The top employer branding mistakes — and how to fix them

Simply using the right words and images won’t cut it anymore.

Here's what's wrong with your employer branding efforts, and how to fix them.

Finding the perfect candidate for an open role is never easy, but it’s even trickier in today’s tight labor market. To compete for top talent, organizations need a top employer branding strategy to go with it.

This may sound easy. Slap some pretty graphics on your LinkedIn page, use words like “work-life balance” in your postings and call it a day.

That isn’t good enough anymore.

Rainey Turlington, employer brand consultant at exaqueo, recently shared her expertise with Ragan Training on the top mistakes she sees from employer branding efforts — and how to fix them.

Don’t assume that because your company has a strong consumer brand, it has a strong employer brand.

Strong brand recognition for your product isn’t the same as being a great employer.

“There are plenty of successful companies that are selling products or services like hotcakes and turning over employees just as fast,” Turlington said. In fact, they can sometimes be victims of that same success.

“Selling” a job isn’t like selling other products. You can’t simply offer a list of pay and benefits to job seekers like you’d share specs on a car. Job seekers need to know what their relationship with colleagues and the organization will look like. It requires a softer, more authentic touch than traditional branding.

Don’t assume that you already know what your company’s employer brand is just because you work there.

It’s easy to count yourself as an expert because you went through the hiring process and log on every day.

“Although your perspective is valuable, it’s limited and biased based on your role,” Turlington explained. To properly measure you employer experience, ask employees at all levels and throughout the organization about their opinions and impressions to gather a broad view that will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t try to be the best place to work for everyone.

“Your company is a great place to work — for certain types of people,” Turlington pointed out. But the same workplace that’s wonderful for goal-oriented adrenaline junkies may not be a great fit for a meticulous, slow-and-steady type. Trying to be all things to all people can mean that you wind up being not great for everyone.

To attract the people who will thrive — and stay — at your company, get specific about what types of people tend to succeed there. It’s OK if some people decide that’s not them.

Don’t assume that a strong visual identity equates to a strong employer brand.

Some people think the words “branding and think of a visual identity. In actuality, it’s great to have, but it’s only one part of your overall brand. As Turlington puts it, “That expression has to be rooted in research and based on a strategy that is unique and has a differentiated, ownable set of characteristics.”

Don’t build an employer brand without the resources to manage it.

We’ve all been in a place where we develop a killer strategy, launch it and … then no one is assigned to its ongoing upkeep so it just fades away.

Don’t let that happen to your employer brand. Nothing is more important to your success than attracting the right people. Devote time and money to keeping your brand strong.

Bonus tips

Turlington offered additional tips for what you can do now to tune-up your employer brand.

  1. Do a communications audit. Look at your owned channels — careers site, social channels, LinkedIn and employer review sites, for example. Examine submitted content for themes that might apply to attraction and retention. Remember you’re branding the whole experience, not just recruitment.
  2. Claim and clean up all your employer accounts. Look at reviews and remove any that aren’t legitimate. Then start responding to the real ones — whether they’re positive or negative.
  3. Audit your competitors’ employer brands. Look at their owned media, apply for their jobs and check out the experience. Make note of what they’re doing well and what you can do better.
  4. Invest in third-party research to find your company’s unique set of attractors, detractors and realities. This will help you create a clear messaging framework on what makes your company unique and how to do it.
  5. Use specific language to describe the culture of your organization and who thrives there. Make sure you’re partnering with HR to ensure you’re describing the kinds of relationships employees can expect to have.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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