Employer Branding Strategy – 6 Steps to Get Started

What steps should you consider when starting an employer branding strategy?

The relevance of employer branding has already arrived at the management level of many companies. But how do you set up your own employer branding strategy correctly and which steps should be taken into account? This article shows the six most important steps.

The basis for a good employer branding strategy is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of one’s own company, the target group (in this case employees & applicants) as well as the market competitors. In addition, it is essential to have an agile (flexible) strategy that adapts and evolves to market trends and also the needs of the company.

My first article explained in simple terms what the term “Employer Branding” means and shows practical examples as well as dimensions. This publication describes in addition the structure of a first conception of an employer branding strategy. Consider this introduction as a simplified practical guide to initiate the first steps in creating a comprehensive strategy.

Development of the employer branding strategy

The development of an employer branding strategy is similar to the development of other strategies. An attempt is made to analyze oneself (the company), the customer (employees and applicants) and the market competitors in order to derive strategies, implement them and finally control and optimize them.

  1. Business analysis
  2. Target group analysis
  3. Competition analysis
  4. Strategy development
  5. Implementation
  6. Success control

1. Company analysis – gather data and facts

The analysis of the own company is the starting point of the strategy development. Current measures, goals of the company as well as strengths and weaknesses are considered. A wide variety of company key figures must be obtained for implementation. Information already available can be very helpful, e.g. fluctuation and sickness statistics, determination and evaluation of quantitative and qualitative personnel requirements or the age structure of employees.

In order to be able to determine the attractiveness of the company, one’s own employer rating portals (e.g. Kununu, Glassdoor), current benefits (e.g. training budgets, equipment and co.), newspaper articles, employee surveys and other useful reputations must be compiled. Please also keep in mind that benefits may differ at individual / locations / areas / work groups.

Therefore, a preceding online employee survey is helpful. The question can be integrated into this: What exactly makes the analyzing company special as an employer?

A small practical tip: The answers to the online survey can be clustered during the analysis. It is then advisable to form focus groups with individual employees (up to 10 people) – this enables the collection of relevant details for the strategy. If, for example, the work equipment was frequently mentioned in response to the above question, the focus group could, among other things, address the question of why the work equipment seems to be special for the employees. Is there a focus on a particular model when selecting a laptop? Can the company cell phone possibly be used privately or taken over by the employee?

Questions that should also be answered within the company analysis are:

  • What measures has the company already implemented to reach the target group?
  • Were these measures successful?
  • What is the number of applications received?
  • What is the hiring rate?

2. Target group analysis – Know the needs

An employer branding concept must be geared to the respective target group.

Knowing the target group and its needs is crucial for the success of the strategy. Among other things, it is important to determine which benefits (potential) employees prefer. Various studies can be used for this, such as Universum or studies by universities, PWC and many more.

Small tip: Also use the existing internal employees who match the target group by conducting a survey about their expectations & needs.

With the collected information of the target group, create a “Candidate Persona” (candidate profile). This is a kind of profile of the target group. Here are a few sample questions that could be answered:

  • Who is the target group?
  • Which demographic factors are relevant?
  • Where/how can the target group be reached (physically & online)?
  • What is important to them when choosing an employer?
  • What are the target group’s expectations of the job market?
  • What are typical leisure activities?
  • What are career goals & what is the current labor market situation?

3. Competitive analysis – Know your environment

During a competitive analysis, own strengths & weaknesses can be uncovered, of which the own company may have been aware before. The central questions here are:

  • Who is competing for the same talent?
  • What measures does the competition use?
  • What benefits are offered to the target group by the market competitors?

The information can usually be obtained from the respective career sites.

4. Strategy development 

Once the analysis has been completed, the company, target group and competitor analyses are compared. The Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is determined from this data. (At best, an optimization of this “EVP” is also carried out during this step). The Employer Value Proposition is similar to a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Essentially, it is the sum of all the advantages that make the company attractive as an employer for a specific target group & that, in the best case, enable it to stand out from other companies. Note that a company can have multiple EVPs depending on the desired target group.

Your strategy should include at least the following:

  • Vision & Goals
  • Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Measures
  • Timeframe
  • Selection of important findings from the previous analysis

In addition to the EPP, suitable measures / instruments are needed to address the target group at the right place, with the right benefits & with the right communication. The target group analysis is a pioneering tool in this regard. Here, of course, further research work is needed to expand costs and possibilities of implementation. By the way, adapting activities to a fixed target group minimizes wastage and thus reduces costs.

5. Exemplary implementation: Do good and talk about it

Internal employer branding measures

In the course of the analysis, it became clear that the target group, consisting of young business graduates, prefer flexibility in the form of home office options. Their own company may already offer home office options. If this is not the case and the measure is included as an EVP, taking into account the entrepreneurial factors, it is important to communicate this internally. In the previous article, we learned how important it is to pick up the internal target group (early on). The first internal measures have now been taken – the next step takes place on the external side.

External employer branding measures

The young business graduates are on the road at university fairs and on the social media app Yodel. Draw attention to the company there! How about a job ad with the teaser “Treat yourself to a home office with us?”

Go into detail here about the possibilities of the home office offer, if it is possible to differentiate yourself from the market competitors with it. Furthermore, select suitable university trade fairs. Always communicate the EVP on all “sales channels”: on flyers, on trade fair walls, on the career page, via ads on Google (Google Ads). There are no limits to the implementation.

6. Success control – Always stay on the ball

Measures and successes should be monitored on a regular basis. This can be seen from the number of incoming applications and hires as well as the data listed above, such as fluctuation and the like, or the number of clicks and the length of time spent on the careers page. As a rule, it takes a few months for the measures to have an effect on employer attractiveness. A renewed analysis of the target group and market competitors as well as an update of the EVP should also be carried out at set intervals.

Final tips for a good employer branding strategy

Be patient and do not work alone, because the evaluation can take several months. Accommodate the target group if the budget allows – feel free to compare your losses due to fluctuation or non-occupation here. Set up an annual budget for employer branding measures. The description “exciting tasks” is not sufficient as part of the EVP. Always go into detail; what projects can be reported on that will interest the target audience? Be authentic & honest and never forget – implement internally first, then act externally.

Have fun creating or initiating an employer branding strategy for your company.

I am Johanna Ehses, I am an expert in employer branding. My focus is on supporting SMEs in attracting and retaining talent and strengthening the corporate culture. With my clients, mainly from IT and consulting, I work both internally on the development of the corporate culture and EVP - and externally on aspects such as the career site and social media. My approach is strategic and data-driven in order to use resources effectively and optimally. As I am passionate about Employer Branding, I also want to share my knowledge and promote the topic in Europe and beyond.

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