Behind all recruiting efforts, there needs to be a friendly face.
Branding your recruitment strategy is the perfect way to give it a personal and customized touch – although, some companies just have it easier.
People may flock to career sites with flashy opportunities in entertainment, nonprofit, or environmentally focused business (catering to some of the top next generation passions), but that doesn’t mean small “boring” businesses can’t compete with “hip” employer brands for attracting the best and brightest talent.
Thankfully for “boring” companies, when building a compelling employer brand, it all comes down to your company culture.
You don’t need to become Disney or Apple to attract top talent – just an engaged community that gives your brand confidence.
Many HR experts say it’s actually your company’s employee engagement that determines your employer brand, and the best way to express an employer brand is for your employees to sell your workplace culture through success stories and recommendations.
Construct your message
The first step to defining your employer brand is looking for the experiences that are unique to your company. Ones that, ideally, your competitors can’t claim or imitate.
And your top priority or goal should be to ensure that your message is authentic and aligned with the attraction drivers of a targeted audience (or audiences).
I would argue that you can’t actually “create” an employer brand, but simply define the one that you already have. For a company that hasn’t done any formal work on one yet, an easy way to understand it is like this: It’s what people say about working for your company when you’re not there to hear it.
Differentiate the corporate vs. employer brand
I always argue that the corporate brand and the employer brand are two different things. Ideally they complement one another, but sometimes they can be very different – and this is OK.
The experience that you are trying to create for your customers might not be the same experience that you are trying to create for your employees. This is especially true if you are in a B2B business.
What attracts someone to be your client will likely be different from what attracts someone to work for you. The experience that customers have with your products and services might not be the same experience that your people have when they come to work, although both can be positive.
Showcase the right employee stories
An employee’s example of their engagement is not just a story, but rather the experience that they have. While experience vs. story may sound subtle, it’s a big difference because not all stories are necessarily of equal value.
You want stories that are centered on your specific employer brand messages and that are genuine in their applicability. For example, a great story on how flexible you are as an employer may sound great, but if it was an anomaly and not a true reflection of the reality, it’s not a valuable a story to use.
Make sure that your imagery and messaging are aligned to each social media platform. If your message is flexibility, for example, it can and should be communicated differently depending on the platform you select as well as the demographic you are targeting. Same message/experience, but different stories.
Target your approach
Your employer brand messages should be authentic. Generally, they can be a little bit aspirational, but they must be founded in reality. Otherwise, as quickly as they attract people in the front door, people will be going out the back door once they discover it was all just marketing pizazz.
Keep in mind that your internal employer branding messages may differ slightly from your external employer brand messaging. While someone may be attracted to work for you because of X, why they are still happily there 10 years later could be because of Y. One is focused on attraction and the other on retention. Sometimes it’s the same, but not always.
All in all, Paul’s top 4 priorities of an employer brand:
- Authenticity in your message.
- The qualities of your culture that differentiate your people from competitors’.
- A targeted approach for the talent you need.
- Stories highlighting your employees’ personal experiences.
The most attractive employer brands display the close relationship between employees and their impact on the business. Making it the focus of your employer brand will excite applicants to want to belong with your company.
A recent study by Glassdoor also shows the importance of an employer’s workplace culture.
They asked job seekers for the 5 most useful pieces of information when deciding to apply. When constructing your job descriptions, be sure to include:
- Details on what makes the company an attractive place to work.
- Details on the compensation package.
- Details on the benefits package.
- An overview of the company mission, vision and values.
- Basic company information i.e. office locations, number of employees, revenue, etc.
10 Employer Brands that Shine in Dull Spaces
A company’s career site is a great place for communicating an employer brand.
Between the job description and the company’s culture, a page dedicated to showcasing what it’s like to be part of the community is exactly what applicants search for.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of top 10 employer brands that manage to capture an excitement for their workplace – despite their “boringness.”
Yesware develops software for salespeople, and certainly knows how to sell their job offers as well. This workplace is described as a “Monastic Startup” due to its low-key atmosphere, while also having free snacks, lunches, dinners, beer on tap, a nap room and weekly yoga classes. The workforce is very small and intimate, giving each employee responsibilities for making a direct and daily impact.
Unique Branding Feature: Similar to Google’s workplace approach, this office offers a fun and exciting environment while keeping the customer closely in mind.
Top Takeaway: Perks add a great deal to a company’s culture and don’t need to come as a sacrifice to productivity.
2) PPR Talent Management Group
PPR, a staffing agency, has made it to Fortune’s list of top 50 employers 11 years in a row. Located in Jacksonville, FL, it claims to have “more surfboards than time clocks” hanging around the office. PPR’s recruiting services match professionals to their perfect cultural fit, and describes its own workforce as a “Family of Brands.”
Awards: Gold Seal Approved Healthcare Staffing Agency since 2005, 2014’s #2 Best Small Place to Work in America by Fortune
Unique Branding Feature: Location, location, location. PPR emphasizes its close proximity to the boardwalk and sand for attracting applicants to the beach lifestyle.
Top Takeaway: Your company’s location has an influence on your employer brand. Even if it’s not paradise, applicants should have a reason to want to be part of your greater community.
3) Fletcher Building
Fletcher Building is an enterprise construction company that specializes in a range of complex construction projects such as building earthquake proof and wind resistant housing – placing complete trust and loyalty in the workers behind its brand. In a fast-paced environment, Fletcher Building employees need a committed attitude for giving everything it takes to solve urgent construction issues. Its employer slogan: “We made it.”
Awards: 2014 Award for Innovation in the Graduate Market by New Zealand Organization of Graduate Employers
Unique Branding Feature: While Fletcher Building’s jobs are described as high-pressure and demanding, its interactive career site showcases a supportive company culture.
Top Takeaway: High pressure jobs need some relief. Pictures from activities and events outside the workplace spotlight your company’s work/life balance.
While ecommerce may not sound exciting, Shopify makes the compelling claim that the retail market is “a huge playground to work with,” and needs the right talent to define what’s next. Shopify’s mission statement promises fundamental changes in the market, and turns software development into a rewarding game.
Awards: 3rd place in Canada’s 2013 Employer of the Year by TechVibes
Unique Branding Feature: Shopify’s mission statement predicts a brilliant company future in ecommerce, leaving the impression that once you have this job you won’t want to leave.
Top Takeaway: Give an exciting forecast for your business while staying true to your company’s overall mission.
Timberland has a great understanding of how to get both its customers and employees engaged with its product, “the original yellow boot.” The main idea behind working for Timberland: Leave your own footprint. Its employer brand indicates that everyone is valued for their impact on the company.
Unique Branding Feature: Timberland hosts twitter contests for people to engage with its product such as a recent hashtag contest where fans tweet pictures to win a prize package (#inmyelement).
Top Takeaway: Include engagement opportunities for others to feel personally attached to your brand.
With a firm belief that its free language learning platform is making the world a better place, Duolingo’s product is showcased side-by-side job positions. Duolingo is another seemingly “boring” software company whose greater mission is central to its workforce culture. This employer brand is also unique in combining both its customer and employees’ experience with its product.
Unique Branding Feature: An interactive cartoon slideshow gives a great visual for each employee within their department – what’s more, employees have their own profiles showing off how many languages they’ve learned with the software.
Top Takeaway: Find creative ways for displaying employees’ experiences in developing the product to pique interest before getting to the job’s fine details.
7) Merrill Lynch
Banking and financing translates to independence and empowerment for Merrill Lynch employees. The company spotlights its award winning on-boarding program in sales training, and describes an ideal new-hire as an “entrepreneurial and resourceful high achiever.”
Awards: Best Onboarding Program in the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Sales and Marketing Awards
Unique Branding Feature: An employee testimonial video shows the company’s authentic experience in developing successful professionals.
Top Takeaway: Describe your training programs to show candidates that you’re invested in their career growth.
A veterinary pharmaceuticals company could easily pique applicant interest with a fulfilling career in saving animal life, but Putney takes a very different approach to attracting candidates. Putney employees are only hired after an “intense” interview process, developed by ghSmart, to find professionals of only “the highest caliber, character, and courage.”
Awards: #10 in 2013’s Best Small Workplaces in America by Fortune, and 2013 and 2012’s Best Places to Work In Maine by Best Companies Group
Unique Branding Feature: Setting high standards can help attract top talent. A-players like to work with A-players.
Top Takeaway: Describing your workforce standards as rigorous could scare away many applicants, but those who do still apply are certainly worth more to your hiring team.
9) Sage Rutty & Co.
99 year old financial firm, Sage Rutty & Co., has developed a culture built around “unwavering trust, partnership, integrity, and hard work.” The company claims you’ll never be afraid of “being sucked up by the big boys,” invests in a tuition coverage program for employees to further their education, and makes many other pledges that can only be backed by a truly successful employer. Its centennial goal for 2015 is to become America’s best small workplace.
Awards: 2014’s Top Workplaces by The Democrat and Chronicle Media Group, and #18 in 2013’s Best Small Workplaces in America by Fortune
Unique Branding Feature: The company lists its top 10 reasons why you should want to work for them, and they’re exceptionally convincing.
Top Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to make bold claims about your workplace, but be ready to back them up – especially when it comes to compensation.
According to ZocDoc, it all started with an earache. After their founder was hurt with a burst eardrum, he couldn’t be seen for days by his doctor. ZocDoc was created to connect patients with doctors through automated appointment scheduling.
Awards: 18th in 2013’s 50 Best Small & Medium-Size Companies to Work for in America by Fortune, 2013’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare, and 2011’s Best Places to Work by Crain’s New York.
Unique Branding Feature: ZocDoc’s origin story takes a front seat in describing the company’s priorities, and illustrates its employees unique mission when it comes to patient care.
Top Takeaway: Describing your company’s impact on its greater industry can give employees a collective belief that they’re making a difference in the world, even if they’re not actually the ones saving lives.
Despite their small size, low-key product, or “boring” industry, these brands have managed to define their workplaces as the most exciting opportunity you’ll ever find.
Still not sure where to start? Maybe these can help:
- If you still don’t think employer brands are important in small business.
- If your company culture is just as “boring” as your industry.
- If you need some unique ways for engaging employees in your hiring strategy.
Interested in really investing in a recruitment strategy? Check out our recruiting software reviews for a high impact approach on talent acquisition.