Whether they’ve actively thought about it or not, every single organisation has an employer brand. Although far wider definitions are possible, we can essentially sum employer brand up as how a business is perceived by those individuals who might become its employees.
Employer brand plays an absolutely vital role in securing staff because on first contact, preconceptions are everything. This is nowhere more keenly felt than in the London tech market where meetups, code-sharing sites and high-frequency of job hopping creates close-knit networks among similarly-skilled, high-demand individuals. Any employer known within these circles can expect to be both discussed and judged by potential hires. It is imperative to bear in mind the implications of this judgement will either divert or attract target hires.
The Tech Scene Anomaly
Much of the discussion around employer brand has been led by firms who wish to help organisations actively promote themselves as a great place to work. It has therefore centred on the production of glossy careers pages, video interviews with employees, research programmes to establish common, aspirational values, and the strategic and creative management of social media, press and advertising to promote such values.
How often, though, do such initiatives ring true among uniquely-skilled technology professionals who are regularly bombarded with offers of potential employment? The answer is infrequently, if at all. Such strategies are no doubt pleasant enough but lack the tech stack and behavioural specifics required to snare passionate technologists. The good news, though, is that there are some simple changes any business can make, which will have a positive impact on your perceived employer brand.
So, rather than focusing on the glossy collateral, when it comes to tech hiring, what should you be considering in order to boost your Employer brand?
Quality vs Coverage
Communication collateral – such as adverts, job specifications and careers pages – govern how most job seekers perceive organisations. The same way many employers judge applicants based on preconceptions formed from a CV alone, job seekers will snap-judge your firm based around the documentation supplied to them. Who hasn’t rejected an applicant for the order in which they listed their responsibilities or for a simple grammatical error? Few. Expect applicants to put your advertising and job specifications under a similar microscope.
It is an outdated view that breadth of coverage is the key to filling a vacancy. If communication collateral gives the wrong impression to initial applicants, exposing it to even more can only be detrimental to making the right hire. The more potential applicants you alienate, the more word spreads and the impact becomes exponential. The first step in boosting your employer brand is to recognise that time and expertise invested in quality collateral will far outweigh the impact of money and time invested in wider advertising or instructing ever more recruiters.
Your problem is not that applicants don’t exist; it’s that your message is alienating them.
Let’s be absolutely clear, a bullet point job specification containing a generic description of your business will do more harm than good. It leaves questions in the minds of readers bombarded by countless other opportunities written by firms who care enough to give them real detail. What does a list of skills an applicant must possess say about your business, your team and your hiring managers? Disinterested? Not strong on documentation? Short term focus? Unable or unwilling to give back to staff? While this may seem far-fetched, it is something we hear from applicants on a daily basis. Bottom line: the specification is taken as representative of the organisation. The best job specs go beyond listing a confusing mix of skills needed and basic responsibilities, sharing as much information as possible about the context of the position and the future an employee can expect from it.
So how to change it?
Much the same applies to advertising. A brief advert that’s all about want, want, want instantly damages recruitment brand. It betrays any effort that’s been put into glossy careers sites or managing “values” because, more than anything else, it is your business’s talent attraction shop front. Some simple checks you can make:
Stay tuned for Part 2 and learn about brand syndication and how to leverage third parties without diluting your Employer brand.