Like all other types of branding, building a successful employer brand is a long game — which can make quantifying its success a challenge. So, how do companies know if their employer brand is as effective as it could be? The answer lies in auditing and analyzing your employer brand against the competition.
Your employer brand is all about how the general public perceives your company as an employer — and when it comes to attracting and converting the best talent for your open roles, keeping employees happy for longer, and cultivating a glowing reputation among the workforce, you won’t go far without a strong one.
But how do companies know if their employer brand is as effective as it could be? How can you be sure you’re putting your best foot forward with an employer brand that stands out from the crowd?
Conducting an employer brand audit is a great place to start if you want to:
The scope of your audit will depend on your company’s priorities and how much you’ve worked on your employer brand so far. Don’t sweat it! No matter where you are in your journey (or whether you’re actively hiring), there’s never a bad time to start future-proofing your business with a magnetic employer brand.
This guide is here to help you make a plan and kick off an employer brand audit that makes sense for your needs. Let’s get started.
The first step in an employer brand audit is deciding what you’re hoping to accomplish. What do you want to learn? How are you hoping to improve your strategy? Some possible goals include:
Create a list of the questions you want to answer. Ask the rest of your team what data they think would be most valuable. Get as much input as you can.
Once you know the goal you’re aiming for, you can design an audit process that will take you there.
Regardless of the ultimate goals for your employer brand audit, it’s always smart to establish context within the broader market landscape and identify some competitors to compare yourself to.
Without a benchmark to measure against, any data you gather isn’t likely to provide much clarity. The number of competitors you add to your list is up to you, but 10–20 companies tends to be the sweet spot.
For a robust competitive analysis of your employer brand, be sure to select a wide variety of companies spanning your local competition, industry competition, and some employer brands you aspire to be like, even if they’re not your direct competition.
Think of this as a rubric for grading your current performance and understanding how you can stand out from the competition. When you dig into the performance of each area of your own brand, and examine those same areas in your competitors’ employer brands, it puts a spotlight on what to improve to establish a competitive edge.
Once you know your goals and what will move the needle for your company, you can pick the aspects of your employer branding you want to analyze and review. List every point of contact between your company and staff, from the very start of the hiring process through to long-term employment. Then, based on your goals and competitive analysis, choose which parts deserve the most attention.
Here are some employer branding aspects you may want to focus on, along with some questions worth considering for each:
Depending on the scope of your audit, you may want to review all of these factors or only a few. The more details you take into account, the more insights you can gain for your employer brand.
Now that you have your list of questions laid out, it’s time to dig into the answers. Do you have access to the data you need, or will you need to loop in other teams — or even roll out a survey to get feedback? Work with your team to identify what questions can be answered now, and make a plan of attack for any gaps you need to close.
It’s always a good idea to begin with the end in mind, and consider the final output of your audit and what kinds of tools and documentation you’ll need to make it happen. There’s no one-size-fits-all format for an audit, but there are plenty of templates out there to guide you.
Spreadsheets are a great way to visualize a heatmap of your performance relative to competitors, while a slide deck or report format works better for comparing and contrasting a range of media types.
That said, one best practice to follow is staying as consistent as possible with the scope of employer branding areas you’re looking at for yourself versus competitors. You don’t want to find yourself comparing apples to oranges and struggling to make a meaningful analysis when the time comes.
With your own employer brand data laid out next to the competition, you can zero in on trends and patterns in your performance — and which opportunities are at your fingertips. This is the time to consider historical info and context, like which strategies your company has tried in the past. What worked, and what didn’t? This will save you from attempting the same unworkable solution more than once.
You can even turn the insights from your audit into a roadmap for your employer branding strategy, using your analysis to prioritize which improvements you make and when. Employer branding is a long-game project by nature, and laying out improvements on a short and long-term timeline is the best way to avoid things falling through the cracks. Start by prioritizing what counts now, with peace of mind that you can easily return to the rest later.
There’s no quick fix for a great employer brand — the most effective ones in the landscape are built over time by living up to their word, and delivering an excellent experience for job candidates and employees alike.
No matter where your reputation as an employer stands today, this audit framework is a great first step to an employer brand that glows internally and externally.
When it comes to making your employer brand as effective as it can be, The Org can help.
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