Employer Brand Creates Competitive Edge in Tough Hiring Climate


The importance of building a brand that will draw customers to a business has long been recognized, but organizations also need an enticing employer brand when competing for talent in a tight labor market. 

It’s not difficult to define what an employer or employment brand is in the abstract. ‘‘A company’s employer brand should embody an employer’s mission, values, culture, and employment experience,’’ Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at online job board Indeed, told Bloomberg Law in an email. 

‘‘It should provide people with an accurate perception of what it would be like to work for the company and should resonate with target audiences, such as current and/or potential employees.’’

Luring Workers to the Winery

Some employers have to work hard to develop their employer brand, but the family-owned identity of E. & J. Gallo Winery, founded in 1933 by brothers Ernest and Julio, created a natural place to start. 

‘‘Family has always been at the forefront,’’ Susan Hensley, E. & J. Gallo Winery’s vice president of human resources, told Bloomberg Law in an email. ‘‘By taking what makes Gallo unique and dividing those qualities into different buckets, certain themes arose and that ultimately became our employment brand.’’ 

She said this is summed up in the company’s employment slogan, ‘‘Cheers! Gallo Careers | Your Perfect Pairing.’’ And the company’s values—innovation, collaboration, integrity, teamwork, respect, and humility—acted as the foundation on which the employment brand was built. 

Gallo’s HR department had help in these efforts. ‘‘The development of our employment brand was a cross-functional endeavor which absolutely included key stakeholders within marketing,’’ Hensley said. 

To promote the employment brand to potential job seekers, Gallo relies on social media, talent marketing, and job boards such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed, Hensley said. Also contributing is the new tech-enabled technique of ‘‘geofencing,’’ in which cell phone users can be targeted based on their location. 

However, Hensley added, ‘‘our most powerful and proven recruitment tool is our own employees. Having been named a Glassdoor Best Places to Work two years in a row, we know that our employees are what makes us truly unique and successful.’’ 

Reputation Matters

Reputation is something all organizations develop, which means they have an employer brand whether they’ve consciously fostered one or not. 

Job seekers take an organization’s brand very seriously, Wolfe wrote in a recent blog post. Close to two-thirds (62 percent) of workers think a potential employer’s reputation is ‘‘extremely important,’’ and another one-third (33 percent) think it is ‘‘somewhat important,’’ Indeed found by polling 500 U.S. workers. Among younger millennials, an even higher proportion (71 percent) called a potential employer’s reputation extremely important. 

And hiring concerns aren’t limited to the ability to attract candidates for high-level jobs. Close to one-quarter (22 percent) of companies surveyed by iCIMS, a talent acquisition software provider based in Matawan, N.J., ‘‘reported that they enhanced their external image and employment brand to overcome challenges associated with hiring entry-level employees,’’ Chief Marketing Officer Susan Vitale told Bloomberg Law. 

Build a Better Brand

For an organization that wants to improve the way it’s perceived in the employment marketplace, an honest self-assessment is the place to start. 

‘‘The essential thing, a mistake that can often be made, is not taking a very good look at what your current reputation is as an employer,’’ Amelia Green-Vamos, employer communications manager at Glassdoor, told Bloomberg Law. The Mill Valley, Calif.-based company hosts a website on which employees can rate their employers and has been expanding into job board offerings. 

‘‘You need to understand the focus of where you are,’’ she said, adding that this can be accomplished by garnering internal feedback through such means as pulse surveys and online employee reviews, in order to find out how candidates feel about you. 

What’s Your Value Proposition?

Green-Vamos also said it’s essential to understand your ‘‘employer value proposition,’’ a phrase that comes up repeatedly in interviews in reference to what a company offers employees. 

Companies that decide to bluff and puff themselves up rather than evaluating where they are realistically on this aren’t doing themselves any favors, Lindsay Witcher, senior director of global practice strategy at San Jose, Calif.-based outplacement services company RiseSmart, told Bloomberg Law. ‘‘You can’t just say things, it has to be real or the talent digging around on Glassdoor and other places will soon find the reality.’’ 

‘‘If the corporate and employer brand are authentic and aligned to the business, they will be successful. You have to ensure the company value proposition is aligned to the employee value proposition,’’ Anna Burke, vice president of marketing at Chicago-based performance management and employee engagement software company HighGround, told Bloomberg Law. 

She added that in some businesses where intellectual capital is important, such as advertising, the employer brand may actually be more important to your customers than the overall corporate brand.

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