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​How to build an employer brand

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The harsh reality of attracting, developing and most importantly retaining the best possible talent is that SMEs can’t compete with the limitless marketing dollars of bigger firms. We all know that Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and even well backed start-ups are hurling billions of dollars at ‘the battle for talent’.

So, what do we do about it?

It’s not all bad news. If you run or own an SME business, you are leader or hiring manager, you’ll be aware of what fantastic places to work small companies are. Employer branding is about making sure that you are selling the dream to prospective candidates! This article is a comprehensive guide to giving you the best possible chance to find and sign a rock-star candidate for your business.

1. Put your heads together

Most leaders, when pushed will struggle to articulate the positives of their culture and working environment. You can’t expect potential candidates to know what a great business you are if you can’t articulate the benefits yourself. This is the crux of an Employer Value Proposition, the ‘why should great people work here?’. Think about the culture, benefits, exciting products, business plan, working environment, personalities of your people and anything else that makes your business cool! You are unique – Make a noise about it!

2. Define your core values

Your core values should be at the heart of your recruitment process and will enable you to great make hiring decisions. Many candidates will want to be able to align themselves to your business and core values are a great place for them to start. Think about what you are trying to achieve as a business, what you really stand-for. Authenticity is key here and you need to really cut through any ‘corporate style’ waffle. Keep it simple and powerful.

3. Profile the perfect candidate  

You can’t appeal to everybody. Have a clear view of the ‘Rockstar’ candidate for your business. Who are they, what do they do, where do they hang-out online? What makes them tick? Once you have an idea of the right candidate profile you can tailor your messaging to attract them. Link this to your core values and use it to underpin all hires regardless of the role.

4. Get active online  

Building a profile online takes times and energy. Most companies spend most of their marketing budget on strategies to generate sales opportunities, why not do the same to showcase your business to prospective employers. At a very basic level, posting about your team, successes, team events, charity work etc will raise your profile. Even better is to create a brand online where you’ll release content which would be considered valuable (and free) to candidates in your industry.

5. Advertising  

Job boards are notoriously ‘hit and miss’ – If you are going to spend money you need to sell the opportunity and focus on making sure the ad is going to generate clicks and applications. A simple cut and paste of the job spec will be a waste of time. Make sure you include package, benefits, bonuses, culture, and values. A ‘why join’ section is a good idea, too. Measure the results and don’t forget using a partnership with an agency will normally include an optimised advert as part of the deal.

6. Talent pools

Without question, this is the best way to identify and nurture talent. Profile your market and ask the following questions:

  • What are the skills that I will need in the next year (or more)?

  • Where would people with those skills work?

  • What could I offer them?

Next, find them on linked in, connect with them, and group them. Depending on how comfortable you feel, reach out to them. Tell them about your business and how you would love to have a chat with them about the future of your business. Keep in touch.

This requires a significant investment in time and can be outsourced to a good agency who will nurture the talent pools on your behalf with great results.

7. The interview experience

Finding a good candidate and booking them in for an interview is just the start.

We see hundreds of cases a year where clients work incredibly hard to find great applicants and then lose out because they didn’t invest make an effort to engage the individual.

In a tough market you need to make each applicant feel special (even the unsuccessful candidates!) and SELL.

  •  Send an informative confirmation email (web links, video’s if available, information to help them prep).

  • Create some supporting content – Values Document, Benefits overview, culture statement etc

  • Make the interview enjoyable, sell your opportunity and engage the candidate. No police-style grilling!!

  • If there is a second interview, help them to prepare and invest time in them.

  • Once you are close to a decision, invite the candidate for an informal coffee to chat about how they are feeling.

It’s not all about dollars, if you make the candidate feel good about your business, the chances are they will join.

8. The offer

It's vital that the offer is delivered in person with warmth and enthusiasm. Call them, congratulate them, and run through the details. They’ll be delighted and you’ll get an immediate ‘feel’ for how keen they are. Follow the call up with a professional, personalised offer letter outlining what a great offer you’re making. Agree to follow up in a day or so to answer any questions they may have about the contract.


‘Our staff are our greatest asset ‘is something we all hear regularly, and most leaders genuinely mean it. A good employer brand is about translating all the great things about your business into a vision that candidates can buy in to.

 The reality is that many SMEs do not have the time, or do not prioritise their time around staffing. Until you ‘carve out’ time in each week to work on your employer brand it’s unlikely that you’ll consistently get the results that you need to grow.

 BMS offers a range of solutions to build and develop your team. We have built many SMB teams from scratch in Australia. If you need help, reach out for a no-obligation chat and free advice!

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