Employer Branding. How important is it to job seekers?

The Recruiting Animal show today had some discussion around the importance of employer branding.

And it got me thinking. Exactly how important is this to job seekers?

I get that promoting a certain brand/image is important to consumers, and to build customers and make lots and lots of money. But what about those looking for work? How does it fit into their job search?

I remember a few years ago I was working as a callcentre and customer service recruitment consultant, primarily on the temp side, but I also did some perm business there too. When recruiting for top Australian telecommunications companies, it was very important for the client to get their branding out there, to attract customers and employees alike. One of the companies has a branding strategy similar to TELUS in Canada, while another has a fun-loving and carefree brand, like Sir Richard Branson's Virgin empire.

When recruiting for these roles, employer brand was a key sell to the candidate. The brand promoted a certain culture, and further career opportunities that, to a call centre agent, was very important.

Fast forward to my first few months at Sapphire Australia. I learnt very quickly that in the eyes of IT professionals, that employer branding holds less weight to a position, than, say the kind of infrastructure that keeps a company running. UNIX or Windows? Virtual servers or traditional? Wireless networks? Cool. Oh, and... who is the company again by the way?

Even when I was recruiting at a well known Canadian airline, I found that the technical candidates I spoke to were less concerned with the brand and culture, and more interested in the value they could add on a technical level. On the flip side, the customer service representatives, and ground crew were more interested in being a part of a company that rewarded loyalty, and promoted a positive culture from what they "saw on the ads."

In my humble opinion, I think, from the eyes of job seekers, employer branding is important, but it's importance is dependent on the candidate, and the job itself.

What do you think?

Views: 189

Comment by Suzanne M King on October 22, 2009 at 3:46pm
Branding is very important to the candidates I recruit. The suggestion of a company's corporate culture, mission and strategy are all briefly (and hopefully succinctly) summarized by the brand. When a very talented individual has options, regardless of the economy's condition, that person will make a choice based upon factors that include the perception of who the employer is in its respective market. It brings the conversation back to brand.
Comment by Lizz on October 23, 2009 at 10:58am
Employment branding is a very valuable tool for companies looking to attract, retain and repel the right employees. Having a significant and authentic employment brand can support an organization to increase the ROI of recruitment and retention. The misstep with brand is often times it is created without much connection (research and data) to the real organizational culture, so companies end up with a brand that is not authentic or congruent to the employee experience. How many of us have taken a job based on perception or reputation, only to find out that what the company said they were, was in no way what they really were? And If you did have this experience, how long did you stay?

I would also agree with you that different positions seek different "fit" points, but it does come down to cultural fit and values alignment - company and individual.
Comment by Harold Ensley on October 26, 2009 at 11:48am
Branding makes your life easier -- if you have a good brand. However, I will argue, until the day that I die, that selling (relying) on brand is dangerous, and it's up to a good recruiter to correct for this propaganda effect. Point 1) good candidates accept jobs for the right combination of the following: (a) money, (b) location, (c) change to do something different/cool, (d) career growth. Although values may determine the difference between two similar offers, I think it's always secondary to the above, as it should be, unless the person is truly desperate, or looking to hide elsewhere. Point 2) Leaning too hard on brand, can cause you to hire the same people, with misguided perceptions. Candidates that are attracted by brand may not be aware that "your big company" no matter how big, is not a safe stable environment. I'm providing this specific example, as I've seen it across some larger companies - people, too often, came to us because we were large. The thing is - do you really want a herd of hires, that merely want to hide, in a place in which they feel safe? is this a diverse and productive workforce? And are you setting them up for success? Bad HM's and Recruiters will recruit off these perceptions, and low-ball candidates because of it.

That being said, I totally agree with this article. Each situation depends on the job and the candidate.


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