There's a lot of talk about branding and how it fits into recruiting. Why does it matter? Essentially, your employer brand is the identity of your company as an employer, targeted to your past, present, and future employees. While part of the same generalized audience (workers), each segment is looking to get something slightly different from your employer brand:

  • Future employees are looking to gain a sense of understanding of what you have to offer as an employer.
  • Former employees continue to use the company brand as a representation of what they've learned, an example of their professional ilk, so to speak. It is the foundation they will continue to draw on as part of their professional reputation.
  • Present employees take on the mantle of your brand identity and integrate it into their own, sharing with the world their connection to your organization's purpose, promise, and reputation. The employer brand is fused with the meaning of their work and shared with the world; so even though the employee might not be aware of the term "employer brand," they fully understand the impact of corporate reputation... and they want it to be something they can be proud of.

In all three of these groups, a well-developed employer or "talent brand" can help activate and strengthen powerful advocates for your organization. Companies that have done so have seen a cumulative growth in stock performance of up to 26% according to the Lippincot BrandView; so it's worth it to invest the time and resources required to get it right. But before you get to the ‘sexy part’ of employer branding, there’s three steps you need to take to establish the foundation on which you’ll build your brand around:

  1. 1. Start with an Audit: Do you know(not just "think you know") how you are perceived as an employer by former employees, current employees and candidates alike? Are you aware of your reputation in the marketplace? If you've not already done so through the use of surveys, focus groups, and potentially using the services of an executive search firm to gauge current market sentiment - do so. You are not doing your organization any favors by guessing; so get to work and find out. While conducting a culture audit in conjunction with an employer value proposition audit is my personal preference to create a successful "culture fit" profile; at a bare minimum the questions you need to ask both leadership & your employees are:
    1. Who are we?
    2. What do we stand for as an organization?
    3. Where are we going- what are our goals?
    4. When do employees really derive value from being part of our organization? How?
    5. Why do we come to work every day?
    6. How will we continue to grow?


  1. 2. Do Your Research: Now that you know what your leadership and employees think of you, it's worth going an extra step and surveying candidates that have interacted with these groups. This has 2 notable benefits: 1) it allows you to see if there's fragmentation of the brand message & promise when communicated externally and 2) by surveying candidate groups, you can "Monday Morning Quarterback" the hiring decisions you've made and see if/why candidates with both prerequisite hard skills and fit the successful culture profile aren't joining the organization. It improves not only your recruitment program, but helps bring the right people into the organization, which will improve your talent brand as well.

Once you've done that, go externally and audit what you can see of your competition's messaging & employer brands. How does your EVP (employer value proposition) stand out from others - what are the points of differentiation? A common mistake in branding is to make generalized promises; which unfortunately, everyone can do. While "building exceptional careers" sounds like a great promise; if it isn't backed up by something your company can offer that another can't? It's really little more than a hollow promise in a catchy tagline.

  1. 3. Take Your "Measurements:"For any undertaking worth doing, it’s important to establish a baseline from which to measure improvements. Think about it: when you set out to lose weight, what’s the first thing you do? Step on a scale and take your measurements so you know when you hit “goal.” Same concept with building a talent brand: evaluate where you are currently, identify areas of weakness you want to improve & set both targets and objectives for your program efforts. Here’s a list of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to consider measuring in monitoring the health of your talent brand:
    1. Number of Qualified Applicants
    2. Number of sign-ups or opt-ins to your “talent network” (CRM platform)
    3. Apps to Hire
    4. Cost of Hire
    5. Employee Referral Rate %
    6. Tenure & Retention Rates - Time
    7. Attrition / Churn Rates - %
    8. Employee Engagement / Team Productivity
    9. Standard Social Measurements: Follower Growth, Reach, Engagement, Sentiment
    10. External Index Rankings (LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Universum)

Once you've completed these three steps, compile your "benchmark report" and share the current "state of the EB union" with your leadership, clearly outlining SWOT opportunities. Use this as a final opportunity for feedback and to ensure that leadership hasn't just given the "sign-off" sort of buy-in, but true commitment to being an active part in establishing a better talent brand. In the next installment of this series, we will cover how to take this foundation and build a compelling & effective brand identity for your organization.