How To Easily Build An Employer Brand That Attracts Job Candidates Jonathan Herrick If you’re doing things right as a small business owner then your business is likely growing. Which means you have been successful with building your consumer brand’s reputation in your target market. Your products and services get great reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, social media shout-outs and you’re building an outstanding brand reputation. All of that is great—for sales. But in order to continue growing, you need to focus on building your employer brand too. Why? Because your small business needs talent, and you need it continually. Likely you’re looking for the best talent—which means you’re competing with lots of other growing businesses for a variety of qualified people. I know what you’re thinking: “my business is too small, too esoteric to compete with the big guys for the best talent.” Think again. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses provide two out of every three American jobs and—fortunately—many people want to work at a small company. In fact a recent survey from Monster.com found that 47 percent of Millennials—the largest generation in the workforce today—are employed by small businesses. However, in order to win the competitive race for rockstar candidates you need to foster and grow your employer brand. Employer brand is a term coined in the mid-1990s when London Business School examined how marketing principles we use to attract consumers could be applied to the employment marketplace. And because the talent market is increasingly tight, HR departments are now in the business of marketing their companies to job seekers. So if you’re looking to better communicate your brand as an employer and attract today’s brightest candidates follow these simple strategies. Know and tell. People like good stories, and that includes a good story about the company at which they are employed or want to be employed. The thing is, you can’t tell a great story about your company if it isn’t, actually, a great place to work. Involve your employees. The first step in knowing and then telling your business’ story is to do an employer brand audit. It sounds complicated but it’s not. Instead, it should just be an informal look at why your business is a great place to work. Meet with your employees (or a select group) and use that as a focus group to brainstorm a list of things that make your company unique and a desirable place to work. Use the results to craft your story. Take the results of that session and craft a story about your company that includes what is noteworthy and positive about the culture, the business’ mission and values, and the tangible and intangible perks—flex work schedule, for example, lots of autonomy, or the taco truck that comes to the office on Tuesdays. Emphasize aspects of small business culture. For instance, a small company may not be able to offer as many opportunities for working up the ladder to the C-suite, but they can offer the ability to expose employees to a more varied and diverse set of tasks and responsibilities, as well as more leadership responsibility sooner in that employee’s career. Small businesses can be talent incubators in a way larger corporations can’t. Show, don’t tell. I know, it seems like we’re contradicting ourselves, but we’re not. Once you have told the story of your company internally and in your recruitment materials, it’s time to show the world how great you are. It’s one thing to say on your website, or to potential candidates, or while networking, that your business is a fun place to work; that your employees really do have a good time and enjoy each working together. It’s another thing to actually show that and share it on social media. Visual proof is a key to recruiting, especially with Gen Y and Z. So share photos and videos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Tumblr, LinkedIn, your website, your blog. Everywhere your company has a presence online is an opportunity for you to show the world your business’ culture and values. Big foosball tourney on Friday? Post a 15 second clip. Is the company president speaking at an industry event? Post photos and a link to the entire presentation on YouTube. Your company’s story can be told in photos, videos, and yes, even in 140-character updates. Keep abreast of—and respond to—employee reviews. Same as you likely do for your brand on sites like Yelp or on Google My Business pages, you have to keep abreast of what’s being said about you in employment review platforms such as Glassdoor and CareerBliss. If you see negative feedback, don’t just chalk it up to sour grapes and move on—others thinking about working for your company are reading those reviews and usually won’t discount them. Seek out the employee who wrote it or thank the writer for their feedback and let them know the information will help you to improve. And then, truly use the information to improve. Even the sourest grapes can have a kernel of truth in them. As a small business, you never know when you’ll need to recruit your newest talent so making sure you’re consistently keeping your audience abreast of what’s going on in your company is vital. Rather than doing a last minute social push right before posting job opportunities, stay on a regular schedule. It’ll make your small business more authentic to not only candidates but your customers as well.