As a marketer, I’ve been obsessed for the past 20 years with developing brands for clients as well as implementing programs that put those brands front and center in the minds of customers and prospects. We spend countless hours studying buyers and their motivations along with our clients’ businesses to build strong brands that link the two together. External audiences (customers, prospects, members of the press community, stockholders, etc.) are almost always our primary consideration.
Important audiences like employees and potential employees are often overlooked. So many companies recognize the critical role that the right employees play in the success of the business, and yet they aren’t thoughtful about attracting those employees. Developing and communicating your brand story to potential and existing employees requires the same attention and discipline as telling your story externally.
Consider these factors in how you attract the best talent:
It starts with branding.
A brand is, in its purest form, a promise to employees and candidates. In order to be most impactful, it must address the motivations of the audience in ways that are most relevant to them. An annual survey conducted by Universum of college students as they consider the working world found that today’s grads are motivated by work-life balance, job security and a cause that serves the greater good. They look for employers that have respect for their people with a work environment that is creative and dynamic. How does what your company have to offer align with these motivations? They should be addressed in your brand promise if this is an important segment of employees. Different segments have distinct motivations that need to be addressed.
The promise should be grounded in what the company can live up to. Don’t create interest with work-life balance and then penalize employees for not putting in enough hours. You can attract employees that way, but you won’t be able to keep them. Know your strengths, culture and vision as well as how they align with your brand. Deliver on your promise.
Salary and benefits are important but they’re not the end-all, be-all. Your branding should create an emotional connection with a vision and aspiration that differentiate you from others vying for the same candidates. My colleague, Todd Brashear, wrote a blog article last year about the breart’s impact on purchase decisions for customers and prospects that holds true for candidates as well. If the conversation is bigger than money and benefits, you can connect with potential employees that would be committed to your vision and, in many cases, outside of the fray of the almighty dollar. People want to believe in what they’re doing and how they’re valued.
Promoting your brand.
There are a lot of ways to communicate your brand promise to potential employees. The channels you choose should be tailored to the audience you’re trying to attract. You might prioritize electronic and social media to attract millennial candidates or more traditional job boards and forums for a different segment. Your company’s website should have content that speaks directly to potential candidates with brand messaging.
Existing employees are your best recruiters and can serve as your most powerful advocates. When they display your brand to others by talking about the work environment, culture and showing their enthusiasm, they further your position with candidates. The opposite is true as well. If you’re not living your promise, employees will be disillusioned and they’ll hurt your perception with other candidates.
Another important place to communicate and promote your brand is within job descriptions themselves. While it may seem like an administrative task developed by HR with the specifics of the position and requirements, a description is a first impression and important in how a potential employee views the company. A good example of this is how the City of Denver wrote their job posting for a new Chief Information Officer. Operating in the public sector in a state of near-crisis when it comes to attracting new employees, the city took a fresh approach to how they wrote the job description:
[Pulled quote] The City and County of Denver is taking IT to the next level. Come lead the effort! Spurred by Mayor Hancock’s vision for Peak Performance, the Technology Services agency has an opportunity to lead innovative changes in how government services are delivered to real people with modern technologies, including Social, Mobile, and Cloud. Help drive the Mayor’s priorities around Jobs, Safety and Kids…make a real difference in a community that is poised like none other to drive innovation and improve the lives of our constituents. Are you someone with the courage and skills to make a difference? Has the need to contribute rather than be part of the rhetoric been nagging at you? This is your moment!
The individual selected for this position will be an integral member of the Mayor’s team. Can you imagine being part of a team running a major metropolitan city? Can you imagine actually doing something about the issues facing your community? Can you imagine using the most modern technology available today to do so?
We need you. Public service is an honorable way to spend four years. Imagine if every successful leader spent even two years serving his or her community in a hand’s on dedicated way. It could change the world. You could change the world.
External branding to customers and prospects differentiates your business and captures attention. Branding for potential employees does the same. Branding is hard work – it takes time, effort and investment. But a good brand pays off in spades both in the near- and long-term with a better workforce which yields better results.