The hiring process of today’s business landscape isn’t like the hiring process of years past. For example, it’s not enough to simply post a vacancy and wait for top-tier talent to flock to your front door. No, more and more, acquiring excellent talent is competitive and challenging. But one element that can help companies (particularly fast-growing startups) attract world-class talent and excel at the hiring process is employer branding. That’s because employer branding gives companies a competitive edge during their hiring process, due to the fact that prospective employees will be attracted to a company for its credentials and reputation.
Think of it like this: employer branding is a startup’s secret weapon, which can help it not only attract the best talent, but also ensure better employee onboarding and retention, all while lowering hiring costs.
What exactly is employer branding, and why does it play such a critical role in the hiring process? Employer branding is how a startup markets itself to prospective employees, similar to the way that the brand itself markets itself to prospective customers. Employer branding includes the reputation a company has as an employer and what a company’s unique employee value proposition (EVP) is to prospective employees.
Employer branding isn’t only nice to have and doesn’t just include “perks” for employees. Increasingly, employer branding is becoming a critical component of the hiring process, and something that prospective employees weigh heavily during their job search process. For example, 86% of employees say they research a company and look at reviews before deciding where to apply for a job.
Employer branding also gives companies incredible leverage in an increasingly competitive job market. There is a growing global talent shortage rattling the workforce, with 75% of employers saying they’re experiencing trouble hiring. Strong employer branding can be a huge asset to not only help draw in talented employees, but to also retain them for the long run.
Deploying and leveraging excellent employer branding requires an employer branding strategy. An employer branding strategy is a comprehensive, front-to-back plan which helps companies take control of their reputation as a place of employment. It includes not only fine tuning what is being offered to prospective employees, but also stepping into the shoes of these potential new hires to see how employment is being interpreted.
There are several elements of employer branding that companies can use to attract top talent:
When employer branding is all over the place, interested candidates are going to be all over the place. One of the biggest benefits of solid employer branding is that the culture of a company is made apparent, along with necessary hiring qualifications such as preferred work experience and individual values. For example, if a startup has a reputation for being an excellent place to work and excepting only a few excellent hires a year, this can create some very healthy competition around talented candidates, who are vying for a position at this company.
Employer branding doesn’t only make a company more attractive as a place of employment in general. It makes a company more attractive to the right employees, who align with that company. This means that more often, new hires are an accurate fit, who match not only the skills and talent needed for the job, but also match the culture of the organization as a whole. This reflects in higher employee retention and less turnover, with data revealing that companies with excellent employer branding see around 28% less turnover than companies that don’t.
Companies with excellent employer branding will end up spending less money on their hires, because their good reputation essentially works to bring in more applicants for vacant positions and to help fill empty seats more quickly. Data tells us that when top candidates want to work for an organization, the cost of recruiting plummets more than 40%. Plus, we know that vacant seats can cost companies thousands and thousands of dollars per month, and far more for executive positions and other leadership roles. When a company has stronger employer branding, more candidates will flock to open positions, meaning vacancies can be filled as efficiently as possible.
Strong employer branding means that candidates will understand what a company is about, what they’re looking for in a candidate, and what they stand for. This means that candidates are far more likely to be aligned with the companies they’re applying for, and an all-around better fit. Once candidates are hired, this can translate into a far superior and smoother onboarding experience. For example, if a candidate is hired who is not aligned with a company due to unclear employer branding, the onboarding process is likely going to be a rocky affair. But if everyone is on the same page, onboarding will be smooth and seamless.
Candidates want to go through hiring processes where they’re well-suited for the position and the company, because it’s a better use of their time, and more likely to result in a successful hire. Likewise, employers want to speak to highly qualified candidates who are an excellent match for the position and company as a whole, and who are going to stick with their company for the long run. Strong employer branding means that well-suited candidates will be part of the hiring process, which means an overall better hiring experience for everyone involved.
Employer branding is a very valuable asset in the hiring process because it can vastly increase a company’s hiring capabilities. For example, in one survey, more than 40% of passive candidates said they would take a new position without an increase in compensation, based on strong employer branding alone. This can be especially useful in the startup landscape, where businesses might offer an array of benefits and perks in addition to salaried compensation, in order to make up the entire employee value proposition.
Strong employer branding helps attract top-tier candidates who are not only a fit for the vacant position itself, but who are also culturally a great fit for the organization as a whole. With that in mind, excellent employer branding can help contribute to improved employee culture within an organization. That’s because employees who are brought on board are a cohesive fit across the board, and also likely contribute to the overall company culture.
Hiring in today’s business landscape is complex, multi-faceted, and downright competitive. But by strengthening and leveraging employer branding, startups can help showcase just how great it is to work at their company while attracting incredibly talented candidates who are a perfect match for their vacant positions.
While employer branding is important, it’s just one piece of the hiring puzzle, especially when it comes to hiring executives. And for startups, employer branding can sometimes be more of a hurdle than an asset, because especially in the earlier days, startups don’t always have the strength of their employer branding to lean on (just yet). But still, employer branding is a critical part of an executive hiring strategy.
That’s why when leading startups are looking to hire executives, they turn to us here at Will Reed. We’re the only go-to-market executive search firm built exclusively for early-stage founders. Our team of executive recruiters knows startups inside out, and we know exactly what it takes to help them land their dream executives.