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6 Steps to Craft an Employer Branding Strategy That Stands Out

Recruiting the best talent is no easy feat. Get a leg up on the competition by creating a strong employer brand.

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Is your company known for treating its people well or for its toxic management? Are you famous for paying well above the industry average or offering a stingy selection of perks? These elements, and so many others, form part of your employer brand—the negative or positive impression people have about your company as an employer. 

In this practical guide to creating an employer brand, you’ll learn how to:  

  • Set goals for your employer branding strategies 
  • Develop employee and job candidate personas
  • Create your KPIs 
  • Choose your distribution channels 
  • Craft relevant marketing materials 
  • Recruit top talent 

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is the process of marketing your organization to current and potential employees. Every company has an employer brand, whether they actively work on it or not. That’s because past, present, and future employees already have a perception of your company and how you treat your people. When they share their opinions and experiences with friends, family, and their professional networks, this becomes your employer brand. 

A positive employer brand can attract swaths of job applicants who would love the opportunity to work for you and feature your company name on their resume and LinkedIn profile. For example, content marketing leader Erin Ellis posted this message on social media to announce a warm welcome from her new employer, Jobber: 

“After a successful first week, I’m excited to share that I’ve joined the Creative and Content team at Jobber. From a top-notch recruiting and onboarding experience to a super welcoming and passionate group of people, I look forward to helping drive fantastic content experiences for home service businesses to learn and grow.”

Of course, a negative employer brand has the opposite effect. Human Resources Director Trenelle Doyle posted a heartfelt message on LinkedIn about her employer’s treatment of her as a Black woman in leadership. The post garnered a huge following with reposts, likes, and comments, with some calling out similar experiences with this employer. 

Why is branding for recruitment important?

Taking control of your employer brand is significantly better than leaving it to chance. By taking steps to understand and improve on your current position, you’ll: 

  • Attract and retain high-caliber talent by showcasing what makes your organization a great place to work. This can give you an edge over competitors in the job market.
  • Reduce hiring and retention costs as candidates are more likely to self-select, only applying for roles they believe in and that fit their goals, values, and expectations.
  • Generate positive word-of-mouth from employees who strongly connect to your brand and are proud to talk about it.
  • Enhance employee engagement by creating a strong company culture aligning with employees’ values and goals, increasing productivity and job satisfaction. For new joiners, it can also help with their onboarding and integration into the company.
  • Understand your talent goals better, enabling you to communicate C-suite objectives into tangible goals and KPIs.

6 steps to create your recruitment branding strategy

There’s plenty of room for creativity as you develop your employer brand. Thinking outside the box, finding new ways to appeal to talent, and differentiating yourself from the competition will all help you become an employer of choice. Work through the below steps to build an employer brand that matches your company’s values and resonates with your target talent audience: 

1. Set goals for your employer brand 

Step one in developing your employer brand strategy is to set goals for what you want to improve. Consider using the SMART goal framework to ensure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Some examples might be to: 

  • Improve Glassdoor reviews by 10% in the next quarter
  • Increase employee referrals by 20% within the next six months
  • Attract X job applications from targeted universities or diversity groups this year 
  • Improve employee satisfaction and retention rates by 15% over two years 
  • Enhance company culture and employer brand recognition among current employees using pulse survey scores 

2. Develop employee and job candidate personas 

Knowing who you want to attract is vital in creating an employer branding strategy aligning with your company’s culture and values. Just as marketers create customer personas to support their campaigns, people leaders can develop fictional representations of their ideal candidates. 

Persona example: Ronnie is a tech-savvy, creative, and ambitious 25-year-old passionate about working on innovative projects. She values collaboration, work-life balance, and company growth opportunities. Ronnie graduated four years ago and has had one regular employer since then. She regularly uses LinkedIn to extend her professional network and could be attracted to our company by a strong compensation package, comprehensive benefits, and flexible work arrangements.

In-depth personas like these guide your messaging and outreach efforts to ensure they resonate with the right people. Base the number of personas you need on the size of your organization and the number of roles you typically recruit for. When building yours, consider factors such as demographics, interests, goals, and motivations to create well-rounded personas. 

3. Create your KPIs 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure how effectively your company achieves its core employer brand objectives. Tracking and measuring progress enables you to course-correct your strategy as required. Some example KPIs could be: 

  • Time to fill rates for open positions
  • Conversion rates from job application to offer acceptance 
  • Employee satisfaction and retention rates
  • Social media engagement and reach metrics 
  • Diversity hiring percentages 
  • Number of job applications received 
  • Cost of hire, including advertising, recruitment tool, and onboarding costs 

4. Choose your distribution channels 

Select the different places where you’ll communicate your employer brand, based on who you are and what you stand for as an employer. Consider some of the following channels: 

Social media platforms

Use your LinkedIn, YouTube, X, or other social media accounts to post open vacancies, showcase employee success stories, and share other news about your company culture or ethics that help candidates build a positive image of you. 

Your company website

Set up a careers page to display open jobs and introduce potential candidates to your brand. Use videos, employee testimonials, and other graphics to make the page more engaging. This could also include a section for company values, mission statements, and other information about your culture. 

Example: Deloitte’s Career page highlights its flexible benefits, WorldImpact initiatives, DEI commitment, and career development opportunities. 

Job boards

When you have an active open vacancy, use job boards to share details of the role and its compensation package. For example, your job description might include a base salary and bonus structure, benefits, and other cultural clues such as flexible time off, remote options, etc. 

Your choice of job boards speaks volumes about your employer brand. While Indeed or TotalJobs might be among the most well-known platforms, consider posting your job ads on boards like the Professional Diversity Network or Blackjobs.com to attract candidates from underrepresented groups. 

Trade magazines 

Consider advertising your open positions in relevant trade magazines to attract candidates with specific skill sets or expertise. Even better, securing an advertorial will give readers a more in-depth insight into your company culture and what makes you a great employer. 

Employee review sites

Just as modern-day consumers thoroughly research products and services before they buy, savvy job seekers also commit to due diligence before they apply for a role or accept a job offer. 

Sites like Glassdoor and Blind allow employees to leave anonymous reviews about what it’s like to work for a specific organization. 65% of job seekers claim their perception of an employer improves when they respond to a review. 

Networking events

Conferences, career fairs, and other networking events are excellent opportunities to showcase your employer brand. You’ll have the chance to speak with potential candidates face-to-face or hold presentations to give a sneak peek behind the curtain of your brand. 

5. Create relevant marketing materials 

Circling back to your personas again, select some of the following marketing materials most likely to resonate with your target audience: 

Employee stories 

Social proof is one of the most effective ways to convey your brand to current and prospective employees. When they see people like them thriving at your company, they can imagine themselves doing the same. Be sure to include stories of employees from diverse backgrounds and experiences to show your commitment to an inclusive and welcoming workplace. 

Example: Netflix’s Culture page includes a short video on “Candid Conversations: Latinx Employees,” which features a group of the streaming company’s Latinx employees coming together to discuss their experience working there. They highlight that things aren’t perfect, but Netflix is striving to improve its Latinx retention rate by setting up employee resource groups like SOMOS and a pipeline program with the Los Angeles Latin International Film Festival. 

Employee benefits lists 

Job descriptions with vague details about “employee perks and benefits” create friction for job candidates who want more precise information about what’s on offer. Build extensive lists of the specific benefits you offer; even better, showcase how your current employees use them to enhance their work-life balance. 

Example: Jonas uses his professional development stipend to pay for a business coach. They work together to create an employee development plan, with the goal of Jonas moving from Sales Manager to Head of Sales in 18 months. 

Good employer awards 

Awards such as “Best Employer for Working Parents” or “Great Place to Work in 2024” are a fantastic badge of honor to showcase on your website and social media accounts. Recognition from industry bodies, associations, or consumers adds to your credibility and employer brand appeal. Take care that your ability to win awards aligns with the employee experience you’re offering. Daniela Herrera, Talent and DEI Consultant, explains how this can jar: 

“Companies should be automatically removed or banned from any “Best Place to Work” lists if:

  • They implemented RTO mandates
  • They eliminated or defunded their DEI teams
  • They went through multiple rounds of mass layoffs
  • They reduced their HR and Talent teams
  • Their CEOs received bonuses, even after layoffs

A “best place to work” should mean a safe, inclusive, and equitable place to work. Anything else is just performative.” 

Podcast interviews with C-suite members 

A company’s executive team members can sometimes feel unrelatable, existing above the culture, and not actively involved with their employees. Inviting them to share their thoughts and experiences on your company podcast or as a guest on other shows can break down this barrier. Candidates will get a sense of who they are beyond their job title, which allows for better connections with potential employees. 

Company fact sheets 

Sometimes, candidates just want the bottom line up front. Deliver this in facts and figures using a simple fact sheet, including information like:

  • Company size
  • Number of employees in each department 
  • Benefits and perks offered 
  • Diversity statistics 
  • Average tenure 
  • Internal mobility stats 

Job description template 

Encourage consistency across your recruitment campaigns by creating a standardized job description template that presents the following details that matter in a clear and organized way: 

  • Your employer value proposition: This should be a short, compelling statement that defines your unique selling proposition as an employer and the benefits of working for your company. 
  • Title and department: Include relevant keywords in your job title for optimal visibility on job boards. 
  • Location: If you have multiple offices or allow remote work, specify where candidates can expect to work.
  • Responsibilities: Be specific and concise about what the role entails. Bullet points are helpful to break up text and make it easier to read.
  • Skills: Include details of any qualifications or hard and soft skills required for the role. 
  • Transparent compensation: Provide a salary range or benefits package details to attract top talent. 
  • Application instructions: Clearly outline the steps for applying to the position, including any special requirements or documents needed. 

6. Recruit top talent 

The final step in your employer branding process is to get out there and start recruiting. Remember to continuously track your progress, make adjustments where necessary, and monitor your employer brand reputation. With the right approach and consistent effort, you’ll attract top talent that aligns with your company culture and values. 

4 tips to skyrocket your employer brand

Complement the steps above with these important best practices: 

Focus on retention 

Recruitment and retention are two sides of the same coin. It’s not enough to focus on “selling” your employer brand to candidates and recruits if your efforts fall short once they’ve settled into their roles. 

Employer branding should be a continuous exercise that extends to a departing team member’s exit interview and beyond. Every interaction with your employees, from performance reviews to team meetings, acts of recognition, and more, influences how they perceive you as a professional employer. Therefore, it’s imperative to focus on ways to retain your workers’ engagement and loyalty over the long term. 

Involve multiple teams 

Wondering who’s responsible for your employer brand? Multiple individuals and teams influence how your organization appears to job applicants and current employees, including: 

  • Human resources
  • Marketing and communications 
  • Talent acquisition 
  • C-suite executives and leadership 
  • Front-line employees in customer-facing roles 

Each group has a role in shaping your employer’s brand messaging and initiatives. Ensure they’re all involved in the process to garner support and achieve buy-in. Consider creating an employer branding committee or task force to oversee strategy implementation and involvement from multiple stakeholders. 

Collect employee feedback 

No employer wants to read negative feedback from their employees online. Whether in a social media post, tell-all news article, or on an employer review platform, their candid opinions can be damaging, uncomfortable, and astonishingly accurate.

Get ahead of any negativity by actively soliciting feedback from your employees. You might use:

  • Anonymous employee surveys 
  • Focus groups
  • One-on-one meetings during performance reviews
  • Employee interviews, such as stay and exit conversations 

By proactively seeking feedback, you can identify areas where your employer brand may be lacking and make improvements before it’s too late. Be sure to address any negative feedback promptly to show that you value your employees’ opinions and are actively working to improve their experience. 

Prioritize transparency 

It’s important to remain transparent about your company culture, values, expectations, challenges, and successes. Candidates and existing employees want to know the real deal, even if it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, so sugarcoating any imperfections in your organization can seriously backfire. Honesty builds trust with potential candidates and demonstrates authenticity in your messaging. You can highlight transparency by:

  • Sharing details of the problems you’ve identified in your company culture and your plans to improve things 
  • Publishing your organization’s diversity statistics, including any initiatives for improvement 
  • Encouraging open dialogue between employees and leaders

Attract and retain top talent with Benepass

A comprehensive benefits package forms an important part of any strong employer brand. Benepass offers a range of pre-tax benefits and perks programs designed with flexibility in mind. These include: 

Ready to level up your employer branding initiatives? Take a free demo of Benepass today, or contact sales@getbenepass.com to connect with a benefits specialist. 

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Rebecca Noori

Rebecca Noori is a freelance HR Tech and SaaS writer who is obsessed with our world of work. She writes about everything from employee benefits and performance management to upskilling and productivity tips. When she's not writing, you'll find her grappling with phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids.

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