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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Employment Branding in Today’s Market is heavily dependent on Internet

our Employment Brand, what is it? Simply put it is your reputation as an employer and how others perceive you as a potential employer. This year has seen a rise of employers taking this much more seriously than ever before. Why? Because now more than ever it is easier for people to communicate with Social Media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and this other thing you may have heard about called Facebook. Unlike ten years ago, it is now more than ever much easier for a bad reputation to spread quickly and affect the ability of a company to attract the best talent. That being said, where a bad reputation can spread quickly the reverse must be also be true.

The Social Web Over the past five years the web has become much more social, from Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to the increased use of blogging platforms like Wordpress, Tumblr and Posterous. These tools have made the world a smaller place; news, stories and gossip are easily spread for good or for bad. A single employee, stakeholder or customer can potentially reach millions of people and tell them about your company. If people are going to be talking about your Employment Brand, you must do everything you can to make sure that the message is positive. If potential employees see negative comments about your company, it is going to make them think twice about putting in an application, let alone accepting a job offer. Conversation on Twitter never stops, particularly when it comes to companies and brands. A lot of companies are starting to take notice of this chatter, however their primary focus tends to be on their products or services, whether that’s a customer complaining about their product or customer tweeting about a good experience. What are your current employees tweeting about? Are they talking about you as an employer? Do they sound like they enjoy their job? What are your former employees talking about? How about people you have recently interviewed? Is the chatter positive or negative? As an employer this should be information that you are monitoring and make the best use of to show potential employees what you can offer them. If your company has a good reputation and becomes a place where people aspire to work, it will make your long term recruitment ambitions that much easier. Note that this is long term, there are no quick fixes to attracting the best talent (contractors might disagree with me here). Perhaps you offer staff perks, perhaps you have an amazing work atmosphere, perhaps your location is desirable, perhaps you're a market leader. Whatever your USP is, it needs to be out in the open. Quality talent will not struggle to find work and you want that quality talent to work in your business, don't you? At the risk of stating the obvious, you need to give people reasons to join your company over your competition; and if your employment brand is positive, well known and offers a reason to join you, this will go a long way to helping you recruit that star person.

The war for talent and the importance of brand So let’s set out the facts, unemployment is high. Higher than it has been in a long time and nearing records during my lifetime. Yet companies struggle for the best talent. Why? Simply put there is a skills shortage, regionally, nationally and globally. There is a global war for talent and whether you would like to admit it or not you, as an employer, are in that war. There are more people available for work but less with the skills you want. This is where your brand comes into play. In this 'war for talent' nobody can afford to get left behind and those that do will struggle to keep up with the competition. A strong and positive employment brand will help attract the best talent. People want to be positive, they want to change things, they want to achieve and joining a successful company will help them do this. M! ore so it will help you keep your talent rather than lose it to your rivals. A case in study can be found in California between some of the biggest tech companies in the world; Google, Facebook, Zynga, Twitter et al. Here the lack of talented IT staff has forced salaries to inflate beyond all reasonable recognition and the perks for working at these companies go beyond the comprehensible (fancy a free hair cut?). Money alone will not attract these people. There has been a psychological shift. Many of the best people want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, not work for him. The same applies to the b!est talent in any field of any country. Brand has played a significant role in attracting AND keeping the best talent. To put it into perspective, Microsoft (you've heard of them right?) aren't even considered by the majority of talent in California. Why? Because they're not interesting any more, not sexy and certainly not as well recognised in the world as they once were.

What others think, not what you want. I want to take a quick second to highlight something important. Your brand is what others perceive it to be and not what you want it to be. A lot of companies hire 'experts' in this field to make sure the positive message is going out and listen and react to what is being said about you. This is sales meeting marketing meeting recruitment. Regardless of how good your company is at these things it is ultimately not what you say but what you do as a business that will count. I think it important to stress that everybody is your brand ambassador - customers, employees, former employees, contractors, stakeholders, partners etc. Everybody can potentially help build your brand. One of your employees tweeting about how good the work atmosphere is surely better (and more influential) than you putting a video together about the same subject. If you were a potential employee looking to join, which would you take more seriously?

Reputation "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently" - Warren Buffett I think the above is important to remember, reputation management is a skill that will become ever more important in years to come. Decisions will become based on long term goals as opposed to short term gains. At the risk of not wanting wane from the central topic I thought it prudent to point out how important brand ambassadors can be and what effect they can have.

So what can I do to improve our employment brand? Regrettably this is a question easier asked than answered. That being said there are a number of things that you can do that may aid your long term goals. Firstly engaging with everybody is key; treat everybody as though they were a paying customer of your business, and this applies to everybody within your business. You can also use every tool at your disposal to reach out to the widest audience possible and listen to what they have to say - you might even learn something about your business! Encouraging employees to talk about your business is also important; if your employees speak positively about working for you then others will be drawn in a seemingly magnetic way. Finally build a library of content about your business. Those libraries of pictures from the company picnic, make them public! A guided tour video of the company offices should go down well, especially if there is a positive atmosphere! As discussed earlier you need to define your USP's and market them in the best way possible and get some help from those brand ambassadors as you go. So I've just doubled your workload right? No, it's not complicated or time consuming it's a matter of putting this thought at the centre of every conversation you have. Dedicating even a small amount of time to your Employment Brand will help you in the long term - but as with most revolutionary thoughts only the brave and ambitious will probably take up the challenge.

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