We all know the great employer branding campaigns from the big corporates — having a holistic visual branding and communication on social media, career pages, job boards, and so on. Well, big organizations often have a big budget for executing employer branding effort and agencies helping them out. I am happy for them and sometimes envy them a bit. However, some weeks ago I was asking some “What is your overall objective with your branding efforts and what KPIs do you use?” and some were like “Hmm, well, yea — we kind of have no pre-defined objective” — made me speechless. That’s why I am proud of every little tiny startup out there who needs to fight hard to get at least a small budget to spend on employer branding. But getting buy-in from the management board, founder or your superior is not always easy. Are you struggling? Relax, read on and get the support of your management with this 4 easy hands-on steps.
Talk in the language of management and founders
Working in startups with all your recruiting efforts, HR projects and thousand of everyday side issues and struggles isn’t always easy to prepare a proper pitch before entering the ‘battle’ with your superior. Buuut — it’s worth it. Let’s face it, founders are extremely numbers-driven and it’s good how it is. So get to know your ‘enemy’ in this battle and make them your partner in crime. Do your research! A LinkedIn study back from 2011 already unveiled that the cost-per-hire of companies with strong employer branding is 50% lower compared to organizations with poor employer branding and reduces the turnover by 28%.
However, while scaling the company many startups focusing exclusively on Talent Acquisition but don’t really care about employer branding. I think this is the wrong approach. When scaling a recently founded company, we should always have a holistic approach when it comes to HR and focus on Talent Acquisition, Employer Branding and Training & Development, (HR Admin of course as well).
Use Data to create pain & gain
All the talk to your boss won’t help if you are not tailoring your pitch and use some numbers & data to validate why you need to start your employer branding efforts. Similar to sales you can show what a great influence employer branding initiatives might have on your overall hiring needs. Personally, I think one core decision is really important. Do you want to kick-start employer branding to position your company as a great place to work — solely from a classical branding perspective or do you actually wanna take it a step further and generate leads for your open positions? True, in a perfect world you would probably wanna do both. I would also evaluate if my employer branding endeavour fits in the big picture and how my prospected budget may look like. Sure, big corporates often have big budgets only for creating brand awareness and building long-term reputations. But in a growing startup employer branding also needs to generate leads and close deals similar to Marketing & Sales functions. As soon as your boss sees that employer branding fits in the big picture of the overall strategy and vision of the company, he will also be more willing to spend resources. Don’t forget to create this sense of urgency.
I would predict that the minority of founders really care about employer branding. They just have to much on their plates. If your founder cares, congrats! If not, you need to get the timing right. Once you have had a look into the numbers and prepared your pitch, you should decide on the more or less perfect timing. The company you are working for is scaling, needs a lot of new talents in short period, is changing its culture due to constant growth — or just had a employer reputation fuck-up? Now, it’s a great time to pitch your employer branding endeavour. For sure one of the overall strategic goals would be to attract either a lot of candidates through performance marketing and branding or to create a positive change of the employer reputation. However, employer branding needs to come from inside the company, the employees need to live & breathe the brand — if the culture is totally messed up, this would be tough to change.
Get the right people on the bus
Kickstarting your employer branding endeavour and getting buy-in from your boss is super exciting and probably like a rollercoaster ride. But don’t do this ride as a one-man show. I actually like the slogan ‘Get the right people on the bus’ — and I think it fits so well for this exciting journey. If you work in Talent Acquisition it’s a good idea to team up with Marketing or PR to learn from the performance perspective of Online Marketing as well as the reputation building capacities of PR. Plus, think about your Hiring Managers. You work at a Tech company. Perfect! Persuading leaders in the Tech departments can for sure help you to come step closer to your goal. Imagine you get support by the a Tech Leader in your company. OMG — this would help you so much to legitimize your endeavour to C-Level.
What Employer Branding can learn from Performance Marketing? Read here.