Ignite BrandEmployer brand: bring this topic up at any gathering of recruiting and HR professionals and you’ll either get a lot of nodding heads or someone rolling their eyes. But as recruiting and marketing come closer and closer together, more professionals are flexing their branding muscles.

Employment branding has been lauded by several organizations, including CareerBuilder, as an almost foolproof way to lower both recruiting costs and employee turnover. Even if employment branding doesn’t come naturally to your organization, there are a slew of companies, consultants and HR bloggers who will at least tell you how to get started. RecruitingChicks blogger Teela Jackson states:

It is also important for your Recruiting team to provide a consistent message to candidates in the sourcing and interviewing process.  Your employment brand is an integral part of your company’s talent attraction and retention strategies.

Jackson then goes on to outline ten steps that companies can take to begin identifying their “special sauce”. More than a quick fix, employment branding is meant to directly impact an organization’s ability to recruit, which is why recruiters and even sourcers should take branding initiatives seriously and contribute to their success. In the past, HR Professionals have been urged to request help from marketing and communications departments in their company’s, in an effort to form branding “best practices”. But as budgets stretch ever tighter and unemployment numbers begin (knock on wood) to plummet, it’s possible that the talent acquisition team will have to begin spearheading these all important campaigns. Analysts have been quick to point out that perhaps talent management positions may be the most equipped to handle the crafting of this part consumer/part business message. One thing nearly everyone can agree on, the message must match the culture. Industry pundit John Sumser distills the process down to this:

Employment Branding is the craft of being so completely organized that you are ready with the right message for the right person when she comes along.

In recent news regarding troubled Research In Motion, employment branding has nearly been hailed as the company’s last stand. Kat Drum, head of Talent Acquistion for the Waterloo, Canada company insists that despite a troubled consumer brand and rapidly decreasing faith in the electronic maker’s executive presence, now is the time for an aggressive employment branding play. If correct, Drum’s faith in supporting the employment brand as a separate entity could drive a strong trend in the HR industry and remove the “rolled eyes” from the conversations everywhere. However, when even HR Professionals can’t see past the consumer letdowns to the broader workforce plan, it may be too soon for a wobbly employer brand to leave its product marketing origins behind.

The truth is, while initiatives are important, many of the more ubiquitous employer brands around us, workplaces of choice, as it were, are not reputations that were created over night. They depend on a range of factors, including but not limited to locality, company size, organizational values, and much more. As with any panacea that offers such benefits, the work required to roll out a true employment branding strategy may take months or even years to fully reap the benefits touted in so many blogs, articles and webinars.

Blogger Gautam Ghosh focuses on the beginning of a solid strategy. Authenticity:

If you are authentic about the kind of culture your organization has – conservative, experimental, edgy or whatever it is – you will attract people who would be comfortable with that culture.

Sure culture is a messy thing. Not usually articulated easily. It is not the “values espoused” but demonstrated by the “values in action” and hence open to perception and biases.

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