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Special excerpt from Win the Recruiting War!

Recruiter ReportEstablish and communicate the employer brand

The talent marketplace is highly competitive, so if you expect to recruit the very best, you must be well-known, not just for your product but also as an exceptional place to work.

That means the desirable talent must be able to easily find authentic information about the factors they believe make a firm an exciting place to work.

The science of sculpting and managing that image as a top employer is known as employer branding. Some organizations try to build their employer brand image using a trial and-error approach.

However, a far superior method is to understand the principles and methods that have already proven successful at the firms with the best employer brands and then adapt them to your firm and culture.

Keep in mind, the employer brand is communicated through company websites, social media, online job postings, written materials, news about the company and, most importantly, what employees are saying about the company online and in person.

There are large companies that have spent significant time and money developing and communicating their brands to potential employees. Branding at this level requires a collaboration between HR and marketing to develop the messaging that will attract top talent to the organization.

Slick websites and marketing pieces are a piece of the branding puzzle, but they alone will not promote and build the company’s reputation. There are many things that a small company with a more limited budget can do to build its brand as a top employer, and regardless of the slick campaigns discussed above, large companies must focus on the same things to develop grassroots branding campaigns that will be viewed by talent as authentic.

John Sullivan, PhD, Professor of Management at San Francisco State University and former Chief Talent Officer for a Silicon Valley tech company, is a nationally recognized thought leader on hiring. He offers the following insights on employer branding.

Figure out what makes the company a great place to work

Take a look at your organization’s management practices, benefit programs, and corporate culture, and figure out which of them you can “sell” to people outside the company.

Take some of those boring, corporate-sounding HR programs and give them “catchy” names that will attract attention. Compare the programs to those offered by competitors, identify ways in which the company is clearly superior, and promote those in recruiting efforts.

Develop a message around what is important to recruits

Many executives assume they should simply build their employer brand image around the areas of which they are proudest. That can be a huge mistake because the most effective approach is to first identify the factors that target recruits care most about, and focus the message on those key attraction factors. This may be easier said than done in the world of the multigenerational workforce.

When done, however, a slogan can be developed that captures the one or two things about the workplace that make it a great place to work.

Mobilize current and former employees

Develop an employee referral program, and provide employees with stories about what makes the firm exceptional.

Employees work at the company every day and they are the most believable source of information for prospective employees. They also have access to friends and colleagues through their previous academic work or memberships in professional associations who would make great employees and have the skills and experience needed.

Train and encourage employees to use social networks such as LinkedIn® and Twitter to promote the company as a great place to work and to promote the employer brand. These strategies can dramatically, and effectively, increase the brand image.

Former employees or alumni can also be a good source of referrals. Establishing an alumni group on Facebook or LinkedIn can help maintain contact with former employees and provide a forum to let former employees know about current job openings.

In some case, coordinating a social function for alumni can help maintain the relationship in a positive way.

Social media can go both ways

It also important to remember that social media and information found online about your company can go both ways. Disgruntled applicants, employees, or customers may post comments to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor® that are not favorable, whether true or not.

For instance, employees can post company reviews on Glassdoor.com that may include information on compensation, management, and the company generally as a place to work. You need to be aware of what is being said, and take steps to counter these comments when appropriate.

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