Attracting top talent has never been harder. How can companies set themselves apart from their competition?
To be a destination employer, you need to have an exceptional employer brand. That’s not easy to do — but there is an easy way to think about what you need to do.
Creating your employer brand means building a strategy to communicate what your candidates need to know. You need to address their concerns, and then get them excited about their future with you. Do this and they’ll sign on the line.
This thought process boils down to four concepts, which I call the “4 Ps of Employer Brand: Paycheck, People, Product, and Purpose.”
Paycheck: Make sure they are getting what they need
The most basic ask of any candidate is to receive the right rate of pay. Your top candidates will know about what they can expect in terms of salary and benefits. And before they consider anything else about your company, they need to know that the paycheck will be there.
But if all that you’re competing on is paycheck, then the biggest paycheck wins. There is nothing to differentiate you from other companies. So competing on paycheck is a poor strategy that can backfire. You have to create more aspects of the brand to make people want to be at your company.
Most employees want more than a paycheck. They want to be actualized, to have purpose. Innovative companies should be making sure that their employees aren’t worried about being paid unfairly so they can focus on doing their jobs well. And your first job in attracting great people is to make sure they aren’t worried about the pay they’ll be offered.
So have a strategy to reassure candidates they’ll be taken care of, whether through your early recruiter conversations, through public testimonials about you, through your advertising — ideally all of these methods. Now you can move on to more sophisticated factors that can actually set you apart from everyone else in the market.
People: Show them a workplace they want to join
The next consideration you need to tackle is, who are the people at the company whom the candidate will be working with? Things get done in a company only through collaboration — you have to work well together. You’re spending most of your working hours — most of your waking hours — with these people.
Your colleagues have an inordinate impact on you. Not just your ability to deliver value in that company, but also how you feel. And not just during the day, but even after work. That feeling can get you excited to go to work the next day and motivate you to do your best at your company — that’s what candidates want.
So you want to make sure that your candidates will see themselves wanting to spend this amount of time with the people in your company. Have a strategy to introduce them to their future team members, and to highlight the ways your people motivate and make each other better. Let them experience the real workplace outside of the limitations of an interview room.
One way we do this at Credit Sesame is with our career site. It shows each candidate several current Credit Sesame employees with whom they may share common backgrounds and experiences. By introducing their future colleagues before they even apply, we’re making our candidates more motivated about the people they will work with.
If your employer brand stands for great people, then you also need to think about your company’s product.
Product: A great product means winning more talent
Typically, the product brand is more developed than your employer brand. So you can use your product as a starting point for how you develop that employer brand.
Think about the components and strengths of your product. How can you apply them to talent? How can you leverage them to set your company apart as a place to work? And how can you make sure your brand runs through every aspect of your recruiting process?
More than that, you need to make sure your candidates understand how your product creates opportunities for their growth. If they work for you, will they find more doors open in your industry? Will they work on cutting-edge challenges that are not available elsewhere? Will they gain the respect of their family and peers outside of work?
Doing this doesn’t require that you have the leading or most talked-about product in your market — chances are, you don’t have this privilege. So you need to find those aspects of your product that you can apply to your unique talent brand that no one else has.
Purpose: Give meaning to work
At the top of your talent brand is the purpose of the company. How will it impact the community, the world? What is really motivating everyone to come to the office every morning?
Your employer brand must have a clear purpose, one that flows naturally from your product and people, and that your candidates will discover as they engage with you during the recruiting process. The purpose can’t just be a mission statement — it has to be something that your candidates can believe because they see it in the actions and behaviors of everyone they speak with.
This is the hardest step, and the most important — and also the most rewarding. Because if your candidate feels the purpose of your company, they’ll accept a job offer with you even if they could get a slightly bigger paycheck somewhere else, and even if their friend is trying to get them to work somewhere else, and even if your company’s product isn’t a market leader. Purpose trumps all.
You can’t fake your way to a purpose, and you can’t rush it. The best advice I have is to seek it, and to know it when you see it.