding under the motto “Character is everything”. The Employer Branding of Diageo uses video and text storytelling to profile current employees.

Does Your Company Website Explain What You Do?

Take a look at your company website – or better yet, get someone unconnected with your company to view it. Is it immediately clear what your company actually does? Are you sure about that? I can’t tell you how often I look at a website and have utterly no idea what they create or what service they provide.

If your company is in a rather obscure or niche industry, some of your applicants will understand your description, but those who are not already in your industry will be lost. You need to explain your company so that a 7-year-old child would understand what you do.

How is the User Experience?

Do you have a specific job portal or a microsite? How easy is it to get information, search for a position and apply via your site? With more and more applicants using their mobile phones, it must be at least mobile responsive, especially if you are looking for younger applicants and casual workers. Many companies are going further and adopting a mobile-first strategy.

How easy do you make it for applicants to apply? Did you know that 60% of applicants abandon the application process if it takes too long? If 60% of your prospective customers abandoned their purchase because of bad user experience, you’d have your IT team working day and night to fix it. Why is your future employee worth less than your customers?

Innocent Drinks was started back in 1998 and now sells more than 2 million smoothies  per week. They’ve expanded into 15 countries across Europe and have over 450 employees. I particularly like how they’ve incorporated their product into their career pages, e.g. when they say applicants will have a final meeting with one of the “Chief Squeezers”. They have a fun, informal voice which suits their image. 

Let Your Employees Speak for Themselves

Your best employer brand ambassadors are your current employees. Do an employee survey to get feedback and then request interviews with specific employees. Put a focus on telling insightful and personal stories.

Authenticity and honesty is the key here. Make these a mix of text and video – not everyone wants to watch a video. Sprinkle your careers site with short quotes from these testimonials.

Are all your images ‘shiny happy people’, i.e. generic photos from iStock? Invest the money and time to have a professional photographer come along to your company, or to a company event. Photos that show your staff enjoying each other’s company and their work are much more convincing that random models.

Above All – Be Unique

You may be thinking that Employer Branding is just another business buzzword, like ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘thinking out of the box’. It can be hollow and meaningless but only if that’s how you present your company. A series of quotes along the lines of “we are just one big happy family” are nice but they don’t say what is special about your company. What gives your employees that feeling? What specific thing do you offer that other companies don’t?

If you could copy and paste an employee quote from your website and put it onto your competitor’s website, then you need to go back and think again. Look at the difference between these comments:

Almost every company writes that about flexible working hours. Back your claim up with specific details about how it helps your employees balance their work and private life. What particular advantages do they have, what are the things that make them say, “Well, we do have to work hard but hey, this makes up for it and it’s why I continue to work there!”

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about Employer Branding and International Applicants, and later I’ll give some tips on Employer Branding and Storytelling. Sign up to receive updates when I publish a new blog post. 

Featured Image : Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash