One of talent acquisition’s biggest priorities over the past few years has been effective employer brand development and maintenance—no surprise given the important role that a strong employer brand plays in attracting and retaining top talent, particularly during times of low unemployment.
Of course, getting to an effective employer brand messaging and communications strategy requires the commitment of time and resources. The starting point is the clear articulation of the organization’s employer value proposition (EVP), which should always be informed by research. Think of it this way: The EVP is the framework while the employer brand is how you “package” that framework and bring it to life for internal and external audiences across all communications, especially the career website.
Many organizations have turned to employer branding agencies to drive the activities that are required to arrive at a research-based EVP that is both authentic and relevant. However, not every talent acquisition team has the available budget to hire these firms and conduct extensive primary and secondary research as the basis for EVP and employer brand development. Yet that doesn’t mean that TA teams can’t take advantage of traditional market research approaches to ensure they have the strategic direction required for employer branding success.
There’s More Information at Your Fingertips Than You Think
Our industry’s emphasis on employer branding over the past decade means that there is a significant amount of existing research and insights regarding employee and job seeker perspectives that you can tap into simply by searching online. In addition, both candidates and employees have grown far more sophisticated over the years and can easily articulate their thoughts regarding what makes an organization an attractive place to work. Here’s how to take advantage of all the information that’s right at your fingertips:
1. Gather external surveys about job seeker perspectives and preferences. You probably even have a few that you’ve already downloaded. As you read through the reports, summarize the primary trends regarding what matters most to workers in terms of an employment situation, as well and how it might shift by industry or worker demographics.
2. Audit existing information about your organization’s employment experience. Does your organization regularly conduct employee satisfaction or engagement surveys? How about exit interviews? Pull key trends from these information sources as part of your analysis. Don’t forget about Glassdoor or other rating sites, either. Look closely at your organization’s ratings to see how your experience is trending, and the aspects that indicate your organization outperforms the competition.
3. Conduct one-on-one interviews with a cross section of current employees. Ask participants to think back on their initial perceptions of the organization when they were candidates, as well as why they joined and why they stay. How do they describe working at the organization to acquaintances? What are the common employee attributes that contribute to organizational success? You should be looking for what remains consistent no matter who you are talking to as this indicates shared experiences that should inform the EVP.
4. Get a sense of the external perspectives. Most of the hard costs associated with EVP research—aside from agency fees—is the recruitment of external participants to provide insights regarding how those who have never worked at or interviewed with your organization perceive it. There are still ways to arrive at these insights, even if you can’t invest in external participant recruitment. For example, compile the answers of interviewees who are asked why they applied for the position at the phone screen stage since they won’t yet have had substantial interactions with the company. You can also reach out to those who dropped out of the hiring process or declined an offer to gauge external perceptions and determine if any of these perceptions—warranted or not—will need to be overcome through employer brand messaging.
While there are additional research activities (online employee surveys and focus groups for thematic validation, etc.) that offer additional value to the process, the four outlined above will provide the direction your team needs to move forward with EVP articulation and employer brand development.
The lack of a big budget to conduct primary and secondary research need not stand in the way of an organization’s ability to develop and maintain a strong employer brand. By leveraging the information and perspectives you have direct access to, you can identify the themes and attributes that will lead to an authentic and credible employer brand—one that resonates with the top talent you’re trying to reach.
Want to go deeper with your employer brand messaging? Check out GR8 People’s Essential Guide to Creating Candidate Personas for a step-by-step overview of how to create and leverage personas for targeted recruitment marketing communications.