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Employer Branding: Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing

The war for talent is intensifying. As most HR managers will tell you, there may be plenty of applications for vacancies, but the pool of skilled and qualified talent is pretty shallow. 

Indeed, researchers believe that we are heading towards a global employability crisis, with a flood of available workers, but a drought of qualified talent. In response to this challenge, many organisations are turning to ‘employer branding’ as a means of attracting the talent they need. 

Whether it is updating the corporate logo for a more contemporary look; demonstrating a youthful edge through the use of Facebook/Twitter; using viral marketing to sell it as a fun and vibrant place to work; or touting its caring nature with a revamped corporate social responsibility policy, organisations are increasingly keen to stand out from their competitors as an ‘employer of choice’.

However, in the struggle to get noticed in the external marketplace, organisations need to ensure that their brand also has internal consistency. If current employees don’t believe what the ‘brand’ is selling, then chances are new recruits won’t believe it for long either – and it is no good attracting the best talent if it leaves after 6 weeks!

Lack of internal consistency can also have a severely detrimental impact on the engagement of current staff. This is particularly so if they perceive that the organisations branding exercise is merely aimed at luring more ‘lambs’ through the ‘wolf’s’ door.

Of course it isn’t surprising than many organisations fall into this trap. It’s usually far easier to paint the picture of an organisation as an employer of choice, than actually do the hard work to make it so. However, if an employer brand strategy is to deliver sustainable long-term results, then the focus needs to be broader than just the attraction of new talent. 

The key to developing an effective employer brand strategy is to take a holistic approach and understanding the organisational culture, engagement factors, employee experience, external perceptions, management practices and leadership vision. Only then is the organisation in a position to develop a brand strategy that is honest, authentic, compelling, differentiated, internally embraced, externally desirable and consistently delivered upon by the organisation.

Diarmid Lee