9 Employment Branding Buckets - by John Sumser - HRExaminer

For starters, each of the nine buckets in the above matrix represents a different group with different information needs in the hiring process.

9 Employment Branding Buckets

Employment Branding seems complicated because it is the complement (almost the opposite) of regular branding. Where the task of a unified brand development project is to get all of the choir members to sing from the same sheet music, an Employment Brand is directly targeted at the Labor Market. Where the top level brand is a universal story, the Employment Brand represents a series of overlapping realities.

If you listen to all of the brand soothsayers in social media, branding is a conversation between customers and aspects of the company. (For a clearer picture, read the ClueTrain Manifesto). Employment Branding is the most decentralized piece of a company’s brand evolution. It’s the place where small intimate conversations are most likely to happen.

Let’s survey the various approaches to Employer Branding.

  • Employer brand was first used in the early 1990s to denote an organization’s reputation as an employer. Since then, it has become widely adopted by the global management community. Minchington (2005) defines employer brand as “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’”. Employer branding is creating this image. (Wikipedia)
  • An employment brand is the way your organization’s prospective applicants, candidates, and employees perceive you as an employer. (Gallup)
  • Billed as the solution for increased engagement, better cultural fit, reduced time to fill, and more, organizations have significant reason to build out their employment brand initiatives. (Maren Hogan in ERE) (All ERE Employment Branding Articles)
  • Employment Branding applies the same branding principles of attracting and retaining customers to attracting and retaining top employees. Employment branding is built on research that supports employee retention strategies to enhance recruitment and retention in your company. Uncovering the strengths, weaknesses and hidden elements of your organization’s culture helps you better assess current candidates and create unique messaging to attract and retain talent. (Kenexa)
  • We surveyed 2,250 corporate recruiters in the US to learn more about time to hire, cost per hire metrics and most importantly the impact of a strong employer brand. We have seen that companies that have strong employer brands enjoy significant cost savings with lower cost per hire and employee turnover rates. (Extremely weak LinkedIn survey)
  • Employer branding owes much of its intellectual legitimacy to the practice of product and corporate branding. Talent executives have studied what their counterparts in Marketing and Communications have learned and adapted that body of knowledge to employment. (Mark Hornung of Hodes) (Quoted on Employment Branding Online)
  • There are three distinct facets of an employment brand. Each of them are an aspect of the employment brand and not the whole thing. (HRExaminer, Employment Branding Elephant)

As you can see, the range of definition spans everything from the simple translation of branding theory into the employment segment to a more variable approach rooted in the job. Here are the three facets of the Employment Brand we unearthed in the Employment Branding Elephant article:

  • Stories and positioning for people unfamiliar with the brand (Green)
  • The way that experienced people within the industry see the company as a place to work
  • The way that people inside the company see their employer (Internal)

It turns out that there are also three broad categories of employee function. What’s in each function varies by company. But, all companies have these three categories:

  • Core: These are the people who create the central value that the company delivers. Typically, they are in engineering, operations, manufacturing, coding, content creation or some other central productive function. These people are what makes the company different from all other companies. Companies that specialize in an area tend to recruit the very best of these kinds of people
  • Business: These are the ‘standard issue’ business people who administer the things that make the core possible. Finance, sales, customer service (unless it’s a core deliverable), marketing (sometimes), facilities, HR, security are all functions that are at least somewhat vanilla. Companies tend to acquire these sorts of people from the city in which the office is located.
  • Digital: In the 21st Century, all companies have some level of social media and technology function that faces the market. Armed with 21st Century skills and a nomadic career track, this crew s interested in challenge. Companies compete broadly for this scarce resource.
The combination of the three facets of the Employment Brand and the three categories of worker combine to create the (consultant’s dream)

9 box Employment Branding Matrix

For starters, each of the nine buckets in the above matrix represents a different group with different information needs in the hiring process. If you follow the archaic advice to treat the Employment Brand as a unified message, you’ll be delivering the wrong message to the wrong people. Like top level branding, Employment Branding is all about messaging and targeting. In the case of Employment Branding, however, messaging is narrow and granular. While it may be aligned to an overall framework, it will fail if it is not painstakingly tailored to market specifics.
Employment branding is one or two steps more complicated than even this.