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Employer Branding - Where to Start

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

According to CNBC, "there are more than 11 million job openings in the US today". Let that sink in; 11 million. To put that into perspective, that is more job openings than the populations of NYC and Chicago combined. Compound that statistic with the continuation of the great resignation and one might conclude that the current job market landscape is extraordinarily competitive, and every sector is feeling it.

Employer Branding is the blueprint for any successful human capital management strategy.

Employer Branding is very different from client and product branding, although there can be some common threads often derived from mission and vision statements. Just like when you develop marketing for a specific target of potential clients, you’ll need to do the same for your employees. Identifying your value propositions and understanding your competition is crucial to recruiting and retaining top talent.

The Value Proposition

It’s important to remember that an organization can’t be everything to everyone, so ideally you want value propositions that align best with your culture (or the culture you’d like to have), along with the characteristics that fall within your cultural type. Don’t know what kind of culture your organization has? It’s time to find out. Hire a consultant or initiate an internal project by your people operations team (including recruitment). The key to knowing your culture is that the majority of the organization is in agreement, so it takes more than a quick read to figure it out. Culture is also fluid and needs a pulse check every couple of years for start-ups and timing in line with economic changes for more established organizations.

It’s okay if your culture and value propositions are asynchronous; hiring is often step one, but keep your long-term cultural vision in mind. Ideally, you’ll need to identify two types of value propositions: (1) Organization-wide and (2) Role-Specific.

Organization-wide value propositions aren’t simply about having these offered, it’s about comparing apples to apples. Candidates dig in these days and so should you. You shouldn’t simply say “competitive benefits”, you’ll need to know how your benefits are competitive and what the monetary value is. The value proposition is when the offering is better than the majority of your competition for the same employee.

Organization-wide Value Proposition Examples:

  • Compensation

    • Tuition Reimbursement

    • Performance Bonuses

    • Company-wide bonuses

    • Equity

  • PTO

    • Mental Health Days

    • Volunteer Time Off

    • Bereavement Days

    • Paid Sick and Vacation Time

  • Work/Life Balance

    • No Official Work Hours

    • Flex-time

    • Work-from-Home

    • Fridays Off

  • Benefits

    • Child Care Assistance

    • Parental Leave for birth or adoption of a child

    • Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits

    • Abortion Assistance

    • Quality and Affordable Health Insurance

    • Short and Long-term disability

    • Internal referral program

    • 401K (with match) or retirement accounts

    • Employee Stock Options / Stock

    • Malpractice or Liability Insurance

    • Pet Insurance

  • Learning and Development Opportunities

    • Continuing Education

    • Internships

    • Licensure Assistance

    • Employee Development Opportunities

    • Money Management

  • Effective management

    • Great reviews

    • Specific communication style

    • Open-door policy

    • Employee Recognition/Awards

  • Innovation

  • DEI

    • DEI Published Plan

    • Visa Sponsorship

  • Culture

  • Career Growth Options

    • Roadmap to growth/promotions that are shared internally

    • Annual Promotions/Raises

  • Perks (this list is endless)

    • Paid Parking

    • Cell Phone Reimbursement

    • Holiday Parties

    • Trips or incentives

    • Gym Membership

    • Pet Friendly

    • Team-Building Activities

    • Technology Reimbursement

    • Summer Camp for Employee’s kids

  • Community Investment or Philanthropy

  • Politics

Role-Specific Value Propositions

Role-Specific value propositions are really the bells and whistles of a solid recruitment and retention strategy and where things start to get exciting (at least for us; we love this stuff). The great part here is they can change and adapt. When deploying a new value proposition, be sure you are capturing data points to help determine success for the future. Just like client marketing, there is ROI in employer branding. These value propositions (aka investments) are really to show job-seekers and employees that you see and hear them, and are committed to keeping them. But remember, there is also cost in a vacant seat, in attrition, and in a frustrated workforce. By investing in your employees early on, you are simply choosing your cost.

Role-Specific Value Proposition Example

Keeping with the apple association, let's use educators as an example of how to identify customized role-specific value propositions. Educating used to seem like a dream career, and it was, for many young minds deciding where they'd place their footprints in the world. But over the last decade or so, education has mutated into something much more complicated. Educating, like nursing, is a purpose-driven role; the individuals that choose this career will often say "I always knew" or "It was a calling". Simply put, they want to do this job. What they don't want is to get swallowed up, looked past, or sacrificed when it comes to the administration making decisions. This is how you develop a proper role-specific value proposition; you understand the pain points of the position and you develop customized solutions to help solve those issues.

Going back to the idea that you can't be everything to everyone, you'll likely need to pick one main value proposition to start (then add more as resources allow), and invest in it either financially and/or through effective leadership. It takes time for a value proposition to take root and get the ROI, so think of this as a long-term investment (at least a year). This strategy will help retain and recruit the talent you need. Here are some recommendations and how to advertise on job postings and in conversations:

  • If the pain point is feeling "looked past", the resolve might be an educator-centered administrative philosophy. Create or foster educator support with the community, with parents, and with the school board.

  • If the pain point is being "swallowed up", create a streamlined vision that is transparent, simple, and executable.

  • If the pain point is feeling "sacrificed", think about benefits, compensation, perks, and safety.

Once you have identified all your value propositions, you will be ready to begin your official employer branded campaign via social media, publications, blogs, advertisements, Glassdoor, job boards, etc. to attract and retain top talent.

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