Employer Branding: Five Experts Explain How to Stand Out From the Competition

Differentiate your employer branding from your hiring competition

If you look at the array of solutions available to employers today, then it would seem that it’s never been easier for employee-experience storytellers to get your employer brand out there. With easy access to video, multiple social media channels, sophisticated third-party review sites, live events and employee advocacy, well — there are just so many ways to get your story in front of potential candidates.

But there’s a flipside. The increase in channels has led to an increase in the sheer volume of stuff out there, with a corresponding decrease in the ratio of signal to noise. And sometimes employers can put tools in front of strategy and just start shoving content out there on the interwebs in the hope that something — anything — will stick. The result? An onslaught of cliches: a hashtag here, a (gasp!) stock photo of happy employees there: ”Hey, check out our cool ping-pong table!”

It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially when you’re under pressure and doing a lot of other things at the same time. But the truth is, when everybody is broadcasting the same clichés over the same channels all the time, it all starts to merge together into what I like to call Employer Blanding.

So how can you make sure that your stories and messages really stick out and resonate with candidates and that they truly differentiate your company from your hiring competition? To find out how industry leaders tackle this problem, I recently chatted with employer brand leaders at Delta Air Lines, T-Mobile, HomeAway, Banfield Pet Hospital and the consulting firm Proactive Talent to get their take. Here are a few of their secrets.

Speed and personalization can make all the difference

Holland McCue, Head of Global Employer Branding at Delta Air Lines

Speed and personalization are the one-two punch for employers to break through clichés and noise from the competition. Candidates don’t want to know why your company is a great place to work; they want to understand why the company is a great place to work for them.  

Employers need to drill into their workforce plans and begin building marketing strategies around the three C’s: Candidate + Channel + Content. Once employers determine the talent they need, they then need to figure out which channels are best to reach them through and what content is going to play best for that channel, and then deliver it in a personalized way.

Employers also need to move fast. It’s largely a candidate’s market, so speed is going to win. Focus on things that will enable your recruiters to process candidates more quickly — chatbots for FAQs, expression-of-interest forms versus full applications, assessment partners to augment selection for high-volume roles and even removing the requirement of a degree for positions that don’t require one.

Use more precise positioning to stand out

James Ellis, Podcaster and Lead Employer Brand Consultant, Proactive Talent

I’ve never heard that term, but I understood it instinctively. I would say that when I was at Groupon we countered it with more precise positioning.

That is, if we say we’re all about letting people make an impact, we compare that to massive companies where it’s rare for an individual to make an impact. In all honesty, someone could make more of an impact if they owned their own business or worked in a five-person startup, but they wouldn’t have access to the resources we do. So the focus is on who we are compared to others to make a more clear differentiation.

Promote your competitive advantages

Allison Dunsmore, Senior Specialist Employer Branding at Banfield Pet Hospital

There isn’t anyone quite like us in the veterinary medicine space. Due to our size and scale, we’re able to simply offer our associates more. Focusing on benefits, financial resources and developmental opportunities differentiates us from the competition.

When you’re with Banfield, your career path is whatever you want it to be, from practicing high-quality medicine to mentoring new veterinary graduates or impacting anesthesia protocols. The opportunities are endless, and I don’t think our competitors can say the same for their practices. 

Authenticity is crucial to making an impact on candidates

Noelle Holdsworth, Employer Brand Manager at T-Mobile

We are always looking for ways to push past ordinary in regard to our employer brand and recruitment marketing approach. We want our audience to engage with us and leave with an un-carrier experience, whether or not they become candidates.

We authentically showcase who we are through our various channels so that potential candidates can judge whether they’d thrive as part of our team; this is why we make sure to use real employees in our imagery and why we place a very strong emphasis on #BeYou and individuality. At the end of the day it all comes back to being experience-obsessed and knowing traditional recruitment messaging and branding don’t match who we are.

We want you to feel something when you interact with us, whether it be a job posting, ad banner or social post. We want our audience to know that, not only are we all in for our customers, but we’re all in for one another, and we’re looking for individuals who want to make an impact and change things for the better.

Highlight what makes you truly unique

Tiffany Lee, Global Talent Brand Manager at HomeAway

You know, HomeAway is a pretty unique place to be, which makes it easier. And every team has its nuances — we tease those out to tell the story. Sure, we’re part of Expedia Group, and that is compelling in itself, but people really want to know what it’s like here and what impact their work will make. When you think about how you’re helping people take the best vacations of their lives — well, you can sleep well at night knowing that.

Also, we’re an ecommerce marketplace, and Expedia group is interesting because we aren’t retail (Amazon) or information (Google) or social (Facebook). We’re everything travel, literally. You can book a flight, accommodations, attractions and cars from Expedia.com, all online, all secure. 

HomeAway also makes it easy for owners and property managers to list their home and manage bookings. By continually investing in new technologies and products, we provide owners and managers with the tools, data and insights they need to be successful.  Every day, HomeAway employees, property owners and managers put their whole heart into everything they do, helping travelers genuinely connect with the ones they love and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Bryan Chaney is Director of Employer Brand at Indeed. This is part two of a series. Read part one to learn best practices for content creation and curation.

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