4 Biggest Employer Branding Pitfalls to Avoid

4 Biggest Employer Branding Pitfalls Every HR Leader Should be Aware Of


By Anj Vera

With the changing talent landscape and the evolution of emerging market companies as global giants, it is no wonder that capturing hearts and minds of candidates and employees alike is now a challenge for every HR leader. More and more, employer branding matters. Whether we see it or not, we have our very own employer brand. It’s the perception that everyone has about our company as an employer. There are certainly many ways to shape this perception to our advantage– from creating a positive employee experience to engaging applicants through an informative career website or even setting up a great onboarding program. For too long, many organizations have relied on their consumer brand as a way to showcase ‘who they are’ and over time, this has clearly caused an inconsistent experience for those who view the brand as an outsider and those that view it from within.

While the path to a successful employer brand is not a simple straight line, here are four key pitfalls that every HR leader must be aware of when creating a strategy to guide them in achieving their employer branding goals:

1. Not Having Leadership Buy-In

In the words of leadership guru, John Maxwell, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” Worthwhile initiatives needs the support of the C-suite. Apart from the need for budget, managing the perception of HR as a unit involves adding value to specific business outcomes. This means delivering on metrics such as turnaround time, cost per hire, recruiter promoter score, etc. In the case of employer branding where there are various metrics and touch points around the candidate experience, leadership buy-in is essential for these touch points to work together and establish a cohesive employer brand that delivers results. From creating an informative career website to attracting candidates on social media and even creating a positive interview experience, HR must connect the dots of why each step is critical to get a ‘yes’ from a candidate by first getting a ‘yes’ from its leaders. Having the C-suite champion your employer brand is the short way of saying “we will follow through on the promises we make to our candidates and employees.”

2. Thinking that Employer Branding is just Advertising

Yes, having billboards on main thorough fares that say “We Are Hiring” or “Apply Now” can definitely influence how you are perceived by the job market. The bigger question is– are you reaching the right talents with this ‘spray and pray’ approach? Advertising is part of employer branding but it is not the end all and be all. What matters more is alignment and authenticity; making sure that your marketing collaterals target the right talents and that the promises you make become real when they are hired. Did you showcase a fun work environment in your ad campaign? Is this something an employee will consistently experience when they are onboard? Advertising is essential to attraction but alignment is the turn key to engagement and retention.

3. Not Making It Easy for Brand Ambassadors to Fan the Flames

Here is a harsh reality I’ve observed in the wake of social media– If there is good news, people love to share it. If there is bad news, people love to share it more. We can say the same thing in the world of work in the sense that when employees have a negative experience with their company, they are more likely to share this news with their connections. After all, we don’t always see posts of employees completing a successful project or pictures of them learning from their peers. It is then vital that organizations open up communication channels and develop programs that encourage happy employees to share their stories. Someone once asked me “If we allow them to share content on social media, what will we do if they share something bad about our company?” I threw the question back and said “What is stopping them anyway? Can’t they do that on Facebook right now?” Brand ambassadors are not assigned roles, they are roles employees take upon themselves when they realize they are part of a great company. What then is the evolution of the HR leader? It is the realization that we can increase the internal and external channels of communication for employees to share their stories and attract like-minded individuals.

4. Working on a Traditional HR Set Up

Indeed, there are technologies that HR can utilize to work smarter and get things done faster. From applicant tracking systems to rewards platforms, the options are endless. Even social media has changed the game and has allowed small to medium sized firms to attract the same talent as larger corporations. However, those that reap the rewards of innovation are not simply those who are using new technologies, but those that have adapted new behaviors and structures around them. Technology should not be an addition to the HR set up but rather, a multiplier. Take for example the use of online assessment in the recruitment process: adding this to the existing recruitment process can mean that there is no need for a recruiter to check papers of candidates. This is a time-saver and a clear win. But what if recruiters use online assessment not only to speed up the processing of candidates but also to increase the prediction power of successful candidates, influence the perception candidates have of your company and enhance your ability to analyze people data from an organization level? Not only would you win, you would have changed the game entirely. And the message is precisely that– anything new you bring onto the table, for it to add value and impact your metrics, means you must change your existing structure and the behaviors expected of your team.

To excel at employer branding, remember these pitfalls, avoid them at all costs, and change the game to your advantage by reinforcing the right behaviors in your team. Whether you see it or not, you have an employer brand. Your success is determined by how you shape this perception inside and outside of your organization.


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