Successful companies are built on the foundation of great talent. Having a strong employer brand can be among a company’s strongest assets–because if you want your company to meet its business goals, you have to attract top talent.
Your corporate brand will reflect your market, customers, and financial success—but your employer brand will depend on how prospective job seekers see you. It’s what they perceive your work culture might look like, and the values that you hold as a company.
But it’s not just about crafting a specific external perception. You need to make sure that your brand aligns with your company’s internal culture. According to a report from Hired, 45% of job seekers considered company culture to be a top factor when they look for a job and when they’re considering a job offer. When a candidate looks at your company from the outside, they form their perception from their beliefs of how your company functions internally.
Why employer brand matters
Any talent acquisition leader will tell you that the search for tech talent is more competitive than ever. Candidates are in high demand across the board, which means they hold most of the cards in the recruiting process. They’re empowered with the transparency that social media provides, and they often have access to market and salary information to help them find a job they’re passionate about.
When organizations recognize the distinction between a company brand and an employer brand, they have an opportunity to focus on a new audience–those who want to join their mission. A company’s brand is often built on an idea, not necessarily a reality–a vision for where the company wants the world to go. The brand should be authentic and genuine, yet instill a sense of respect and motivation. After all, candidates want to align themselves with a cause that they can be excited about every day.
The key to maintaining consistency between your employer brand and internal culture
It’s vital to dedicate time and space to define your culture clearly. Just as you put a lot of thought and effort into deciding your business model, you should do the same with your work culture. You need to take a proactive—rather than reactive—approach, or you run the risk of developing a toxic workplace environment that takes much more effort to clean up. By cultivating your culture carefully, you reduce the risk of attracting the wrong people or encouraging bad behavior.
To craft your culture, document the core values that set you apart. That can be anything from your passion for technology or your commitment to diversity. Be sure that you don’t create the list in a vacuum; get the buy-in of multiple departments across a variety of levels in your organizations to make sure that what you’re saying is accurate and realistic. Consider working with your marketing team so the message and positioning of your values are compelling and will resonate with the audience on the receiving end.
The journey doesn’t stop there. As both your employer brand and culture evolve with company reality, make sure to revisit the two to check that they align with one another. When necessary, make adjustments to ensure you are practicing what you preach.
How to leverage your employer brand and culture to attract the best talent
Today’s job seekers are particularly sensitive to how you interact with them. They insist (and expect) a good experience at each stage of the hiring process, which includes sourcing, hiring, and onboarding. The experience you create early on for a candidate–even before you ever directly interact with them–will indicate what their experience will be as an employee of your company. So it’s imperative that you make an excellent first impression, and ensure that the sentiment they felt at the start continues throughout the recruiting life cycle.
A great way to start is by personalizing your outreach to candidates during the recruiting process. Fifty percent of tech talent said a personalized note would make them engage with a company. Beyond initiatives that only the people team owns, a potential job candidate can holistically experience your employer brand and culture through current employees that they interact with. Employees should be empowered to own the culture that they contribute to. The idea that “HR owns the culture” at a company could not be further from the truth. Every single employee in your organization is responsible for understanding and representing your culture.
In today’s competitive tech landscape, the data points to one immutable fact: To bring in top talent, companies need to pay attention to their employer brand and culture. You won’t be able to do it overnight–but you’ll see the payoff over time. Remember, it’s not just your product or service that makes or breaks your organization’s success–it’s the people you hire that make those products and services possible.
Kelli Dragovich is the SVP of people at Hired, and Patty McCord is the former chief talent officer at Netflix.