September 10, 2019

Don’t Be That Employer: 4 Steps to Better Employer Branding


Eventually, every startup reaches a pivotal point in the life of the business when it becomes imperative to ask: “Should we grow, or should we scale back?”

If you decide to scale back and keep doing it the way you’ve been doing it, more power to you. It is commendable to want to keep your business as manageable as possible on your terms.

But if you decide to grow your business, you need to be prepared. As you venture into the talent market, a lot of people who have never heard of your company before will suddenly become very interested in your brand. Recruiting is, in this sense, a powerful marketing tool. However, many employers fail to see it this way.

The problem is that employer branding happens whether we want it or not. Any time you post a position, you are branding your company. Everything you do (and don’t do) during your recruiting and hiring journey speaks volumes about what kind of company yours is.

Ideal vs. Real

According to Phil Strazzulla, creator of NextWave Hire and SelectSoftware Reviews, there are two parts to employer branding: what people think it’s like to work at your company and what it’s actually like to work at your company. The two should overlap to some extent. It’s okay to be aspirational when you present your brand, especially when you’re attracting new talent, but there should still be a strong alignment between communication and reality. Employers usually have an ideal brand they want to present, but when that brand is too divorced from the real thing, it can cause problems. New hires who thought they were getting one thing will find out they were actually getting another, which can lead to cultural clashes and high turnover.

I can say from personal experience that it is a huge letdown to leave a position with a good company for a more promising role only to find the new company is not what it said it was. People pay attention to what is being sold to them during the recruiting process. Your employer branding sets their expectations for working at your company, and when the brand turns out to be unrealistic, your new hires will be sorely disappointed.

What can you do to bring your employer branding up to snuff? Strazzulla suggests starting with your careers page. It should include photos of employees, testimonials from real staff members, a quick introductory video — anything that might help people understand your company. Ultimately, the goal is to mold your employer brand around the way you want your company represented, provided that representation is accurate.

For more expert recruiting insights, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

Don’t Be That Employer: Avoid These Branding Mistakes

The things you do or don’t do during the recruiting process say everything about your employer branding. In particular, you want to avoid doing any of these things, which are guaranteed to drive your ideal candidates away fast:

1. Not Communicating

When a candidate responds to a job ad, reply to them. You don’t even have to do it manually: Set up an autoreply message to acknowledge you’ve received their resume. Something that simple can make all the difference.

As the hiring process progresses, be sure to keep candidates in the loop. It is tough to let people down, but as you narrow your choices, you need to let candidates know what is going on — even if that means telling them you will not be considering them further. The fact that you let them know instead of leaving them in the dark will make them respect your brand that much more.

2. Posting Job Descriptions Instead of Job Ads

If your job ad is simply a copied and pasted job description, you’ll get resumes, but you won’t get very many resumes from the candidates you’re targeting. If you don’t put much effort into your job ad, your candidates will not put a lot of time into their applications either.

For the best results, add some personality to your job posting to show off what your company is like. Additionally, answer the questions your ideal candidates will be likely to ask, such as:

  1. Why should I apply to your company?
  2. What does a typical day look like in this position?
  3. What kind of benefits does your company offer?
  4. How can I contribute to the overall purpose and mission of the company?

Make sure your job ad is detailed as well. A vague post will only work against you because candidates will interpret your position as a good fit for them even when it is not. The more information you provide, the better.

3. Making It Difficult to Apply

Great candidates will be discouraged from applying to a position that requires too many steps. If they have to fill out too much information or jump through too many hoops just to submit a resume, they will abandon the process and instead apply for a role elsewhere.

Collecting resumes should be as simple as your marketing funnel: a few well-defined steps and that’s it. Time is important to everyone, so make it easy. When you make your application difficult, you only hurt yourself.

4. Having an Outdated Online Presence — or None at All

Candidates research companies before they apply to posted positions, which means your online presence can make or break your recruitment success. When candidates see a company has not kept up its social media profiles or its website, they are less inclined to apply.

Candidates aren’t looking for perfection — they just want to see a company put some effort in. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and your social media feeds are updated at least once a week.

With some effort and planning, employer branding can take your business to another level. The more strategic you are with your employer branding, the better your hiring outcomes. That means more quality hires, less turnover, and more successful expansion.

Jen Swenson teaches startups and business owners how to minimize the headaches of bad hiring decisions. Her podcast on recruiting and hiring for small businesses and startups, #BeAHiringHero, is available on all popular podcast platforms.

Read more in Employer Branding

Jen Swenson teaches startups and business owners how to minimize the headaches of bad hiring decisions by providing doable strategic plans and proven tools to get the right employees. With almost two decades of experience, she has recruited for numerous companies, including Fortune 500 organizations and solopreneurs looking to grow their businesses. She has been featured in many reputable publications and has a weekly podcast, #BeAHiringHero, available on all popular podcast platforms.