The Employer Branding Journey: Beyond Talent Acquisition

Most HR and marketing leaders agree that investing in and nurturing an employer brand is essential, especially in today’s tight candidate-driven market. The error that many make, however, is thinking of their employer brand as talent acquisition only. The truth is that your employer brand only works when it’s present and thriving at every stage of the employee lifecycle – from candidate to employee to alumni.

Each stage of the employee’s journey has its own specific communication channels, challenges and opportunities. Skip or ignore any of them and you may miss critical chances to improve recruitment efforts, engage existing employees, increase productivity, strengthen long-term retention and reinforce your position as an employer of choice.


Employer Branding Journey


Stage 1: Awareness

Before you can attract candidates, they must become aware of your business. This often starts with the consumer experience – but awareness of your business as a potential employer comes from social media, word of mouth, your career website and recruitment events such as college and career fairs. Your employer brand should be deliberately infused through all of these communications media – including leveraging your employees as ambassadors for the employer brand.

Stage 2: Attraction

Once people become aware of your company as a potential employer, the next step is to make sure you’re attracting the right people. Enable candidates to see themselves reflected in the messages you weave through employee testimonials, videos, social posts and online content. Continually assess how your company is portrayed on LinkedIn, job search platforms like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder, and on review sites such as Glassdoor and kununu.

Stage 3: Recruitment

At this stage, candidates are solidly within your business ecosystem. Help key personnel within your organization understand, embrace and comfortably communicate the messages of your employer brand. This means training your HR team, but also anyone who engages with candidates from offer generation and hiring to onboarding and training. It’s also important to not stop advocating the components of your employer brand when you decide someone is not the right fit for a job. Maybe the first role isn’t the right fit but an upcoming position is. Even a single sour experience can turn candidates off and spread via social media and word of mouth.

Stage 4: Retention

If your awareness, attraction and recruiting efforts are generating successful hires, congratulations! Now, it’s time to continue finding ways to keep the components of your employer brand alive and well for your actual employees. That means actively listening to the things that are most important to them and making sure that your employer brand aligns with supporting HR policies, systems and internal messaging. How you communicate about career mobility and advancement, learning and development opportunities and performance management says a lot about your employer brand. Are employees crystal clear on how their performance is measured and their options for career growth? Do they know which skills are most important for success and can they easily access the necessary tools and resources? Is there ongoing communication about the company’s priorities and performance so that employees can support them? Are employees inspired by what the company does and are they empowered to make a difference? And most importantly, do they feel valued enough to stick around?

Remind employees why they love working for you now more than ever. Because happy, engaged employees are more productive. Even when employees leave – by their choice or yours – your exit interview and alumni communications can keep them feeling positive about the kind of company you are. Ex-employees can become some of your best employer brand ambassadors!

Stage 5: Evolution

Your business is dynamic and your employer brand must keep pace. Assess your employer brand regularly against key performance indicators. Actively listen both internally and externally to what people are saying about your company and what it’s like to really work there. Examine how well your messages and objectives match the actual experiences of candidates and employees. Reinforce the positive components and determine where adjustments are needed for the employer brand to meet organizational objectives.

Put it all together and it’s easy to see why a successful employer brand encompasses so much more than talent acquisition. When managed across the continuum from candidate to employee to alumni, your employer brand can generate significant benefits – in the form of a better candidate pool, more successful new hires, and better engaged employees.


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