Jean-Luc Arpaia, Senior Customer Success Manager at XING and employer branding enthusiast, answers seven questions about employer branding. He provides insights into why it is crucial and how companies can go about to position themselves as top international employers.
1. First things first: Why are you so passionate about employer branding?
I have worked in recruiting for many years and have personal experience in actively sourcing the best candidates. In my experience, it all comes back to employer branding. It really is a door opener. It’s about how people perceive and talk about a company — on the internet, externally, internally. I am passionate about it because it gives power to people. Employer branding is not just a marketing tool. It creates the possibility to start a relationship. It comprises transparency, communication, and authenticity. These factors are very important to me, both professionally and personally.
2. With the current global war for talent, how important is employer branding to gain and retain international talent?
The past years have really been all about the candidate-driven market — not the employer-driven market. Candidates decide where they want to work. They want an employer that allows them to feel like they have purpose and that has values in line with their own. Having a purpose is a big topic — especially for younger generations. People don’t go to work anymore to make money, they want to feel part of something. Employer branding can inform people whether a company is a good cultural fit for them. Of course, different markets, cultures, and industries lean themselves to different employer branding approaches, but even so it is still important to give employees purpose.
The market is very fast these days and people have the possibility to work wherever they want. Therefore, employers need to showcase what they can offer to employees. Personal development, new experiences, and possibilities for networking and knowledge-sharing are all factors that are increasingly important.
In terms of international talent retention, it is important that employees see themselves as ambassadors of the company. Employers need to make sure employees are happy, so that they can also express this on the outside. Word of mouth is still very important and the best way to promote a company as an employer of choice.
3. You regularly facilitate workshops on employer branding. What do HR professionals or employers underestimate most about employer branding?
Employers underestimate the impact employer branding has inside and outside of the company. It’s not just about marketing the company well, but it’s about having conversations with employees. Employers should take a holistic approach to employer branding. Employer branding helps to find the better candidates, as well as to retain existing employees. For example, employees need to feel comfortable within the company, the working conditions should be good, there should be a broader purpose that they can relate to, and the company should be socially responsible.
What’s also often underestimated is how easy it is to create content for employer branding. Just ask employees why they get up in the morning to go to work and why they are enjoying working for the company and share those comments or testimonials to improve employer branding. It’s very simple.
4. What are the top challenges to build a strong international employer brand?
A big challenge is often just to get started with the employer branding topic. Employers need to define if it’s a marketing topic, a recruiting topic, a branding topic... Furthermore, who is the project team? Is it HR or Marketing? It is also important to have the backing and buy-in of the management team.
Another challenge is to get an idea of what motivates the target group. It could differ according to different countries, locations, and business units. There needs to be an individual approach, and this is challenging. Other challenges include deciding between different social media platforms, what different approaches or styles of communication to use, and getting the right tools to facilitate the employer branding efforts. The key is to rather do less, but to do the right thing.
5. What are your top tips to employers to address these challenges?
Firstly, start by knowing who you are, because many companies don’t have clarity on this. You want the candidate or employee to fall in love with the company and have a strong relationship.
Secondly, define your EVP — your employer value proposition. What are your benefits and what do you offer that makes you stand out?
Thirdly, know what you want. Define the target group and create candidate personas. For example, there will be different needs and frustrations for those working in IT than those working in Sales.
Finally, know where to find candidates — what different channels to use and how to communicate to the different target groups.
There are differences in attracting and retaining talent, but for both emotional storytelling is important. Employers need to trigger emotions and not just convey facts. Having a story behind the people or the company through testimonials and personal stories is very important.
6. Employee experience and employee benefits are hot topics. How do these fit into employer branding?
Employer branding 2.0 is about employee transparency — a look into the company. How employees feel about a company and their experiences within a company are at the core of an employer brand.
Employees want their companies to create an atmosphere where they can join events, find friends, and have possibilities to find personal purpose. They want to combine their personal life with their work life and have a good work-life balance, so employers need to offer added benefits for improved experiences. These benefits should not only be about money, but include aspects such as flexible working hours, remote work, sabbaticals, networking opportunities, and ways for employees to enrich their personal life. This is already happening quite well in the tech industry, because there are really skilled people who can decide to work at whichever company they want.
7. How do you think employer branding will develop in years to come?
Employer branding will become more and more transparent in terms of, for example, salaries and working conditions. Many companies are, however, not there yet. They want employer branding, but not the transparent communication that comes with it.
In future, it will also be more and more important to attract female candidates, especially in male-dominated industries all over the world. So, employer branding needs to especially address the needs of female candidates and raise their impact within the company.
Furthermore, the war for talent is over and now it’s about retention. For this, internal feedback tools are becoming more crucial, because employers need to talk to their employees and have empathy for their feelings and needs.
Finally, with the further development of employer branding, companies shouldn’t create an illusion of what type of employer they are. This doesn’t help anyone. They may attract top international talent, but not be able to retain them once these individuals get the realistic view of the company. Employer branding is not what you wish your company to be, but rather what it really is.
About the Expert: Jean-Luc Arpaia is a Senior Customer Success Manager at XING in Hamburg, Germany. With his experience in recruiting, customer service, and account management, Jean-Luc guides his customers through the usage of the XING E-Recruiting products. On-site training, webinars, workshops for employer branding, and digital recruiting are also part of his daily business. Jean-Luc is passionate about recruiting and employer branding and also has his own blog called Recruitingzirkus.