photo of man in window of office tower building cc0 photo credit Chris Davis in article by John Sumser titled Rethinking EVP and Employer Brand Like You Never Have Before March 30, 2016

There are likely 10, 12, 20 themes that may comprise your EVP. Don’t try to sell a laundry list. Use your company’s core values and business strategy to narrow down your focus.

We tweet, post and chat about our culture and employment experience. We worry about job descriptions and ATS branding. We choose just the right images for our careers site and collateral.

But what exactly are we talking about?

When I ask an employer brand leader or talent acquisition executive to describe their employer value proposition, I inevitably hear some combination of the following:

  • “It’s a great place to work”
  • “We’ve got a great culture.”
  • “For me it means…”
  • “I love to work here because…”

We tend to talk in generalities and personal choices because we’re not sure what else to say sometimes. And that’s where the EVP, employer value proposition, comes in.

EVPs are so often used to explain why employees work for a company. We often interchange it with employer brand. But over the years, it’s become a muddled mess. Maybe it’s time for a reset?

Consider this:

First, your EVP. When you ask your employees what they value in their employment experience, your EVP is the sum of those common themes.

Second, employer brand. An employer brand is a subset of the EVP. If the EVP is all the things employees value, the employer brand is what you choose as an organization to hang your hat on when you market your employment experience.

Think about it like a new car. There are a ton of great things customers may value in the car. And things the car’s engineers think are worth touting. But the marketers at the car company know you can’t sell everything. So they have to choose. How do they choose? The same way the engineers decided what should go in the car: research. Let research be your base, then use marketing to sell.

Where’s the best place to start?

Unbiased, target customer research is your first port of call. Your target customers? Your employees (the ones you’d like to replicate) and candidates (the ones you’d like to hire). From employees you can find out what they value most in the organization’s existing employment experience. Candidates will tell you what they value in their ideal experience. Map it to what you offer.

From there, work to narrow your focus

There are likely 10, 12, 20 themes that may comprise your EVP. Don’t try to sell a laundry list. Use your company’s core values and business strategy to narrow down your focus. And consider two key things marketers know well:

1) You have to sell the reality

If I open a can of Coca-Cola and it’s filled with ginger ale I’ll be disappointed. Not because I don’t like ginger ale, but because I was sold a Coca-Cola and I expected a Coca-Cola.

2) You have consider what your audience wants

Most brand, marketing and HR leaders aren’t the target market. You can’t sell something based only on what you like or what your experience was. I may hate loud music, but if I’m marketing for Abercrombie and my research tells me teenagers love loud music when they shop, I have to take that seriously

Finally, build that brand

Once you decide what to hang your hat on, sell it over and over and over again. Weave the messages in varying ways through all those channels you’ve spent so much time on-social media, websites, job descriptions and branded platforms. Pull those messages through to job fairs, recruiter conversations and on campus. Whatever you do, just take the time to think it through.

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