Most small-business owners spend their time and energy trying to build a good reputation among their customers and prospects. But do they care about what their employees think of them? They should. Just as Yelp has kept small businesses accountable to customers, the rise of Facebook and Twitter means they must also tend to their reputation as an employer.
Companies need to use social media in order to attract Generation Y workers, but word can spread quickly if you don't have a good employer brand strategy: a survey by Alexander Mann Solutions showed 87 percent of candidates are likely to share a bad hiring experience with their network.
Despite the evidence, companies are slow to adapt to this new reality. A new study by Bernard Hodes Group shows that only 51 percent of employers have an employer brand strategy in place, while 24 percent are working towards building one. Furthermore, a new LinkedIn study shows that 83 percent of global recruiting leaders say that employer branding is a critical driver of their ability to hire top talent. Here are five employer branding tips for small businesses that want to better compete for the top global talent:
1. Create a powerful message. Small businesses need to have a firm grasp on what they stand for when it comes to being an employer. They have to have a message that's memorable and then use it everywhere where they touch potential applicants. For instance, Unilever uses its motto "create a better future every day." The key, especially for millennials, is that you tie your company's brand to bettering the world and making an impact.
2. Get your employees on board. The cheapest and most effective way to build your employer brand is to treat your employees right. They are your best marketing tool for your brand. Once you get them on board, trust them and allow them to use social tools in order to get the word out, and magical things can happen. Zappos.com gets their employees on board by publishing a 300-page culture book, with testimonials from employees about what it means to work there. One amusing example of employees coming together to support an employer brand is Litzky Public Relations' "Call Me Maybe" YouTube video.
3. Show what it's like to work at your company. Accounting firm Deloitte's Australia branch made a series of videos that tour the office and interview young workers to give graduates a feel for what it's like to work there. You too can open up your culture to prospective candidates and give your existing employees a chance to feel like they are contributing to the company. This will save you time and effort in the recruiting process because candidates will come in better-educated about your business and will know if they are a good fit for the culture.
4. Enable two-way communication. Companies like Intel and Sodexo make it a policy to answer Facebook questions in 24 hours or less. In our "always on culture" this is seen a real positive in the candidates' eyes because it shows the company caring about people and valuing their time. What's special about social media is that when you help one candidate out, everyone else sees it, so you exponentially improve your own employer brand.
Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career expert and the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting company. He is also the #1 international bestselling author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2010. Subscribe to his Personal Branding Blog for more advice.