Track Internal and External Employer Brand Metrics for Better Hires

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” goes the old business adage.

As companies put more effort into employer branding activities, good business practice requires they use metrics to track the success of their efforts. A study released by Hudson RPO in July 2014 found that 66 percent of respondents anticipated that employer brand would increase in importance at their organizations in the following 12 to 24 months. Yet the same study found that only 16 percent of respondents could say for certain that their company measured their employer brand.

Getting the right people in the door is paramount to maintaining a strong employer brand. Bad hires can cause productivity losses, damage employee morale and increase training and recruiting costs. The Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire can be as much as 30 percent of that employee’s first year earnings.  And since online reviewers tend to be polarized into fans and detractors, employers need to keep track of employee perceptions.

As with traditional brand measurement, employer brand measurement falls into two buckets: internal and external.

Internal Brand Measures – How You Perform Against Yourself Over Time

Traditional brands can measure internal data points such as product sales and customer churn rates over time. Employers can track engagement, retention rate, quality-of-hire and cost-per-hire to gauge success. Engagement and retention can impact quality-of-hire and cost-per-hire through word of mouth, which leads to other measurable factors such as employee referrals and review ratings.

To measure external performance, traditional brands might use market tracking services such as Nielsen or industry-specific studies to measure market share. They may also track brand awareness through ongoing surveys.

External Brand Measures – How You Perform Against the Market

Employers are not given such straightforward measures of their brands as market share.  Measuring employer brand externally is a fuzzier task. It may involve participating in employee surveys such as those conducted by organizations and media outlets with “best places to work” lists. But because survey participation is voluntary and can be affected significantly by internal employer branding efforts, rankings on these lists are not truly unbiased. Companies that appear on such lists often have one or more staff members dedicated to championing their culture and promoting participation in events and surveys.

To trained data analysts, surveys like these can seem particularly subjective. Jike Chong, Ph.D., head of data science at Simply Hired, saw an opportunity when he considered Simply Hired data in light of “best places to work” lists.

When considering the billions of signals received from 30 million job seekers each month in the Simply Hired job search engine, he wondered, “What if we could provide rankings based on actual behavior? Then we would have a metric based not on what people say, but what they actually do.”

On the average job search results page, the job seeker is confronted with at least a dozen job listings to choose from and often many pages of links. Measuring the frequency of which users click on a job listing for any given company could indicate the strength of that company’s brand recognition as well as the appeal factor of the language in the snippet of the job description. Therefore, job click-through rate is the basis of Simply Hired’s Employer Brand Index (EBI). The 2014 EBI was released last month and covers seven vertical industries.

“In order to make it truly unbiased, we had to filter out the effect of job sponsorship,” Chong added, noting that sponsored jobs appear at the top of search results, often resulting in higher click-through rate.

Because there are thousands of employers and only 25 companies on each vertical in the Simply Hired EBI, it’s crucial to put the data in context.

“This is an important piece of information to understand who your peers are in your industry and learn about competitors you may not have been aware of,” Chong said.

Noting the appearance of POPSUGAR in the entertainment category, he said, “Often job seekers are eager to work at places they admire or use on a regular basis.” When those names appear on a list of jobs, they’re more likely to click.

Research into a newly revealed competitor’s external branding activities can uncover information that can be used to inform your own efforts. You might be able to adapt their tactics or use the information to further differentiate your own brand. Having an unbiased glimpse into job seeker behavior is a unique way to measure the most successful brands in the eyes of candidates and discover better ways to manage your employer brand.


Read more from this series: