When Clients’ Employer Brand Is Hurting Their Recruitment Efforts

While a company’s primary external brand often gets the most investment, an important subset of the overall brand, the employer brand, is rising in importance due to the tight labor market. An employer brand is the image a company wants to portray to prospective employees.

Why does it matter? Because in a job market where candidates have plenty of choices, companies that best show what’s great about working at their company will win the day. If a company’s leaders are sub-par, employee salaries are lower than average, diversity is non-existent, or it doesn’t have a wow-factor or stand for anything; candidates are going to know about it, and they’ll probably look elsewhere. If that company is your client, it makes your job even tougher. Recent research from LinkedIn finds that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before ever applying for a job.

If your strongest candidates are walking away from your clients’ open roles, it could be time to have a candid and difficult conversation with your client: “Your employer brand is hurting your business … and driving away potential employees.”

Calling out a client’s inferior employer brand is a daunting proposition, especially if you’re feeling pressure to grow the account and offer positive solutions. But a negative employer brand doesn’t do your clients any favors. If you’re able to help them turn it around, they’ll see the increased value you bring as a true recruitment partner and hopefully appreciate your transparency. In addition, helping a client to improve their employer brand boosts your own business.

Here are a few ways you can turn a difficult conversation about your client’s employer brand into a productive outcome:


Employer branding aspirations can go a lot like new year’s resolutions: Everyone starts out going to the gym every day in January, but how long do they keep it up? Two-thirds of companies in a recent HR survey said they put employer brand among their top priorities for 2019, but I bet a lot of the companies you work with are struggling to follow through. In a candidate-driven market, filling roles becomes a business-critical activity over managing their brand, especially when they can’t keep up with customer demand.

Take advantage of the talent shortage to remind your clients that to compete for today’s top talent, they must put their best foot forward. Educate them on how their reputation as an employer can impact them — from their online ratings to word of mouth.

Or consider showing them examples of companies that are really nailing their employer brand, like Heineken, which recently deployed a new video campaign featuring the stories of 33 employees. Another strong example is Salesforce and its “Ohana,” the Hawaiian word for family, which the company uses to encourage its employees to be brand ambassadors.

Regardless of the way you choose to educate them, as a trustworthy partner who understands their business and wants to see them succeed, you are well positioned to take them out of the hiring trenches to see how they’re hurting themselves.

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Leverage Data

Measuring the success of employer branding efforts requires a little extra legwork, but you’re more likely to get through to your client when armed with data. For example, keep a record of the number of candidates who rejected your client’s roles, but ended up with a similar company with a more compelling story, better online reviews, etc. Another strategy is to routinely check in and keep track of the number of applicants they’ve received outside of your efforts. If they aren’t gaining any attention on their own, it probably means they’re sending out the wrong signals to prospective candidates. While those numbers just scratch the surface on the significant value employer branding offers an organization, it’s a strong start.

Deploy quick fixes

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same is true of your client’s employer branding efforts. Once you get them on board with making some changes, suggest that they go after some quick fixes to get the ball rolling:

  • Clean up online reviews. Does your client actively respond to online comments on sites like Glassdoor? Do they have a process in place for negative reviews? Spending just 15 minutes a day on online reviews and social media responses can make a huge difference in how candidates perceive them.
  • Treat candidates better during interviews. This one seems like a no-brainer, but let them know how much their interactions with potential hires matter. In fact, a recent Talent Tech Labs study found that a majority of candidates report that a positive or negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company. Ensure your clients are doing everything they can to be courteous, professional and helpful when interviewing.
  • Create some basic materials that better represent their employer brand. Even if you have to produce it yourself, take the initiative and help them create social posts or even employee testimonials to highlight what it’s like to work at their organization. While it’s a little extra work on your end, if it’s the difference-maker in securing the right candidate, it’s well worth it.

Today’s labor market has shifted the balance of power and emboldened candidates, making it a lot easier for them to be picky about the companies they apply to and work for. Employer branding programs, from early-stage to multi-faceted, are proven to have a positive impact on a company’s ability to recruit the talent it needs. Take the time to talk to your clients about their employer brand. Chances are, it will strengthen your relationship, improve hiring metrics, and increase their (and your) bottom line.

Leslie Vickrey

Leslie Vickrey
Leslie Vickery is founder and CEO of ClearEdge Marketing. She can be reached lvickrey (at) clearedgemarketing (dot) com.

Leslie Vickrey

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