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Where should the responsibility for employer branding sit?

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we ran a client workshop on leveraging LinkedIn effectively for recruitment. It was a great event that the attendees found very useful.

The reason I mention it again is that one of the delegates was a marketing professional. In actual fact, she was the only non-HR person in the room. She asked: who should own an organisation’s employer brand, Marketing, HR, or the Recruitment function?

I am by no means an expert on employer branding. I recruit HR talent for a wide range of clients and because of this I can appreciate where businesses have got it right and perhaps where some are falling short of the mark.

Where it often goes wrong is when people forget there are two sides to the recruitment relationship. Part of my job is to find great candidates who I can promote to my clients. Equally I need great clients that I can promote to my candidates. It is no good having a client that wants to offer your candidate a job if they don’t want to accept.

I like working with a certain type of client and I often find that the hiring managers and businesses that appeal most to me personally are the ones that I find easiest to place candidates with. Part of this stems from the fact that I believe in working with conviction and if I believe my clients provide great places to work then I can help my candidates to see this too.

There is no straight forward answer to the question of who should own the employer brand but my personal view is that it should have input from all three functions. The Marketing team need to ensure that the employer brand links to the corporate values as a whole. If you have a poor product or a poor consumer reputation no amount of slick employer branding will attract the brightest and best.

It is the duty of HR to ensure that a great business reputation gets translated in to a great employment environment – including culture and behaviours. The recruitment function are then on the front line of talent attraction; the organisational “shop window”. If they don’t live the brand through creating a fantastic candidate experience then all is lost.

I have worked with clients in the past (and now no longer do) where half the battle has been getting candidates to agree to us submitting their CV. It was not just a case of would you like to do the job, but are you prepared to work for this specific client?

Sadly even great consumer brands can have poor recruitment functions that fail to replicate the same organisation’s customer experience. These are typically resourcing teams that hide behind technology and process applications rather than strive to deliver an engaging service to real people. Many of the worst experience I have had have been with RPO providers. My view is they often just don’t have the same concerns about their client’s reputation as an in-house team would. Too often they wasted my candidates’ time by interviewing them and then putting roles on hold. They failed to provide feedback in a lot of cases and often did not even acknowledge people’s applications in the first place.

If you are a business where your brand is king and you are getting your employer branding strategy wrong, you are not just upsetting candidates who want to work for you but customers too. Many candidates will take the view that if I am not good enough to work for you then why should I buy your products or use your services? Even a rejected candidate needs to be well-treated. Your candidate and customer experiences are often two sides of the same coin. Which leads us neatly back to why marketing have to be in the mix…

The link between recruitment and customer experience is one we are going to be exploring more deeply this year. We would love to involve you in our thinking and get your views. So why not give us a call to find out what we are planning? You can call me on 0207 224 3307, I would be very happy to come and see you to tell you about our great ideas!

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