#Asia Why startups need to strategize employer branding from the beginning


Airbnb, Salesforce and General Electric (GE) consistently tops the list of best companies to work for. They share a common success ingredient – strong employer branding. The process of employer branding refers to promoting your startup as an employer of choice for prospective talents. It serves to fulfill three main functions: attract, recruit, and retain ideal employees.

Instead of pumping large amounts of resource into recruitment and retention, did you know that by investing in employer branding in the early stages of your company, you can save up to US$4723 per employee hired?

As your startup establishes a foothold in the market, it will scale up rapidly and more talent is needed to sustain the growth. This is where efforts in brand building will pay off. Strong employer branding gives you advantage in attracting talented job seekers over larger companies.

Here are some tips to get you started on building your employer brand:

Set your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

An Employer Value Proposition (EVP) explains what makes your startup unique and reflects your competitive advantage. It must positively influence prospective and existing employees by giving them a valuable reason to want to work for you. Ideally, the EVP should outline offerings that match an employee’s career goals. To achieve this compatibility, always adopt a bottom-up approach in defining your EVP. Invest in employee engagement and listen to ground sentiments. Find out what makes them tick and what they like about the company.

For example, Airbnb, having overtaken Google as the top employer for 2016 in a Glassdoor list, alludes a big part of this achievement to its culture. An employee experience team was set up to inject ‘fun’ into the workplace through organising birthday celebrations and anniversaries. With this people-centric approach towards recruitment and retention, it is no wonder Airbnb is one of the best companies to work for.

Weave in your company narrative

When making decisions, recruiters tend to trust personal recommendations. The same applies to applicants because hiring for the right fit is a two-way street. Jobseekers refer to employee reviews and form their opinion of your company. Glassdoor is one of the platforms where they go to. Employee testimonials not only ensures authenticity but also humanizes your brand.

Salesforce has done a great job in this aspect, using a strong internal referral program. There is a #dreamjob hashtag for employees to show off on social media why they are an employer of choice. Employees post work anecdotes on Salesforce’s Instagram page.

Leverage on your digital connections

Evident from Salesforce’s success, social media is a powerful medium for employer branding. It is affordable and widely accessible. This is especially useful for startups who are often faced with budget constraints.

With a 21 percent increase in active social media users from January 2016, online communities are expanding. That’s a whooping 482 million users! Leveraging on social media’s influence, startups can engage with potential hires easily.

General Electric (GE) has done exactly that with its integrated social media strategy. The strategy engages stakeholders ranging from science enthusiasts to data scientists. Using a business case challenge with Kaggle, a crowdsourcing community for data scientists. The competition invites participants to propose innovative solutions for problems faced by GE.

Startups may not have the capacity to launch a multi-pronged strategy like GE, but it is never too late to start small. To begin, you can concentrate employer branding efforts on selected platforms. Develop a long-term plan to engage and excite followers regularly with quality content. With a sustained presence, you can then work towards more intimate engagement. It converts followers into brand ambassadors.

After following these steps to build your employer brand, it is time to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. This can be done by surveying ground sentiments from employees on what they like about the company and looking at the quality of applicants for your job openings. Amid today’s war for talent, it is important to ensure your startup projects the right messages and identity to attract suitable talent.

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