It's the key to finding and retaining employees in today's hotly contested labor market. IBM uses it. So does L'Oreal, Deloitte, American Express, Starbucks, Research in Motion and Intel. Quite simply, people want to work for them. But why? What is their secret?
Employer Branding. It's the way they sell themselves – not their products – to potential employees. It's the way they communicate to job seekers all of the perks and benefits of becoming an employee. It's the way they position themselves as an "Employer of Choice" – the first company that springs to mind when somebody thinks of working in that industry.
But Employer Branding is not just for the giant multi-national corporations. Any company can take advantage of it – big or small. And now, more than ever, Employer Branding is necessary for all companies to attract and retain the employees that are needed for success.
Selling the Company – Not its Products
In short, Employer Branding answers one simple question – why should someone work for a certain company instead of any other company? How can a company differentiate itself from its peers and attract new employees? It's quite simple, actually. Employer Branding is all about marketing an entire company as though it were a product. However, instead of selling computers or cappuccinos, the product that is being pitched to the consumer is the people and employee experience that can be found at that company.
Much like a company markets its products as being the best, it must market itself – its goals, values and attitudes – as being the best choice for potential employees. People do not want the hard sell. They do not want brochures and statistics and numbers. They want to know what it really feels like to work for a company. A strong Employer Brand, which carefully captures the essence of a company and projects this message to potential employees, can successfully attract the right applicants and keep them there for the long run. After all, people would much rather work for a company with an excellent reputation over a company with a poor reputation – even if they were offered a higher salary.
Follow the Leaders
An Employer Brand is just like any other brand. Just the product is different. Companies should borrow from the successful marketing techniques used by the world's largest Consumer Brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike and GAP. Most often, it is the use of emotional drivers, rather than rational drivers, that attract people to these brands. If people can connect to a company emotionally, they'll be more inclined to work there.
One of the more notable leaders in Employer Branding is L'Oreal. Its Careers website outlines in great detail how to get involved with the company and exactly what it's like to work for them. Their message is geared to a specific audience – university students and recent graduates – and contains video testimonials, detailed job descriptions and in-depth profiles of several L'Oreal employees. These profiles provide a rundown of that person's daily work, their achievements and how their career has or will advance at L'Oreal. To a young job seeker, this information is exactly what they are looking for.
By providing what their target audience wants, and introducing it in an upbeat manner using the latest web design technology, L'Oreal knows exactly who they want to hire and is focusing their recruitment efforts to achieve these goals.
Recruiting a Relationship
Recruiting is all about forming a relationship, rather than completing a transaction. The message a company sends out to potential employees about its goals and experiences must be consistent with the real thing. If a new recruit receives exactly what was promised to them, it will serve to strengthen that Employer Brand, which will in turn attract even more candidates and retain the employees already on-staff.
The days of the hard pitch are gone. Companies must learn to rethink the way they reach their target audience. To succeed in today's market, it is cruel for companies to take a long, hard look at what makes them tick – the goals and experiences that make them unique – and to present that story to the public through the eyes of its own employees. In the age of Employer Branding, the slick, polished pitchman needs not apply.