5 Employer Branding Musts for Small Businesses

November 10, 2014

Quick, jot down a few words to describe your employer brand.

If you can’t think of what to say, prospective employees probably haven’t gotten the message either. Yet 56% of people say a reputation as a great place to work carries the most weight when they consider a job at a company[1] – whether it’s a multinational corporation or a local boutique firm.

As a small business, you may lack the name recognition, growth opportunities or compensation package to compare with large companies. Even so, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for second place when it comes to talent. You just have to get out there.

You can communicate your company’s employer brand in a number of ways, from your social channels, to your career page and blog, to offline interactions and marketing campaigns. If you’re not sure how to get started, the following five tips will keep your company’s story from going untold:

1. Know your story.

It may seem obvious, but research shows 50% of recruiters don’t understand their own talent brand[2]. If you don’t know what it’s all about, you can’t communicate it effectively. Is your workplace fun, fast-paced, high-tech, training-centered or entrepreneurial? Check in with your employees if you’re not sure, as they experience your brand firsthand.

2. Involve everyone.

As the one in charge of attracting talent, you’re often a candidate’s first experience with your company’s employer brand. Let your culture shine through on your online profile (check out the LinkedIn profiles of Improbable’s Aaron Neale or Lion Co.’s Daoud Edris, for great examples). But don’t go it alone. Your employees are your best ambassadors, and you can bet they’re already communicating online. Give them the tools to help you. Dell has trained employees on using social media, creating an army of empowered brand evangelists. While Dell is a massive company, you can implement that idea at a small business scale.

3. Show, don’t tell.

It’s one thing to say, “we have fun here.” It’s far more powerful to actually bring prospective employees into your world, like Rapid7’s solo dance tribute to “individual excellence” …

… or Twitter’s spoof recruiting video …

Be visual. Share photos, videos, and colorful updates from your social channels. They don’t have to be slick or even silly – just real.

4. Make your case.

Getting top-quality people in the door can be even tougher for small businesses, so it’s important to communicate clear differentiators with your branding efforts. Perhaps you provide great mentoring for young employees, or the ability to train across multiple business functions. For executives, you may be able to offer a stake in the business, or more control over the company direction. Share these stories across your blog, career page and social channels.

5. Seize your social opportunity.

As a small company you can be a little more nimble on social media – no lengthy approvals, no intricate corporate brand rules. Don’t waste the opportunity by broadcasting only company news and job openings. Make it a two-way conversation by answering questions and responding to comments. Intel and Sodexo answer Facebook queries within 24 hours – and when they do, their followers can see they’re responsive and real.

Remember, if your employer brand can help with some of the heavy lifting associated with recruiting, your job gets easier. To learn more about hiring best practices for small businesses, download our ebook, Recruiting for Small Business.

[1] LinkedIn Talent Trends survey of 8,000 fully employed workers in 26 countries.
[2] Corporate Leadership Council, Smart Sourcing: How Talent Advisors Use Sourcing Intelligence to Extend Recruiting’s Influence (2011), 38.

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