Your 5-Minute Guide to Employer Branding

employer branding

I don’t know about the men’s room, but some interesting things go down in the ladies’ restroom at work.

Some of the unusual activities are easy to identify—like people who are making phone calls and engaging in conversations with the poor person on the other end of the line—while some of people’s other potty pastimes pose a bit of a mystery.

But if Jobvite’s recent survey is accurate, about 18% of the other people in there are using that time to look for other jobs on their cell phones.

Now you might be wondering what this toilet talk has to do with your employer brand. And the answer is: a lot more than you might think.

I recently attended Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work Roadshow on their first stop in San Francisco, and the buzzword of the day was “employer branding.”

Since I realize that some of you may be reading this post on your smartphone (though hopefully not in the bathroom!) I wanted to offer you a crash course in some of the key points that came up during the Roadshow. Here are the most important lessons I picked up during the event.

Common traits of companies with the best employer brands

Steve Burton, Glassdoor’s Vice President of Marketing shared the most common attributes of employers that have won the distinction of Glassdoor’s “Best places to work,” which include vision, leadership, and transparency.

These terms can be a little vague, so Steve offered some more concrete examples of what he meant by each of them.

Vision: Do your employees understand what your company is working towards? And can they get excited about it? Steve challenged the audience: “If I asked you to come up on stage to talk about your company’s vision in front of this whole room, could you articulate it? And would it be something that you felt passionate about?” Your goal is to get your employees to that stage.

Leadership: According to Steve’s definition, leadership refers to treating employees as part of the solution. If employees have problems or issues, does management listen to them and try to accommodate solutions?

Transparency: This characteristic refers to the two-way communication between management and employees. Do employees feel that they are being heard, and will continue to be heard? Do you have a system in place to respond to and track employee feedback?

And just in case you’re not convinced, Steve shared a little anecdote about the CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff. Spencer responds personally to all the comments on Zillow’s Glassdoor page, and in a recent 30-day period, four candidates said that seeing that type of employer response solidified their choice to work there. Pretty cool, huh?

The importance of “fresh eyes”

Joel Ballezza, Expedia’s Manager of Brand and Digital Marketing explained the importance of “fresh eyes,” which is the perspective that’s brought from outsiders and new employees. New hires and people going through your recruitment process have the ability to see things differently, and you can use this to your advantage in strengthening your brand.

Expedia has set up systems to take advantage of “fresh eyes” such as surveying all applicants who interview, both on the phone and in-person. This helps Expedia’s recruiting team to identify any shortcomings in the candidate experience.

As soon as someone enters Expedia, they learn that feedback is encouraged and receive the CEO’s email address so they can directly contact her to share their thoughts and observations.

The power of a good story

Katie Burke, HubSpot’s Director of Talent and Culture took us back to preschool where the rules for good behavior were so simple: be nice, share your toys, don’t snore during naptime (okay, I just made that one up myself).

HubSpot has taken a similar approach to creating their company guidelines. Most policies can be boiled down to one single instruction: Use good judgment. If you hire awesome people, you won’t need to micromanage employee decisions.

When you look at how most companies divide their time and resources, most of the work goes into assessing product/market fit, raising money, or meeting PR and marketing needs, while defining and guiding the culture is only an afterthought.

If you haven’t seen the HubSpot Culture Code, be sure to check it out. This presentation has had 1.5 million views on SlideShare and become HubSpot’s most popular recruiting tool—bar none. Katie emphasized the power of both internal and external storytelling in a recruiting context. Share what you know with the entire world and be honest about what works and what doesn’t within your organization.

(And if you’d like to read further on this topic, check out our post on how other companies are using storytelling to attract potential applicants.)

The untapped pool of passive candidates

Kevin Nanney, Vice President of Product at Jobvite shared some insights from the Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study 2015, such as the fact that 45% of job-seekers are satisfied with their current role but open to a new one and 50% of people see their current job as a stepping stone. By the way, a whopping 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds feel this way.

Kevin was also the one to share that somewhat surprising fact about employees’ bathroom behavior I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

What this means for recruiters is that you don’t want to neglect passive candidates. Many job-seekers may be currently employed, but they’d be happy to jump on the right opportunity if it presented itself. You can make sure that you’re ready to attract passive candidates by building a cohesive brand strategy, a fully functional mobile experience, and personalized job-seeker engagement. (For more on this topic, check out our interview with Sheetal Patel, Director of Branding and Digital Engagement at Stanford University’s Career Development Center.)

Look for ways to differentiate yourself

Traci Scovel, Genentech’s Principal Program Manager of Corporate Staffing started by showing us a page full of photographs that were taken from leading biotech companies’ websites. While they represented a range of ages and ethnicities, the photographs all bore a pretty striking resemblance to each other since they were stock photos of “happy people.” This makes sense since most biotech companies focus on their patients or customers. But at the same time, it means that it’s difficult for potential applicants to tell these companies apart.

Genentech took this into account when undergoing their “purposeful recruitment branding.” In addition to redesigning the website to visually differentiate it from other companies in the same industry, Genentech has looked for other ways to help candidates visualize themselves there.

One great example Traci shared was how Genentech has enlisted employees from various sectors to post long-form content on LinkedIn. Check out this article about relocating to the Bay Area, which also happens to weave in some information about why Genentech is such a wonderful place to work.

The variety of presenters and the companies they represented at the Roadshow served as a reminder that there’s no single way to approach employer branding. You’ll want to learn from industry leaders, but make choices based on what makes the most sense for your company and culture. And maybe think twice before holding a coworker’s phone since you now know what 18% of them have been doing with it…

The next step: Does your company have a dedicated team that focuses on employer branding? If so, make sure that you connect with them to ensure you’re on the same page. If not, think about which of the tips from this post you can incorporate into your work. No matter what, you’ll definitely want to make sure that your company’s career page is optimized for mobile.


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