startup employer branding

Getting Started with Employer Branding

Building an effective recruitment machine requires proactivity and thinking like a marketerBecause the best hires won’t just fall in your lap—at least not without some work. Most HR departments struggle with keeping a full pipeline of qualified talent because they fail to understand marketing tactics.

As the CEO and founder of NextWave Hire, I’ve helped many startups step up their recruitment game through employer branding.

Here are eight steps to getting started on building your employer brand to fuel your company’s recruiting efforts:

1. Build out employee testimonials.

Employee testimonials are social proof for your company. By reading through what others have said about your company, potential recruits can be reassured that you provide a great place to work and an environment that will further their long-term career goals. You should solicit and market testimonials for all major roles within your organization.

The testimonials should present a deep dive into what it’s really like to work as a customer service representative or an engineer at your company. Include direct quotes, video, and photographs from employees to add a personal touch to your testimonials.

2. Leverage these testimonials as collateral for marketing and recruiting

Once the testimonial is up on your website, post it on your social media accounts and make sure to tag all employees featured in the testimonial. Chances are, your employee will want to share the testimonial with their own networks, so your company can get in front of a lot of new people this way. A lot of companies use their employees’ social media networks for marketing products, but they forget to leverage their reach on social media as an effective recruitment tool.

Stacy Zapar, a recruiter who has worked with Zappos and TripAdvisor, recommends this strategy. Companies can greatly grow their job applicant pool by building out a robust social media presence. Your employees can be your biggest assets in doing this if you offer incentives to share content.

3. Reward employees who share content on social media platforms.

Say you have a team of 30 SDRs, each of whom has an average of 200 other SDRs in their social networks on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms. If only a third of them share an article from you every week, your content is getting in front of 2,000 SDRs on a weekly basis for free. That’s a lot of exposure for minimal effort or resource expenditure!

To provide your employees with a reason to share content, create a points system. Track employees’ social media accounts. At the end of the year, HR will reward those who have the most shares, the most clicks, etc.

4. Host online and offline events to attract potential recruits.

Again, marketing tactics provide a blueprint for recruitment. Webinars can be a highly effective tool to get on the radar (and obtain email addresses) for possible hires. You could, for example, ask a few of your SDRs to talk about how they find prospects. The people who attend the webinar make great recruitment leads because they care about professional development.

Live events also remain useful for recruitment. Invite people you see as potential candidates to your in-person event. The event may be purely social, like the happy hours that many top financial companies host for college students. Alternatively, your event can include an educational component, such as a panel or popular speaker.

5. Convert potential recruits into job candidates through nurturing.

The people who have attended your events (whether online or in person) are the recruitment equivalent of MQLs (marketing qualified leads). It’s now time to nurture these leads using the same tactics you’d use to move a prospect through a standard sales funnel. I recommend developing email drip sequences targeted at particular talent communities—so you’d develop one email sequence for people in sales, another for software developers, etc.

Your process should be oriented towards long-term nurturing. Studies from The Talent Board suggest that the average job applicant waits six months between learning about a company and applying for a position there.

If you can set up an effective email campaign to nurture potential job candidates, you’ll have a competitive advantage. Only 1% of Fortune 1000 companies do this type of email nurturing, even though 40% have the technological capacity. Most companies don’t know how to write nurture campaigns for job candidates, so anything you’re able to do can differentiate you.

6. Create a career website that’s easy to search and navigate.

Your career page is one of the first places a candidate will go when they research your company. Unfortunately, marketing teams are often in charge of the career page, and recruiting metrics are probably not their main priority. The result is that many companies have boring career pages that need to be updated.

Use your career page to showcase the company’s history, core values and culture. This is where you want to sell candidates on why they should work for you. Try including things like a video or a timeline of the company’s history.

7. Publish landing pages for different roles within your company

You would never set up an eCommerce site to sell jet skis and sailboats on the same product page, but most career sites do the equivalent. By creating landing pages for different roles, you attract many more job candidates.

For each core role within your company, create a specific landing page. The page should contain listings for open positions, a description of the role, testimonials, video, and relevant information that job seekers want. SDRs might want to know about the interview process, compensation plan, how promotions are determined, etc. Make it easy for them to learn what they’re most concerned about.

The average conversion rate on a career site is 5%, with 11% being the gold standard. But companies who employ this strategy see 20% conversion rates or higher.

8. Utilize a secondary CTA to add passive candidates to your funnel

For every landing page, the primary call to action (CTA) is to apply for a job, but not all candidates will be ready at that exact moment. I recommend implementing a secondary CTA for people who aren’t ready to apply yet.

Simply include a secondary link below the apply button with something like “Not ready to apply? Signup to get notified about future positions.” Ask for visitors’ names and email so you can send regular emails informing them of new opportunities. This will increases your passive candidate pool.

Employer branding is a long game, but with these actions you can start to differentiate yourself and attract higher-quality applicants and leads.  You can learn more about how we work with companies to execute some of the above strategies at NextWave Hire.

Phil Strazzulla

Phil is the Founder and CEO of NextWave Hire, a recruitment marketing platform that captures hundreds of bite-sized employee testimonials to drive employer brand. Prior to NextWave Hire, Phil was a VC at Bessemer Venture Partners.