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Stacy Zapar’s How-To Guide for Building an Employer Brand

How would you like to enjoy a 31% higher InMail acceptance rate, 2.5 more applicants per job, and 20% faster growth? Sounds pretty sweet, right?

The key to all of these results, according to Founder of Tenfold and employer branding consultant Stacy Zapar, is having a strong employer brand. In her presentation at last year’s Greenhouse Recruiting Optimization Roadshow, Stacy drew upon her 18 years of recruiting experience and the best practices she’s employed with her consulting clients to outline the three pillars of employer brand: content, social media, and candidate experience.

So how do you build an employer brand with a strategy that accounts for each of these 3 pillars? Read on for Stacy’s tips & tricks for building your employer brand—even with limited time and resources.

How to attract talent through engaging content

Content can take on many forms: blog post, video, or podcast (to name a few). In marketing, the term “content” refers to an asset that you create, generally with the goal of educating, entertaining, or solving a particular problem. Here are some tips from Stacy on creating employer brand-related content:

1. Research and take inventory

Start by doing some research and learning what’s already out there. Stacy says that people are almost certainly having conversations about your employer brand; you may just not know about them yet. For example, maybe people are taking photos of the office or of their coworkers and posting them on Instagram or writing about their experiences in a personal blog. Locating and re-sharing existing content is a great way to get started.

In order to really define your specific employer brand, talk to as many people as you can on different levels of your organization and be sure to ask the same questions consistently. Stacy suggests the following:

  • Why did you choose to work here?

  • What keeps you here?

  • What are three words that describe this company? Your team?

  • How is our company changing the way people do things?

After you’ve done this for a while, you should begin to see some patterns emerge. What are some words or concepts that come up regularly? Those can form the basis of your employer brand.

2. Build an employer brand roadmap

Don’t feel like you have to start blasting out your employer brand through all mediums and channels at once. Stacy suggests coming up with a multi-phased plan and rolling out new material during each phase. For example, perhaps in Phase 1 you’ll start a video series that showcases each of your different offices and upload those videos to YouTube and post short descriptions on your company’s LinkedIn page. Then in Phase 2, you might take still shots from the videos and post them to Instagram and create Pinterest boards with them. In Phase 3, you could have someone write blog posts and tweets based on the content of the videos. The main idea here is to roll things out gradually and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Another tip for creating your roadmap is to establish what Stacy calls “pillars of content.” Think of a few broad categories or things you’d like to highlight, like your industry, office location, or specific aspects of life at your company—you can even include a topic that’s relevant but not directly related to your employer brand. For example, TripAdvisor often creates or shares content about travel because it’s a broad topic that can attract passive candidates. Then you can decide how often you’d like to create or share content based on a particular pillar. Maybe 50% of your content will be about your industry, 25% will be about the location of your offices, and 25% will be about specific projects people are working on.

3. Develop a content curation strategy and calendar

Not every piece of content that you share has to be original. You can round up the best content that you find on a certain topic, ask experts to weigh in and give you a short soundbite or other contribution, or you can ask people from within your company to get involved. Stacy suggests creating a “community management plan” that assigns one recruiter to a particular platform for one day each week (or whatever schedule makes sense with the number of recruiters you have). This means that no single person has to be responsible for monitoring every platform every day—and it lends authenticity to your voice.

You’ll also find it beneficial to create a content calendar so everyone knows which days blog posts or videos will be published, when you’ll be posting on specific social networks, and generally when to look out for new content and share it. Consistency is extremely helpful in building an audience, and planning things out in advance makes it easier on you so you don’t feel like you’re always scrambling to come up with something.

How to attract talent through social media

Recruiters are increasingly turning to social media to connect with candidates and amplify their message. Here are a few social recruiting best practices from Stacy:

1. Train all recruiters on social media

If your recruiters already feel comfortable with social media, that’s great. Encourage them to share all the employer brand-related content your company creates. If your recruiters don’t feel super comfortable on social media, Stacy suggests offering training so that they learn what’s possible. Getting your recruiters to share content is important because it will help expand your reach, but posts will also feel more authentic if they’re coming from individual people rather than just from your company’s account.

2. Establish goals and benchmarks

Stacy suggests outlining your goals and deciding how you’ll measure them before you get started. It’s also useful to keep track of which recruiters use which networks—people tend to gravitate toward the specific mediums where they feel most comfortable. Allow recruiters to focus on the networks that they enjoy and get the most value out of.

3. Develop a social media strategy

As you did with content, you’ll want to develop a strategy for your presence and activity on social media. If you currently don’t have any presence, start with just one channel. Stacy recommends Twitter, because it’s relatively easy to correct mistakes, and tweets have very short lifespans, but you can really choose whichever channel you’d prefer. Just start simply and plan how you’ll roll out your social media presence over time.

All in all, remember to actually be social—your participation should not just be a one-way conversation, like posting links to your jobs over and over again. Think about how you’ll use the platforms to showcase culture and engage in conversations. One example is creating a Facebook group rather than a Facebook page. This will encourage greater participation and make members feel more like a community than an audience.

How to attract talent through an outstanding candidate experience

At the end of the day, the personal connection that candidates have (or don’t have) with your company will matter more than any piece of content or social media strategy. Here are a few of Stacy’s tips for keeping candidate experience a top focus of your employer branding efforts:

1. Job listings

Job listings are an opportunity to share your employer brand, so don’t waste them with ho-hum descriptions or lists of required qualifications. Stacy suggests including videos and photos that showcase your company culture and real employees. Get creative!

2. Recruiting events

If you’re looking to hire large numbers of candidates, you can put on fun events that don’t fit the usual mold. For example, Zappos would put on ice cream socials where they’d encourage everyone to dress casually, eat some ice cream, and then break into smaller groups to learn more about work in specific departments. You can also experiment with social media events like Twitter chats, where you set a specific time and date and have a set list of questions that you cover with participants.

3. Handling rejection

A big part of the candidate experience is getting rejected, and unfortunately many companies drop the ball at this stage. Stacy explained that she added a personal note to the end of her rejection emails and included her name, invited candidates to connect with her on LinkedIn, and mentioned that candidates were always welcome to reach out to her if they were interested in another job. It’s not hard to add this type of information to an automated rejection email, and it helps to humanize the rejection process and make your employer brand stand out.

Building an employer brand is not a process that’ll happen overnight. But take the time to implement some of the strategies and techniques that we’ve outlined here and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a recognizable employer brand—and reaping some of the rewards!


Learn more about employer brand from Stacy Zapar during her session, “The Stories We Tell to Hire” at Greenhouse Open from May 25–27 in San Francisco. Simply click the button below for more information!

Greenhouse Open 2016

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse, where she gets to share her love of the written word and endorse the use of the Oxford comma on a daily basis. Before joining Greenhouse, Melissa built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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