Listen Up! 4 Questions for Planning Your Employer Brand Research

March 20, 2013

This is the second in a series of posts diving deeper into our new (and free!) e-book: The Employer Brand Playbook: 5 Steps to Crafting a Highly Social Talent Brand. Click here to get the full playbook. 




That’s the percentage of recruiters who understand their own company’s employer brand, according to Corporate Leadership Council*. It’s a pretty scary statistic when you consider that a recruiter is the first point of contact for many candidates. To sell your company you need to really know your company and its employer brand – especially if you want to improve it.

How do you do that? It all starts by listening to the people who experience it, whether employees or external folks (what we like to call a “talent brand audit”). Before you start, here are a few things you need to decide:

1. Who are your targets?

Start with current employees – they know your brand best and are easiest to reach. You can’t be everything to everyone, so think about which sub-groups are most important to you. Is retention a top goal? If so, group your targets by tenure so you know where to prioritize your listening efforts. Are you having trouble hiring engineers or analysts? Segment your research findings by function to understand key talent pools.

Next, tap people outside your company so you get a balanced view. Examples of external audiences are college students, former employees, and candidates who declined your offer.

2. What information will you collect?
Not just the good, that’s for sure. In order to really understand your talent brand you need to know what brings employees to your company, what keeps them there, and what makes them leave.

Ask employees and passive candidates what matters to them in a job, what drew them to the company, and where they feel the company needs to improve. Need some ideas of what to ask? Page 14 of The Employer Brand Playbook has plenty to get you started.

3. When will you engage your targets?
The obvious time to listen is at the beginning of embarking on an employer branding program. Beyond that, it depends on your company’s goals. If your business or hiring strategy is shifting, you should consider re-engaging targets.

Wherever you are, monitor your employer brand on an ongoing basis, just as you would your consumer brand. At LinkedIn, we send out regular pulse surveys to get a read on what makes our employees tick. When J.P. Morgan tried a similar approach, the results shifted the company’s hiring strategy towards internal mobility, increasing internal hires by 5%!

4. Where and how will you engage your targets?

There are many options for gathering information. Whichever you choose, your research should include a mix of quantitative (surveys, exit interviews) and qualitative (focus groups, suggestion boxes, open-ended survey questions) approaches. For internal audiences, surveys can be a cheap and easy route. For external audiences, you may want to consider a research firm like TNS or Gallup.

For more tips on listening and learning to your employer brand targets, download The Employer Brand Playbook.


*Corporate Leadership Council, Smart Sourcing: How Talent Advisors Use Sourcing Intelligence to Extend Recruiting’s Influence (2011), p.38