The One Part of Employer Branding Nobody’s Talking About
Interviewers have been asking for a long time, “What do you know about our company?” Because of the web, people can answer that question today with impeccable detail. Whether you like it or not, candidates are scouring the internet to learn everything they can about your organization—it’s simply the nature of decision-making in 2016.
Employer branding, the concept of how people perceive a company as a place to work, plays an important role in this research process. Leading companies are pouring resources into improving and optimizing their image in the eyes of the job seeker, doing what they can to pull the best candidates into their hiring funnel.
You can read lots of blogs or publications today and learn about employer branding strategies, but there’s one aspect many are overlooking. It’s that, according to the 2015 Candidate Experience Awards research, 55% of candidates have a bias (toward or against) or some type of preexisting relationship with companies before applying.
A bias about your employer brand or a relationship can arise in many ways, but it’s safe to say either could be influenced by forces outside of the recruiting organization. In particular, product and marketing departments may be impacting candidates’ decisions to apply without even knowing it. Let’s talk about why you should care.
The Not-So-Direct Journey from Stranger to Candidate
If you’re subscribed to this blog (and if you’re not, you can subscribe here), then you saw last week when we discussed the realities of the modern candidate journey. The accessibility of information via internet connectivity has transformed the way people make decisions in general, and the process of finding a new job has been no exception.
Within The Talent Board’s 81-page Candidate Experience Awards report, they shared some data that sheds light on this topic. According to the study involving more than 25,000 candidates, almost 2 in 5 candidates spend 1-2 hours researching a job. 16% spend over five hours.
Source: The Talent Board
But what does “research a job” really mean? The Talent Board shared another data point which showed candidates’ top resources for researching opportunities. More than 50% pegged the career site as a top resource. That was followed by job notifications, LinkedIn company pages, online groups, employer reviews, and many others.
This may seem like a lot of resources already, but if you think that’s where candidates draw the line on inspecting your company, then you’re probably underestimating them.
The Role of Marketing and Product in Employer Branding
You probably have little to no influence over product or marketing, but you should be aware of the impact their decisions and performance can have on your ability to attract and convert candidates. They should be aware of it, too. Both groups play a part in your overall brand, which interplays with your employer brand.
Considering the role of the internet in candidate decisions, it’s likely that job seekers will be checking out your corporate blog, social accounts, and main website. If your marketing team isn’t firing on all cylinders across these channels, it’s likely your sporadically updated blog or Twitter account that hasn’t tweeted since November 2015 will be a huge turnoff to potential applicants.
In contrast to that, an amazing social presence and the ability to routinely put out shareable content that resonates with readers is a positive indicator. For companies with larger budgets, the same could be said for content like videos or even commercials.
Along the same lines, a poorly performing product can be a deterrent for candidates. For instance, if your app in the App Store has a 2-star rating with lots of complaints in the comments, candidates will no doubt take notice. If one of the car models your company produces goes through a large-scale recall, then you’re not gaining any points in the employer branding category. Or if thousands of your users’ passwords get hacked—well, you get the idea.
The actions of both product and marketing could make a difference in candidates’ decision to apply not just during their research process, though. These factors could be shaping their opinion of your company in general well before they even think about you as an employer.
The Specialization of Employer Branding
It’s important to understand where employer branding stands in the grand scheme of things. Although employer branding is a component of your company’s overall brand, in recent years it’s become increasingly compartmentalized. This makes sense for many reasons.
For one, the internet has brought employer branding to light. With the emergence of review sites like Glassdoor, companies with bad management practices, lower-than-average pay, or whatever else might make candidates avoid submitting an application can no longer operate in the shadows.
And two, a good employer brand has shown to deliver value. Value breeds investment and specialization. Just like marketing teams may have started hiring “Social Media Marketing Managers” a little more than a decade ago, today’s talent acquisition organizations are hiring “Employer Branding Managers.” This is especially the case at larger companies with more resources.
The fact that companies are aware of and focusing on employer branding is a positive step. But it’s important not to forget that a positive corporate brand and image can improve your employer brand. Again, this probably isn’t something you can directly influence, however, it’s an issue to think about and start a conversation around.
Just think: someone saying “I love that company” is a predecessor for them saying “I have to get a job there.” Getting to that point takes concerted efforts across product, marketing, recruiting, and other functions.
Check out our new eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey.” From employer branding to recruitment marketing and conversion optimization, this eBook dives into what modern leaders should be thinking about.