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How I got my clients to care about Employer Branding: hint… its all about education!

By Fiona Grimmer

Marketing Manager, HorizonOne Recruitment

A client approaches you to fill a role, let’s say a Financial Accountant. Not only do you know a very small number of available accountants, but you also have five other clients looking for exactly the same. It’s a situation I’m sure most recruiters can relate to.

Australia wide there is a severe talent shortage. Highly skilled and experienced candidates are in high demand with clients and recruiters alike scrambling to attract and engage them.

It is now essential for all employers to have a defined employer brand in order to be competitive and to engage with prospective candidates before a vacancy arises. And it is a recruiter’s job to help a client understand this.

But hopefully we all know this by now. It’s not new or shocking information that employer branding, talent attraction and recruitment marketing are absolutely key in order to recruit for our clients, and ourselves.

So if business owners, recruitment leaders and talent attraction marketing professionals are on board, why is it still so hard to get your clients to see the value?

The problems I still see are twofold:

  1. Consultants tend to take the path of least resistance when it comes to talent attraction. In a time poor day, they often think its easier to throw a job ad up quickly rather than investigating other, more effective options.

  2. Clients lack understanding around the importance of defining and amplifying their employer brand and are therefore unwilling to commit time and resources to a more proactive and creative approach.

Our Consultants

Ah, consultants. Can’t recruit without them. Can’t always recruit with them.

Any successful recruitment company has a team of consultants who are great at bringing candidates and clients together.

But how long will these consultants continue to be great if they are not adapting their approach to the current market? What has always worked for them in the past is likely no longer working.

What do they say about the definition of insanity? Something about doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results?

Consultants are often time poor and react to what’s in front of them (tonnes of jobs to fill) so they fall back to what’s quickest and easiest, and are not particularly interested in “fluffy marketing” efforts.

But education and behavioural changes from your consultants have to be your first step.

Helping consultants understand what these marketing tools actually are, and the benefit they will see through these tools is critical. I've found you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face but it is not until you can show them real examples, with results, will they be willing to get involved and value the additional effort.

Only once they truly understand what an employer brand is, the different talent attraction tools that exist, or how marketing can support their recruitment efforts, can they be expected to offer these as creative solutions to their clients.

Effective employer branding and talent attraction through marketing has always played a huge role in successfully filling hard to place roles or highly specialised roles. However, with so much competition in the market, it is now becoming more and more complex to fill roles we once thought simple.

Our Clients

Sometimes, the biggest challenge with a client is helping them face some hard truths. Perhaps the market perception of their organisation is less than ideal, or they have a negative reputation as an employer. It is also just as tricky if they are not known at all.

Clients need to understand where they currently fit in the market and how they are perceived by potential applicants. The reality may be a hard to pill to swallow, but part of any good consultant’s toolkit is being able to articulate concerns while providing evidence to back up their claims.

The next step is education. Knowing where they fit is one thing, helping them understand how to change these perceptions (or lack of) is just as important. Enter the employer brand.

Employer brand and supporting materials don’t need to be a War and Peace effort or cost a fortune, but your client needs to understand they need more than just a “Careers” page hidden somewhere on their website.

An effective recruiter should be able to help their clients see examples of what a great employer brand looks like and how different attraction methods can help amplify their brand and available opportunities. Even more powerful is providing evidence of successful placements with comparable clients or similar target candidates.

They also need to understand the types of talent attraction tools and marketing you intend to use, and why these are appropriate for targeting their ideal candidates. Approached in the right way, it can be a successful conversation. However, I have had a client freak out because they thought I was suggesting they needed to create some sort of splashy TV ad, or I was going to put their faces on the side of a bus!

Clients don’t live in the recruitment world; they don’t automatically understand that recruitment and marketing go hand in hand. A consultant needs to help them understand that an effective employer brand is all about strong, authentic voices and messaging that speaks to their target audience directly.

While traditional marketing agencies may be able to assist, the best results come from working with people who understand both sides. It requires expertise in recruitment and experience finding and engaging with high performing candidates in your market. This can be by investing in and developing an internal marketing team (as we have at HorizonOne) or through partnering with a specialist recruitment marketing company.

Employer branding or recruitment marketing are certainly commonly seen buzz words over the last few years, and perhaps you have avoided educating your consultants or offering it as a service to your clients until now.

In order to be successful and to solve today’s recruitment challenges, helping your consultants understand the importance of investing in employer branding and talent attraction through marketing is no longer an option – it is a necessity. And your clients will thankyou for it.

As the Marketing Manager of HorizonOne Recruitment, Fiona Grimmer is helping to successfully disrupt the way the industry and our clients tackle recruitment challenges – changing the conversation with a creative, people solutions led approach that is leading the industry with award winning employer branding and talent attraction campaigns.

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