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HR must learn from marketing to improve employer brand

  • 4 Min Read

Employer brand is critical to finding the right talent for your business – but HR doesn’t always get it right. How can HR learn from their colleagues in marketing to save their talent strategy?

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Many years ago, I worked for a company that outsourced their employer brand to an advertising agency (out of state) that specialized in recruitment advertising. I always felt it was a bit odd to have an outside agency (especially when we had an internal marketing department) who wasn’t located in our state or city helping us to promote who we were as an employer. I also found it odd that the employer brand wasn’t completely aligned with the consumer brand. When I would ask, I would get some half-hearted answers about it being more “economical” or that marketing didn’t have time.

But then, marketing and HR haven’t always gotten along. Most times, the only time we as recruiters heard from marketing was for the marketing representative to complain that we were using the wrong color scheme or approved fonts.

At my next employer, our senior-level HR leader had come from marketing. And here still, no one had made the connection that it’s better to have one brand, not two. As social media became more prevalent, I thought it might be a good way to source candidates. My director asked me to work with marketing and PR to create a consistent message. That led to working with marketing to create fliers, posters, pull-ups. Our recruitment marketing materials were on point! We had great information about the city, the area and our organization. People from outside our area knew exactly what they were getting into. And it matched the message we were sending to our customers.

That was a number of years ago, yet we are still seeing companies with competing messages coming from the same place. And, unsurprisingly, your customers and your potential employees are likely the same people. Which is why you cannot have competing messages.

I am starting to see more experts bringing this to the forefront when talking about employer brand. I think this is going to be key in the next few years as advertising moves more and more away from traditional advertising. We in HR need to pay attention to what marketing is doing and make sure our stories match.

Your brand is your story. You need to control the story that goes out to both customers and potential employees. Your potential employees are doing just as much research on you (if not more) as they do when looking at your products or services. We have many more options for researching. Most candidates are online and on social media. They aren’t reading the print ads. They aren’t just looking at your career website either. They are looking at your other web pages; they are looking your social media feeds. They want to know who you are. And if you aren’t telling your story, sharing the good and owning the not-so-good, someone else will tell it and they will control your story.

The first thing you need to do is work with marketing. If you go asking for advice, asking for their expertise, you are more likely to get assistance. They likely already have a plan for the stories they will be sharing, find an ally in marketing who can help you piggyback on those stories. They also already have some great stories that can be pulled out and shared again with a recruitment twist.

If you don’t already have your own career-branded social media accounts, you will want to get them. Invite staff to like and follow you on social media and to share your open positions. Employee referrals are still one of the best ways we find candidates. And who’s to say they won’t help find you someone great that they know through social media? Again, work with marketing to ensure your social media profiles are branded properly. Consistent profiles across social media helps potential candidates know they’ve found the correct profile.

Once you have that social presence, plan what you are going to share. Talk with others in your department on which stories you should share and how they might line up to what’s happening. Is it open enrollment time? Maybe a great time to highlight your benefit package on social media. Your employees are there too! Learn about the special days in your industry (nurses week, administrative professionals day) and share employee stories on those days – along with a link to a job posting for a similar position.

Sharing your employer brand doesn’t have to be a difficult, but we in HR need to take some time to ensure the story being told is the one we want told. Learn from the marketing experts and tell your story!

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