understanding the rules of attraction

November 30, -0001 James Foley

don’t ignore the fundamentals of employer branding


By James Foley

As the global economy continues to lift, employers face a tougher time finding great talent. For example, the latest jobs report in the U.S. indicates unemployment has fallen to 6.6% from a high of 10% during the global financial meltdown in 2009. In Europe, unemployment remains stubbornly high in some pockets but is mostly stable across the continent. Elsewhere around the world, demand for skilled labor in booming economies such as India and China remains strong. So as competition heats up, what’s your game plan for winning critical talent?

Post-and-pray days are behind us. You must do better to win the loyalty of talented app developers, mechanical engineers, and account reps. The rules of engagement have changed, and only organizations that offer value beyond a competitive comp package have the best chance of landing the best candidates. It’s all about positioning your employer brand.

Consider today’s most attractive brands – businesses such as LinkedIn, Google, Bain & Company, and others that have built up enormous goodwill in the eyes of workers. Why do they regularly rank among the most desirable employers on the planet? Because they’re good product and service marketers? Sure, but they also create excitement around their brands by leveraging employees to serve as ambassadors, clearly defining their employer value proposition (EVP), and enthusiastically engaging talent. Most of all, these organizations have an effective and comprehensive strategy for communicating their EVP and their employer brand.

However, many organizations are unable to define their employer brands or unable to differentiate it from competitors. Why? Often the cause is not having a thorough understanding of their culture. Even when they do, many companies have trouble communicating their EVP because they lack the marketing skills and knowledge to reach their intended audience.

Another common problem is lack of ownership for employer branding. Is corporate HR responsible, or do the regional heads of HR look after their own efforts? Which elements sit with marketing and communications? What role does the hiring manager play? Who will participate in campaigns that raise brand awareness and engagement with candidates? As is often the case with failing to define ownership, apathy and confusion rein.

Once you get past these hurdles, ask yourself this: I have a thorough understanding of my corporate culture and clearly defined EVP, but how do I apply this knowledge to yield measurable results? It’s a tough question, but one that requires an answer in order for you to achieve measurable results. Otherwise you’re simply spinning your wheel with little to show for your efforts.

So as you look to hire the most desirable candidates, keep these critical goals in mind:

  • Know what your organization stands for and what it can offer to prospective workers
  • Clearly define who owns what activities and outcomes
  • Develop a strategy for applying your employer branding efforts so they yield results

By sticking to these basic tenets of employer brand building, you’ll achieve clarity of mission for yourself and your organization. Executing on your strategy, however, is discussion for another day and can be difficult. Even so, by embracing the same best practices that I’ve seen work over and over again, you will at least start off in the right direction to winning the war on talent.

James Foley is the Director of Employer Branding for Randstad Sourceright

About the Author

James Foley

James is Senior Director, Employer Brand. Leveraging a 20-year career as an expert consultant, business executive and marketing strategist, James supports the employer brand strategy and EVP development of global and local organizations. He enjoys helping companies to develop differentiated EVP, communication and marketing approaches to attract, engage and retain top talent.

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