January 27, 2015
By now you probably aware that employer branding efforts help companies attract and retain talent. But if you don’t have a clearly defined and documented strategy, candidates can fall through the cracks. Research shows that top employer brand companies are twice as likely to have a defined and documented strategy as companies outside of the top group. Once you define your strategy and get executive buy-in, it’s necessary to make sure your company website and your interviewing process reflects your employer brand. Here’s what you need to know.
Your website is usually the first place candidates look for information about your company. A corporate website with job listings and no information on company culture is a wasted opportunity. Engage candidates on your corporate page by doing the following:
Ensure what is conveyed is accurate and honest. If it’s not, candidates will find out during the interview process, or worse, after they accept an offer and start work.
Show pictures and videos of employees having fun AND working. I’ve seen companies post images of only snack areas, Ping-Pong tables and parties. Unless you run a playground, this is not an accurate picture of where employees spend most of their time. If your company has a wide variation in work environments by department (workshop, office, warehouse, lab, etc.) show pictures of employees at work in each environment. Consider hiring a professional photographer/videographer to come in for a day to capture images of employees on the job.
Keep it updated. If key employees have left the company or the office has been redecorated or moved, by all means update the content to reflect the changes. Management shifts and policy changes can significantly impact corporate culture, so it’s important that what’s shown on the website reflects reality.
Provide links to articles and awards. Your company may have a press page, but remember to highlight any articles and awards relevant to job seekers on the careers page itself. Not every candidate seeks out press information, and the most relevant information for candidates can get buried in a chronological list that includes product announcements. Put information in the place where the people you want to find it are most likely to look.
The interview process is where candidates get a firsthand view of the employer brand in action. Sometimes a company’s interviewing process can convey a different message than the actual culture.
Laura Gonzalez, principal at CDM Search, once consulted with a company that was having trouble finding candidates that would accept offers.
“They had a positive laid-back culture,” she said, “but their interviewing process was disjointed and drawn out.” Smart questioning revealed that the team hadn’t been trained in interviewing practices and didn’t understand the importance of moving quickly in a competitive job market. Here’s how to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you.
Plan the interview process for each position. Candidates who have to answer the same skills-based questions over and over again can get fatigued. Make sure ever person on the interview team knows what the position is, what aspect of the candidate’s experience they should address and is familiar with interviewing techniques. “You can’t assume that just because someone has a manager title that they know how to interview,” said Gonzalez. She provides clients a packet of interviewing guidelines when needed and gathers the team for a pre-interview briefing and post-interview debrief.
Let the recruiter serve as candidate advocate. The primary task of the hiring manager and team members is to make sure the candidate can do the job and will fit in with the team. The recruiter’s task should be to understand the factors under consideration for the candidate such as commute time, desired salary and benefits, family situation and motivation for seeking a new job. Once the team makes a decision to hire a candidate, that information can be used to prepare a suitable offer quickly.
Allow for the candidate’s human needs. Candidates tell horror stories of being left in conference rooms during marathon interview sessions without water and not knowing where the restroom is. Make sure to offer a beverage upon arrival and provide directions to the restroom. If the interviews stretch over a lunch period, buy the candidate lunch.
Get creative with candidates. There are a myriad of ways to make a candidate feel welcome. Gonzalez gave two examples of successful candidate attraction tactics. One involved courting an executive for a cross-country move. On the second round of interviews the executive’s wife was flown in. She was paired with another executive’s wife for a tour of the area. After her warm welcome, she could no longer say, “I don’t know what it’s like there and I won’t have any friends,” to discourage her husband from taking the job.
The second example involved finding an employee with a personality match from another department to give a candidate a tour of the campus. For instance, a candidate with an interest in long-distance running or guitar playing could be shown around or taken out to lunch by an employee with similar interests. These sort of casual connections outside of one’s department are factors that make a workplace attractive to candidates.
As we mentioned previously, experience makes candidates skeptical of employer brand “marketing.” The more you can show them evidence of your employer brand by providing authentic information on your website and follow through during the interview process, the more likely you’ll find the right candidates who will accept offers.