employer branding requires decisions, not choices

March 26, 2015 Jennifer Klimas

Create the experience, not just the messaging.

There is a big difference between making a choice and making a decision. While these two words are often interchanged in conversation, they both can have an impact on an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. In my job I work with companies every day as they struggle to address the challenges and opportunities associated with employer branding. I see how they frequently find themselves making choices regarding their employer brand commitment, when, in fact, they need to be making decisions. Consider the following definitions from www.thefreedictionary.com:


  1. the act or an instance of choosing or selecting
  2. the opportunity or power of choosing
  3. an alternative action or possibility: what choice did I have?
  4. a supply from which to select: a poor choice of shoes


  1. the act or process of deciding
  2. the act of making up one's mind: a difficult decision
  3. something that is decided; resolution

Based on these definitions, choice involves weighing different options and considering the available data, research, and tools, but making a choice tends to be a bit indecisive. It assumes that one is reacting to a pre-determined set of alternatives, because that’s what one must do, and it doesn’t necessarily encompass an outcome or end-result of that choice. On the other hand, decision has a definitive conclusion, has more finality and an ending point.

I bring this up because even though there is a lot of data telling organizations they need to change how they are treating employees as well as job seekers during the hiring experience, there are still wide gaps. I consult with clients across the U.S. and see there are many stuck at the indecisive choice stage, not quite ready to make final decisions to change, shift gears and make improvements.

fast facts to show why changes are imperative:

  • 45% of workers will jump ship for a new job even though they are happy in their current position. (Younger job seekers in particular consider their positions temporary growth opportunities).1
  • While three quarters of professionals consider themselves “passive,” only 61% of companies recruit passive candidates.2
  • Over 40% of job seekers have used a mobile device to search for jobs, and 37% expect to apply directly from their smartphones.3
  • When asked how often they’d return to a job on their desktop after trying (and failing) to apply via mobile, 65% of job seekers said “rarely.” 5
  • 50% of job seekers will tell a friend about a bad experience, and 64% will tell a friend about a good experience.3
  • 96% of job seekers are likely to read a company’s reviews before accepting a job offer. 4
  • 70% of candidates say they wish applications were fewer than five pages, while at the same time 48% of HR professionals say their company’s application is actually between five and 15 pages.5
  • Most (3 in 5) job seekers who have begun an application did not finish it, because there were too many steps or it was too complex.5
  • A majority of job seekers (51%) expect to be informed by the hiring company about the status of their application, but only 14% say they actually receive updates.6

Based on these few facts, many organizations have serious decisions to make that can impact attraction, the candidate experience, employee engagement and retention. In order for an organization to be perceived as an “employer of choice” (in this case, a positive connotation on the word, choice), commitments must be made to address all facets of the talent lifecycle.

From the attraction standpoint, this means taking a hard look at how the organization is perceived internally and externally. Part of this means looking at the messaging used to attract talent on the company careers website, social media properties, and job adverts. It also requires a careful look at what employees are saying on review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or various social media channels.

But the employer brand is not just about messaging. It’s about experience. Consider: what happens to candidates who visit your careers website to view and apply for positions? Want to get a first-hand view? Apply for a job yourself on your careers site. Then, try it through a mobile device. See if you can easily get through the process. The results can be eye-opening.

Next, determine whether your organization is treating candidates well through the hiring process. Are you providing a positive experience, even to candidates who don’t reach the offer stage? The answer is more important than ever. After all, it can be the difference between a positive review and a negative one — and that can be the difference between that next great employee applying for your company, or looking elsewhere instead.

At this point, it’s important to remember that the employer brand experience does not end at the point of hire. Does your organization have and internal development and mentorship program in place? When was the last time you took a critical look at the program? Does your company have a process for assessing its internal talent pool before looking externally for new candidates?

The fact is, employees and former employees are a wealth of information. They know your culture and can get up to speed faster than external talent. In a competitive employment market, companies can do well to focus on growing their own talent or formalizing a boomerang/alumni program to capture employees who found that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side.

Employers open to making small shifts in culture to accommodate work-life balance such as allowing employees to work from home or part-time will have a major impact on engagement. Often, both job seekers and employees will choose to work or stay at an organization focusing on work-life balance, offering the opportunity to advance, learn new things and grow. These are just a few examples used to improve engagement, yet they also have an attraction and retention benefit.

If you are an HR leader, take a few minutes and think about the facts and suggestions I’ve mentioned. Organizations have strong brands because they make decisions to invest in the right resources (people, technology, processes and tools). They are continuously looking at how they are perceived, listening to their employees and job seekers and looking at opportunities to enhance retention and engagement efforts. Whether you are a large, medium or small organization, tough choices need weighed, but once decisions are made, your organization will benefit in the long run.

Sources: 1Jobvite 2015 Job Seeker Nation: Inside the Mind of the Modern Job Seeker, 2LinkedIn 2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report, 3Careerbuilder : Candidate Behavior Survey, 4Glassdoor 2014 How to become an Employer of Choice, 5CareerBuilder 2014 Candidate Experience Study, 6Jibe: 2014 Talent Acquisition Survey



about the author

Jennifer Klimas

Jennifer is a brand leader with diverse experience across employer branding, social media management, talent acquisition/recruiting/sourcing, diversity, analytics, and recruitment advertising. With a core focus on employer brand perception and candidate experience assessments, she looks to enhance our client's employer brand efforts and the impact of RPO and MSP solutions on talent acquisition.

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