A strong employer brand provides competitive edge, says Caterer.com, but how can it aid recruitment strategies?

“In the war of talent it’s so important you have your presence out there,” says Carluccio’s Head of Recruitment, Jean-Pierre (JP) Gadsdon, setting the tone for Caterer.com’s recent Employer Brand interactive panel session.

Gadsdon, together with Honest Burgers Commercial Director Harald Samuelsson and over 70 HR professionals and recruitment specialists, explored in more detail the new and innovative approaches top employers are adopting to aid their recruitment strategies.

Interactive panel session with over 70 HR professionals and recruitment specialists

With unemployment at its lowest rate since 2008, it’s no secret that great talent is hard to attract and retain. Employers need to work harder than ever and take the competitive edge in recruiting and retaining top talent, in turn building and leveraging strong employer brands. What’s clear is that employer brand matters in a skills shortage, and investment in it drives recruitment costs down.

For those new to the concept, employer brand is defined as the ‘commercially competitive qualities, reputation and attributes that set a company apart from the competition.’ In short, it’s the payback for investing in staff – attraction, retention and inspiration.

So what makes employer branding so important in today’s climate? Says Harald Samuelsson: “Recruitment has changed over the last 15 years. Today, potential employees want to know what they are letting themselves in for. Now it’s all about ‘what can you offer me?’ JP Gadsdon agrees: “Now you spend the first half of an interview selling the business to candidates. This is driven by the skills shortage and in part is due to the millennials’ approach to finding a job.”

What’s clear is that in defining your employer brand, finding your point of difference is key. However, far from being a corporate branding exercise there’s a real need for it to be authentic and genuine. As Harald Samuelsson says, “in this market there’s a need to keep it real.”

Harald Samuelsson, Senior Advisor/Commercial Director, Honest Burgers

“As an industry, we are judged by Trip Advisor and the online community,” says JP Gadsdon. “All the bits that make you unique need to be out there. To attract millennials we need to show them why and how we are unique.”

In the bid to establish a meaningful employer brand, authenticity is key. “If your employer brand feels corporate and fake you’ll soon be found out,” warns JP Gadsdon. Drawing on his own experience at Carluccio’s he says:  “You need to ensure that the people working in your business have a tone of voice that is common across all platforms.  Create a consistent language.”

Harald Samuelsson concurs: “The employer brand needs to mean something to your employees. You can’t impose it on them.”

Offering guidance to a member of the audience who had recently opened a kebab shop in Clerkenwell, the Panel offered practical guidance on taking the first steps to define employer brand.

“The market is so competitive that you need to remember your point of difference. Why did you start the business and what does it mean to you? Leverage that,” says  JP Gadsdon. “Give food samples to potential customers, tell them your story, share your vision. Give them something to follow and something to believe in. Use social media. Have fun with your content. Expose your followers to new experiences and ideas. ”

On differentiating yourself from the competition, Harald Samuelsson says: “Keep it real and remember your purpose. Follow through on the promises you make to staff. If you offer training, train them. Remember, your customers are potential employees.”

Talk of Branding can often raise alarm bells for those holding the purse strings, viewed as expensive. However, contrary to popular opinion, “You don’t need pots of money to get employer branding right,” says Carluccio’s JP Gadsdon.

Jean-Pierre Gadsdon, Head of Recruitment, Carluccio's

A strong employer brand provides competitive edge and is sought after for hard to recruit candidates. This, in turn, can reduce recruitment costs. Says JP Gadsdon: “Recruitment is a by-product of great employer branding.” What’s more, employees who are totally aligned with your brand can act as advocates, in turn attracting new recruits. “By focusing on staff retention you’ll save on recruitment costs,” says Harald Samuelsson.

Branding is now a fundamental part of the employee journey. What’s more, to achieve cut through, a brand needs to be closely aligned internally and externally. “To present a strong employee brand you need to get back to your company roots,” says JP Gadsdon. “Employees need to have bought into both the consumer and employee brands for them to take you seriously. To align consumer and employee brands gives consistency.”

He continues: “It’s our responsibility as recruiters and HR professionals to get the message out there to potential employees. We need to help them de-select as much as select our businesses.”

“As an employer the starting point is how can we communicate our messages to the outside,” says Harald Samuelsson. “The messages in our heads need to be on the website. We need to ‘tickle’ potential employees and engage them in a dialogue. We need to sew the seeds for future roles to attract the best candidates.”

After all, as JP Gadsdon concludes: “If employer branding’s doing its job you’ll get the candidates.”

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