July 20, 2015

Your Manufacturing Company Has an Employment Brand – Is it the One You Want?

by Marni Hockenberg

The job market in manufacturing has heated up and smart hiring managers are developing talent acquisition strategies.Yet employment branding is one of the most effective yet neglected recruitment strategies, based upon the recent manufacturing recruitment experiences at Hockenberg Search.

Are you aware that your company HAS an employment brand whether or not it was created intentionally? People are talking about your company and what it’s like to work there. So if you have an existing brand, it’s prudent to manage it.

What is an employment brand and why is it important?

Think about it – we are a consumer based society, and we make purchasing decisions based partly on the brand of a company, service, or product – or all three. Just like a product or service, companies need a brand. Buyers want to know what they can expect when they evaluate a purchasing decision, and candidates today are consumers too. They have choices and deciding to take a job is a buying decision. Candidates want to have a lot of information about the company and its culture before they ‘buy into’ the interview and hiring process.

“The most effective Employer Value Propositions provide a clear platform for differentiating your organization from your talent competitors.  What does it feel like to work at your company? What are the attractive aspects of being a CNC Machinist at your company vs the company across the street?  What is unique to your employment experience? The increasing organizational transparency resulting from social media has meant even greater emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring external promises closely reflect employee experience”,  explains Marianne Kulka, VP Digital Business Development at TMP Worldwide, a global company that creates employment branding platforms to enhance recruitment efforts.

A well-crafted employment branding strategy will give you a competitive advantage for A-list candidates who do have choices in this tight labor market.

Here are a few things to consider as you build your employment brand. The foundations of your employment brand are the unique qualities that differentiate your company in the market and embody your culture. :

  1. Are you growing and innovating?  Top talent looks for creativity and a risk taking culture. Your entire recruitment process should showcase how you are innovators in your market space. From job descriptions to employment ads to interviews, be prepared to demonstrate to candidates what innovation looks like at your company. Where are you investing in R&D and new product development? Are you entering new markets? Hiring fresh Executive talent? Re-inventing your company? These types of initiatives are competitive advantages in the employment market and it behooves you to showcase them.
  2. What is your vision for the future? Some manufacturing companies rest their laurels on past successes. But top talent looks ahead, not in the rear view mirror. They want to be part of an exciting future. Talk to them about your strategic direction if it won’t compromise confidential or proprietary company information. Get them excited about your future plans and how they can contribute to your growth.
  3. Define your company culture. Are you a ‘big, small company’ with resources to implement growth strategies but with fewer layers of bureaucracy that can slow down the process? Do you have a performance driven culture? One of the biggest hindrances to recruiting and keeping top talent is a company’s resistance to change. If you are small and growing, let candidates know that you are actively moving from an entrepreneurial to a professionally run company.
  4. Are you a leader in your market? For what, how, why? Anyone can say that they lead market share, but few have the data and statistics to back up the claim. Be prepared to demonstrate the reality of your place in the market. If you aren’t a leader in the market, but are working toward that goal, then be honest and let the candidate know what you are doing to capture a leading place. Tell them how their contributions will align with achieving those goals, and demonstrate how others in your company have made a positive impact.
  5. Who is on your leadership team? Top performers want to work with other top performers. Is it part of your employment brand to hire only star performers with admirable credentials? You could showcase these A-list employees on your website to attract others of the same caliber. Ensure that candidates meet your top employees during the interview process. Hiring engaged and high-performing employees is an employment brand that will attract other ‘birds of a feather’.

These employment branding messages should appear consistently in your website, marketing materials, your mission and vision statement, during your interviews, with the interactions with your customers, and with your internal communications. Building an honest and compelling employment brand is worth the investment to draw dividends in the talent pool. Remember, if you don’t manage your employment brand, others will define it for you. Who do you want to be in charge of this critical recruitment tool?