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  • Writer's pictureGraham Atkinson

Building an employer brand that stands out

84% of jobseekers are looking for an employer that cares about its impact on society according to recent Henley Business School Research.

People are increasingly looking for a values match with their employer and get frustrated when this isn’t the case. Simon Sinek in this ‘Inside Quest’ video says that more employees are looking to create impact through their work, but organisations need to do more to provide an environment where they are supported to thrive.

72% of employers say they recognise that social purpose is important for attracting new employees. But if this is the case, why are so many organisations missing the opportunity to sell their employer brand to prospective employees? Charities and Social Enterprises should be perfectly placed to capitalise on these shifting attitudes, yet a search through recent vacancies on shows very few examples of organisations being innovative and inspiring in getting across their employer brand.

There’s no easy fix and getting this right takes work, but here are five suggestions on positive steps you can take to improve the way you communicate your employer brand:

1. Be a great place to work

You have to be authentic and honest. It’s absolutely right to be ambitious and positive about the employer brand you communicate to prospective candidates. But if this is misaligned with your actual culture, you are just setting your organisation up for a lot of disappointed employees and high turnover rates. Understand your culture and values. Articulate your strengths, but don’t pretend to be an organisation or employer that you’re not.

2. Let your employees do the talking

Your current team can be a great shop window for your employer brand. Often you will see current employees promoting vacancies through social media – which is great, but can have limitations around diversifying the workforce. Encourage, rather than discourage, colleagues to share their experience on Glassdoor. Have videos of staff on your recruitment site / webpage talking about working for your organisation – here’s a great example from Mind. Share your staff engagement results with potential candidates or include quotes from colleagues in your recruitment pack. If done right, prospective candidates will see messages from your current staff as authentic and legitimate insight into your organisation and culture.

3. Talk about your values

We know that a good values fit is important for both you and your candidates. Don’t just list your values as a set of bullet points on page 4 of your recruitment pack. Talk about them up front and repeatedly. Weave them through all of your content and make sure that the language in all of your candidate information oozes your values. If your company values include words like ‘fun’ or ‘inclusive’, make sure that your overall message reflects this or you’ll risk looking inconsistent. The Alzheimer’s Society have a strong focus on values on their ‘working for us’ site.

4. Design a process that matches your employer brand

“Recruitment and selection is a 2-way process” is the mantra that we like to repeat. Just as you are assessing the candidates’ capabilities, they are assessing you. Every interaction is valuable and it’s worth ensuring that you treat the process like a true customer experience. Whether successful or not, candidates should feel like you take people management seriously. Communicate effectively, set clear expectations and make things as simple as possible. If you claim to be a 'digital first' employer and then expect applicants to fill in a clunky application form in Word you’re probably not doing yourself justice. There’s some great suggestions in this article on ‘taking your candidate experience from good to great’.

5. Take it seriously and resource it

Of course, lots of the above ideas take time and resources. HR teams often struggle to deal with the volume and unpredictability of recruitment and managers are desperate to get someone in post as quickly as possible. But if you genuinely believe that “people are your most important asset” then there should be no decision more important than who you invite to come and work with you. It’s vital to take the time to think critically about how you communicate an employer brand that’s exciting, engaging and authentic.


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