It's better to be a job seeker right now than an employer looking to fill a job opening. At least that's what any reasonable person would surmise from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report that the number of unemployed persons per job opening was 0.9 in January 2019 compared to 6.4 at the peak of the recession in July 2009.
If you've been trying to hire people recently, you didn't need to see those stats because you feel the change. Recruiters are struggling with everything from shrinking candidate pools to candidates ghosting during the interview process to candidates accepting job offers and then just never showing up.
To combat the shrinking talent pool and remain competitive, companies are getting creative. Zapier offers employees a de-location package of $10,000 to move away from the Bay Area, and Salesforce hosts recruitment happy hours where current employees are encouraged to invite prospective employees to join.
But there's another solution to recruiting top talent that too many companies ignore: a comprehensive employer branding strategy.
How Employer Branding Works
Employer branding is simply taking the strategies and tactics you use to market your products or services to prospective clients and using them to market your company to prospective employees as a great place to work.
This includes any lists your company is on (such as "best places to work" lists), any awards your company has won, and any content prospective employees can read about your company online.
[Related: Whose Job is Employer Branding?]
Start With Your Careers Page
Before you invest in hiring an agency for employer branding, do an audit of your current employer branding, starting with your careers page.
The best careers pages go further than simply linking to job descriptions. Bonus points for offering insight into what it's truly like to work for your organization by adding things like a video discussing company culture, testimonials from current employees, or a link to your Glassdoor profile.
The goal is to have your careers page paint the candidate an accurate picture of working at your company. This will help you recruit more qualified candidates who are looking for the type of environment you provide. Plus, if candidates get to the interview stage, it will allow them to skip surface-level questions such as "What's your favorite part of working here?" and dive into more in-depth questions.
Emphasize Your Company Culture
If the only places you're recruiting candidates are job boards, you're only reaching active candidates. In a job market with only 0.9 unemployed people per open role, you have to seek out passive candidates as well.
A great way to do this is to have experts in your company publish articles that speak directly to your target audience of candidates.
For example, it might be important for company thought leaders to publish content that showcases the organization as a great place to work from a company culture standpoint. They could write on topics such as employee engagement, healthy company culture, how they view benefits and perks, etc.
These articles, once published in online publications that your prospective candidates are reading, accomplish three main things:
1. They draw in new candidates.
Make sure to link to your careers page in the article text or in the author's bio. That way, when a candidate finishes reading an article about your CEO's approach to employee engagement and thinks, "I want to work for her!" he or she can easily find your job openings.
2. They nurture current candidates.
Most companies have a "bench" of people whom they interviewed at some point, didn't end up hiring, but would like to stay in touch with. Utilize these published articles as a reason to reach out to that bench. You can also send the articles to current candidates in the pipeline to give them something to discuss with you in their next interview.
3. They complement interviews with content.
The employer branding experience does not end once a candidate gets an interview. If you think of the employer branding funnel like a marketing funnel, once you hit candidate interviews, you're basically in the "nurture" stage. The candidate still has to make a decision to choose your company over the other offers he or she is getting.
To use content in the hiring process, you could send a candidate an article 48 hours before an interview and ask him or her to come with questions. You could also set up a drip campaign so the potential employee receives a different article, video, infographic, or other piece of content about the company each day throughout the interview process to help him or her learn more about the company.
[Related: How to Build Company Culture Through Content]
Put Your Employer Branding Strategy to Work
I recently had conversations about employer branding with human resources professionals at three large companies. They hadn't executed on many of the suggestions above, and the reason was simple: They can't get time from their marketing team.
It's understandable. It's rare for HR departments to have their own marketers on staff, and the marketing team is measured based on new sales generated, not new employees hired, so getting marketers to help HR can be tough. For this reason, many companies are hiring agencies to act as an extension of their marketing team specifically focused on employer branding.
The business case for this investment is that the result of a successful employer branding campaign should be time and money saved by recruiting a higher volume of qualified candidates and having a higher percentage of those candidates accept offers from the company.
With more job opportunities available, choosy job seekers are looking for companies they trust, share values with, and believe in. With an effective employer branding campaign, you can align with the best candidates for your open positions, which is an HR dream come true.
Kelsey Raymond is the CEO of Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. Influence & Co.'s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands.