How to Build Your Employer Brand

by Lauren Hodgson
Building Culture, Employer branding - 5 years ago

There’s a lot of buzz about employer branding right now. Especially in the tech world and other highly competitive talent markets. There’s a big focus on social strategy as it pertains to talent, sleek careers pages, the catalog of perks, and fun careers videos.

As more companies continue to invest in their employer branding, you’ll want to be sure you stand out and attract the right people.

The goal with employer branding is to beckon the right people who want to be a part of what you are creating in the world.

Here are three fundamentals to creating an employer brand that is authentic, enduring, and extremely effective:

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1. Get super clear on who your business is and what you stand for

But, seriously. SUPER CLEAR. When people interact with your company (in person, on your website, etc.), you want them, in less than 30 seconds, to know what you stand for and what your purpose is. Not what you do – why you do it.

  • Tap into why the company started.
  • Make it clear what problem you are trying to solve.
  • What dent do you want to make?
  • What do you want to be known for?

The leadership team must be crystal clear and totally aligned on this. Clarity on your vision and purpose is the #1 thing in attracting the right people to you.

If your business hasn’t spent the time on deliberately articulating this or if you need a refresher, check out Building Your Company’s Vision by James Collins on the HBR.

Great people connect to purpose – they want to be working for something larger and they want that something larger to align with what they care about. Patagonia attracts certain people – people who seek adventure and care about the environment.

We see this relentless focus on purpose from some of the most influential brands – Apple, Google, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, Trader Joes.

2. Align every inch of the business to the company’s purpose

Once you are crystal clear on why your company exists, you want every piece of your business to be a mirrored reflection of that existence.

It should be evident in how your business behaves – your business model, client interactions, partnership pay structure, how (and why) you choose Partnership A over Partnership B, community involvement, people practices, website messaging, etc.

Align everything to it because these decisions, these consistent behaviors over time, become your culture. As you know, your culture is what attracts (and retains) certain people and detracts others.

Your company culture already exists – the goal is to intentionally design it in such a way that it is effective in driving what you want. One of the truest principles of culture, represented in a model by Ann Rhoades, former Chief People Officer of Southwest Airlines, is this: “Leaders drive the values, values then drive the behaviors, the behaviors drive the culture, and the culture ultimately defines the performance.”

Your leadership dictates the culture. Be intentional about how you operate the business. When it aligns – living, breathing, and sleeping it’s most integral form of its existence – the right people can’t help but notice.

3. Your people are your brand ambassadors

Your employees are your brand ambassadors. Set and share the vision with them. When you’ve got the right people on your team, give them ownership, let them co-create the plan, and they will multiply your efforts way past what you alone can do.

When your people have purpose, autonomy, and mastery in their work with you, it creates a multiplying effect that ripples throughout their life and in networks, communities, and people far past your own.

This is the employer brand spreading organically. It’s also where their engagement and desire to champion your company will generate employee referrals, more Glassdoor reviews, better LinkedIn recommendations and more involvement and thought leadership at industry events, community events, etc.

Through this, your people are generating more “leads” and because they are coming from your champions, they’ll likely be more qualified.

Empower them, give them the resources to be your ambassadors, and let them do the attracting. More of the right people; it’s the beauty of word of mouth in action. This work generates the most authentically fitting people that want to be a part of what you are creating.

You are able to create a company that is irresistible to work for by focusing on the core of who you want your business to be in the world.

Nothing overcomes a poor fit. Be clear on what you stand for, align your business to it, engage and empower your people to be your champions.

This is the foundation of having an employer brand that is not just cool and snazzy, but that is authentic, enduring, and constantly filling the pipeline of people who want to partner up and do the amazing work you set out to do.