As a startup, a huge amount of your time is going to be spent on considering the branding of your products, how to market them and how to best increase your client base. What often falls by the wayside, as a result, is your employer brand.
Startups often struggle with this, especially since employer branding doesn’t have as direct or as obvious a return on investment as the many other aspects of your business that are taking up your time do. But there are a number of benefits to maintaining a strong employer brand. It can increase your talent pool, in terms of the number and the quality of potential hires, improve employee retention and engagement, and increase the prestige of your brand. In the long term, you’ll find yourself saving money on recruitment.
We’ve put together a couple of simple tricks to get you started on improving your employer branding without investing an impractical amount of time or resources.
As with many issues involving the hiring process, one of the simplest and most direct ways to improve your employer branding is through revising your job descriptions. We’ve talked about it before, specifically as it relates to attracting a more diverse workforce, but it really is worth reiterating. Your job descriptions, especially when your startup is in its very early days, may well be the first time a number of people will interact with your company, and get a glimpse of what you might be like as an employer.
Remember that in today’s job market, potential hires may trawl through hundreds of job listings before reaching yours. They will start to see the same phrases over and over again, and then apply meaning to them, meanings which you cannot control. Stock phrases like ‘we work hard, but we play hard too’ can be taken to suggest that you have a poor work/life balance, for example, while ‘a fun company culture’ without specifics will read as insincere.
This may not actually be the case, but it can convey that message to potential hires and put them off. Corporate buzzwords and clichés ultimately fade into the background of a job description, taking up space and failing to say anything meaningful about the role, or the company in general. This means that the only people who will really end up responding to these sorts of ad aren’t going to be invested in your company specifically, one of the key parts of employer branding.
“Corporate buzzwords and clichés ultimately fade into the background of a job description, failing to say anything meaningful about the role.”
Every brand has a story. The more you can tie your methods as an employer into it, the stronger it will be. As a startup, your story is one of the greatest advantages you have over large corporations, so telling it well is key to both your marketing and your employer branding.
One of the simplest ways you can affect this is through your website. Consider what it’s saying about your company to your candidates. Having your company values enshrined somewhere obvious, explaining what you do, is vital. If you find yourself struggling to summarise your values and purpose succinctly, it may be worth talking a few steps back and reevaluating what your company stands for. If you can’t summarise it to new hires, your new hires are going to struggle to summarise it to clients!
Another simple technique is through simple and eye-catching team pages. Many startups have caught onto this and started using team pages on their websites. But how can you make an effective one? Is it just a page with names and roles? Do you have pictures or videos, or personal quotes? These can really help humanise your team and make your company feel like a more unique place to work.
Your current employees will be your greatest advocates by necessity at this early stage. Having testimonials clearly visible on your site is a great start. Ask them questions such as ‘Why did you choose to apply here’ and ‘What were your worries when joining us,’ and ‘What’s the best part of your job’ as well as more personal questions about their hobbies to help humanise things.
In a roundabout way, employees are becoming more and more like their own form of customers. With a combination of word of mouth and employee review sites like Glassdoor, employer branding is not just a simple matter of easy to apply fixes that you have direct control over.
Luckily there are a few ways you can manage this a little, and ensuring your current employees are well-compensated for their time is the most direct. Tech startups in particular find that they often struggle with long-term employee retention, due to underpaying staff or an over-reliance on crunch time, resulting in burnout. Investing in good time management and fairer wages can often pay dividends, because it means you won’t have to keep training up new hires.
This is where knowing exactly what kind of roles you need to fill will really help you. have a good idea of the expected wage for the role you’re looking for, and work from there. Strike a balance between market rates and appealing to the right people. Linkedin has a Salary checker tool that is a great resource for fact-finding.
In addition to salary, consider additional benefits. Many startups use perks and benefits as a means to offer less competitive salaries, which you should avoid doing. Instead, consider perks you can afford to offer to supplement a competitive salary. Some businesses liaison with their clients, offering things like discounts and other perks, which is something to consider when negotiating.
If every candidate is having the exact same experience, that means, hopefully, that they are all having a good experience. The benefit isn’t just for the candidates either, there’s a direct one for you. If you use the exact same approach every time, you make self-evaluation much easier, you’ll be able to point directly to things that work and things that don’t.
One simple way to make your potential candidates feel appreciated is with a simple thank you note, letting them know you appreciate their time. Getting back to applicants as quickly as possible Even the most gentle rejection in the world can leave someone feeling hurt, so being as quick and respectful as your resources allow can really improve your employer branding. As your company grows, this personal touch can get more and more difficult, but consistency is still vital. We’ve discussed the benefits of streamlining the process with and ATS before, so it might be worth looking to see if such a tool would suit your needs.
This consistency should continue from the candidate experience to the employee experience. Make sure you know how to best manage your team to get reliable results out of them, while also letting them feel appreciated and like an important part of the team and you’ll have a strong employer brand, and a great team doing great work in no time. After a while, the work you put in at this stage will really start to pay for itself.