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Companies that consistently attract the best talent get one thing right:

Employer branding.

Job applications are starting to receive the same scrutiny as any other purchasing decision. Instead of reading reviews on Amazon, candidates are turning to social media and to websites like Glassdoor to get the real scoop on companies.

It’s up to recruiting departments to make sure candidates like what they see. This is where a carefully planned employer branding strategy becomes critical.

What is an Employer Brand?

“When asked the question, what is employer branding? My answer is simple, what’s the feeling you want candidates to have about your brand?

That feeling. That feeling that permeates your organization… 1 part values, 1 part culture, 1 part experiences… in essence, employer brand is your unique scent.” – William Tincup, President at Recruiting Daily

Your employer brand is your company’s identity, as William Tincup puts it, it’s your unique scent. It’s everything that makes you different, everything that makes you stand out.

Employer branding then is defined as a company’s ability to differentiate and promote this identity to a defined group of candidates that they’re interested in hiring.

Branding has always been a core tool for marketers looking to win over the hearts and minds of consumers – the fact that it’s now a crucial part of the talent attraction formula shows us the influence that marketing is having on recruiting.

Why does employer branding matter?

“Employer Branding is nothing new. Though you may only now be leaping on the bandwagon you already have an employer brand – it might not be the one you want.” – Matt Buckland, Head of Talent at Lyst

Matt Buckland is right:

You have an employer brand whether you try to shape it or not.

Every company has a choice to make. Do they want to try and cultivate their brand, or are they happy for candidates to make up their own mind about the company?

With the competition for the best talent getting fiercer by the day, employer branding is an important tool for companies trying to stand out from the crowd and attract top candidates.

Little wonder then, that over 59% of employers say that employer branding represents one of the key components of the organization’s overall HR strategy, while 55% of talent leaders see employer branding as the top investment priority in 2017.

Data from the Harvard Business Review shows that CEOs and HR leaders expect to make an increased investment into their employer brand over the next few years. By 2020, it’s likely to be a key part of most recruiting teams’ long-term strategy.

It’s clear that it’s no longer enough to just sit back and wait for the applications to roll in.

The modern candidate is different.

They want to be able to educate themselves about your company before they apply. They want to be nurtured by your team, they want to be wined and dined. Ultimately, they want to work for a company that they identify with on an emotional level. They’re not just looking for an open role.

If you’re not thinking about your employer brand, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build a connection with candidates before they apply, and you’re damaging your prospects of long-term hiring success.

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