How To Build A Solid Brand That Attracts Top Talent?

It is very difficult to find the perfect candidate whose potential, engagement, and effectiveness would match. These are so-called “unicorn candidates” who are unlikely to be found in real life. In 2018, surveys showed that nearly 75% of employers can’t find the right candidates for job openings. According to Gartner, this mismatch is due to a low rate of readiness for new and future business challenges. Only 16% of candidates have all the necessary skills to quickly fit into the company and grow in their position. What should companies do in such a case? Should they spend resources on a more thorough selection process? Or look for strong and trained professionals? Or build a solid brand that attracts top talent? This is what we will discuss in this article.

What is better: talent attraction or recruiting?

This question should be asked first when companies want to approach candidate selection with trends and common sense. Recruiting is primarily a short-term strategy to find qualified talent for a particular role. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a long-term perspective for building a thoughtful HR strategy to find candidates who are the best fit for the company.

Talent attraction is a long-term set of HR strategies designed to address a company’s challenges and needs by attracting top talent and convincing them to bring their invaluable expertise to the company.

To be successful in attracting talent, you need to start by understanding exactly what kind of candidate you need. Answer questions about what needs and challenges the company has right now, and what skills would help sort them out. Highlight the competencies you want to see in a newcomer. That way, you’ll attract candidates who are close to your mission from the start. You will successfully launch recruiting strategies.

The second step is building your employer’s brand. After all, how else are you going to attract top talent, and even convince them to share their valuable expertise?

The relationship between employer brand and talent acquisition

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The employer brand is a critical milestone in building a successful talent acquisition strategy. In 2017, LinkedIn raised the hype around this topic by releasing the Talent Trends Survey. 80% of talent managers (note, we’re not talking about recruiters) believed even then that the employer brand had a big impact on hiring outstanding candidates. 

So what is an employer brand and why do they pay attention to it?

When talented candidates compare companies, they choose the one with the best values, culture, and work-life balance. Brand manifests itself in how the company is seen in the marketplace by current and potential employees. It encompasses the values, mission, culture, and work environment that the employer communicates through every possible channel, backing up the words with the employee experience.

Why talent attraction strategies are needed?

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Building a brand to attract talent can be seen as one strategy. But why do you need a strategy at all when it’s pretty clear: all you need is to think ahead, maintain your reputation and talk about yourself. There are several advantages to choosing specific strategies for attracting talent:

  1. Improved hiring quality.

40% of hiring and recruiting managers consider hiring quality their top priority. But the concept of “quality” can be difficult to define. Sometimes the term is referred to as “new employee productivity”. A talent acquisition strategy helps find newcomers who match the company’s goals and vision. Their performance from the start is higher than that of others. This is high-quality hiring.

  1. Making the hiring process more efficient.

A talent acquisition strategy means that the company no longer needs to spend expensive time searching for candidates on short notice to close a burning vacancy. Short hiring times lead to higher recruiting costs and can lead to hiring errors that cost the company far more than a moderate candidate search timeframe. Strategic talent acquisition prevents such critical situations and controls costs through planning.

  1. Preparing for future success

Finally, if you align candidates with the company’s strategic goals, you ensure you have the right team to succeed. You also ensure you meet current and future objectives, strengthen the company’s brand and maintain a mentoring culture of communication and performance from day one.

Where does brand building begin?

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Even if your company does not have Talent Management yet, but you want to build talent attraction and brand, start with the value proposition. A company’s value proposition is 6 key components that help attract, motivate, and, as a result, retain valuable employees. The value proposition includes:

  • Compensation (salary, and everything that goes along with it – especially pay transparency).
  • Benefits (the same material “perks”, but with the consideration of support in difficult situations, physical and mental health care, corporate events, etc).
  • Achievements (this includes values of the company, its mission, reputation, image, and respect as an employer in the labor market).
  • Management (strong line manager or team support, feedback culture and understanding of one’s place and role, enhanced collaborationteam communication, and leadership).
  • Development (challenges and opportunities, professional training fees, personal and career development).
  • Life/work balance (atmosphere, the flexibility of schedule, ability to work remotely, providing what you need, security).

How to build a brand that attracts top talent?

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If a company does not build an external HR brand itself, others will do it for it. For example, employees or competitors. They will deliver to the market the messages they see fit. It is not certain that this information will correspond to the image that the brand draws of itself. Therefore, it is better to take the process into your own hands.

In many companies, the employees who develop employer branding are not taken seriously. They are often called “people with balloons” or “three-person who sit in a room and do something”. Therefore it is important to involve all stakeholders in the process and explain to them that building the employer brand is your common task.

Next, you need to do research – figure out what’s going on internally and how the employer brand is perceived by your employees. To do this, you can:

  • Talk to managers and key employees of the company
  • Monitor feedback from candidates on social networks and job websites, or through HR application
  • Interview candidates who were considering you as an employer, but who have changed their minds and have not accepted your offer.

By comparing the data, you’ll find out what the employer brand looks like now, how it has changed compared to past surveys, and what you need to work on.

Does the value proposition affect brand building?

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Through a clear value proposition, the talent is already undergoing some screening. This is because value proposition the candidate can find in the company’s official communication channels, network, and review websites. He or she assesses whether the vision and opportunities are right for him or her. As a result, the business gets the most loyal and engaged employees possible.

The pandemic has only heightened the need for brand-building before talent acquisition strategies begin to take shape. According to Glassdoor, organizations with a strong employer brand attract talent 250% better.

How to know if an employer brand is successful?

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The employer brand is not born out of a national award or being recognized in the professional community. The brand is what your employee tells his or her family when he or she comes home from work.

The employer brand is formed when friends meet at a bar and tell each other about their work. If you’re praised in the expert community, that’s fine, but you attract a small target audience there. And what people say about you to each other is a real brand.

To determine the success of your employer brand, analyze two things:

  1. Cost per candidate. How much money did you spend to attract a new employee to the company? The result should be significant, but the budgets should be within reason.
  2. How many people in the company think that HR branding is their business? It is not only “one girl” who should develop the employer branding, but all employees. The more people understand this, the more successful the employer brand will be.

Before building your employer brand, ask yourself why you need it, and what you want to achieve with it. Record your thoughts and see if everyone agrees. If not, we won’t get the proper effect from it.

How the founder of the company affects the employer’s brand?

The face of a company is the person who leads it. We say Bezos and we mean Amazon, we say Musk and we mean Tesla. The CEO’s personality affects not only values and corporate culture but also the speed of decision-making in the company. 

In the modern world speed is one of the key priorities. The person who makes decisions quickly and boldly wins. In employer branding a lot depends on speed: if you don’t have time, a competitor will hire a specialist.

Mistakes when building an employer brand

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There are 5 main problems when building a brand in 2022:

  • Promise more than you can give. When recruiting people, don’t have short-term goals: “Let’s close the position, meet the plan, and life will get better”. Tell candidates the truth. Otherwise, they will come in, be disappointed, and leave negative feedback about you. And then you have to work with it.
  • It’s weak to position employer branding internally. It is important to build a dialogue with the key people in the company, to understand what they expect from you, and help correct the expectations if you do not agree with them. You need to hold regular educational events for management so that they stay on the same page with you.  
  • Think that a big budget will solve all problems. You can’t buy everyone in the marketplace. Your job is to find an approach for each candidate and the tools to help you do that.
  • Do employer branding periodically. This is when you launch rockets into space and only after one of them falls do you realize that you need to do something about your reputation. This is wrong. Employer branding has to be done systematically. It’s a long and ongoing process. You need to keep up with changes in the field and incorporate them into your brand.
  • Exalt the form over the meaning. We need to understand trends, but not rush to implement everything fashionable. When forms override meanings, it’s a crime.

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