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Employer Branding:
A Recruiter's Secret Tips To Win The War For Talent

The tides are turning. Once the news was full of tales of employers looking up candidates’ social media profiles, discovering posts and photos that would only be at home on Snapchat. Now it’s the employers who are being Googled - and sometimes found wanting.

If you want to Win the War for Talent, fine-tuning your employer brand is essential. As a recruitment consultancy, we see what employers are doing to attract the best candidates and are privy to what candidates value.

This is not another blog post with a few, select tips. It’s intended to be a one-stop guide to the steps you need to take to overhaul your employer brand. We’ve rounded up the best resources, facts, real-life examples and our own experience into an extensive resource. That’s why we’ve included a clickable Table of Contents, so you can dip in and out as required:

What is employer branding?

The most successful companies realise that their employees are the lifeblood of their organisation. They understand that attracting and retaining top talent is a must if their business is to succeed and thrive.

Employer branding is the story you tell of what makes your company or organisation a great place to work at for your ideal employees. How and where you tell your story takes many forms and it needs to be promoted to be heard.

The stats: why employer branding matters

Employer branding is a hot-topic in recruitment right now. From standing out to the best candidates, to improving employee retention rates and saving costs, there are plenty of reasons to invest in your employer brand.

Chances are, you already know it’s important. However, sometimes other priorities get in the way. Or maybe others on the board have different ideas on how best to allocate the human resources budget and manpower.

If so, the infographic below provides 15 stats on just how vital employer branding is - and why you’ll get left behind if you don’t continue to nurture it.

15 Eye-Opening Employer Branding Stats

If you want to find out more about how to avoid common employer branding pitfalls, check out our blog: Ignore at Your Peril: 5 Employer Branding Stats

Defining your Employer Value Proposition

Before you can begin telling your story, you need to determine what that story is. This is your Employer Value Proposition.

Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is what you can offer your ideal employees that they will value in exchange for their work.

Like your Unique Selling Points (USPs), to be effective it must be UNIQUE, COMPELLING AND RELEVANT to your ideal employees. It should also be TRUTHFUL.

Only 51% of companies have formalised their EVP and only two-fifths of employees feel that their company’s EVP is compelling or differentiated.
According to Mercer: “Strengthening your Employer Value Proposition”

The quick-fire guide is below, but if you want the detail then you’ll want to read our blog: 7 steps to creating an irresistible Employer Value Proposition. (The tips in the final step will save you hours in creative brainstorming alone.)

The 7 steps to an irresistible Employer Value Proposition Mad Men’s Don Draper would be proud of;

  1. Decide who your ‘ideal employees’ are

    You need to know who your ‘ideal employees’ are to be able to market to them, as you will need to know what makes them tick. You’ll need to have created your core values first. From there, consider what type of person will align with these values. Skills will vary by role but who would thrive at your organisation won’t.
  2. Map your offering to the hierarchy of values

    Mercer's Hierarchy of Values

    Taken from health, wealth and careers consultancy, Mercer’s guide:
    “Strengthening your Employer Value Proposition”

    Contractual rewards
    (e.g. salary, bonus, pension and healthcare)

    Experiential rewards
    (e.g. career progression, learning and development, flexible working and wellness programs)

    Emotional needs
    (e.g. culture, values, mission, diversity, roles designed to play to strengths/weaknesses, and challenging or meaningful work)

    As with USPs, some values and offerings are more unique and compelling than others. As the pyramid shows, ‘emotional needs’ may provide the easiest way to differentiate, but they require some degree of experiential and contractual building blocks to be effective (much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).

    We discuss this further in 7 steps to creating an irresistible Employer Value Proposition, along with examples of each reward and what strategy may work best for your goals.
  3. Gain insight from existing and past employees

    Your existing and past employees will be able to provide an insight into where you currently stand. Carry out confidential staff surveys and interviews to find out what your existing or leaving employees would say about you (the good and the bad), what they believe your core values are and what you currently offer (or could offer) that’s of value to them.
  4. Review your competition

    You can’t produce a unique Employer Value Proposition if you don’t know what the competition is saying. Take a look at their websites and social media. What is their ‘key message’ and what values are they promoting?
  5. Find out what your ideal candidates are looking for

    Nine out of ten employees (89 per cent) claim that remote working is their number one motivator to boost their productivity at work.
    Data published by HSBC, as reported on Workplace Insight

    As well as interviewing existing and past employees (see step 3), you can also use third-party research and recruitment consultants to discover what is in demand right now in your market.
  6. Assess the data

    There is often a difference between hypothetical surveys and reality. Analyse the following data:

    • Productivity, engagement and staff retention rates: did these rise or fall in response to rewards or benefits offered?
    • What benefits and perks are being used?
    • Do job adverts mentioning specific benefits or perks attract better quality applicants?
  7. Swipe top copywriters’ tips

    Your Employer Value Proposition should be prominent on any branded employer messages.

    Joanne Weibe is a prominent copywriter, responsible for turning sales landing pages into multi-million dollars worth of sales. Her tips for writing a great USP apply as much to EVPs as they do USPs:

    • It states what’s unique or different about you
    • The thing that’s unique or different is DESIRABLE to your prospect [your ideal employees]
    • It is specific, not a watered-down summary
    • It is succinct (again, without losing specifics – yikes, right?!)
    • It is more likely to be remembered than forgotten

Find out more about the ‘cheat’ most copywriters use to craft their USPs and how it applies to your EVP: 7 steps to an irresistible Employer Value Proposition

STUCK FOR INSPIRATION? We love the round-up by Link Human: 30 Employer Value Proposition (EVP) Taglines from Leading Employers

Live and breath your values, missions and culture

Your employer brand comes from within. It should be at the forefront of every single touchpoint you have with employees - future, present and past - including:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Onboarding
  • Induction and training
  • Development and support
  • Career paths
  • Benefits, rewards and incentives
  • Leaving

Your EVP should be clearly communicated at every stage. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Promotions, rewards and incentives should therefore be aligned with your values.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet. In fact, one of our key behaviours is that we are confident but never arrogant. However, we have worked hard to live and breath our values, missions and culture at Cast UK.

At the hiring stage, we screen for cultural fit as well as skills and experience. From the minute that a new hire signs on the dotted line, they then have access to Our Vision, Mission, Values, Behaviours, Expectations, Goals and Promotion Criteria.

And our office acts as both a daily motivator and reminder of our values.

Cast UK Office Motivation Examples

How to communicate your Employer Value Proposition authentically

Your employer branding should be backed up with actions and content that proves your Employer Value Proposition at every stage of the candidate lifecycle. You’ll find our best-practice tips below for how to make sure your EVP shines in a crowded marketplace.

  1. Prove your EVP with compelling content

    By now you should have a good idea of how your ideal employees talk. Use this to inform the tone of voice you use across your employer branding.
  2. Tell your employees’ stories

    Your existing employees can give a far greater insight into what it is like to work for your company than your ‘branded’ message. Consider creating content such as:

    • A day in the life of a...
    • A round-up of the best parts of working at your company
    • Employees discussing exciting and challenging projects they are working on
    • Career progression examples
  3. Make the most of video

    If a picture is worth a thousand words... what is a video worth?

    Video is here to stay and provides the greatest opportunity to showcase what it’s really like to work for your company. Videos can be used across your website, LinkedIn and social media.

    Use a mixture of branded and ‘real-life’ videos so that candidates feel like they are getting an inside glimpse into your company.

    We love this branded hiring video from SodaStream.

    Top tip: Videos don’t need to be expensive. At Cast UK we use Clipomatic to film short and snappy videos we can use on LinkedIn and other social media, where everything we say is automatically turned into subtitles. Each 60-second video only takes a few minutes to film and a further five mins to edit and upload. The app only costs £4.99.
  4. Get your internal communications strategy right

    Effective internal communication helps ensure that all members of the organisation are working collaboratively towards a common goal. It develops a cohesive culture and empowers employees to make the right decisions in line with the organisation’s goals. This in turn leads to greater efficiency and productivity and improves customer service. These outputs are relevant to every organisation, so size really shouldn’t matter in this respect.
    John Ritchie, whilst CEO of Ellipse, via BMMagazine.co.uk

    Read more on how to put together an effective internal communications strategy with these helpful resources:

Spread employer brand awareness: social media, employee advocacy & more

  1. Ensure your EVP takes centre-stage
    Your message needs to be heard, loud and simple. Like with USPs, your EVP should be on the header of any employer branding ‘sales copy’, such as job adverts or your careers homepage.
  2. The job advert itself
    Your job advert should do more than simply state what type of skills and experience you are looking for and what remuneration package you can offer in return. It should offer an insight into what it’s like to work for your company and what type of person excels there.

    Ensure your advert stands out from the crowd by maximising the impact of those first few lines. These are normally dragged through into the ‘preview’ a candidate will see when they are scrolling through job roles.

    Branded Advert

    The above branded job ad makes it clear what kind of person they are after and would excel at Bunzl, as well as promoting their culture.

    (Whilst a job ad with a ‘competitive salary’ has been shown to normally decrease applications, candidates are generally aware that they can have a frank discussion about salary early on with a recruiter.)

    Top tip: Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. If your company is fun and laid-back, your job advert shouldn’t be stuffy. Or if you’re recruiting for self-professed techie geeks, then don’t shy away from throwing in cultural references only they would get.

    Job Advert

    • Make the most of video to give a real insight into what it’s like to work for your company.
  3. Create a dedicated ‘careers website’ (even on a small budget)
    The first place potential employees will look at after viewing a job ad is the Careers or Working For Us section of your website.

    This should be filled with:

    • Job roles available (along with a mobile-friendly application process)
    • Your company history
    • Your company values
    • Company ethos and culture
    • Employee stories (see above)
    Top tips: If you are still waiting on IT sign-off to revamp your website but you have a pressing recruitment need, your recruitment agency may be able to assist. For example, at Cast UK our Edge service bundle includes employer branding services such as mini-recruitment sites, employer branded recruitment job adverts and videos, social media promotion and more.
  4. Select job boards wisely
    We generally advise our clients to use niche job boards for more specialist and senior roles and generalist job boards for entry level roles.
  5. Follow LinkedIn employer branding best practice tips
    LinkedIn is becoming a first port of call for many candidates when looking for jobs. Even if they don’t find a job via LinkedIn, then chances are it’s the first place they will look after your website.

    • Revitalise your LinkedIn page’s LinkedIn Company page to align with your Employer Value Proposition, as well as your Unique Selling Proposition.
    • Grow your network and build a talent pool of potential candidates for the future, by connecting with employees at companies with similarly required skill-sets to yours.
    • Update your followers with regular, relevant updates of your own and third-party content that reflects your company values, missions and culture. With the right content, you should be at the forefront of your dream candidates' minds if they do decide to switch roles.

      Tip: Always remember that 60-30-10 rule. Share 60% of third-party information, 30% of your own and 10% content offers (i.e. downloads).
    • Don’t be afraid to be opinionated, so long as it is in line with your company’s values. Our best conversations have happened from our most ‘out-there’ posts. LinkedIn is a place for people, not robots.
  6. Encourage employee advocacy on LinkedIn and other social media
    Don’t stop at your company pages. Your culture should encourage your employees to use LinkedIn and other social media as a way to learn, grow and connect with like-minded individuals. Candidates are just as likely to look at what your employees are sharing, liking and commenting on, as what your company is. Provide an on-brand social media policy.

    Find out why your employees’ LinkedIn professional brands are extrinsically linked to your employer brand, the tool you need to evaluate their efforts and how this affects your recruitment costs: LinkedIn SSI: the missing link to employer brand awareness?
  7. Don’t forget other social media
    Facebook and Instagram are not as widely used as LinkedIn for recruitment but they are better mediums for giving an insight into YOUR company.

    We love what General Electric have done with their Instagram feed. Who would have thought that a post of a gas turbine would get 9,233 likes? Clever marketeers who know what makes their ideal engineering employees tick, that’s who.

    General Electric Instagram

Improve your Candidate Experience

The candidate experience starts from the very first time a potential future recruit hears of your company. From job adverts and LinkedIn posts to careers fairs and the first time a recruitment agency speaks to a candidate, all first touchpoints are crucial for your employer brand.

As our infographic, “15 Eye-Opening Employer Branding Stats” shows, the number one reason candidates will withdraw from the interview process is due to their time being wasted. Another big no-no is failing to feedback to candidates.

Read more: 5 Guaranteed Ways to ruin the candidate experience

Below you’ll find the top recommendations we provide our clients as a recruitment consultancy, time and again.

  1. Do away with unnecessary application forms

    We get it. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a CV accompanied by a covering letter addressed to your competitor. Yet from a candidate’s perspective, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to describe their biggest personal accomplishment on an application form. Or filling out all of their employment history, which could so easily be found on their CV - or, even better, LinkedIn.

    Most in-demand candidates will want to know more about the role and what your organisation can offer before they give up five hours of their time on an application form. There are ways to weed out any unsuitable candidates efficiently later on. (More on this below.)

    Read more: SHRM: Most Job Seekers Abandon Online Applications

  2. Don’t make candidates jump through hoops

    Jump Through Hoops

    There are numerous tools at your disposal to ensure that your candidate will fit in - from solo video interviews to assessment centres and psychometric tests - but make sure they are proportionate to the role. Two-stage interviews are usually sufficient for most roles, whilst management roles may require testing and any senior roles in the third party sector may involve a third meeting with the client.

    We cover what is proportionate in: 5 guaranteed ways to ruin the candidate experience
  3. Reduce your time to hire

    If you’re finding you’ve been pipped to the post in securing the top talent then, chances are, you need to streamline your recruitment process.

    You may want to consider:

    • Using video interviews as an initial screening tool.
      As well as providing more valuable insight into whether a candidate is a cultural fit, they also save your - and just as importantly - the candidate’s time.
    • Pre-booking first and second-stage interviews in blocks.
      Prevent toing and froing on the available dates and valuable wasted time.
    • Only interview candidates you wish to see.
      Hedging your bets often works against you.
    If your resources are already stretched, you may want to consider recruitment process outsourcing for a quicker way of screening for candidate quality and fit.
  4. Be transparent with your salary package offering

    Address the elephant in the room.

    When you make a job offer, you shouldn’t be wondering whether your salary package offer will be a deal-breaker. If so, the chances are that salary discussions could have been handled a little better during the process.

    Be upfront with salary expectations. Provide a realistic salary band from the outset in the job advert and address this issue during the final interview.

  5. Are you failing to provide constructive feedback?

    Are you guilty of one of the biggest bugbears we hear from candidates - failing to provide feedback?

    Treat candidates with the respect they deserve for giving their time to the process. It’s not just fair; it helps improve your chances of hiring great candidates for future roles and prevents negative opinions being passed around by word-of-mouth.

    If you are working with a recruitment agency, they are an extension of your employer brand. It therefore pays to do your research on whether they align with your values on candidate feedback.

    Read more: 10 red flags to look for when hiring a specialist recruitment agency

Interview for cultural fit

After creating your Employer Value Proposition, you should have an idea of who your ideal employees are and have attracted the right kind of candidates.

However, you will still receive applications from candidates that have the skills for the role but wouldn’t fit culturally.

We often recommend initial screening via video interviews, as they can provide a much better insight into what a candidate is really like and whether they will fit in with your team. They can also significantly reduce time-to-hire and cost-per-hire. It’s also vital that you ask the right questions, that dig deep enough to assess cultural fit properly.

Read more: 5 benefits of video interviewing

We cover the essential questions you need to ask and the warning flags to look for in our guide: Interview Questions for Cultural Fit

Engage: effective onboarding and beyond

Most employers are all too aware that the first few weeks on the job are the most crucial when it comes to retaining employees. That’s once they’ve started. The notice period is fraught with pitfalls such as candidate buyback, competing offers and changes of hearts.

Here are our top onboarding tips, so you can avoid an employee leaving before they’ve even brought their favourite coffee mug into the office.

  1. Keep in touch.

    Make the most of those frequent HR admin emails you will be sending in the run-up to a candidate starting, such as checking existing booked holiday dates and requesting references. Why not include some insider news to make them feel like part of the team?
  2. Value their input before they start.

    If your new recruit may be affected by any current projects or decisions taking place before they start, give them an insight into what is happening and ask for their opinions or input (so long as they don’t feel pressured into working two jobs during their notice period!).
  3. Invite them to meet the team.

    Extend invites to upcoming company-wide or team-based social events. If there are none in the diary, why not add one?
  4. Don’t turn their first day into an HR admin drag.

    Cover off HR issues such as existing holidays and P45s before they start. Also provide them with any materials you have regarding your values, mission statement, organisational structure and more. You will likely cover these again during the training period, but it provides your new hires with a heads-up so that they can prepare any questions on their first day.
  5. Compliance.

    Be clear about exactly what is expected of employees so that you avoid any compliance problems further down the line.
  6. Avoid information overload.

    We’ve all been there: you’re handed an encyclopaedic staff training manual and handbook on your first day. Try to avoid overloading new employees with information in their first few weeks and try to diversify training with practical, on-the-job learning sessions. Not only are they likely to retain the information better, but they’re also likely to be much more engaged.

    Read more: Our recruitment consultants share their best tips for managing the onboarding process: 10 recruiters give their top employee onboarding tips

Helpful tools

There are a number of tools available that can help with various aspects of employer branding, such as employee advocacy, research, content creation and candidate relationship management. We love the list compiled by The Undercover Recruiter: 25 Extremely Useful Employer Branding Tools

Next steps

If you want the upper hand in attracting the best talent that will fit with your organisation, our premium service bundle EDGE can help. With branded job adverts and micro recruitment sites shared across our extensive online and social network, alongside video interviewing and psychometric tests, we can make sure your next hire is truly ‘on-brand’.

Why not find out more about how we can assist you with an employer branded recruitment campaign by watching our Edge benefits video or reading our Edge brochure?

Give your recruitment the EDGE. Employer branding & interview tools to attract YOUR ideal candidates and reduce time to hire by 57%. Find out about EDGE