Common Misconceptions with Employer Branding | Gattaca Solutions

In our recent Equity , Diversity and Inclusion client events Employer Branding and Recruitment marketing expert Jake Chambers ran sessions on storytelling and employer branding. Since the sessions we've had lots of questions from clients on things like 'what storytelling techniques should we be using?' and 'how do you inspire employee advocacy?' and 'what are some common misconceptions when organisations first approach employer branding?'. 

In the coming weeks we'll be sitting down with Jake to answer all of these questions and more! This week we're talking through the misconceptions Jake has seen in his role and how to course correct from there. In this article Jake Chambers (JC) is interviewed by Gattaca Solutions Brand Manager, Rae Dixon (RD).

RD: Do you come across any common misconceptions and like challenges that companies face all the time when it comes to employee branding? Are there any examples that come to mind where you think – Ah! You've misunderstood.

JC: So, for me, I'd say a big one we see all the time is the misconception that employee brand is nothing more than a luxury marketing concept, or a bit of a nebulous idea. That’s a trap we see so many companies fall into.

I think with modern digital recruitment, everything's laser focused on tracking and ROI on a granular level. We talk about success on a job by job, or campaign by campaign level, and that success is generally measured in applications or hires against specific jobs.

Things like influence and brand perception are much harder to measure than the clicks and the applications on a job. And that's why talking about employer brand is often viewed as a luxury; it's easier to track and talk about the numbers we see from a sponsored advert, than it is to consider the potential reach or impact that strategic branding content may ultimately have on someone’s decision-making process.

However, when we're only looking at everything on this granular level, we're not taking that step back to consider how the brand is presented overall – the different touch points that your brand will have with a potential jobseeker, what the information there says about your company overall, and what impact that will have on their decision to apply or not.

That’s why employer branding is really important- it's essentially your reputation, and reputation matters.

There's so much demand for specialist skill sets right now, and as employers, we often think of this as talent shortages - we've got a difficult role to recruit and there's so few people out there who can do it.

But from the point of view of the people who do those jobs and have those skills, there isn’t a shortage. They’re flooded with opportunities and contact from recruiters on a daily basis, and will be getting attention from all kinds of employers.

And because they're so in demand, they can afford to be selective. Through their phone, they've got the world in their fingertips, and can carry out research on your company at the touch of a button. We know that people do this, particularly if you're an organisation they're not familiar with. That job advert/recruiter conversation will only be one part of the decision-making process for many.

Changing jobs is one of the biggest decisions someone can make, so if it’s a company that they’re not familiar with, and they have a skillset that lots of employers looking for, you can guarantee that they'll go beyond that job advert as they try to make up their mind on who is the right employer for them.

They're going to want to find out what the employees think. They're going to want to find out what you’re like as an employer, what you offer and what you stand for. So it’s important that we focus on employer branding and not just tactical recruitment marketing, as it will direct impact on your success.

There was a really nice analogy that came up in a recent workshop we ran, which I think it has a lot of parallels and helps bring this all to life.

We’re all very familiar with retail branding, and being the consumer when it comes to things like online shopping. In this person’s story, they were planning a DIY project at home and needed to buy an electric screwdriver. They planned to buy it from Amazon, but did a initial bit of online research to get a rough idea of companies that were either known for producing a good product or would offer good value for money.

They searched on Amazon, which brought up all a range of different screwdriver options, but were drawn to the familiar names from the initial research. After finding and clicking on a screwdriver that might be suitable, they had a brief skim of the product description from the company, but their focus and attention mainly went straight to the customer reviews at the bottom, the ratings out of five stars. They predominantly based their decision to purchase on the experiences other people had had, and not the company description of the product.

This behaviour is so commonplace in the digital world of retail - we don't just take what the company say for granted, we seek out and value the experiences of others. When was the last time you bought something on Amazon, knowing it was under 3 stars, or even 4 stars?

If people are putting all of that focus and effort into a screwdriver, then you know they’ll be doing their due diligence when it comes to something as important as a career decision.

RD:  I think you start to see it when we sit down with clients and we go to these events – when it comes to employer branding, we hear a lot of people saying ‘I didn't even realise this was employer branding, this is stuff I was already thinking about’. And like you said, it’s easy to get focused in on the clicks and the conversion metrics but none of that tracks what went through their head right before they clicked on the advert, what conversation happens when they've opened that page and they've started thinking about how this is going to affect their lives.

JC: And on that, I would highlight that second big misconception, which for me is the idea that focusing on your employer brand means big, expensive, wacky campaigns and huge marketing budgets, that go into, billboards or radio spots.

Sometimes a big disruptive branding campaign is exactly the right thing, for example if you're launching in a new location or you've hiring for a brand-new type of job and so are trying to reach a skilled audience that might not have considered or even been aware of you before now.

But for most organisations, there are day-to-day things that are completely within your control to influence, that will make a longer lasting difference. We work with our clients to understand where their brand has a presence online, and to help them take control of the narrative and present themselves effectively, because we know that this will be reaching people at all stages of their recruitment journey.

To summarise:

  • Don’t think of employer branding as some nebulous marketing concept, think of it as your reputation.
  • Employer branding doesn’t need to be big and splashy and expensive – though it can be if that’s the avenue you choose – start small with the stuff immediately within your control and go from there.
  • Employer branding is just one of the many elements Gattaca Solutions work with our clients on when it comes to workforce solutions. We look at the big picture, not just the day-to-day tactics.

So, if you would like to chat about your employer brand and your workforce strategy, grab sometime with Solutions today.

We’ll be back soon with more from Jake Chambers on Storytelling & Employer Branding.

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