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Employer Branding For Beginners: How To Win In 2024

Rebecca Noori
Last Updated December 29, 2023

Imagine the journey a candidate takes before applying for a new job. They notice an ad on a job board or a callout on social media advertising the vacancy. They'll click a link to an application form, read reviews about the employer, or flick around the company website to check out the culture. If they're really eager? They'll check out LinkedIn profiles of current employees or read company blog posts to learn about the latest company get-together. 

All these touch points (and numerous others) are the puzzle pieces that fit together to form a company's employer brand. Each acts as a first or reinforcing impression about the work culture. And this is critical because 69% of candidates would reject an offer from a company with a negative employer brand, even if they were unemployed. 

This article digs deep into how to craft an employer brand to be proud of, including expert insights and examples from some of the world's leading employers. The best part? Once you've built a positive reputation, it becomes easier to spread the word about your organization and become a talent magnet in your industry.

What Is An Employer Brand?

An employer brand refers to an organization's reputation as a provider of employment. Just as your company has a brand reputation with existing and potential customers, you also have an employer brand based on how you treat the people who work for you. The stakes? Get this right, and you'll attract top-caliber candidates to join your ranks. Get it wrong, and they'll head to your competitors instead. 

Preston Powell, CEO of Webserv, explains, "Employee satisfaction is a critical component when building an employer brand. When employees are unhappy with the company, they have the power to damage the reputation and image of your brand – complicating any talent acquisition efforts of your company."

Your employer brand comprises many moving parts, such as your company culture, values, mission statements, and all aspects of the candidate and employee experience. In addition, it encompasses everything your company does, intentionally or unintentionally, to hire and retain talent.

Intentional Employer Branding

Managing your employer website, writing appealing job postings, and publishing career-oriented social media content.

Unintentional Employer Branding

Positive actions such as a departing employee writing a post on LinkedIn to praise their experience of working for you. But it may also include harmful activities such as a candidate posting about a chaotic recruitment experience or an employee being laid off by email.

Two women greeting each other before an interview

What Are The Benefits Of Employer Branding?

A strong employer brand goes far beyond aesthetics — a commitment in this area drives tangible business results that will impact your bottom line. Expect the following:

1. Reduced Time To Hire 

Filling an open vacancy doesn't happen overnight. As a guide, LinkedIn analysis finds it takes a median of 47 days to hire someone for a project management role, 48 days for a research position, and 49 days in engineering. 

During that time, the rest of your team will be stretched, and your internal managers will be heavily involved in recruiting decisions that take them away from other value-adding business areas. 

If you want to move faster, Built In research reveals that having a solid employer brand will improve time to hire by one to two times.

2. Attract The Best Of The Best 

Invest in employer branding if you want to receive applications from highly-skilled candidates in your industry. And the more people you attract, the greater your chance of finding those gems. 

Glassdoor research found that 92% of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company boasting an excellent corporate reputation. 

On the flip side, 50% of candidates wouldn't be interested in working for a company with a bad reputation, even if the new role included a pay raise.

3. Greater Retention 

Savvy companies recognize that recruitment is expensive, and you’ll save money by focusing on retaining employees rather than having a revolving door of talent. 

The great news? Companies that actively invest in their employer brand can reduce staff turnover by up to 28%. Nectar’s employee recognition statistics also find that a whopping 93.5% of employees would stay at a company for five years or more if the culture is great and the pay is fair.

4. Future-proof Your Organization 

Building your employer brand means adding strength and depth to your talent pool. With a greater selection of passive and active job candidates, you can pinpoint the specific skills required to future-proof your company and hire accordingly.

5. Build Credibility With Customers 

A strong employer brand ensures you attract the most talented people to serve your customers. But it goes full circle, with customers viewing you better if they believe you treat your employees well. 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) noticed that a one-point increase in Glassdoor company ratings directly resulted in a 1.3-point increase in customer satisfaction. The bottom line: invest in employer branding and reap the rewards from your customers.

Three employees sitting at a table having a meeting

Who Is Responsible For Shaping Employer Branding Strategy? 

Your employer brand must be planned and orchestrated throughout every level of your organization, including the following: 

  • C-suite Executives: Ensure your leaders communicate company values effectively and encourage everyone to take part in building the employer brand. 
  • Line Managers: Gather upward feedback from direct reports to their supervisors and line managers to ensure every employee has a voice and feels respected by their employer. 
  • Marketing Team: Work with your internal and external communications teams to deploy creative employer branding campaigns with consistent messaging across all platforms.
  • HR Team: Recruitment and onboarding processes should be quick and easy, with clear and transparent communication throughout. 

Samuli Salonen, CEO & Co-Founder at TalentBee, weighs in on how employer branding and recruitment are connected. He explains:

"I believe that one person shouldn't do employer branding & recruitment. They are such different things. However, they should be very closely aligned. You will become a great recruiter if you understand the other part of the equation." 

11 Tips For Building An Employer Brand Strategy

Ultimate Brand Bible states that it takes two to five years to build a brand, and an employer brand is no exception to this rule. Get started today with these 11 tips.

1. Host An Employer Brand Audit

Start by assessing your current reputation as an employer. Even if you've never dedicated time to building your corporate identity, you'll still present either a positive or negative image based on what current and former employees say about you. If you're a small business with no online presence, this also speaks volumes to potential employees, who might consider you less credible. Your audit should include:

Employee Experience Metrics 

Track metrics like eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) to understand company sentiment. High scores indicate that your employees will likely recommend your organization as a great workplace. Conversely, low scores can signal employee disengagement, lack of satisfaction, and a problem with retention. 

Nectar Tip: Collect feedback anonymously so employees feel comfortable providing honest opinions in a psychologically safe space.

Stay And Exit Interviews

Both these interview types provide powerful insights into the impact of your employer brand management on the employee lifecycle. Stay interviews build trust between managers and direct reports and uncover any issues that must be resolved. Exit talks are also valuable—it may be too late to prevent an employee from leaving, but you can gain vital feedback and apply the information to future people management decisions. 

Maximilian Wühr, Chief Growth Officer and Co-Founder at Finn, reveals why it pays to be the best at saying goodbye. 

“People who no longer work for your company often talk about their experience to family, friends, and colleagues. You want every single one of them to have a positive experience if you want to elevate your employer brand and show you care about people beyond their current contributions to your bottom line. Satisfied former employees will happily and proactively refer you to people they think would be a good fit. Reinforcing positivity and respect can leave those “goodbyes” on a high note and give a lasting, positive impression of your brand.”

Social Listening 

68% of millennials, 54% of Generation X, and 48% of Boomers visit social media channels to evaluate an employer brand as part of their job search. Part of your audit must include an analysis of Glassdoor, Indeed, and Blind employer reviews to understand how current and ex-employees talk about their experience working for you. 

Similarly, check out LinkedIn and other social platforms to read content posted there. 

Milo Cruz, Chief Marketing Officer at Freelance Writing Jobs, advises, "Take note of people's opinions about your business and be receptive to whatever feedback you see online. Social listening not only allows you to get fresh insights from your surroundings, but it also gives you the opportunity to be aware of your flaws and act on them accordingly."

A person sitting at a table working on a computer

2. Define And Deliver On Your Employee Value Proposition 

An employee value proposition (EVP) is a set of clear statements outlining what makes your company an attractive employer. Your EVP must be authentic, relevant, and in line with what your current employees believe they get from working at the company. Gartner research found that companies who effectively deliver on their EVP decrease annual turnover by 70% while increasing new hire commitment by 30%, so this is an investment worth making. 

Allan Stolk, CEO of Bankly, outlines how a unique employer persona allows a business to stand out from competitors. He suggests, "Enhance your employee value proposition and make it relevant to the current needs of job seekers. This allows you to build an employer brand that sets you miles apart from competitors. Besides offering a decent salary, make it more compelling by including flexible work hours and training programs that promote employee career growth. Not only will this attract a pool of talented people, but it will also elevate your employment brand to the next level."

Similarly, Jack Underwood, CEO and Co-Founder of Circuit, explains strong communication of your EVP enables your existing team members to become brand ambassadors for your company. He told us:

“The best way to build a strong employer brand starts within your team. To confidently communicate who you are to the outside world, you must first have those vital conversations with your team. Managers and mentors should discuss employee value propositions and share branding updates regularly through documentation, videos, emails, and more.” 

Nectar Tip: The ultimate way to involve your team in your EVP is to create an employee referral program. You'll speed up the time to hire by leveraging personal connections.

3. Set Up A Career Site 

Your company website is one of the first touchpoints in the talent acquisition process. New hires will land on your site and look for clues to decide whether it's worth their time crafting an application or cover letter. Include the following on your careers pages to appeal to potential candidates:

Testimonials From Current Employees 

Current employees provide excellent social proof and help potential job candidates understand the growth opportunities available. Always use real names (with permission) to build authenticity. 

For example, Strava's career page showcases a variety of employee testimonials from different areas of the company.

Strava's career page includes employee testimonials to strengthen its employer brand.

Rich Media 

Videos, company retreat photos, or Zoom meeting screenshots are a great way to highlight company culture and give a glimpse into a day in the life of a current employee. Canva does this by creating a 90-second video featuring multiple employees who describe the company culture.

Company Values And Mission Statement 

Include core values on your careers page to attract those who align with your EVP. For example, InVision makes a series of power statements on its career page, such as: “We empower InVisioners to author their day so they can balance work with making time for those relationships that matter most—friends, family, and loved ones.”

InVision's career page includes power statements to demonstrate company culture as part of its employer branding strategy.

Company Awards 

Awards act as a fast validator of your employer brand. Candidates take a quick glance at these accolades and want to be part of an award-winning organization.

For example, uses its career page to proudly promote its Inc. Best Workplaces 2022 award, while HubSpot lists that it received the #1 Best CEOs for Women award by Comparably and the Best Workplaces for Millennials by Great Places to Work, among others.

HubSpot's career page features company awards including "Best Workplace for Millennials" and "100 Best Companies to Work for" to entice employees as part of it's employer branding.

Company Benefits 

Many companies don’t highlight employee benefits until late in the hiring cycle, but they should be at the forefront of your employer brand. Companies like Zapier list many benefits on their website to show that they offer a supportive environment for employees to thrive.

Zapier's Career page includes a lengthy list of benefits and perks demonstrating how the company supports its employees as a pillar of its employer brand.

Open Vacancies 

Keep your career pages updated with current openings, and remove them when you’re no longer accepting applications. Remember: job seekers won’t hang around for long if your careers page looks like it hasn’t been updated in months.

4. Build An Inclusive Recruitment Process 

Candidates actively seek employers committed to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusivity. 76% of job applicants consider whether an employer is committed to diversity before accepting a job offer. In contrast, 32% would choose not to apply to a company lacking workforce diversity. 

Darren Shafae, Founder of Resume Blaze, believes it's vital to double down on diversity. He told us:

“Employer branding should reflect the diversity of the community you serve and include those who have been traditionally under-represented. Proactively engage with diverse communities, like people of color, women, carers, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and more, and provide them with value through job postings, mentorship programs, and other initiatives that make them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. This will help demonstrate your commitment to a more inclusive workplace.”

Employers can prioritize diversity during recruitment by crafting inclusive job descriptions and using anonymization techniques during screening to remove identifiers like name, age, gender, or home address that could otherwise encourage unconscious bias.

5. Value Your Candidates' Time 

Don't be known as the employer who expects candidates to jump through hoops. Instead, ensure your recruitment processes are modern and efficient, beginning with how you communicate your recruitment process to candidates. 

For example, Airbnb provides a helpful Careers FAQs page to ensure jobseekers don't feel in the dark.

Airbnb includes a Careers FAQ section on its website to improve the candidate experience and strengthen it's employer reputation.

A rule of thumb: Keep candidates updated on the status of their applications, and let them know if you're no longer considering them. 

Simon Bacher, CEO and Co-Founder of Ling, explains why it's essential to put yourself in the candidate's shoes: 

"Many employers don't understand what remote job applicants are going through, asking too many requirements, tests, and series of interviews. We differ by making our recruitment process more straightforward and candidate-friendly using a one-page online application form with attachment and file-sharing capabilities. Job candidates receive automatic email notifications within 24 to 48 hours if they're shortlisted for an interview or didn't pass."

Nectar Tip: Fill out your own application and note how long it took. Are there any overly complex questions or areas where your candidates might require extra support? If so, provide documentation to show prospective candidates what you're looking for.

6. Improve Your Onboarding Process 

The first 90 days in a new role can be a make-or-break time for a new hire, and some 30% will quit during this period. This is unsurprising, with Sapling HR research revealing that new hires must complete 54 tasks, including document signing and admin tasks during onboarding—it’s overwhelming. 

Lean into automation to streamline your processes and improve your onboarding process, enabling your people to become productive quickly without the stress.

7. Collect Regular Feedback 

Listen to your employees for feedback on how the company can improve its reputation as an employer. Do this through regular pulse surveys, focus groups, and 1:1 conversations, and crucially, act on the feedback. 

Arthur Worsley, Founder of The Art of Living, breaks down the importance of encouraging internal feedback loops: 

“Empower and respect your employees by giving them a voice in the company. Create feedback channels that employees feel comfortable using to share their opinions and complaints. Show them that you take their feedback seriously by acting on it in an effective and timely manner. Having a sound internal feedback mechanism will help reduce employee frustration with the work environment. Employees will also be less likely to complain about the company online, ensuring that your reputation as a good employer remains intact.”

8. Offer Clear Career Growth Opportunities 

Employees and job seekers in the current workplace are focused on career development. A LinkedIn L&D report highlights that employees have "renewed calls for growth and purpose." 

This ties in with Tiger Recruitment research during the height of the pandemic, which found that eight in 10 workers were concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their careers. In comparison, only a third were anxious about the virus impacting their health.

Employers who offer clear career paths across their organization will be in a solid position to attract the best talent in the field. Consider courses, mentoring/shadowing opportunities, micro-learning, and more to demonstrate commitment to growth. 

Shopify does a great job of this by highlighting a selection of Early Careers programs on its careers page.

Shopify includes a list of Early Careers programs on its career page demonstrating how employees can progress at the company, and strengthening its employer brand.

9. Publicize Your Employer Brand 

Once you've done the work in-house, ensure you're actively promoting your employer brand online across all the platforms that active and passive candidates may discover it on. 

Mark Woodbury, Co-Founder of Minerva Equity, highlights how social media is a powerful tool in developing your employer image:

“Post photos and videos of your company activities on your company’s social media platform to showcase your team culture. Social media is a pervasive tool that will help you reach your target candidates. By posting images that capture your company’s vibes, candidates will have a clear idea of what your workplace culture is like. Those that feel a cultural compatibility will be inclined to join your team because the posts served as a reference for them.”

But understand that your employee's voice is three times more credible than the CEO's when discussing working conditions for a company. Where possible, encourage your employees to fill in their LinkedIn profiles and make connections online to help expand your company's reach as an employer. The average network of a company's employees is ten times the size of the company network alone!

At Nectar, we use our employee challenges feature to activate the voice of our team members. Employees can earn up to 100 points ($10) per week for posting about topics related to company culture on LinkedIn. As a result, we see active employees who are excited to share about our company daily.

10. Develop A Talent Community 

Only some people who apply for a role at your organization are a great fit. But you can (and should) keep in touch with all candidates to ensure your organization remains top of mind if a more suitable role opens up. 

Build a talent community to enable candidates to receive updates about job openings and other opportunities within your organization. For example, you might send newsletters and company announcements, add candidates to a private social media group, or invite them to apply for a specific role.

Expect higher acceptance rates when you offer a job to a candidate from your talent pool. HR Today reports one company that used a talent community increased candidate engagement scores and dropped its candidate-to-hire ratio from 13:1 to 3:1. Why? Because when candidates have already developed a rapport with your company, they can visualize the company vibe and better understand your organization.

11. Connect The Dots Between Your Current And Dream Employer Brand

Now you have a comprehensive overview of everything you could do to bolster your employer image, the next step is to benchmark your brand's current position compared to where you want it to be. For most companies, there are two main routes from A to B:

Employer Brand Visibility

If prospective candidates haven't heard of your business and don't know what you stand for, take the necessary steps to convey your corporate culture and vision to the world.

Negative Reputation Management

If you discover that current and former employees don't recommend your company, pick up the mirror and take steps to enhance your candidate and employee experience. Listen to the feedback, respond to negative reviews, be honest about shortcomings, and explain the positive changes you're making.

Download Your Employer Branding Management Checklist 

Are you looking for a TL:DR? The main takeaway is that all companies have an employer brand, even if you're not yet taking steps to shape or control it. Improve your reputation, attract better candidates to join your ranks, and boost customer perception of your company by investing in your employer branding strategy to push the narrative in a positive direction.

Are you ready to create a similar EVP for your organization? Take a Nectar demo, and download your employer branding checklist today to revamp your corporate reputation.

Download Nectar's free employer brand checklist

Actionable workplace tips & insights for fellow people lovers

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