Talent attraction through branding
Attracting the right people to your business relies on being perceived as an employer of choice – especially at the executive level. The top talent is always in high demand, irrespective of economic conditions. But when the outlook is perceived as uncertain, it takes a more sustained commitment from organisations to convey their employer proposition to prospective new business leaders and functional specialists. Professionals with experience in a specialised industry sector or a proven track record of transformation and change, for example, are well aware of their market value and used to proactive approaches from search specialists and potential new employers. In a tricky climate or difficult operating conditions, the requirement for new hires is to make an immediate difference – whether that be to the bottom line, transformation agenda or business strategy. Those top-notch candidates with the requisite experience know that they’re sought after to add value, and quickly, so will always ask, “what’s in it for me?” [Top talent is always in high demand ...] Remuneration, rewards and the ability to influence all play a big part in the answer to that question – but so does the perception of the organisation, how it stacks up against the competition, potential for growth and organisational culture. The opportunities for earning and career development, in tandem with the perception of the business in a professional context all merge to form the employer brand, and it’s something that requires attention when attracting key leaders.
Employer branding – who plays a part? Unless a business is a brand new start-up, they’re likely to have an existing reputation as an employer – whether this is intentional or not. Given that potential new employees make decisions about joining based on this impression, it pays to define a strategy to make sure the right (and real) messages are being heard. Defining and implementing employer branding strategies is usually the remit of the human resources department, in conjunction with marketing and communications and increasingly senior business leadership. A full employer branding strategy is complex, with the need for stakeholder agreement, set deliverables and success measurement but here are some of the basics to bear in mind, as there’s no doubt that a good perception of employer brand is essential in the process of attracting (and retaining) top executive talent. Employer branding to appeal to the execs – six top tips
1. Find out who you are: Before embarking on any active branding strategy, it’s essential to determine if you’re considered an employer of choice by your existing leadership team. Current and previous employees are your greatest brand ambassadors, and if they’re not conveying a positive message, it’s important to find out why not. Employee satisfaction surveys and monitoring reviews of your organisation online are useful ways to get a feel for the perception of the company amongst your staff. Providing an open forum for comment amongst senior management could also help to gauge sentiment.
2. Define culture and aims: What is it that keeps your employees engaged and differentiates you from your competitors? The answers should provide the reasons why people would want to work for you. It may be your environment of continual improvement with enviable training opportunities, or simply a friendly, collaborative atmosphere. Only when you’ve got a grip on who you are and what makes you different will you be able to communicate this to a wider audience.
3. Consistent messaging to different audiences: The experience of your brand you impart to graduates will obviously differ to that at director-level, so segment your audience and speak to them as groups. Make sure the tone and message that you’re conveying to the leadership/specialist end of the market is at the appropriate level and sufficiently detailed, while adhering to the over-arching aims and purpose of the organisation. Most importantly, make sure that everyone involved in conveying your employer brand is informed of the right information to do so.
4. Leaders buy leaders: People want to work with others who’re considered leaders – not just as ‘heads of’ departments or functions, but true leaders who define new parameters and encourage change. Promote the capability of your existing leadership team with examples of their innovation and how your culture and environment fosters this sort of talent. If you’re looking to up-skill or improve an area of the business, the focus should be on opportunities to affect chance and shift culture.
5. Pay attention to your online presence: “59% of companies leverage their career website for communicating their employer brand” and “44% of companies use social media to enhance their employer brand” according to research released by Employer Brand International in October 2011. While the online/social medium may differ according to the level of employee being targeted, it’s likely that online interaction will influence brand perception – whether that’s the relevancy of information included on the corporate website, the research and insight that an organisation releases, or simply the LinkedIn profiles of the leadership team.
6. Back to basics: Brand perception is an on-going process that can shift according to circumstance or situation. While there may be a positive impression during the initial awareness phase of research online or through networks, a poor interview experience (lack of feedback, delays) could negatively influence initial good perceptions. Make sure that all interactions with your brand are consistent and accurate – whether it’s your online presence, leadership team, HR etc. “Although crucial for candidate attraction, ensuring positive employer branding also plays a big part in the engagement and ongoing retention of your top talent. Candidates who turn into employees have done so, in part, because of their positive experience of your brand,” said Simon Bell, MD of Page Executive in the UK. For a more detailed conversation about the role your employer brand has in executive-level talent attraction, please get in touch with your local Page Executive team.