If you’re beginning to realize you definitely need a managed employer brand but you’re not exactly sure what you need to do, this list is for you.
Granted, this list is not exhaustive. But it is a good overview, and we hope it helps you envision the road ahead—a road Job Portraits is happy to travel with you.
1. You need an Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
The EVP, or employer value proposition, is the ideal foundation for your employer branding efforts. Essentially, an EVP is an actionable document that details exactly what makes working at your company valuable to employees (and candidates). A solid EVP is based on third-party interviews with employees at all levels and accurately reflects the internal perception of your organization.
Once you have an EVP, you’ll know who you are as an employer—both what you have to offer, and what you need from your people—and this knowledge will inform everything else you do for your employer brand.
2. You need to research your competition
Technically, competitive research is part of the EVP process, but it’s worth mentioning separately because not everyone is ready or able to establish an EVP right away. But you still need to understand how you compare to other employers. In this context, “competition” means anyone who is hiring for the same roles you’re looking to fill.
Learning how your organization stacks up in terms of culture, compensation, mission, and benefits helps you define your employer brand—and this type of intelligence can become a powerful tool to help recruiters navigate conversations with candidates.
3. You need to know your candidate audience
You might already have an idea of the type of person you’d like to hire, but do you understand why someone might—or might not—be interested in offering you their talent? It’s vital to consider the candidate’s perspective. Is your work environment collaborative with lots of opportunities for junior talent to work alongside people at the top of their career game? Maybe your company culture best supports people who work independently and/or remotely. Perhaps you’re a startup and the salaries are relatively low, but there is a lot of flexibility and equity.
Different people will be attracted to different circumstances, so consider who will most likely be drawn to yours—and why. Knowing your candidate audience will help you craft a message that speaks to them specifically.
4. You need a Candidate Messaging Guide (CMG)
A Candidate Messaging Guide (CMG) explains specifically how to communicate the contents of your EVP to a candidate audience. At Job Portraits, CMGs are delivered with an EVP and include custom boilerplate copy you can use across departments and communication channels, as well as a list of messaging “Dos and Don’ts” specific to your organization. (e.g., Do mention that exciting change in leadership; Don’t be afraid to discuss the challenges you anticipate.)
CMGs also include a summation of company-level themes and a collection of communications best practices. Think of it as a practical companion to your EVP: An EVP clarifies the truth of who you are as a company, a CMG tells you how to say it.
5. You need internal activation
The first place to implement your employer brand is inside of your organization, in part because your employees are your most immediate brand ambassadors. (Also because it will be very confusing if the outside world understands your company’s EVP better than the people who work there.) Not only should your current employees be aware of your EVP (after all, they hopefully helped to create it), but their work experience should reflect your company-level themes.
Ways to internally activate an employer brand include updating employee handbooks, sharing a CMG or other forms of communication scripts, offering swag like coffee mugs or sweatshirts, or hosting training sessions or launch events (online or in person).
6. You need aligned recruiters
Even your best employer branding efforts will fall flat if your recruiters aren’t aligned. Recruiters have the most direct contact with candidates, and they need to embody your employer brand. You want to ensure that candidates walk away with an impression of your organization that reflects your employer brand—whether you hire them or not.
Recruiters should be familiar with your EVP and CMG, and every part of the recruitment process—autoreplies, interviews, rejection letter, offer letters, and onboarding materials—should align with your employer brand.
7. You need content
As important as it is that your employees, and especially your recruiters, are familiar with your employer brand, you definitely need content that is targeted to your ideal candidates. We think the best way for candidates to really understand what it's like to work somewhere is to hear from current employees.
That’s why, at Job Portraits, we work with you to identify stories and examples that support the themes of your EVP. Then our team interviews the people you’ve selected and comes back with high-quality content like Q&A blog posts, first-person essays, social media posts, and more.
8. You need a content plan
Your EVP and CMG provide your key messages and how to talk about them, and your content reflects those truths. But it’s not enough to put up a blog post every now and then. You need a content plan— a strategic approach to how you shape your narrative.
The goal is to cultivate a passive audience of people who are watching what your company says and does. You do this by developing a content plan that ensures you’ve got a steady stream of relevant, compelling information landing in front of the people you want to reach. That way, when it’s time to move from homeostasis to a hiring ramp, you’ll already be in touch with a receptive audience—aka your future employees.
9. You need to distribute your content
Once you’ve got content and a plan for continuing to create it, how are you going to share it? There are multiple channels you can use to communicate directly with candidates. Ideally you have a careers site that both clearly communicates your employer brand and offers candidates an accessible, pleasant application experience. You might also have specialized team pages that validate your employer brand at a team level.
And of course: social. Even if you consider your social media channels to be consumer-facing, remember that candidates will see the content, too. Remove any content that contradicts your employer brand—although this shouldn’t be a problem, since your employer and consumer brands work best when they are closely aligned.
The way you tell your story will vary depending on the channel, but ideally it can be told in surround sound across multiple owned and paid channels.
10. You need to evaluate your progress and optimize accordingly
There’s no such thing as an employer brand that is both static and successful. We like to think of employer brands as living things—representing real humans—in need of constant care. To make sure your employer brand is sturdy enough to consistently communicate the truth of your EVP while dynamic enough to respond to an evolving candidate audience, you’ve got to listen to feedback and regularly recalibrate.
Receiving and responding to feedback is among the hardest and the most important part of creating a successful employer brand. But if you can do all the other things, you can do this, too.