In 2021, the average time to hire was seven weeks. Now, it takes about eleven weeks to fill an open role. This tells you one thing: it’s getting harder to recruit top talent.
To win the talent war, you must approach recruiting like marketing. Put your brand in front of the target audience, focus on audience engagement, and deliver value.
Effective employer branding helps you achieve the above-mentioned goals. In fact, data from our employer branding guide shows that 75% of those looking for new career opportunities will apply strictly to companies that have a solid reputation.
But how do you create a strong employer brand? In this article, we will walk you through the exact strategies for taking your brand reputation from zero to a hundred.
What is employer branding?
Employer branding means positioning your company as the best place to work — so you can attract top talent and ensure that current employees feel proud and motivated to work for you.
Employer branding goes beyond being active on social media, hosting pizza parties, and offering free ice cream — Dang! There goes the plan for free ice cream at work.
Instead, companies with strong employer brands prioritize:
- Creating a positive workplace where everyone feels valued and respected
- Leading difficult industry conversations about diversity, inclusion, and equality
- Compensating employees fairly for their talent
These things matter because people's experiences and perceptions of your company actually shape your employer brand. You could spend all of your time discussing how your organization is a great workplace, but it will amount to nothing if many of your former employees shared negative reviews on Glassdoor or LinkedIn, for example.
People are more likely to trust what others say about your brand instead of what you have to say about it. So, if you want a great employer brand, invest in delivering the best experiences for the people within and outside of your organization.
Why is employer branding important?
With a strong employer brand, you can:
1. Cut down recruitment costs
Employer branding reduces your average cost-per-hire by up to 50%. It helps you generate organic visibility for job openings instead of relying on external recruitment methods like job boards and third-party talent sourcers.
A strong employer brand means your company already has industry traction — like a large social media following and lots of email subscribers. When you post an open role, these people see and share it with their network. You could get your ad in front of thousands of A+ candidates without spending a dime.
The money saved by employer branding in recruitment costs can help scale your employee branding efforts to generate more ROI in the future.
2. Shorten hiring time
Investing in employer branding can cut your hiring time in half. A strong employer brand gives prospective employees a positive feel of your company's culture and values.
About 75% of job seekers will only apply for a role with a company that actively maintains its employer brand because they are already familiar with the company's culture. These candidates also submit better-quality applications because they understand what you're looking for — meaning you're not wasting time reviewing irrelevant applications.
The faster you hire, the more money your business saves (in recruitment costs) and makes (in ROI on the new hire).
3. Increase employee retention
Investing in employer branding can reduce your employee turnover rate by up to 28%.
A solid employer brand creates a work environment where employees thrive. The pay is excellent, there are many career advancement opportunities, and everyone is treated with respect. All these things lead to a lower turnover rate as employees are less inclined to leave a job they enjoy.
High employee retention rates save money and improve efficiency because you're not wasting time waiting for new employees to familiarize themselves with your work processes. A new hire takes up to twelve months to ramp up to full productivity.
7 steps for creating an employer branding strategy
You either leave your employer brand to chance or take deliberate steps to build a solid reputation for your business. For the latter, you need an employer branding strategy.
An employer branding strategy is a high-level plan for developing an appealing brand image that attracts, supports, and retains top talent.
Here’s how to create one.
1. Conduct an employer brand audit
Audit your employer brand to get a sense of what people already think about your organization. You’ll discover what’s working for your brand and where you need to improve.
“But my company has never invested in employer branding. Where do we find the right data?” Good question! You can:
- Run anonymous employee surveys to get first-hand feedback about what it’s like working at your company
- Analyze reviews on third-party sites like Blind and Glassdoor
- Use social listening tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social to track brand mentions on social media
- Ask new hires for feedback on your hiring and onboarding processes
Armed with these insights, you can set a clear direction for your employer branding strategy.
2. Write your employer value proposition
An employer value proposition (EVP) tells potential employees why they should work for you. It highlights the tangible and intangible benefits of joining your company — like work culture, perks, and career opportunities.
Your employer value proposition is the foundation of all employer branding activities. It informs all your brand stories, projects, and initiatives and helps you deliver meaningful and authentic experiences for your audience — especially for your future candidates and your existing employees!
Approach your EVP like an elevator pitch for your business — only this time, you're pitching prospective employees, not investors. Be concise. No one wants to read a ten-page document explaining why they should work for you.
Take a cue from PlayPlay’s recruitment page:
The EVP explains the problem PlayPlay solves for businesses, so candidates understand the goals of the organization and get a sense of how they can contribute to it. It also uses words like “high growth” and “international” to highlight an abundance of career advancement opportunities.
Another noteworthy element here is the use of video. In addition to highlighting the quality of PlayPlay’s video creation tool, this simple, human-first video captures PlayPlay's culture. Seeing real people talk about the company’s mission and the impact of their work gives applicants a better idea of the kind of career opportunities they have and how they can succeed in their job application and role.
Like PlayPlay, you can create personalized recruitment videos that reflect your brand value and help you build deeper connections with prospective employees. Download our free e-book to learn more about using video on social media and beyond for employer branding without breaking the bank.
3. Set clear goals
Set clear goals to guide the execution of your strategy. Employer branding is complex, and things can easily go out of scope, especially when multiple people are involved in execution. When this happens, the goals will help everyone realign with the original plan.
Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, don't say, “We want to grow our social media presence.” Say, “We want to grow our LinkedIn followers by X% in Y months.”
Once you've defined your employer branding goals, it becomes easier to measure the effectiveness of your strategy and make adjustments as needed.
4. Choose your channels
Channels are where your brand interacts with your target audience. You have many options here:
- Social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn
- External employer review sites like Indeed, Blind, and Glassdoor
- Internal newsletters
- The announcement channel in your company Slack or intranet
- Niche communities and networking groups
The channels you choose depend on your goal and target audience. Say your goal is to hire more people of color. In that case, you could prioritize targeting diversity and inclusion platforms when building your employer brand.
Audience-wise, you want to choose a channel your ideal candidate already engages with. For example, LinkedIn is a great place to reach C-level executives, while TikTok primarily helps you connect with Gen Z-ers.
5. Choose your content formats
Content formats are how you pass your employer branding message to your target audience. They generally fall into four categories: Images, texts, audio, and videos.
There are three main factors to consider when choosing the right format:
- Channel: Certain channels only support specific content formats. For example, Instagram and YouTube are built for video content.
- Internal bandwidth: Some content formats demand more time, money, and expertise than others. For example, it is “cheaper” to whip up a LinkedIn post than to produce a podcast.
- Audience: To increase your reach and engagement, create content in the format your audience is already familiar with. If your audience comprises visual learners who like audio, you should create videos. And if they like to read, publish blog posts and newsletters. Run polls and surveys to discover the content formats your audience prefers.
Most businesses can afford to create content in multiple formats. In fact, the best employer brand strategies will use a mix of formats to convey their message – but research shows that video is the most powerful medium online.
In 2022, social media posts that contained videos earned 1.5 times more engagement on average than any other type of content. And job postings with embedded videos get 800% more engagement than traditional “text-only” ads.
You don't need advanced video editing skills to make video content that people love. With a tool like PlayPlay, you can create easily-digestible employer branding videos in as little as 15 minutes.
6. Get employee buy-in
People are more likely to trust employees' first-hand experiences over your carefully curated branded content.
On average, employees have ten times as many connections as their company has followers on LinkedIn. On top of that, posts get 800% more engagement when they are shared on the employee’s personal social media account compared to official brand pages.
The best way to engage your employees in employer branding is by building an employee advocacy program — a step-by-step plan for turning your employees into brand advocates. You can do this by educating your employees, providing them with the right tools, and integrating advocacy into your day-to-day operations.
Not all your employees will be open to sharing employer-related content on social media, and that's fine too. Don’t force them. Instead, focus on creating systems that make it easy for anyone to advocate for your brand online.
7. Track performance
Track key performance metrics to know how well you've met your employer branding goals and identify areas that require improvement. After all, you can't improve what you don't measure.
You can measure the impact of your employer branding activities through tools like Google Analytics, reviewing in-app analytics on your social accounts, or running surveys and polls with current and prospective team members.
5 employer branding examples
Enough with the paper descriptions; let's see what great employer branding looks like in practice. We scoured the internet for employer branding examples of companies that do it right to inspire you!
At PlayPlay we know first-hand the impact of using the video-first approach to employer branding. Employer branding videos help businesses like us communicate their mission and culture in a human and more authentic way.
For example, instead of writing bland quarterly updates, we share bite-sized interactive videos like the one below. It’s a more exciting way to capture all we’ve been up to and show the humans behind the brand.
We’re also big on employee advocacy. Our team members regularly share what working at PlayPlay looks and feels like. These posts highlight some of the best parts of our remote work culture and how we empower employees to do their best work no matter where they are.
Zapier’s recruiters lead industry conversations about hiring practices, standing out as a job seeker, and navigating a difficult job market. This is another excellent employer brand example of using employee advocacy to grow your employer brand.
The company's LinkedIn page has a “life” section where it shares details of its leadership team, work perks, and recruitment processes.
Buffer's employer brand reflects the company's commitment to transparency.
It has an Open Culture blog where it discusses work culture, business decisions, and learnings from operating a fully-remote business for over a decade. The blog also features several first-hand accounts of employees’ experiences — from dealing with role changes to culture spotlights and lifestyle.
Each of Buffer's open positions includes salary ranges and benefits, which helps the company attract more job seekers. For example, one of its recent open roles received more than 3,000 applications.
Like Buffer, Float has a Best Work Life blog where it documents different aspects of its work culture. Here, you will find articles about open communication, diversity, and inclusion, plus employees’ personal experiences with remote work.
The goal is to show how Float supports its employees to be productive and live their best work lives.
Slite's career page features a personalized note from the CEO, which talks about the company's mission and what it looks out for during the hiring process.
Further down the page, you'll find details about its values and culture, plus employment benefits like mental health coverage, access to remote work equipment, and paid time off.
Stop treating your employer brand like a nice-to-have
Your employer brand is not just a buzzword or a trendy concept; it's the reputation that you have in the eyes of your employees, prospective candidates, and your industry.
Leaving it to chance is like building a product and hoping customers will come without doing any marketing. And as you know, that rarely works.
Ready to unlock the power of employer branding? Get started with our in-depth employer branding guide. Here, you’ll find simple but effective strategies that will transform your brand image and help you win the talent war.