Employer Brand: Breaking It Down In Order to Build It Up

Employer Brand: Breaking It Down In Order to Build It Up

Mike Roberts

A company’s employer brand is in many ways a lagging indicator—one that’s influenced by hundreds, maybe thousands of variables. Consequently, you don’t just come into the office one day and simply decide you’re going to fix it. More likely, you will strategically work to improve one of the numerous areas that influence your employer brand. Repeating this process over time can drive incredible results.

If you’ve been reading the Jibe blog, then you’ve probably seen our performance improvement framework already. We advocate for professionals to think more strategically and less tactically before pouring resources into something. This typically means taking a step back from a task, like improving your employer brand, and looking at the bigger picture.

A lagging indicator is often the big picture. If you’ve already been working on your employer brand or if you’re just starting, this concept works just as well. Start with the big picture, your ideal employer brand—the perception you want candidates have about you as an employer—and work backwards. In other words, reverse engineer what comprises a strong employer brand.

Once you’ve identified the variables, you can prioritize what’s going to make the most impact, and then create a plan of attack.

Employer Branding Variables

Because every company is unique, what constitutes your employer brand will be different from others. But there are a few key buckets that commonly influence employer brands:

Employee Satisfaction & Happiness

When you’re wondering whether or not a company is a good place to work, how do you find out? Most likely, you’ll go to Glassdoor. Glassdoor has done a great job quantifying employee satisfaction. In a matter of seconds, someone could formulate a pretty strong opinion about a company.

Sourced by past and current employees, every Glassdoor page highlights the company’s overall employer rating, how likely employees are to recommend working there to a friend, and their approval of the CEO.

Here’s what everyone can see about Twitter:

twitter employer brand
If you go a step deeper, you’ll see what makes up these ratings.

employee happiness twitter
What we see above are the indicators that make up the overall Twitter rating: cultures and values, work/life balance, senior management, compensation and benefits, and career opportunities.

Before looking externally to improve your employer brand, ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can internally. Has your HR team fought for the best possible benefits? Are your wages competitive? Are you actively promoting a healthy work/life balance? There are lots of questions you could ask.

Often, the first step is to ask the people who are rating you. After all, you work beside many of them. Why not get ahead of a problem rather than waiting for it to surface? Routine, anonymous employee happiness and satisfaction surveys could go a long way.

Employee Evangelism

Employee satisfaction and happiness, and employee evangelism seem to go hand in hand. Companies that aren’t properly taking care of their employees or actively working to ensure their happiness are unlikely to be benefiting from employees advocating for their brand on and offline.

Employee evangelism is also about providing employees with something to rally around—this often comes in the form of content. Some of the best companies are creating employer branding content with quality that’s on par with some of the best creative agencies.

GE has been doing an exceptional job at creating employer branding content. They are working to reframe the way people think of GE as an industrial company.

How could you not be excited and proud to share that type of content if you’re a GE employee?

Finally, employee evangelism can be catalyzed by senior leaderships’ participation in employer branding efforts as well as their outward pride in where they work. Especially now that professionals (often executives and other thought leaders) are building up their own brands on social media, companies can use this to support their employer branding efforts. The benefits will trickle down.

Social Presence

For better or worse, just about every aspect of our lives is interconnected with social media. Job searching is no exception.

Undoubtedly, candidates will be scouring social media channels to learn about your company and its employees prior to applying and interviewing. The Talent Board showed that LinkedIn company pages were the 3rd most used job opportunity research channels for candidates in 2015.

Candidates will be formulating an opinion based on the quality of your social media marketing chops, the content you’re putting out, and the presentation of your employees and company on different social channels.

You may want to start by showing employees how to optimize their own LinkedIn profiles—it’s good for your employer brand as well as their careers.

While employer branding and social media-specific campaigns are important, know that candidates will also be incorporating your broader, corporate presence on social media into their perception of you as an employer. Do people love your corporate Twitter or Snapchat account? That’s not going to hurt your chances of attracting good employees.

Candidate Experience

Do you consider your candidate experience to impact your employer brand? We asked that question in our recent 2016 State of Employer Branding survey. From a quick scan of the early findings of that survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents said “Yes.”

candidate experience wuality
Research has shown that candidates are very likely to discuss their experiences during the job search—both positive and negative—with peers. And considering we live in a society where people discuss almost everything online, talking about their candidate experience is easier than ever.

Software Advice, a company that hosts reviews of HR tech, surveyed a pool of job seekers to learn more about the effect of a negative candidate experience. They asked what action candidates would take after having such an experience while applying for a job:


Candidate experience has many variables in and of itself. Following along with The Talent Board’s research, candidate experience touches sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding.

In the realm of sourcing, you could work to improve your recruiters’ social recruiting skill or the quality of their InMail messages. For recruiting, you could improve your career site UX and UI, and the content provided to job seekers. Or perhaps you could revamp your recruitment marketing email strategy to be less spammy. Interviewing could be improved by coaching hiring managers on which types of questions to ask. You get the idea.

For reference, here’s a huge list of candidate experience improvements. And it’s by no means a long shot to say candidate experience improvements will translate to employer branding improvements.

Products & Services

Lastly, don’t discount the fact that what makes up your employer brand is a complex set of variables.

You may have one of the highest rated places to work on Glassdoor, but, for example, if your company was just recently in the news for a major product recall that put the lives of millions of people in danger, you better believe that will impact your ability to attract talented employees.

On the other hand, if you just launched an app that was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and every top tech publication is talking about you, then people are going to want to work for you.

Although these areas may be hard to control, they are—at the very least—something to be aware of. There may be opportunities to leverage major (positive) company news as a jumping off point for your employer brand.

Before You Start Improving Your Employer Brand…

As always, it’s important to remember: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Having a strong analytics program in place, or instituting one, can help to show what’s working and what’s not. It can also help to prove an ROI, which is crucial to highlighting the value of your employer branding efforts and getting more budget.

As you can see, when you break things down, there are tons of variables that go into your employer brand. The idea is to figure out what makes up your employer brand, come up with a list of priorities, take action, and monitor the results. A strong team of recruiters and marketers could make a huge impact on that list in a short period of time.

Like the topic of employer branding? Us too! Check out our new 2016 Employer Branding Handbook. It shares 7 employer branding strategies you should be employing right now.

employer branding ebook ctacareer site assessment


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