5 steps to building a positive employer brand

5 steps to building a positive employer brand

What was it that immediately attracted you to consider your current job?

I bet your initial instinct had absolutely nothing to do with job description, salary or location and whole lot more to do with your perception of the company itself.

A range of factors can attract people to jobs – but there are some things that put almost everyone off. If you’re looking to dissuade the best people from applying for your senior management vacancy, a good place to start would be by building a negative employer brand.

Every organisation has an employer brand, which is effectively its reputation and perception in the market as a good or bad place to work. If we approach someone who has a negative opinion of a firm as an employer, it doesn’t matter what opportunities a role offers, where it is based or how much it pays. They won’t be interested.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to improve your employer brand. If you get it right, candidates will come to you directly and via internal referrals, saving you a lot in recruitment fees.

Here is my five-point guide to creating a positive employer brand. Follow these tips and you won’t have any trouble attracting and retaining top quality individuals for your business:

1. Treat employees well

The most important thing you can do to give people the impression it would be a good experience to work for you is – unsurprisingly – make it a good experience to work for you. There are no shortcuts here.

Every single member of your staff will know a number of people who could potentially work for you. If they are not being treated fairly and given opportunities to develop then all the PR and HR tricks in the world will not help you.

On average, an individual will tell 16 people if they have had a bad experience, as opposed to 9 if they have had a positive experience. There is a reason they say bad news travels fast.

An important consideration when managing the culture of your organisation is ensuring staff will speak highly of working for you. Building a strong reputation in the market means that half of the battle is already won when trying to attract potential candidates for a role.

2. Treat past and future employees well

The employee-employer relationship does not begin and end with the handing over of the pass to the staff car park. From the moment someone applies for a position, they are forming an opinion of your company as an employer, and they won’t be afraid to share it.

We approached someone recently for a senior infrastructure job, but he was not interested because the firm in question had messed him about on a previous Director role some years ago by changing the date of his final interview four times (after he had booked his travel arrangements and time off) and it had understandably left a bad taste. Not only was this strong candidate lost to the employer, you can be sure he had told his peers about his experience.

You are likely to interview at least four times as many people as you hire in a given year, so treat all applicants and interviewees well, reply promptly, speak to them professionally, give them a positive impression when they come in for interview and provide them with timely and meaningful feedback.

Similarly, don’t forget about people after they hand their notice in. Maintain good relations up to and beyond the point they leave. They may wish to come back one day and, regardless of this, they will be asked their opinions about the firm for some years to come.

3. Website

One of the first things people do after hearing about a role is go on the company’s website. So getting a good, easily found ‘Join us’ or ‘Work for us’ section on there is critical. Tell a compelling story about your organisation’s culture, projects and contracts, and most importantly, get existing staff to sell working for you.

Testimonials from people who have progressed, who enjoy working for you, who have great stories to tell are very valuable in promoting employee engagement and advocacy. Photos and videos are great ways of bringing your employer brand to life through the people who embody it.

4. PR

Look to get positive stories in the trade, local and national press. Prospective employees like to see that a company is doing well so good financial results, contract wins, industry awards, new senior appointments and office openings should all be publicised. Candidates also like to feel they know a company and understand its strategy so get this across.

There is also a case for getting employer-specific stories out, such as training successes and people awards. HR and PR teams should work closely to ensure messages put out are not just aimed at potential clients but at possible employees.

Also remember that when staff are working with clients, suppliers, in partnerships with competitors and when they attend industry events, they are acting as ambassadors for your company. The manner in which they conduct themselves will help build – or damage – your employer brand.

5. Job adverts

Use job adverts themselves to sell the company as an employer. Don’t just list what you want from candidates, give them a reason to want to work for you. It’s a crowded marketplace, so don’t waste this space just bleating on about how great the company is. Tell the reader why they should work for you – what are the career opportunities, the training support, the chances of working abroad, the culture and the benefits? Always keep the employer brand at the forefront of their minds and communicate what’s in it for them as a potential employee.

The talent market in transport and infrastructure has never been more competitive and so employer branding has never been more crucial. With the rise of social media transparency, it isn’t enough to rely on recruitment advertising or executive search agencies alone to sell your brand to candidates. The brand needs to start from within the company and all employees, from the CEO to the person on the reception desk, need to buy in to a unified message.

**This blog post is the third of seven based on Newsom Consulting’s eBook The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Senior Managers in Transport and Infrastructure**

To get your free copy of the e-book of “The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Senior Managers in Transport & Infrastructure” please click HERE

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director