Employer Branding – Definition, Strategies & Best Practice

Published on 03-11-2017

What exactly is employer branding? What kind of strategies are necessary to develop a unique employer brand that fits to your company? And what does successful employer branding look like in real life? In the first post of our new employer branding series, we summarise the most important facts, definitions and strategies for you!

It seems that nowadays, the words ‘employer branding’ need to be used at least once a day in every HR department. Unfortunately, many people still mix up the term with personnel marketing or see it as one of many recruitment tools. Employer branding, however, is much more than one of your tools in your marketing toolbox! It is not a strategy for single departments but an overall strategy.

Definition – What is employer branding?

The official definition of employer branding is as follows:

The use of a branding strategy to influence the way present and potential employees view the employing organisation. The aim is to develop a coherent employer or employment brand, comprising a package of financial, economic, psychological, and symbolic elements that in combination improve the ability to recruit and retain staff. Employer branding is associated with a desire to become an employer of choice and compete effectively in the war for talent. – Dictionary of HR Management

In a nutshell: Employer branding includes all strategies that improve a company’s external and internal reputations. Therefore, employer branding is the interface of marketing and human resource management.

The foundation of every employer brand

Successful employer branding is based on two important components; the company’s strengths and the opinion of its target group.
When developing an employer branding strategy, a company should therefore conduct a critical analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. Such an analysis should answer questions such as:

  • What makes us as an employer unique? (Employer Value Proposition)
  • What does our company stand for?
  • Why should a candidate pick us over one of our competitors?
  • Why should an employee be interested in a long-term position?
  • What corporate values do we represent? Do we actively practice those values?

During the second stage the company should define the goals of its employer branding strategy and decide which measures need to be taken. The specific target group as well as the question how a company wants to be perceived as an employer play major roles in during this stage of developing your employer brand.

The following questions could guide this process:

  • What exceptions and desires does our target group have?
  • How can we communicate successfully with our target group?
  • What kind of unwritten communication rules apply for the selected channels?
  • Does our internal and external employer strategies align?
  • Do our employees represent the promoted employer brand?

Employer Branding Best Practices – The CompanyMatch Top 5

  1. Define and practise your corporate culture
    Before it is possible to communicate your company’s standards and values, they need to be properly defined. It is crucial not only the voice of leading personnel but that of all the employees is heard. After all, the employees are a company’s most important asset! After the corporate culture is clearly defined the secret to a successful implementation is quite simple: Communication! Every department, every employee – from the CEO up to the delivery man – needs to understand the essence of the company and apply it to their behaviour.
  2. Keep your career website and Social Media Channels up-to-date
    Social networks gain more relevance by the day. Studies show that 79% of job seekers include social media channels into their job search (Glassdoor, 2014). It is therefore crucial to design your career website as well as your social media channels in an interactive and approachable way. Recent case studies, and even employee selfies, could be a great way to provide job seekers with a behind the scenes experience. After all, a picture (or video) says more than a thousand words!
  3. Use your employees as corporate influencers
    Provide your employees with the possibility to chat to and exchange news and ideas with colleagues via an internal communication system. This will give them a platform to discuss daily experiences and impressions of their working lives. If they agree, you could even make use of certain original anecdotes and pictures on your social media channels. The Otto Group took this to the next level by training employees to become ‘corporate influencers‘. This makes your company culture not only more authentic and transparent but also actively integrates your employees into your employer branding strategy. A great boost for your employee engagement rates!
  4. Create a positive candidate experience
    A negative candidate experience can instantly demolish all of your employer branding efforts. Candidate experiences include every aspect of the recruitment process that affects candidates – starting with job descriptions on the career website to the actual job interview. CompanyMatch conducted an expert interview with Anja Bank, Employer Brand Manager at Vodafone Germany, and discussed the ‘must do’s’ for a positive candidate experience.
  5. Measure the progress of your employer branding practices
    Trust is good, control is better! It is extremely important to document the progress of your employer branding strategies on a regular basis. Ideally using proper measurable KPI’s. Those KPI’s need to align with the goals of your employer brand strategy. Possible statistics could include the long term employment rate, the number of applicants per job offer, recruiting costs, and the extent of employee engagement.

Cultural Fit messen

Employer Branding best practices in reality

Theory is great. But what does successful employer branding look like in real life?

The German real estate platform Immobilienscout24 is one example of how to implement a creative employer branding strategy. The company regularly posts on their blog showing employees around their apartments. In another series employees, themselves, share personal experiences and tips for the apartment hunt. As a result the company managed to not only display their employer brand in an authentic way but also connect their branding strategy directly to their main business objective.

The German Lufthansa AG, one of Europe’s largest airliners, is often mentioned as a best practice employer branding example. The company established their own recruiting brand called ‘Be Lufthansa’ which allows them consistent in communication across all channels. Lufthansa’s award-winning career website is one of them. Applicants can find all sorts of information about different job profiles, application processes, regulations and qualifications as well as video instructions and virtual tests. On top of that, the company is very active on social media channels. For example, flight attendants, stewards, pilots and ground staff, take over the company’s SnapChat account on a regular basis to share their work routine.

Interested in more? CompanyMatch also published a white paper about the real costs of a bad hire. Based on recent studies, we explored topics such as cultural fit, employer branding, corporate culture and many more. To download the full report for free, please fill out the form below!