Everyone at some point has taken a quick look in the mirror to make sure they don't have something stuck in their teeth. You may have done this before a big date or a job interview, but no matter what the circumstance, it's a good habit to get into - after all, you want to put your best foot forward.
The saying, "You don't get a second chance at a first impression" is so true. For organizations today, the first impression top candidates get is your employer brand. You can say, "We don't have one because we've never hired a recruitment advertising agency to build one." You might feel that you've never seen the value in having one. In both cases, you would be incorrect.
Your organization has an employment brand, just like you have a company culture - no matter if you have put any attention to it or not. It's there, really, you just have a look.
Optimizing your employer brand on the web
If you want to understand the first impression your organization is giving to top candidates, you have to look at what they likely see first - your company website. Here are the top five things you can learn from your main landing page about your brand and a job candidate's first impressions:
1. How easy is it to find a link to your open positions on your company website's homepage?
From the candidate experience point of view, the ease of navigating from your main landing page to find a job is vital in satisfying a very basic touch point. When doing any type of search on your site use the "three strikes and you're out" rule of thumb. If you can't find something you're looking for in three short key strokes, you, or the candidate in this case, will usually move on to another site
2. Does your landing page say "career" or "jobs"?
Subtle but obvious point here. Do you want to hire someone to do a job (think task) or to grow and have a career with you (think strategic). The old joke is that a job is the acronym for Just Over Broke and usually associated with lower level work. This is not an impression you want to project, no matter what level in the organization the candidate is seeking.
3. Is the career page link at the top of your page with other important information or down at the very bottom in 6 point font?
This also speaks to candidate experience and creating a user friendly experience. If you're not making it easy to navigate, you're creating barriers. No one wants the initial experience with the organization to be seen as a hassle.
4. Is there any way to get an understanding of the values of your organization?
Today's candidates are looking for cultural indicators and your mission, vision and values can be leveraged to attract top talent. One trend that's turning into best practice is to clearly state your values on the career page and encourage candidates to read them. State that these values might be discussed in the interview process and compel them to ensure their personal values are in alignment with the organizational values. Clearly state that if not, they may not be a good fit for the organization.
5. If there are pictures of people, are they your employees or are they those nice Microsoft stock office photos with a huge level of diversity?
This one speaks directly to retention. Organizations that portray an authentic and congruent employment brand have better retention rates as candidates actually experience what they perceived the culture would be. Think about a time that you may have taken a position with an organization and it was not the experience you thought it would be. How long did you stay?
Although employment branding has been in our HR conversations for many years, Dr. John Sullivan has been educating about the importance of brand since 2008. Recently, it is becoming more important, and with employer reputation sites like Glassdoor, candidates have access to a lot more information about your organization. The best way to start that relationship is by taking a look in the mirror and understanding what your employment brand really says about you. Is there spinach in your teeth? It's best to get rid of it before anyone else notices.