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Employer Branding: Fad or Future? The Expert Review

Employer branding featured

Branding building has been part and parcel of the marketing process for years.

Nowadays though, the way we market our companies to candidates is becoming increasingly important. Long gone are the days of top talent beating a path to our door, nowadays the onus is on earning the best candidates’ attention.

Job applications are starting to receive the same scrutiny as any other purchasing decision. In this case, instead of reading reviews on Amazon, applicants are turning to social media and to websites like Glassdoor to get the real scoop on companies.

Everyone wants to know what your company culture is like and how happy your employees are – it’s up to recruiting departments to use employer branding to make sure candidates like what they see.

This can come in many guises. Companies can relay their culture and values through blogging, webinars, and social media to name just a few. What’s important is that they use employer branding to differentiate themselves from competitors, and give candidates a reason to apply.

What’s important is that they use Employer Branding to differentiate themselves from competitors, and give candidates a reason to apply.

Done correctly, this can make an enormous difference to the success of your hiring program.

Is employer branding important? Well, we’re pretty excited about it and it seems that we’re not alone. We spoke to some pretty well-known employer branding experts about it – here’s what they said.

**Matt Buckland**

Matt heads up the talent team at fashion ecommerce platform Lyst and blogs (excellently) at The King’s Shilling. His extensive recruiting career has taken him to multiple countries and ranges from startups to globally recognised brands such as Bloomberg and Facebook.

Matt Buckland TwitterMatt Buckland LinkedIn

“Employer Branding is nothing new. Though you may only now be leaping on the bandwagon you already have an employer brand – it might not be the one you want.

Whilst the discussion of your culture internally may leave you personally feeling warm and fuzzy the addition of new forms of communication, like social media and community platforms, has changed the methods of consumption.

The didactic marketer’s view of a glossy advert that changes hearts and minds is gone, but we’re left with the misplaced notion that we can control the perception of an audience.

Worse still the notion of control falls foul of a reality of fractured media and short attention spans – yet we still see well meaning HR teams at Dog food factories producing a Pinterest board of their table tennis table and calling it “culture” to illustrate how “fun” they are under the label of Employer Branding.

With a fractured audience we need to be mindful to demonstrate those aspects of our culture that will resonate. The consumer brand is not the employer brand – a luxury fashion brand will have no problem in attracting a new buyer but may struggle to engage with the Python Developer it needs.

To acknowledge that the internal culture of an organisation is multi-faceted and realise that its component parts will be of different levels of interest to external consumers of any messaging that is produced is a great first step.

Surrendering the illusionary control and encouraging employees to blog and talk about their work might not be wholly “on message” but will benefit from being authentic and credible. Before leaping into that new company page companies should stop and take stock.

Know who you are trying to communicate with, what channels you will use and what effect you want to have on that audience Better yet, take the time to stop that Youtube upload, curtail that Facebook campaign and take some time to get to know yourself.”

Matt Buckland quote

**William Tincup**

Principal analyst at Key Interval, William Tincup is also one of the main hosts for HRDriveThru Radio, a daily HR podcast. William is one of the leading thinkers on social media application for human resource s, an expert on adoption of HR tec hnology and an excellent blogger.

William Tincup TwitterWilliam Tincup LinkedIn

“When asked the question, what is employer branding? My answer is simple, what’s the feeling you want candidates to have about your brand?

That feeling. That feeling that permeates your organization… 1 part values, 1 part culture, 1 part experiences… in essence, employer brand is your unique scent. How do you convey that scent to someone that has never smelled it before? That’s your employer brand.

When asked what’s the most important thing companies need to know about employer branding? My answer is also quite simple, just tell the fucking truth. Even when it hurts, tell the truth. Probably, especially because it hurts, tell the truth. And when asked to give an employer branding tip? I tell folks to be humble and have a purpose.”

William Tincup quote

Matt Charney

Executive Editor and Head of Content for Recruiting Daily, Matt is a marketing expert. One of the best in the business at creating great content, Matt regularly publishes thoughts and insight into the recruitment industry on his blog Snark Attack.

Matt Charney TwitterMatt Charney LinkedIn

“In recruiting today, it’s not only recruiters who are doing the research. With 85% of job searches starting with a search engine, top talent is searching for a company the same way they would any other purchasing decision – which is why employer branding is so critical.

69% of candidates in a recent survey reported they wouldn’t take a job with a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed; another 84% report they’d consider leaving their current job for a company with a better reputation (and would do so for a raise under 5%).

This means that as a recruiter, you’ve got to be able to market the strengths of your employer brand and develop messaging that will be compelling enough to reach the candidates who you’re targeting while making sure that you stand out from the competition.

Ultimately, better employer branding means higher quality applicants in less time for less money, which is a business case that’s pretty hard to argue with. And that’s the bottom line.”

Matt Charney quote

Greg Savage

Greg has founded numerous successful recruitment companies and is now heavily in-demand as a advisor, speaker and investment. He regularly creates excellent content on his blog The Savage Truth.

Greg Savage TwitterGreg Savage LinkedIn

“In an environment of increasing skills shortages, talent becomes the epicentre of competitive advantage. Traditional sourcing methods will become increasingly ineffective, so a strong employer brand which acts as a magnet to attract skills to your business is the difference between commercial success and irrelevance.

The engagement and tenure of current staff becomes key, as does the ‘candidate experience’ for those who move though your hiring process, and the social media chatter about ‘what it’s like at your place’, must not be underestimated either.”

Greg Savage quote

Kevin Wheeler

Kevin is a well-known consultant and writer on talent–related issues. His articles and blog posts can be found on as well as at Future Talent.

Kevin Wheeler TwitterKevin Wheeler LinkedIn

Who are you? Why would I want to work for you? These are the two questions any potential candidate asks and how they answer them is up to you. If you are a big company with a strong product or service brand, you can probably piggyback off that and create an image that attracts.

But if you are like 99% of all companies – small and mostly not known – then you have to figure out the answers to those 2 questions and vigorously promote those answers in recruiting sites, blogs, and other media. Nothing is more important to attracting the best talent than to make it clear how and why your company is different and why they should work for you.

Kevin Wheeler quote

Steve Boese

Steve is the Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference and Co-Host of the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast (recommended listening).

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If you are Google or McKinsey or the hot Silicon Valley start-up of the moment you probably don’t have to think too much about employer branding much less be too concerned about managing it.

Your reputation as a desirable place to work is known to everyone, you have more interested and qualified candidates than you possibly need, and your existing employees are already bought in to representing and supporting the brand.

For everyone else who is not Google et al, employer branding has in recent years become both an asset for the organization and an opportunity to exploit.

Just like the best marketers make a product desirable in the minds of consumers, HR and recruiting leaders can make your organization a desirable and irresistible employment destination for candidates.

How? By leveraging the tools of great consumer marketers – creating relevant and interesting content about the organization, sharing first-person stories of your star employees, and most of all, by identifying, targeting, and engaging with your optimal candidates.

Employer branding can be the great equalizer in getting your organization noticed, even when most candidates say they just want to work for Google.

Steve Boese quote

Lars Schmidt

Lars Schmidt is the Founder of Amplify Talent, a digital recruiting and talent consultancy.

Lars Schmidt TwitterLars Schmidt LinkedIn

The maturation of employer branding, coupled with the shifting ways candidates and employers are courting each other, is driving recruiting teams to evolve their practices.

It’s vital for corporate recruiting teams to adopt marketing strategies that showcase their organization’s talent/culture.

Lars Schmidt quote

Franz Gilbert

A long time HR Practitioner and great blogger with a focus on International HR, HR Metrics, and Strategic HR studies, Franz Gilbert is one of the best people to come to when you’re trying to work out where the human resources industry is headed.

Franz Gilbert TwitterFranz Gilbert LinkedIn

“Employer Branding is one of the most important elements that is often overlooked, and can be the most overlooked.

For instance, if you think of Cadburys or Hershey’s – you are likely thinking about great chocolate. But when I ask about what do you think about working at Cadbury or Hersheys, you may draw a blank or at least wonder – do you get free chocolate?

This is a great example of how an employer brand can assist in helping applicants decide that your firm is the one that they want to apply to. There are five elements to consider when defining your employer brand, and your brand will always be different than other companies.

1. The Pay and benefits
2. The nature or challenge of the work
3. The Organization
4. The potential for Growth or Advancement
5. The people that someone will work with.

For instance, when Walt Disney first started in California, his original studio was paying 50% less than is competitors, but he was able to attract the best. It wasn’t because of the pay, but rather the opportunity to work with Disney. For your company, which of the five are your selling points?”

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Marvin Smith

Committed to leveraging technology to put the human touch back into recruiting, Marvin works for a Fortune 50 organization (Lockheed Martin) focusing on HR technology (automated recruitment marketing), strategic talent sourcing and creating talent communities for key talent segments.

Marvin Smith TwitterMarvin Smith LinkedIn

> “Today an organization is no longer in control of its brand messages, our customers (target talent) are the ones that define our brand by their experience with us. Because of this “social revolution,” employer or talent branding is a key player of an organization’s talent acquisition messaging strategy. > > The paradigm shift to the talent in control has required some major adjustments by an organization’s employer or talent branding efforts. Traditionally, the employer or talent brand has been about showcasing the organization’s image, reputation, as well as its products and services. > > Today, to be effective, branding messages need to be less about the organization and more about the interests and needs of the target audience. > > It has created an unprecedented transparency into an organizations culture, people and processes as we have moved to a state where “it is not about us, it is about them.” > > Not only are organizations expected to provide an authentic portrayal of what it’s like to work here, Gen Y & Gen Z need to understand how the actual experience gained on the job will benefit their career. > > I am reminded of the old adage, I would rather “see a sermon than listen to one” summarizes the current approach to employer branding. In other words, rather than to listen to the eloquent narrative of the corporate communications machine, potential employees would rather see an organization walk their talk. Can I get an Amen?”

Marvin Smith quote

Miles Jennings

Miles Jennings is founder and CEO of, a startup that helps make hiring easier and more cost effective. Job seekers can discover new opportunities while currently employed. Miles has over a decade in the the online recruitment space.

Miles Jennings TwitterMiles Jennings LinkedIn

“It’s easy to view employer branding as yet another iteration of marketing/PR spin. However, smart employers develop their employer brand to hone and articulate their workplace culture and company values.

Your employer brand isn’t meant to “trick” people into joining your company – it’s the expression and declaration of exactly what is good about your company.

At best, your employer brand shows how your company brings it’s values and mission into practice. It’s much more than a campaign; it’s the proof of your culture and worth. Treat your employment brand as one of the most important aspects of your business value.”

Miles Jennings Quote

Kevin Grossman

Kevin W. Grossman is the Recruiting Product Marketing Director at PeopleFluent and a certified Talent Acquisition Strategist (TAS) and Human Capital Strategist (HCS) by HCI. Kevin also co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro.

Kevin Grossman TwitterKevin Grossman LinkedIn

“Oh, how the tables have turned: today’s sought-after job seekers are more informed than ever, driving the need for employers to provide relevant content that just doesn’t get their attention, but that engages and even inspires.

Post-and-pray, text-based recruitment marketing leads to too many unqualified applicants, and a company’s employer brand (which is and should be synonymous with their corporate marketing brand) and job-specific marketing must target who they want (and why), while driving influence and qualified candidates to the tipping point of action.

Creating job-specific video content showing the hiring manager, potential colleagues, day-in-the-life showcases and/or office locations will better reflect the true work experience and help drive this influence. It’s no longer enough to have a competitive advantage.

Employer branded and job-specific video content will give companies an unfair advantage, improving their speed and quality of hire.”

Kevin Grossman quote

Todd Raphael

Todd is Editor-in-Chief of ERE Media, home to some of the best recruitment writing on the web. Charged with controlling content management, he’s the perfect person to consult on the influence of marketing on recruitment.

Todd Raphael TwitterTodd Raphael LinkedIn

“Employer branding is both underused and overused. First the under usage. When I look at corporate career sites and other recruitment marketing, I’m surprised how few companies have a really good message that captures the essence of the company’s mission and why working there and being a part of that is exciting.

Now, having said that, let me get to the “overused” part. I’ve read a lot of blog posts, and seen a lot of conference sessions, that seem to suggest that an individual should want to work at a company because of its brand — that they should be passionate about the company first and foremost, and the most bubbly and faux-enthusiastic person wins the job.

Actually, I think most people in the end take jobs ultimately because of the hours, pay, commute, health benefits, chance to grow, coolness/prestige, and other personal factors – and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Todd Raphael quote

Jennifer Newbill

Jennifer  is Senior Manager for Talent at Dell. Her team supports monitoring and educating teams on Dell’s employment brand performance, social media strategy and technology that enables Dell Recruiters to seamlessly source and recruit talent.

Jennifer Newbill TwitterJennifer Newbill LinkedIn

“How your employees perceive your company can impact both their engagement and motivation and that can ultimately affect overall company performance.

How your company is perceived externally works the same way: what followers believe about your company culture can impact whether they want to work for you as well as their purchasing decisions of your products and services.”

Jennifer Newbill quote

Bob Marshall

Bob has been at the forefront of Digital Business for more than twenty years. He has deep technical knowledge combined with unparalleled understanding of the dynamics of social groups in the workplace, and extensive experience in helping people realise their true potential.

Bob Marshall TwitterBob Mashall LinkedIn

“Employer branding: Many companies believe they are in a war for talent. And yes, talent can make a real difference. But there’s no shortage of great talent. Only a shortage of companies that great talent wants to work for.

Companies that stand out from the herd in looking attractive to talent can find and keep good people with ease. Do you know what things talent finds attractive?”

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Jeffrey Fermin

Jeffrey Fermin runs marketing for performance feedback platform WIRL. He’s a canny entrepreneur and a has some interesting thoughts on branding's role within recruitment.

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“Employer branding is important now more than ever. A lot more companies are capitalizing off outlets online and off to show what the culture of the company is like.

It feels as if a company’s beliefs and mission are becoming just as vital as how profitable it is, and the products and/or services they sell. And having a great brand along with a great mission goes hand in hand with pertaining creating happy employees, and as research has come to show, happy employees generate happy profits.

So never overlook your company’s brand, as it is an extension of the culture and the people who are employed there.”

Jeff Fermin quote

Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads]( Red Branch Media, has appeared in Inc., Forbes, Wired, Entrepreneur and represents HCM clients on almost every continent.

Maren Hogan TwitterMaren Hogan LinkedIn

Have you taken the time to determine what your values and core mission are (beyond what you scribbled out when you first started the company and dollars were flying in?) If not, take the time to crystallize those.

While it seems like a fluff exercise, it’s imperative to increase your cultural standing in the community and to ensure you are retaining the people you spend so much time hiring. Think of it as drawing your “lines” in the sand.

This will start with formally educating the people in the company as to who you are, what you stand for, what you are actively/aggressively seeking out and what you will not stand for in an employee, environment, client etc.

What results from this can be added to the website, into job descriptions, proposals, contracts and even referred to when interacting on the phone or social media. But employer branding extends far beyond the what you agree upon internally and the image you project to prospects.

It also must include a serious look at competitive compensation, rewards and recognition and the succession plans within your clients and your own firm.

If you look seriously at your referral programs, your compensation programs and the ability to succeed and flourish in your company, can you honestly say it’s grown to be competitive with the other players in the industry? Does it need adjustment to be fair to those beyond the executive levels within your ranks?

Maren Hogan quote

Cindy Cloud

Cindy Cloud uses her unique mix of creative, analytical and execution talents to develop marketing strategies that get results. After 15+ years working across the entire marketing life-cycle, she now focuses her in-depth marketing communication skills on employer branding.

Cindy Cloud TwitterCindy Cloud LinkedIn

“I don’t think anyone within corporate talent acquisition would dispute that employer branding has an impact on their short and long term hiring goals.

However, I do think that most of the clamor on employer branding over the last few years has failed to take into account that it is a companies culture that is at the very heart of its employer brand.

With that said, it becomes exceedingly important for companies to be transparent with the outside world about the reality of its workplace culture – and the most authentic way that can be done is to include their current employees’ voice across all of their employer branding activities”

Cindy Cloud quote

David Kippen

David Kippen  is CEO of Evviva Brands, the brand shop for people brands. He has conducted talent market research in more than 35 countries and developed employer brands for many of the world’s best-known technology, energy and financial service brands

David Kippen TwitterDavid Kippen LinkedIn

“Over the past ten years I’ve had the privilege of speaking with people in more than 40 countries about work and working. Our conversations have always been in the service of developing employer brands, but the employer brand has never been the topic of our conversations. They’re always about “what it means to work here.”

A good employer brand takes conversations like those and distills it down even further. It answers questions like, “what’s truly unique about working here?” “What kind of people work here?” And sometimes, “exactly what is it that people do here?

A great employer brand goes further. It connects, people, passion and purpose. It does this by describing something honest and true at the intersection between what people do, the company’s purpose, and what the company uniquely enables. And when it has that message in the crosshairs, it aligns the organization around it: one message, one voice, inside and out.”

David Kippen quote

Tony Restell

Founder of Social-Hire and a widely renowned social media expert, Tony is the first port-of-call for any recruiters unsure of how to manage their social recruitment strategy. He has a firm grasp of the importance of marketing to the recruitment industry.

Tony Restell TwitterTony Restell LinkedIn

“With the right Employer Branding, companies today have the potential to ramp up the effectiveness of their whole recruiting cycle. Passive candidates can come to know of your organisation and the seeds can be sown for why they should consider joining you.

Both passive and active candidates can be positively influenced to want to join your company, so that when they are approached with a role – or see one advertised – the likelihood of them putting themselves forward is greatly increased.

The benefits flow right through the hiring process – a lower probability of candidate drop out during the interview stages; a higher probability of them accepting resulting job offers; plus a greater likelihood that the realities of the role and the company will dovetail with a candidate’s expectations, thus boosting the average length of tenure.

One of the most exciting aspects of social media is the way it has empowered companies to build themselves a pervasive and far-reaching employer brand – often out of all proportion to the size of the company. Want to be the employer of choice for specific skillsets in your local market?

Effective Employer Branding can help you to reach that lofty goal. Companies investing in a strong employer brand we can expect to see reaping the rewards of this for many many years to come, with competitors stuck in the rut of playing catch-up. If you’ve not prioritised investment in your employer brand, start talking to those who can help you with this today.”

Tony Restell quote

**Andy Headworth**

Head of Sirona Consulting, Andy Headworth is also the author of the new book, Social Media Recruitment – How to successfully integrate social media into recruitment strategy, published by Kogan Page on the 3rd of May 2015.

Andy Headworth TwitterAndy Headworth LinkedIn

The employer brand has become a very important area for employers, given the transparent and viral nature of social media. Whether you like it or not, your brand is potentially exposed 24/7 across all the social channels, even if you do not actually have a presence on them.

With the ever-present skills shortages, having a good employer brand (perceived or real) is crucial for a company to enable them to attract, hire and retain the talent they need.

Andy Headworth quote

Chrissy Thornhill

Chrissy Thornhill is an employer branding professional with 8 years experience specializing in talent acquisition, with additional focus on marketing, corporate communications, and social media. Currently the Global Employer Brand Manager at Salesforce, she specializes in targeted recruiting campaigns, brand reputation, and digital media.

Chrissy Glover TwitterChrissy Glover LinkedIn

> “Before the emergence of internet and social media, companies were able to create their own story and brand themselves accordingly. After the emergence of online transparency, employees own those stories & tell them as they see fit – sometimes in a negative light. Because of this, employer branding is more important than ever before. > > Companies should seize the opportunity to listen respectfully, offer a different perspective, and make honest changes when necessary. A well monitored employer brand often has the answers CEOs and HR leaders need to move their company forward.”

Chrissy Glover quote

Dustin Carper

Dustin is a recruiter-turned-employment-brand-strategist-turned-digital-strategist who wants to help all companies show, and not just tell, what it’s like to work for them.

Dustin Carper TwitterDustin Carper LinkedIn

Employment branding to me is all about respect. First off, respect potential candidates enough let them make their own decision on whether your company is a good place to work. Through being transparent (BUZZ WORD) and simply showing how your company operates, you are giving them enough information to make that choice.

Your company isn’t the best place to work for all types of people, so stop marketing it that way. Some people will embrace the challenges of working for you and some will freak out. Guess which one you should hire?

Branding is just as much about filling the funnel as it is about narrowing it…or at least it should be. Secondly, have respect for your candidates to treat them well and let them know what’s going on.

Creating a good candidate experience is potentially the cheapest way to spread good word-of-mouth about your employer brand, and definitely the easiest way to ruin it.

Dustin Carper

Jon Ingham

Jon Ingham is an HR strategist who helps organisations respond to the accelerating changes in the world of work, transforming their approaches to talent management and organisation development often by combining the power of innovative thinking with new technology.

Jon Ingham TwitterJon Ingham LinkedIn

Employer branding has always been central to effective recruitment and ongoing engagement but is becoming even more critical today. In my view you simply can’t do something like social recruiting well unless you’ve got a clear, consistent employer brand that helps inform and shape your communication.

The issue is that just as it’s becoming more critical it is becoming more difficult as well. Socially connected employees and candidates make their own minds up about organisations now, so it’s even more critical to use the employer brand to shape the way an organisation works (real behaviours rather than just intended.)

Jon Ingham quote

Steve Burton

Steve Burton is the VP of marketing at Glassdoor, the jobs and recruiting marketplace helping people everywhere find a job and company they love.

Steve Burton LinkedIn

Employer branding is so critical these days that even CEOs are paying attention. Why? Because a company can’t grow or compete without people, it’s really that simple.

An employer brand is the one opportunity employers get to convince job seekers that they’re unique and different before they look at jobs with the competition.

The scary thing is that employers don’t own their employer brand these days because it’s already being shaped by social media and online communities. Employers need to influence their employer brand and be part of the conversation wherever that is, rather than define it on their own website and hope job seekers visit.

Take, for example, Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow who recently tweeted the following:

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 09.52.11

A CEO taking time out of his busy day to respond to employee reviews on Glassdoor not only says a lot about the CEO and company culture in question, but about the importance of joining the conversation happening about your company online.

Your employer brand is something your entire organization should value, embody and practice. It starts with top executives as they play a critical role in lending authenticity and credibility to your employer brand and should be a part of the voice that makes it up.

My biggest advice to companies looking to improve their employer brands is to get CEOs involved. Where do they begin? By taking just a few minutes to respond to their own employee’s reviews on Glassdoor.

Steve Burton quote

**Cyndy Trivella**

An employer branding and HR communications expert, Cyndy is the marketing manager at Smartsearch and events director at TalentCulture. A big advocate of employer branding, she has a great vision of how hiring might look in the future.

Cyndy Trivella TwitterCyndy Trivella LinkedIn

“Employer branding is the foundation for all hiring, retention and diversity initiatives; candidate attraction campaigns; referral programs; employee engagement efforts; as well where employment “good will” sits. Without this foundation, these assets would fail miserably.”

Cyndy Trivella Quote

So there we go, quite a ride! Hopefully you've taken our expert's advice to heart and are already formulating great ideas to supercharge your Employer Brand.

If you're not sure which step to take first, we've created a new Ebook stuffed full of everything you need to create and promote an awesome brand!

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