Employer branding refers to the marketing and positioning of a company within a relevant target market. Heralded experts like Professor Dr. Christoph Beck, a professor at the University of Applied Science in Koblenz, demonstrate how to provide a positive image as an interesting employer to potential and current employees. Professor Dr. Beck’s specialties include personal marketing, employer branding and e-recruitment.
In a practice, external specialists or consulting companies or interim managers are placed to clarify these important tasks. The background for such a situation is that internal employees usually lack the necessary neutral perspective to critically analyze preexisting personal marketing strategies, and develop and conceptualize new ones.
Within the boundaries of a four month project, an expert for an employer branding project can implement helpful interim measures, for which a company may otherwise not have the capacity or the know-how.
The Interim Manager Dr. Sandra W. was hired by the administrative director of a mid-sized automotive supplier with the task of caring for Employer Branding.
The Task of Employer Branding
In her 15 years working in personal marketing, Dr. Sandra W. has defined the important steps for each project:
- Analysis of the ideas and expectations from potential and existing employees from the automotive supplier branch, and the company
- Creation of a profile of desired candidates for various important functions (leadership- and technical skills)
- Definition of an “Employer Value Proposition” – a promise from the employer to the applicant and employees, summarizing and reflecting the employees expectations from the company
- Emotionalizing the company on the basis of Employer Value Proposition
- Improvement of the company’s marketing through a strong presence, especially in new social media
- Integration of the employee workforce – spreading positive messages from existing employees, outward
6 Steps to Optimize Employer Branding
Within this project for the automotive supplier, Dr. Sandra W. implemented the following steps:
- The analysis of ideas and expectations from potential and existing employees took two months to complete. The employees were mainly questioned regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the company. There were also questions regarding leadership culture, the work environment, the scheduling system, and more. After this first analysis, internal and external benchmarks from the automotive industry were compared. In parallel, the newest academic findings were also compared. Here, Dr. Sandra W. could directly recognize which weaknesses had to be balanced, and which strengths could help build the employer brand for the automotive supplier. Also, these benchmarks from other successful companies, both within the automotive industry and external, were very important to help cultivate new and innovative ideas.
- The creation of the profile of desired candidates for various important functions (leadership and skill-wise) took noticeably less time. Together with the management (CEO, HR, various department heads), important functions were defined. Dr. Sandra W. wanted every company to ask the question: “Which applicant group do we want for this company?” and “How can we achieve this?”
- The Definition of the “Employer Value Proposition” was a logical result, after a successful analysis and the definition of the expected conditions. An employer brand should be polarizing. Of course it’s easier when the product in question is a luxury sports car. The challenge in an industry with intangible products is to emphasize the benefits of the company, as opposed to other firms, who put all attention on their products. In this case, Dr. Sandra W. decided that for the company promise, the company would be an industry leader that, like a family business, truly cares for their employees. This promise applies to the entire life cycle of the company, and beyond.
- The Emotionalization of the Company, Based on the Employer Value Proposition is the believable communication of values and characteristics. It’s essential to position the company against the competition. Dr. Sandra W. recommended a motto, and a logo for the employer branding that fit with the pre-existing company logo was developed by an external agency. Colors also play a huge role here, and they should clearly emphasize the values of the employer. This way, the target group – desired candidates – will feel an emotional attachment to the company.
- Improving the marketing of the company through an increased presence was a very simple task for this project. Dr. Sandra W. demonstrated how many of the international competitors had a strong presence in social networks – as a cost effective alternative. This way, a uniform and attractive image of the company and its values could be easily created. Through her experience as Interim Manager, she could support the company quickly and efficiently in the development of technical and functional specifications to optimize the career website. She also lent a hand in supporting qualified coworkers with the curation and launch of microsites, and social media sites. Together with recruiting, she optimized the job postings, and through pictures, she helped to create an emotional tie. No employees idea was too wild. To address trainees, videos were made and posted on YouTube – the videos were both professional and appealing.
- “Without employees, employer branding doesn’t work,” is the motto for Dr. Sandra W. Satisfied employees are the best ambassadors to the outside world. They’re capable and engaged. Happy coworkers share that authentic positive image with those outside the company. In this way, employees share the employer brand with their personal network and their acquaintances. Regular interviews were also posted on the internal portal, and posted in the company newsletter. An employee suggested that the company take part in a city-wide marathon, and this idea was immediately met with great reception from the rest of the staff.
The project in the automobile branch was challenging, but by the same token, very exciting. Their conclusion is that great potential lies in employer branding, and no company – regardless of what branch or product – can ignore this instrument when it comes to winning talented employees.
Otherwise, the competition gets the best people, and in the long-term, they will be more successful.
The international automobile supplier has more than 5,000 employees worldwide and exports important components to a large automobile manufacturer. The sales are close to 1 billion Euros. In the automotive industry, the company was well-known worldwide. Until recently, it was a family owned company, like many companies, not closely located to any large city. In their region, the automobile supplier was naturally the top employer, but as soon as specialists, innovative managers and creative development are needed, the choice is clear.
The Interim Manager
As a full-time personal marketing executive, Dr. Sandra W. successfully implemented an employer branding strategy for a large DAX Group company, but she also took care of many other interim management duties – she stands for efficiency. For her, it’s imperative to design and create an individualized strategy for each unique company – “copy and paste” doesn’t work for employer branding projects.
Dr. Sandra W. works with company employees, external marketing agencies, and important academic institutes to find the right marketing strategies. Dr. Sandra W. considers an academic approach to be essential – she bases her plans and strategies on fact, especially in a “soft” industry like personal marketing.
About the Author:
Dr. rer. Pol., (Doctorate of Political Sciences), business graduate, born in 1977, worked for many years as a Project Manager for Porsche Consulting, a 100% daughter company of the luxury car manufacturer from Stuttgart. She specializes in Lean Management and Reorganization along the supply chain. At the same time, she also worked as a teacher for sales and marketing at the International School of Management (ISM Dortmund), a private university with several offices in Germany. In the course of her consulting career, she has overseen both international SMEs and DAX companies. Originally, she comes from the automobile industry and advises companies in many industries, such as consumer goods, banking, engineering and trade.