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How to Develop, Build, and Maintain a Strong Employer Brand

Every reputable and competitive education organization has two brands – a primary brand and an employer brand. The primary (organizational) brand has more to do with how constituents perceive an organization and its reputation. It gives them a value proposition regarding its services, history, leaders, team members, etc. Closely related to the primary brand is the employer brand (also known as “talent brand” or “people brand”), which defines how an organization is viewed as an employer. Having strong employer branding is critical because it leaves a lasting impression in the minds of your past, current, and prospective employees. 

A positive employer brand is crucial, especially in today’s highly competitive job market. According to Glassdoor, 86% of employees and job seekers take their time to research organization reviews and ratings before deciding where to apply for a job. Without effective employer branding, your non-teaching recruitment and employee retention strategies can be challenging and costly. 

Every education organization scrambles for the best talent and leadership-centric employees to help them meet their organization goals and mission. The best way to attract high-quality talent is to send the impression that your organization provides the best work environment. 

An organization’s work culture and how it treats its staff significantly impacts how potential candidates perceive it, including everything from compensation practices and benefits packages to career development and weekly team building activities.

As with organizational branding, employer branding is all about impactful storytelling that clearly defines how you want your organization to be perceived in the employment market. You need to use specific messaging to attract the talent you’re searching for. You shouldn’t just tell the story; you must live it. Remember, satisfied employees are your loudest mouthpiece, especially in this era of social media.

What is Employer Branding?

An employer brand works similarly to an organizational brand, although it’s primarily geared toward creating a positive perception of your organization as an employer. It also describes your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and the differentiating factors to prospective candidates in exchange for their skills, experience, talents, and contacts. 

Simply put, an employer brand determines what employees say about an organization when it’s not listening. That’s why it’s critical to market your organization to job hunters. An effective way of doing that is by making your organization’s stand-alone cultural differentiators clear and amplifying them to position your education organization as the best employer. 

To create a resonating employer brand, ask yourself: what’s the essence of your organization? How is it unique? What does it stand for? Having clear answers to these questions is crucial in crafting and aligning your aspirations with the kind of talent you’re looking for. As a result, you can create a strong message that communicates to your prospects that your organization is a top place to work, strengthen your recruitment strategy and retain your current employees. 

The Importance of Employer Branding for Recruitment

As you might have noted, ignoring employer branding can be costly. As a result, your organization can incur higher recruitment costs per employee and a high HR budget, negatively impacting your overall budget. 

Employer branding offers several benefits:

Boosts the Number of Job Applicants

To start, education organizations with positive employer brands (i.e. they have a good reputation as an employer in the job market) can receive up to twice as many job applications as their counterparts with poor employer branding (a reputation of being not-so-great places to work). Building exceptional employer branding is crucial, considering 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work at an organization with a bad reputation, even if they receive a salary increase.

Additionally, 75% of job seekers are more likely to apply for a job in an organization that actively manages its employer brand. Therefore, strong employer branding can mean the difference in how efficiently a recruiter attracts the best talent for job vacancies.   

Expands the Pool of Qualified Job Candidates

About 74% of HR managers acknowledge skill gaps in the United States, with over half saying that job applicants didn’t meet the requirements of the positions they were applying for. A strong employer brand increases the pool of qualified job applicants. Discerning and skilled job seekers tend to apply for job positions in companies with positive employer brands. That’s important as it gives your organization the best selection of which candidate to hire for a specific position. 

If your organization has a positive reputation in the job marketplace, tells employee stories online transparently, and maintains unique cultural differentiators, you can more easily attract the talent you need. Then, instead of allocating huge budgets and spending time promoting your organization and nudging people to apply, you can benefit from increased inbound applications.

Helps Recruit and Retain Employees 

According to statistics, companies that actively invest time in employer branding can reduce their turnover rate by as much as 28%. In addition, a powerful employer brand increases employees’ productivity, which makes them feel satisfied, proud, and happy with their contribution to an organization.

Job seekers are attracted to companies with strong employer brands. Therefore, they’ll actively research an organization’s social media pages and career sites to read reviews and insights into employee experiences. Suppose you actively strive to have a positive reputation as an employer. In that case, your staff will leave positive feedback on organization review sites and social media platforms, inspiring other talented job seekers to apply.

As mentioned earlier, satisfied employees are an organization’s loudest megaphone – they act as brand ambassadors, which can help with recruiting. That’s because robust employer branding is synonymous with a great place to work. Your employees can tell their talented friends how much they love working in your organization, and they’ll be happy to refer them to you.

A positive employer brand also improves candidate experience, which nurtures a positive perception of your organization among jobseekers when they’re filing their applications. That perception starts from an applicant’s first touch point with your employer brand and extends to the conclusion of their application. Candidate experience impacts every aspect in which an applicant interacts with your organization, especially during the following processes:

  • Application process
  • Interviews
  • Hiring/Acceptance
  • Onboarding

Having a strong employer brand gives a candidate a positive impression of your organization in each recruitment step, framing their overall experience. Strong candidate experience matters for various reasons, including:

  • Maintaining a warm relationship with a candidate
  • It offers a positive impression of the employee experience
  • Improves your quality of hire when candidates share their positive experiences
  • It validates your employer’s brand
  • Creates positive word of mouth from your candidates to other prospective candidates

How to Establish a Powerful Employer Brand

An education organization must brand itself to attract and retain top talent in its workforce. To do that, it must ensure they have a winning employer brand, which requires a strategy. Here are some employer branding strategies to consider. 

Assess Your Employer Brand 

Establishing an employer brand is pretty straightforward in theory. However, in reality, what HR leaders claim to be their employer brand often feels disconnected from the real, day-to-day employee experiences. Therefore, the first step to building a strong employer brand is to assess your current employer brand. When doing so, ask yourself:

  • Is my employer brand reflecting the existing organization culture, or is it simply aspirational?
  • Have I sufficiently communicated my employer brand to clarify which behaviors my employees should strive to emulate?
  • Do I have a strategy for reinforcing my employer brand to ensure it guides the organization’s day-to-day operations?

Reviewing your organization’s culture and how your employer branding impacts it enables you to exercise intention when developing, disseminating, and continuously building your employer brand. 

Another critical component of developing an employer brand is surveying your employees to identify your strengths and weaknesses as an employer and their overall perception of your existing organization culture. From their feedback, you can identify and amplify the positive elements to bolster your employer brand with integrity to what your organization already stands for. Relying on employee feedback also helps maintain a strong connection between your employer brand and your organization culture. 

Develop Your Employer Brand around Organizational Values and Mission

The organization’s mission and values are critical in developing a powerful brand. Therefore, it’s crucial to draft an EVP that clearly communicates your organization values and mission while reflecting the unique, positive aspects of working in your organization. Additionally, your organizational messaging should align with your customer-facing brand, and at the same time, speak directly to your employees. Finally, understanding your organization’s values enables you to know what talent is needed to accomplish your organization objectives and drives your organization culture. 

For instance, WorkMonger values educational equity, and that’s deeply rooted in its day-to-day operations. This deep belief is infused in all activities and throughout the decision-making process. As a result, WorkMonger only hires individuals who similarly share this foundational belief. The end result is that all team members live this core value and strive to uphold it by focusing on promoting educational equity throughout their work. 

Be Transparent about Your Organization’s Hiring Process

Show your recruitment process and employer brand transparency on your organization’s website. That involves using words or phrases that form your organization’s vernacular to clearly describe your organization’s mission, vision, and values and what the experience of working for your organization is all about. Then, use the same vernacular in HR or recruitment sites, social media channels, and any other platforms you can use to showcase your employer brand. 

Develop a Seamless Experience for Job Candidates

With the heightened competition in the job market, it’s tough to attract top talent. Providing a seamless candidate experience in recruiting can help you attract suitable applicants and build a strong employer brand. 

The hiring process is the first point of contact that candidates have with your organization. You can seize that opportunity to market your brand, provide clarity, and motivate people to succeed. 

Every stage in the recruitment process matters, and considering how tight the employment market is right now, it’s more essential than ever to ensure your candidate experience is personalized to the job applicant, not the organization. Remember that talented and skilled applicants have many options, and a seamless candidate experience can make a huge difference. 

Some ways you can create a seamless candidate experience and improve your hiring process include:

  • A simple mobile-friendly application process
  • Writing clear and transparent job descriptions
  • Optimizing/shortening your hiring time
  • Updating applicants on where they are in the recruitment process
  • Offering feedback to unsuccessful candidates

Showcase Your Employees (by letting them boast about themselves)

Here’s one fact you might not know: one in four job seekers looks up employee profiles after learning about a job offer. Therefore, encourage your current employees to ensure their online profiles are up-to-date, professional, and attention-grabbing. Give them the freedom to write about their expertise, experiences, and personalities. You can also empower them to become subject-matter professionals or mentors on matters related to their specific fields.

Additionally, organize professional photography sessions so each staff member can have an updated headshot to use in their online profiles.

Moreover, help non-writers in your organization write their employee biographies. Your HR department can send them insightful emails, hassle-free links, and tutorials on how to write bios. When a former or current employee brings positivity to your employer brand, it improves your recruitment process. 

Optimize the Onboarding Process

The first 90 days/3 months of employment are essential to turning a new staff member into a productive employee. Use that opportunity to establish a deep and lasting impression by providing a smooth, seamless, and valuable onboarding process. That involves providing the new employee with the tools, introductions, and orientations that can help them get started in their new position and thrive at it. 

Ongoing Maintenance of Your Employer Brand

After establishing a solid employer brand, you can position your education organization as a top place to work and attract the best talent. However, to ensure your organization becomes a preferred organization for job seekers in the long term, it’s critical to have ongoing maintenance of your employer brand. The following tips can help in brand maintenance. 

Be Active on Social Media

Social media is an effective tool for hiring managers and HR leaders to find qualified candidates for a specific job vacancy. For instance, LinkedIn offers an excellent outlet for finding the top talent and makes it easy to gauge a candidate’s suitability for a position. 

As aforementioned, employees also talk and share their employment experiences on social media. Prospective candidates trust recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues more than what organization leaders claim about their working environment, culture, and employee experiences. 

Using employees as brand ambassadors is an effective means of bolstering your social recruitment strategy and building your employer brand. If your organization has an exemplary employment reputation, your existing employees will be more inclined to share their satisfaction online, inspiring other top candidates to apply. 

Offer Benefits, Skills Training, and Career Advancement Programs

Most employees and job seekers want to advance in their careers and learn new skills that can enable them to perform better at their jobs and get promotions to higher positions. So it’s also a factor that job seekers consider when choosing an organization to apply to. 

One way to retain existing employees and attract new talent is to demonstrate your commitment to employee well being and create a work environment that promotes learning and career growth. 

Therefore, it’s critical to communicate clearly to employees and job candidates that your organization offers these things. That also involves promoting your organization’s work culture, benefits packages, growth opportunities, organization events, employee testimonials, and insights into your organization’s seamless hiring process. 

Employees can easily know that you value them beyond their specific job titles by providing these benefits and opportunities. 

Be active on Career Sites

Education organizations often ignore career websites, such as Glassdoor, yet these platforms allow former and current employees to speak candidly about their experiences in various organizations. Unfortunately, negative comments and the lack of organization engagement can greatly discourage a qualified job seeker. 

That said, spend more time on career sites, promptly reply to reviews, and address negative comments. That’s not to say you should be defensive. Instead, explain how your organization is trying to improve employee experience and move on. That’s enough to show that your organization cares. 

Remember, you can’t control what people think. Sometimes a disgruntled employee may launch a written assault on your organization. Still, addressing such comments shows you have nothing to hide, which can help change the narrative entirely. 

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is one effective way of reinforcing your employer branding strategy – taking it from a high-level idea and turning it into something that guides your day-to-day operations. 

First, know the kind of behaviors that exemplify your employer brand. For example, a steadfast willingness to offer a helping hand or a fast-paced work environment might make your organization a leader in innovation. 

After identifying these exemplary behaviors, mark them as occasions for recognition. This can be formal (such as an annual awards ceremony) or informal (such as thanking or acknowledging an employee’s efforts during a meeting). If possible, share the recognition publicly. 

Moreover, encourage managers and peers alike to recognize one another anytime they see a colleague living up to your employer brand. That incentivizes the employee to maintain the same ideals and keep them in the back of their minds in every job they undertake.

Regularly Review and Update Policies and Programs

Apart from reinforcing behavioral changes in your workforce, you also need to review and update other policies and programs that support employees at your organization. That could be health benefits, a flexible Paid Time Off (PTO) policy, parental leave policy, organizational discounts, etc. What you do to care for your employees speaks a lot about your employer brand. 

In addition, find a way to differentiate your employer brand from the competition by offering something unique. Two decades ago, benefits like free food, flexible work arrangements, and telecommuting opportunities were considered unique. Times have changed, and these benefits are among the standard things that top talent expect organizations to offer. 

Therefore, strive for a true differentiator – something that makes your organization stand out and one that can make job seekers scramble to join your organization.

Regularly Review and Update Job Requirements

Hiring qualified, experienced candidates is challenging in today’s labor market, and understanding the skills you can teach and those you can’t is crucial. 

Recognizing soft vs. hard skills and the ones that are deal-breakers can help you fill open positions and establish benchmarking strengths in the process. 

Things like motivation and drive are soft skills that can’t be taught. On the flip side, you can teach someone how to code, use a spreadsheet, or write marketing content. You might hire a qualified candidate, but they’ll have low productivity if they lack motivation and drive. In contrast, a motivated candidate can learn the complex skills required to do the job effectively. 

That said, hiring managers must regularly review job descriptions while determining the must-have skills vs. what can be taught. For example, is your organization looking for a qualified individual to lead a team or a candidate who can write winning marketing copy? In such a case, are you looking for communication skills as a must-have requirement, or are you looking for creativity and innovation?

Cultivate a Healthy Organization Culture

Organizational culture has a considerable impact on employee experience. A poor or toxic work culture comes from the top down. The COVID-19 pandemic shed some light on both sides of organizational culture. While some companies retained their employees by implementing health and safety measures, others decided to lay off employees, thus overburdening the remaining workforce. The latter creates a toxic culture that leaves employees depressed, stressed, and fatigued. That leads to decreased productivity, declined engagement, and a sense of not being valued to the point that one has no choice but to quit. 

The pandemic also improved workplace culture, with companies leveraging digital tools in their adoption of remote working. It’s critical to build a culture based on trust to empower employees. 

Organizations must trust their staff and treat them like professionals who know what they are doing and when they should do it. Therefore, trust people to set their own schedules, and they’ll deliver more. A flexible PTO policy demonstrates your trust in your employees, and the likelihood of it being exploited is pretty low. 

Online Tools to Help You Develop a Strong Employer Brand

Establishing, improving, and maintaining a powerful employer brand takes commitment, time, and energy. Unfortunately, these things are hard to come by, especially when dealing with all the aspects of your brand and business. Fortunately, the internet has helpful tools and resources that can make building an employer brand easier. 

Trusted by successful companies, such as Nike, Airbnb, Unilever, Deloitte, American Airlines, etc., these tools can help you improve candidate experience, employee advocacy, content creation, social media engagements, and candidate relationship management. They include:

Candidate experience tools: 

  • Olivia – An innovative AI-powered assistant that helps you focus on what you do best. Olivia focuses on candidate capture, screening, scheduling, and candidate communication and engagement.
  • PathMotion – Another innovative AI platform, PathMotion enhances your candidate experience by letting your employees share stories and engage with job applicants directly online. 

Content creation tools:

  • Skill Scout – With Skill Scout, you can use rich media, such as high-quality videos and slideshows, to showcase better brand recruiting processes, tell your organization story, and show off your beautiful workspaces. 
  • Visage – An online design platform that enables you to create employer brand materials for use at every stage of the employee journey, from job applications and hiring to acceptance and onboarding.
  • Canva – A free graphic design platform that helps employer branding professionals create quick and snappy visuals, logos, and other image content. 
  • Papirfly – A stand-alone employer brand automation tool that helps organizations create and develop creative publications, such as flyers, animated banners, social media content, etc. 

Employee advocacy tools:

  • LinkedIn Elevate – LinkedIn’s premier employee advocacy tool, LinkedIn Elevate is a paid employee advocacy platform that helps your existing employees to become more social professionals on LinkedIn.
  • Smarp – An employee engagement and advocacy tool that helps employees enhance their thought leadership and build their professional networks by enabling them to share and track the impact of their content. 
  • Everyone Social – The Everyone Social employee advocacy platform is a social selling and employee advocacy tool designed to empower your current employees to become potent marketers, sellers, and recruiters. 
  • Sociabble – Social media-focused employee advocacy software, Sociabble is trusted by companies like Microsoft. It’s designed to help organizations amplify their reach on social media, revamp their employee engagement, and accelerate social selling and internal communications. 

Social media sharing and scheduling tools:

  • HootSuite – An AI-driven platform that allows companies to manage their social media content through automated scheduling, management, and reporting on social media content. The developers also created HootSuite Amplify in partnership with Facebook’s Workplace to offer an easy and effective employee advocacy solution. 
  • Buffer – Businesses worldwide leverage this social media management tool to help employees embrace individuality and create high-quality content for their audience. 

Candidate relationship management tools:

  • SmartRecruiters – Innovative online recruitment software that also features an applicant tracking system. 
  • Zoho CRM – Like SmartRecruiters, Zoho CRM provides a web-based recruitment platform that helps millions of organizations track applicants. 
  • Jobbio – A desktop- and mobile-ready candidate management tool that helps businesses manage applicants through a live system that makes it easy to hire and stage live interviews. 
  • Bullhorn – This online tool helps companies streamline their candidate management by strengthening relationships with clients and prospective employees. 
  • Recruiterbox – An online candidate relationship management platform with a user-friendly interface that helps companies realize growth by attracting, evaluating, and hiring top talent.

At WorkMonger, we understand how challenging it is to match the right person in the education sector with the right opportunity. Additionally, it’s challenging to find a meaningful career in the education sector. So we leverage the power of data and technology and combine that with our knowledge in the education sector and knack for spotting top talent to bridge the gap between great education organizations and great people, making it easier, more cost-effective, and faster to find the talent you’re looking for. Contact us to receive high-quality, customized, recruiting services to help you find talented, diverse candidates for your non-teaching roles.

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