CareerBuilder eBook: Start Branding


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Learn how to create an employment brand that increases your engagement, retention – and your bottom line. CareerBuilder’s employment branding eBook is your guide to understanding how your employment brand is your greatest resource when it comes to recruiting and retaining your greatest asset – your people.

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CareerBuilder eBook: Start Branding

  2. 2. AWA RD-W INNIN G! START BECOME A FAN! NOW! BRANDING OUR BEST SELLER! COMPANY COMPANY X SUPERIOR A QUALITY Creating an Employment Bran that Increases Engagement, d EMPLOYEE-APPROVED PREFERRED OVER ANY OTHER! Retention – and the Bottom Line TRY US! Using This e-Book Whether you’re a mom-and-pop resale shop or a Fortune 500 corporation… Whether you’re part of the service industry or professional services… Whether you’re a little bit country or a little bit rock ‘n’ roll… This e-book is for you, the employer. Because regardless of size or industry, if you have employees, you have an employment brand. And whether you realize it or not, your employment brand is affecting your ability to recruit and retain employees – for better or for worse. What you need is a strategy for understanding how others perceive your brand, so you can create a brand that truly reflects you as an employer. This strategy will ultimately help you better attract and retain employees. Let this e-book be your guide to understanding how your employment brand is your greatest resource when it comes to recruiting and retaining your greatest asset – your people. 1
  3. 3. TaBle of conTenTs 3 Introduction: What is an Employment Brand? 4-5 If You Build It, They Will Come: 7 Reasons to Invest in Your Brand 5 Branding 101: 4 Key Steps to Building Your Brand 6 Assessing Your Employment Brand 7 Defining Your Message: The Details Are in the Data 8 Key Questions for Defining Your Message 9 Communicating Your Brand: 6 Resources You’re Not Using (But Need To) 10 Communicating Your Brand Through Social Media: A 7-Point Checklist 11 Evaluating Your Brand’s Effectiveness 12 Why Does Any of this Matter? And Other FAQs 13 7 Habits of Highly Effective Employment Brands 14 Conclusion START BRANDING 2
  4. 4. ? WhaT is an employmenT Brand? It’s no coincidence that many of today’s most successful and admired businesses – Google, Whole Foods, IBM, USAA and UPS, to name just a few – are as widely recognized for their forward-thinking business practices as they are for their reputations as employers of choice. These companies all share one characteristic: A strong employment brand. An employment brand is the way your organization’s prospective applicants, candidates, and employees perceive you as an employer. A strong employment brand is one that clearly communicates the culture of your company, its mission and its values, giving people a compelling reason to want to work for – and stay with – the organization. Not only have the companies above built corporate cultures that recognize their employees as their most important asset, but they successfully communicate this culture to those outside the company as well, creating reputations for themselves as great places to work and attracting top talent to their jobs. All companies have an employment brand. Not every company, however, realizes just how critical a role their employment brand plays in both attracting and retaining talent. This e-book explores how to build your company’s employment brand to better recruit and retain top talent – and maximize your company’s bottom line. 3
  5. 5. if yoU BUild iT, They Will come: 7 reasons To invesT in yoUr Brand Research shows that companies that maintain a compelling employment brand have a critical head start when it comes to attracting talent. A recent CareerBuilder study found that companies with a strong employment brand attract at least 3.5 times more applications per job posting than do other companies in the same industry. A 2009 Employer Branding Institute study showed that nearly half (49 percent) of employees cited an employer’s reputation as a major influencer in deciding where to work. Companies with strong employment brands also enjoy a number of perks that give them a competitive edge, including the following: 1. Improved QuAlITy oF CAndIdATes: Companies with strong employment brands have an easier time recruiting qualified candidates, because candidates come in already understanding what the company stands for as an employer. They recognize something in a company’s culture that appeals to them and makes them feel as if they would be a good fit for the company. A well-communicated brand also helps job seekers understand when they would NOT be a good fit for a company, saving them the trouble of applying – and you the time of sorting through another irrelevant resume. 2. more pAssIve CAndIdATes: A clearly articulated employment brand also helps attract candidates who are not actively looking to change jobs but would consider a good opportunity if it came their way. A global study conducted by CLC (Corporate Leadership Council) found that effective employment branding enables organizations to reach into a deeper pool of talent. The study of more than 58,000 new hires and tenured employees from 90 organizations found that organizations with managed employment brands are able to source from more than 60 percent of the labor market, while those with unmanaged brands can source from only 40 percent. 3. FeWer CosTs AssoCIATed WITh Turnover: Companies do damage to their employment brand when they fail to deliver on the expectations they set for their employees during the interview and hiring process – leading, in turn, to higher turnover. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey found that 35 percent of workers cited the company as the main reason they decided to voluntarily leave a previous position, while only 28 percent cited the job itself. 4. FeWer CosTs AssoCIATed WITh reCruITmenT: If you have a compelling and well-communicated employment brand message, candidates are more likely to seek you out to inquire about open positions. You save yourself the time and trouble of sourcing candidates from scratch because there’s less of a need to advertise open positions and wait for applications to come in. (Continued on page 5) 4
  6. 6. If you Build It, They Will Come: 7 reasons to Invest in your Brand (Continued from page 4) 5. hAppy employees (A.K.A. produCTIve employees): When your company creates an environment where employees feel challenged, feel that their contributions hold value and are recognized for their efforts, employees become more engaged in their work. This increased level of engagement leads to a higher quality of service or product, and, ultimately, a better bottom line. 6. BrAnd AdvoCATes: Speaking of engaged employees… When people love their jobs, they tend to be vocal about it. For this reason, employees can be your greatest asset not only in driving your business forward, but also in filling your talent pool. Because they know what it takes to fit in and work for your company, employees are the utmost authority on who else will make a good employee. They also know how to sell your company to their peers because they know first-hand what job seekers want in their ideal employer. 7. A BeTTer BoTTom lIne: Research has shown a definitive link between a company’s employment brand and its financial performance. A recent study of publicly traded companies on FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For In America” list by professors at Michigan State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison showed a connection between the strategy of developing an attractive workplace and performing financially well. “Being an attractive employer may create an important intangible asset, positive employee relations, that differentiates firms in a value-producing way,” the authors wrote. Branding 101: 4 key sTeps To BUilding yoUr Brand Employers can’t afford to fade into the background if they want to attract quality talent; they have to stand out in a way that gets job seekers’ attention and makes them an attractive place to work. “Companies are realizing how important it is to differentiate themselves from their competitors with an employer brand,” says business marketing expert Jim Lanzalotto, Principal at Scanlon.Louis. Your employment brand strategy is a long-term effort that permeates every aspect of the employee lifecycle, including recruitment, onboarding, retention and engagement. The most important guiding principle is that companies must deliver what they promise. Consistency between words and actions goes a long way toward building a positive perception among both job seekers and employees. Just as companies invest in their consumer or business-to-business brands, they should also invest in a rigorous, ongoing process to build their employment brand. The following pages will discuss in greater detail the four main components of this process, which are listed below: 1. Assessing Your Employment Brand 2. Defining Your Message 3. Communicating Your Brand 4. Evaluating Your Message’s Effectiveness 5
  7. 7. assessing yoUr employmenT Brand “until companiescompetitors for talent are and whatvalues in an employer, who their know what their target talent differentiates them from those competitors, it is premature to create a brand ” strategy, brand messages or advertising, says Mary Delaney, President of CareerBuilder’s Human Capital Consulting Division, Personified. Does your company have a reputation as collegial or cutthroat? Is the atmosphere casual or formal? Do employees and target talent see it as a place where one can grow and advance, or as a place to get some experience and quickly move on? Before you can work to strengthen your employment brand, it is critical that you first understand how your organization is perceived as a place to work. After all, how you understand your organization’s employment brand and how others view your organization’s employment brand may differ. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that a surprisingly low number of employees believe their employers deliver on their employment promises – prompting 34 percent of employees to rate their company a poor place to work. sixty-seven percent of survey participants indicated that they either would not or were unsure if they would recommend their employer to others. In order to know truly know what your employment brand is, you need to listen to what job seekers and current employees are saying about you. The following methods provide a quick and easy way to gain some insight into what others are saying about your current employment brand: • Conduct an organic search for mentions of your company on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing • Go one step further and set up a Google alert to be e-mailed when your company name shows up in news stories, blogs or other online media • search for mentions of your company on social media sites including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Bebo, Indeed, Digg or LinkedIn • Go straight to the source: Conduct employee surveys on a quarterly or annual basis to gain feedback as to identify your strengths as an employer as well as areas for improvement • utilize third-party reputation monitoring: The most useful, objective answers to your questions about how others perceive your brand will come through the help of an objective third party that specializes in aggregating and analyzing social media to find out what is being said about your brand online. You will also want to determine how your employment brand compares to that of your competitors – both competitors in your industry and your competitors for talent. Relying on data analysis reports and talent surveys can help you determine which companies you are losing employees and candidates to, helping you assess what these companies are offering that you are not. In other words, how does your competition differentiate itself? only when you’ve determined your true brand - and how your company stacks up against that of your competitors – can you identify where your employment brand falls short of others’ expectations and work to change those perceptions. This information will also help inform the decisions you make when it comes to defining your message. 6
  8. 8. defining yoUr message: The deTails are in The daTa In order to attract and retain top talent, your company must make a concerted effort to ensure you stand for something meaningful as an employer, that potential job seekers and employees know what that “something” is, and that you communicate it through your employment branding message. The foundation of any successful branding campaign is reliable data. It is easy to create an attractive brand message, but without an understanding of who your target audience is and what they value in an employer, who are you really attracting? Your message, after all, is a promise to current and future employees about what it means to work for your company. Failing to deliver on that promise can cost you big by leading to low morale, lost productivity, high turnover and significant costs associated with time-to-hire. “To attract the top players, you need to understand what factors are most important to your specific audience,” says Mary Delaney, President of CareerBuilder’s Human Capital Consulting Division, Personified. To create a brand message that truly speaks to who you are as an employer, it is important that you first have a true understanding of your employment brand. Smart companies understand that reliable, objective data is the key to determining those factors that will inform their best branding efforts. 7
  9. 9. key QUesTions for definingg r messa e yoU data offers a wealth of intelligence to help employers define their message, including answers to the following vital questions: • What are your strengths as an employer? Your weaknesses? • How does top talent rate you against your competitors? • What do your competitors offer that you do not? • What do you offer that your competitors do not? • What do employees like about coming to work for you? • What do employees dislike about coming to work for you? • What drives job seekers to apply to your jobs? • What prevents job seekers from applying to your jobs? • Are you offering competitive pay? • How could you better position yourself as an employer of choice? • Where should you be advertising your jobs? 8
  10. 10. The next step to building your brand is disseminating your employment brand message – both internally and externally. utilize the following resources to communicate your employment brand. 1. your CompAny’s InTrAneT: Employees who give high ratings to COMMUNICATING internal communications also tend to rate the company as a good place to work and are likely to recommend it to others, according to CareerBuilder YOUR BRAND: research. An Intranet system or internal social network (such as a blog or wiki) lets you easily disseminate important company information and address company-related questions or concerns. 6 RESOURCES 2. JoB AdverTIsemenTs: Job ads are often the first introduction job YOU'RE NOT USING seekers have to your company, so make them count. In addition to (BUT NEED TO) offering a clear description of the job roles and responsibilities, take the opportunity to discuss the company, its mission, values and goals – as well as benefits you offer and any recognition your company has received for its employment practices. 3. your CompAny’s CAreer CenTer: One of the most important outlets for disseminating your brand message, your career site should be easily navigable and clearly communicate what it’s like to work at the company. Be creative in how you illustrate your company by utilizing employee testimonials, “day in the life” videos or highlighted “job of the month” opportunities, for example. 4. your employees: Employee referral programs are another effective way to communicate your company’s employment brand, while at the same time identifying job candidates. Often, the best way to recruit qualified employees is through word of mouth, and satisfied employees are the best messengers. Research demonstrates that word of mouth is perceived as at least twice as credible as advertisements. 5. loCAl or nATIonAl medIA: Sending out press releases or applying for “best place to work” competitions can help your company gain recognition and publicity from credible third-party organizations, further spreading your company’s brand message and broadening your exposure. 6. soCIAl medIA: One of the newest – and most successful – avenues for communicating your brand, social media has become a critical component to today’s recruitment strategy. 9
  11. 11. commUnicaTing yoUr Brand ThroUgh social media: a 7-poinT checklisT Social media provides a great platform for companies to communicate with employees and candidates about everything from announcing new opportunities to discussing the benefits of working at their company. If your company has a profile on a social networking site, make sure you’re utilizing it in the most effective way. Below are seven best practices for engaging both current and potential employees using social media. 1. CreATe An exClusIve user experIenCe – Use your social networking profile page (such as a Facebook page) to post compelling content (such as videos, photos, article links or status updates) that provides insight into what it’s like to work at your organization – information users wouldn’t find anywhere else. By providing them an inside look at your organization, you’re creating an exclusive user experience, engaging them and compelling them to want to work for you. 2. lIsTen, leArn And enGAGe – This step denotes an ongoing process. Once you have a profile and are active on the site, you can start to listen to the conversations about your brand. Allow employees and job seekers to post questions about the company. You may find that they’re concerned about issues you never would have considered addressing before. Don’t be afraid of criticism, either. This is an opportunity for you to respond and clarify misconceptions about your brand. (Because the truth is that people are going to talk about your brand – regardless of whether you’re there or not. At least now you have the opportunity to steer the conversation in your favor.) 3. hIGhlIGhT speCIFIC JoBs – Use the medium as a platform to give information beyond just a job description. You can post employee testimonials, for example, of others who hold that position and want to be advocates for the company and the job. 4. vIsuAlly sTImulATe - Sharing videos and photos of company events is a great way to give candidates snapshots into your organization – in ways they’ve never seen. “Day in the life” videos, for example, give would-be employees an idea of what it’s like to work for your company, and they resonate stronger than anything job seekers might read. 5. BoosT your rAnKInGs – If you can manage it, explore other social networking sites where you can create a company profile and disseminate information. A presence on multiple social networks will improve your rankings in Google and Bing search results, making it easier for job seekers to find you when they perform organic searches for either your company or your industry. 6. promoTe – Tapping into those passive talent streams and connecting with your ideal talent requires promotion – both internal and external. Use your social networks to market your open positions, company news, or other messages you want to get across to job seekers. Make sure to communicate internally as well, so your employees can further their efforts as brand advocates and push that information out, too. 7. dedICATe TIme And eFForT – Whatever you do, keep at it. It takes time to build a following and generate engagement (and even longer to see a return on your business), but in the long run, you will reap the rewards for your efforts. Remember, above all, to be authentic in your communications efforts. Don’t just push out information: Open a dialogue with users who post messages on your wall, comment on posts or inquire about opportunities through these avenues. Comment back to further engage users, cultivate employee and candidate loyalty and build your pool of potential talent. 10
  12. 12. What gets measured gets done. If you can’t demonstrate the return on investment of your employment branding efforts, they will fall to the bottom of the company’s priority list. Below are metrics you need to track to test the effectiveness of your employment brand: ATTrACTIon: • Number of job applicants per dollar spent advertising the job • Quality of job applicants per dollar spent • Candidate acceptance rate per dollar spent • Aided and unaided awareness response rate • Cost per hire • Length of time to fill job openings reTenTIon: • Turnover of new hires • Turnover of veteran employees • Employee satisfaction and engagement CareerBuilder has developed metrics based on our vast database of job seekers to measure the effectiveness of online job advertising. The analysis quantifies the number of people who are exposed to the job posting; the percentage who convert to view the job description; the percentage who begin the job application process of those who viewed the description; and the total number of applications. This data helps companies determine the effectiveness of the job posting content and the employment brand. 11
  13. 13. Why does any of This maTTer? and oTher faQs “I’m a small business, and don’t have nearly the consumer following or name recognition that bigger businesses have. Why even bother investing in my employment brand?” You just answered your own question. Having a strong employment brand helps small- and medium-sized businesses stay competitive by increasing their exposure among both consumers and top talent that can easily be swayed by larger company brands. Smaller companies can leverage the increased exposure to communicate the unique qualities that make them an employer of choice. “I’m a larger company with plenty of name recognition and exposure from job seekers. If anything, we’re overwhelmed with applicants as it is. Why waste time on something that I don’t even need?” Employment branding isn’t just about gaining exposure to increase applications. It’s also about making sure that what you stand for as a company and what you actually deliver are aligned in order to ensure you’re attracting the right talent to your open positions – and retaining your current employees. Bigger companies tend to have a harder time holding everyone accountable for upholding their employment value proposition, which can lead to higher turnover and lost production. “I’ve already invested a lot in my employment brand, even going so far as to have an agency help our communications and marketing efforts. still, we can’t seem to attract the talent we want. What gives?” It’s most likely that you overlooked the most important part of the employment branding strategy: research. It is crucial that you understand the current position of your employment brand – that is, how both current and potential employees perceive your brand – in order to inform the decisions you make throughout your branding process. Otherwise, you’re basing your decisions on gut feelings or guesswork that can be wholly inaccurate. A 2008 Universum study found that what the majority of employers surveyed thought job seekers looked for most in an employer differed significantly from what job seekers actually said they looked for. The differences between what the employers thought mattered to job seekers and what actually mattered speak to the importance of conducting research on your ideal talent. Not only does the data you gather on employee and talent perceptions give you a foundation for creating your brand message and marketing strategy, but it also provides a benchmark by which to measure the success of your efforts later on. “our business has yet to bounce back from this recession, and we’re still cutting back. how can we possibly afford to invest in branding efforts right now?” How can you possibly afford not to? It is well-documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good times. The same applies to recruiting. As other employers cut back their recruiting and branding efforts, you will stand out, gaining a competitive edge among top talent when you are ready to start hiring again. Meanwhile, you should also think about your current employee base and ensure that you continue to fulfill your brand promise to them. Historically, employees tend to leave their current employers following recessions as new opportunities open up. With that in mind, the time to step up your retention efforts is now, so that top talent will remain loyal to you as the job market improves. “We’re not hiring right now and don’t have immediate plans to do so. how is employment branding relevant to me?” Even if you’re not hiring, it will save you time and money in the long run to plan ahead by building your employment brand. The effort will increase your exposure and help you build a pipeline of enthusiastic, engaged talent from which you can draw when you find yourself with an open position later on. Additionally, you’ll be creating something your current employees can rally behind. 12
  14. 14. 7 haBiTs of highly effecTive employmenT Brands The following habits have helped some of today’s leading companies attract, engage and retain leading talent: 1. They’re not afraid to relinquish a little control by enabling their employees to use social media. Online retailer Zappos gives its employees the freedom to use Twitter, where they freely discuss various aspects of company life with would-be candidates. They’ve effectively made their employees into brand advocates, which has helped them create buzz about being a great place to work 2. They embrace new media as a recruiting tool. Staffing firm Kelly Services’ virtual community in Second Life provides job seekers with an interactive experience to see what it’s like to work for Kelly and has also helped to differentiate the firm from its competitors. For much the same reason, staffing firm Spherion leveraged the power of viral video with its highly popular Web series, “The Temp Life.” 3. They embrace new media as an engagement tool. Companies of every size are increasingly utilizing online social communities for internal purposes – engaging employees and keeping them informed of important company news, events and projects. Over 50,000 companies worldwide, including Fox and Adobe, use microblogging site Yammer, while companies like Starbucks and Pepsico have found success with cfactor’s “enterprise social networking” solution. 4. They think outside the Facebooks. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants? Think “niche.” That’s what Seattle-based Tableau Software did recently when it needed a Web developer with extensive knowledge of Drupal: The company’s recruiters began surfing social networking sites that catered to Drupal enthusiasts, where they were able to connect with people who possessed the skills they needed and eventually found their new hire. 5. They ask for employee feedback (and actually listen to it). Feedback from Aetna’s employee surveys – administered regularly to enable employees to voice their thoughts about how the company is doing and where there is room for improvement – led to the establishment of Aetna’s current recognition program, The Aetna Way Excellence Awards, according to CEO Ronald Williams in an interview for CareerBuilder. Leadership recognized that employees wanted more company-wide recognition events, so they delivered. “That whole program came about as a result of employees’ suggestions that came through the survey,” Williams said. 6. They work in partnership with human resources. “People decisions are some of the most important decisions I make, so I make those decisions in collaboration with my HR partners,” Stryker CEO Steve MacMillan recently told CareerBuilder. “Responsibility for our people may be a human resources function, but we all manage it together.” It’s no accident that Stryker holds multiple honors as a best place to work. 7. They actively encourage learning and development. Smart companies know the power of providing opportunities for professional development and personal growth in helping to retain top talent. Spectrum Health does both: The company’s relationship with University of Michigan provides opportunities for leadership members to gain experience in project-based work. And its EXCEL Professional Development Model program recognizes and provides monetary awards for nursing staff for academic and professional accomplishments, as well as community service. 13
  15. 15. conclUsion your company’s employment brand — the perceptions that employees and potential employees have about what it is like to work there — is critical to your ability to attract and retain talent, especially in today’s tough economy. Increasingly, companies are actively managing their image and reputation as a place to work. Employers have a long way to go in better aligning expectations with the reality of what it’s like to work at their company. A surprisingly high number of employees believe that their companies are not delivering on their employment promises, CareerBuilder research has found. only 44 percent of survey respondents say their company matches their expectations. Asked whether they would recommend their employer to others, 67 percent of respondents say “no” or “not sure.” “effective employment branding requires an ongoing commitment, but it is well worth the effort,” says Mary Delaney, President of CareerBuilder’s Human Capital Consulting Division, Personified. By investing in a rigorous, ongoing process to build their employment brand, companies can improve their ability to attract and retain the best talent, thus enhancing their competitiveness in both good and bad economic times. Today, companies just like yours are relying on CareerBuilder’s employment branding solutions to maximize the way they target, engage and attract their employees. To leArn hoW These soluTIons CAn help you, vIsIT or call 1.877.345.5256. 14
  16. 16. aBoUT careerBUilder CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset – their people. Its online career site,, is the largest in the U.S. with more than 22 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 37 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to talent acquisition. More then 9,000 Web sites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. 15