Employer Branding: Hire a damn professional.

Holland Dombeck McCue Business Development, Don't Feed the Vendors, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, Holland Dombeck

A quick Google search on employment branding generates over 2.8M results that can more or less be lumped into three groups:

  • HR pundits, thought leaders if you will, griping about the exhaustion of the topic.
  • Blogs, whitepapers and landing pages from vendors and agencies trying to get a slice.
  • Forums with questions from practitioners still really just not sure where to start.

For the purpose of this post I’m going to ignore the first group. You’re jaded. I get it.

Instead, I’m going to focus my attention on the people who are faced with defining EVP and delivering a competitive recruitment strategy for their organization and still aren’t really sure where to start…

Step 1: Secure budget dollars to employ a professional agency or consultant to help you with the heavy lifting.

Step 2: If you’re not an expert, hire or assign someone with experience in this arena and solid project management skills on your team to lead your EB strategy and carry out a road map when your agency engagement ends.

Step 3: Hold the tactics—career site, social media profiles, videos, witty attempts to make your organization look cooler than it is because that’s what you think you should do—until you do some hard research (both internal and external) and have a firm strategy that warrants those tactics.

Step 4: Engage your marketing and product strategy team early and often, as your ultimate message should marry your consumer brand.

Step 5: Always act with intention. Have a plan. Track and measure your progress.

Fairly straightforward, right? Let’s breakdown Step 1 today:

When and why should you hire a professional?

Hire a professional when no formal EVP work has ever been performed for your organization.

Hire a professional if your current strategy is failing and you are hemorrhaging great talent.

Hire a professional if your CPH is high and the talent you are attracting is lack luster at best.

Regardless of the size of your organization, only a neutral third party can solicit honest, non-biased reactions from employees and other stakeholders during the research process. Agencies also pack a large research toolbox to perform a detailed competitive analysis inclusive of those companies that you are competing with for talent–by location and industry. With turnover rates expecting to increase by over 25 percent in 2014, employing a professional will help you craft a strategic vs. reactive plan for attracting and retaining the right talent.

How do I find the partner right for my organization?

One of the easiest ways to select an agency is to perform a baseline audit of some of the companies that you feel have done a standout job communicating their value as an employer.

Next, do some leg work and find out who was responsible for their strategy. If they’re not a direct competitor, I promise they will talk to you. They’re proud of their work—and should be.

You know, network… Then straight up ask them for an agency referral.

Do this 3 or 4 times until you have some potential partners you’d like to vet. (Oh, and confirm they do comprehensive research that is both internal and external.)

What should their process look like?

While each agency has their own secret sauce, you should be looking for a partner to deliver on a relatively core platform like this one from Tonic:

  1. Understand the expectations of career-seekers via market research. Benchmark [your] company against recruitment competitors.
  2. Decide your brand position in the recruitment market, and ensure that it’s differentiated.
  3. Plan your communication by identifying the right channels and creating the right messages per channel. Create impact by being a good storyteller.
  4. Act – deploy your communication to your target group, measure your progress and recruit.

Securing the funds.

Do you currently work with an RPO? Do they have a employer branding arm as part of their services mix? RPOs make great partners as they already have skin in your recruiting game. Leverage your current contract to carve out some EB funds.

Drop dead-weight job boards and reallocate those dollars to developing a strategy that actually produces for you. You are measuring the ROI on your boards… right?

Evoke your inner salesman and take your pitch to leadership. Recruiting = selling/marketing, after all.

When it comes to your employer brand, do what you gotta do to hire a damn professional.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?