by Karin Bonev

April 25, 2016

Finding and retaining the right talent is especially difficult in today’s tight labor market. A recent report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted that late 2015 was the most difficult hiring period in four years. As organizations try to differentiate themselves, there is a greater focus on employer brand.

So, what exactly is an employer brand? Well, it’s not a foosball table in the lunch room or yoga classes before work. It’s also not a one-off recruiting campaign or employee-generated video. Check out Twitter’s spoof for a chuckle. An employer brand is the unique experience of working for an organization – its culture, benefits, leadership, typical employee attributes and various intangibles, all rolled into one.

And here’s the thing. Every organization has an employer brand. Your employees know it. The candidates you are recruiting are researching it. But does your organization know what it is?

Here are five steps to help your organization identify its unique employer brand:

1. Review existing communications materials for both recruiting and internal communications,including print, online and in-person.

What are the key messages? What do the materials look like? Do they change once a candidate has been hired?

2. Review existing data from recruiting interviews, employee engagement and communications surveys, exit interviews, etc.

What are the common themes? Are there any big differences?

3. Check out your company’s Glassdoor site and other social networking sites.

What are current and prospective employees saying? How have reviews and comments changed over time? Do any big issues emerge?

4. Connect with HR and marketing.

How do they view your organization’s employer brand, and how does that tie in with the overall brand? Employer branding requires a cross-functional team, so getting these folks on board early will be important.

5. Compare current state with future state.

Organizations constantly evolve, and it’s important to think about what your organization is headed and what you may need from employees in the future. How does your current employer brand fare against a potential future employer brand? Should you make your employer brand more forward thinking?

A few words of advice before you begin: As you move through the process, think about your employer brand from every aspect of the “employee life cycle.” What do potential candidates experience as they start their search? Then consider a candidate who is actively interviewing for a specific role, a newly hired employee, an employee with a few years of experience and your seasoned veterans who have been with the company for the long haul.

I’ll post another blog soon about how to effectively articulate your organization’s employer brand. In the meantime, please send me an email if you have questions or comments on this employer brand topic.