Employer Branding Can’t Fix a Poor Candidate Experience

By Kevin Grossman – Published February 8, 2022 on

It seemed like there was a reorg and a rebrand every six months.

This was my experience back in the late 1990s when I managed marketing product and services launches for a variety of Silicon Valley company accounts. Thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent developing new and refreshed brands. Business units combined with others to develop new and innovative products and services, moving people internally, laying some off, and hiring new people into new and existing roles. Even more invested in customer marketing, sales, and implementations. This was impacted further when a merger or acquisition was involved.

However, I always wondered about the impact of these activities on the employees and the candidates themselves, their experiences, how they would rate their experiences, their perception of fairness, and how it all impacts the business and brand over time. Because it does. Good and bad.

Companies can spend 5% to 25%+ of their annual revenue on marketing their brand. Larger companies can also spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on employer branding initiatives. The business and employer brands are inextricably linked; it’s what attracts people to apply and stay, or repels them to stay away.

Employer Brand Is All-Encompassing

Employer brand — how candidates and employees perceive wanting to work somewhere and actually working there — is a big business. An important business, one where companies develop marketing stories of why their employees work there and why they stay. It’s exactly the things that prospective candidates want to know — and what current employees need to be constantly reminded of (and asked about).

Employer brand permeates the entire recruiting, hiring, and retention process, not just at the point of attraction but from pre-application to onboarding and beyond as an employee. Improving your employer brand may decrease your cost of hire and increase retention in the short-term, but it will not negate an ongoing poor candidate or employee experience.

The Impact on Referrals

Plus, companies depend on referrals. Referrals can account for 20%+ of hires each year, but that hasn’t been easy due to the continued upside-down bonkers world we’re in with the pandemic, employees quitting, candidates ghosting, the tight labor market, and the list goes on. The current cost per hire and cost of vacancy rates are soaring for many industries, as well. Which is precisely why referrals are so critical.

Brand perception impacts referrals. Perceived fairness impacts referrals. Candidate experience impacts the willingness (or not) to refer. Not having the referrals you need that turn into hires will cost you. Let me give you some impact examples from our CandE benchmark research and possible real-world scenarios…

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