How to build employer brand awareness without a brand

23 April 2021

For growing businesses trying to compete for tech talent, one challenge stands above the rest. How can you promote yourself as an employer when no one knows about your business?

Scaleups and startups often find themselves in the situation; they can’t afford to wait around for talent. They need these individuals to deliver on their mission, or their business cannot function. To develop your business and scale, you need to recruit the best talent. However, convincing candidates to join a company they’ve never heard of is never going to be easy. Trying to show you’re a great place to work when you have a very limited workforce or work in a shared office space is also challenging. Why should these candidates take the risk and join a relatively unknown company?

There’s another issue that some startup businesses face, they have to remain nameless and brandless whilst they go through a series of investment and acquisition processes. These brands cannot unveil too much about themselves in the early stages but need to attract talent to get started or run the risk of missing business targets. In tech businesses especially, software developers and engineers are required to develop products and services. Without them, the company cannot begin.

When competition for tech talent is as fierce as it is right now, employers of all sizes rely on their employer brand perceptions to give them an advantage. It’s not just about being a well-known name in your sector but being considered a brilliant place to work too. Through employee testimonials and social media activity, you can give candidates an idea of what it’s like to work for you. However, when you don’t have a consumer brand, it’s even harder to develop an employer brand awareness.

All employers have an employer brand; it refers to the perceptions candidates, and existing employees have of your workplace. However, if you aren’t well known, there will be very few preconceptions about you as an employer, making it harder to set you apart from your biggest competitors. How can you convince candidates you’re a great employer when you have little brand identity, may not have your own office and have very few employees? The answer is it’s tough. If no one has heard of you, will they even consider you as an employer?

Therefore, we’re asking how you can build employer brand awareness with no brand or very little brand awareness.

Focus on skills and tech

One way to connect with tech talent is to speak their language. If we’ve learnt anything through our various tech RPO projects, it’s that professionals in this sector like to talk technology. While your tech stack alone may not convince them to work with you, it can undoubtedly entice top talent and get them excited about your proposition. If you’re working with state of the art tech, let this form the basis of your discussions and present the chance to work at your scaling business as a new challenge. You can also prioritise skills and development to connect with candidates who are looking to learn and progress.

Plus, if you focus your targeting and recruitment marketing on individuals with specific skill sets, you’ll be raising employer brand awareness where it matters most; with relevant candidates. There’s no use for a software business using broad targeting and raising employer brand awareness with people in the beauty industry. Start specific, when the relevant candidates in your sector know who you are, you’ll be able to reduce your time to hire and recruitment costs. When your business expands, you can begin to raise employer brand awareness amongst a more extensive skill set.

Build anticipation

Social media is an excellent platform for teasing and building up anticipation. When used correctly, you can build up excitement around your business and ensure that relevant people are keen to learn more. This all comes from sophisticated targeting and creativity.

Chances are your scaleup is on the verge of something ground-breaking, or it wouldn’t really have a purpose. Therefore, this is a chance to promote your mission and vision when talking to candidates and in your employer brand marketing materials. Of course, in the very early stages of growth, you may not have a lot to discuss who you are, but you can discuss what you aspire to be. We usually recommend your EVP and employer brand should be 80% authentic and 20% aspirational. However, when you’re just starting out and are looking for talented individuals who share your vision and are excited about the prospect your scaleup offers, there’s no harm in being a little more aspirational. You need to inspire candidates to attract those who believe in you.

Create a pipeline

By teasing your brand and mission, you can build a pipeline of interested talent. These individuals may wish to learn a bit more about you and who you are before applying for a role. After all, experts claim that, on average, businesses need between 5 and 20 touchpoints to make a sale. The same should apply to hiring. In a candidate-driven market, you need to work harder to convince candidates to use. Scaling businesses need to amplify this effort.

Using Facebook and LinkedIn lead generation techniques, you can reach candidates with the skills and background you need and pipeline them until you’re ready, and so are they. This can raise your employer brand awareness and give you an engaged, relevant audience to communicate with. You can collect emails and make audiences to target on social media to help raise awareness of who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

Promote the team you do have

Whilst you may not have the most extensive team in the early stages of growth, you can still use these people to your advantage. The first hires within a startup are often the most passionate and excited about what you’re hoping to achieve, and therefore will act as advocates for your brand. Using their testimonials and stories will provide comfort to candidates that your startup is not only a legitimate employer but too good of an opportunity to miss. Use your people to tell your story.

Plus, remember that all of your existing employees will have a network of previous colleagues, classmates, friends and family who could potentially be great hires. While advocates of looking beyond your network for talent, especially in a scaling business, it doesn’t hurt to raise awareness amongst your employee’s networks. The more people who hear about you, the more word will spread to ensure your team is actively sharing your content and promoting your brand on social media.

Outsource your recruiting

Another way to raise your employer brand awareness is to outsource your recruitment process. There are many ways your employer brand can benefit from the expertise of an RPO provider. Firstly, recruiters – especially those who specialise in tech recruitment – have an extensive network of potential candidates that they can reach to promote you as an employer. They also, as an external resource, act as salespeople for your business and become trusted advocates. You can tell your employer brand story a thousand times, but it will always be more believable when coming from an external source.

Plus, RPO providers know a lot of tactics for reaching skilled individuals and raising employer brand awareness. Not only do they build employer brand messaging and create attention-grabbing campaigns, but they know how to gain success from digital talent attraction campaigns, which can be used to capture the interest of a highly focused group of candidates.

RPO agencies can find the unique selling points of your brand and use their connections and tactics to sell it to top talent even when competition is right. You’ll benefit from the experience, expertise and an external viewpoint to help you promote the best aspects of your employer brand.

Talent Works offer a flexible approach to RPO, which is perfect for scaling businesses. Our outsourced recruitment model ensures that companies can scale our services up or down to meet recruitment demand. We specialise in building employer brands, sourcing tech candidates and creating digital attraction campaigns, helping growing businesses to raise their profile amongst relevant candidates. To find out how we can tailor our services to your recruitment needs, contact our team and start a conversation.

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