Don’t Bother With Employment Branding

Let me repeat that: Don’t bother with employment branding. Don’t waste your time or resources uncovering and articulating your brand. At least … don’t bother unless you commit to changing your mindset about active and passive candidates.

“But wait,” you may say, “Doesn’t a well-researched and authentic employment brand contribute not only to more efficient recruitment but ultimately to improved employee retention and even company profitability?” Yes, that seems to be the case. But in order for a company to realize those impacts most effectively, recruiting needs to be ready to back away from its perceptions about active and passive candidates; namely, that passive candidates are almost always superior to active candidates. That’s because if your brand effort does what it’s intended to do, many “passive” candidates will actively pursue your opportunities.

Hear me out.

At its most basic, a well-executed employment branding effort accomplishes two things:

  1. It makes potential candidates aware of a company’s employee value proposition in a way that will increase interest among the candidate set who would perform well within the company’s environment.
  2. It creates a lasting, positive impression among the desired candidate pool.

To state it more directly, a well-developed and appropriately executed employment branding effort should increase not only awareness but also interest among your company’s most ideal candidates. As a result, more individuals who would be a good fit — culturally as well as skills-wise — will actively seek employment with your organization.  In other words, an accurate, authentic, and well communicated employment brand effort will, by its very nature, convert some previously passive candidates to active candidates, candidates who directly choose to seek employment with your company without having to be further courted. Some will pursue your opportunities immediately. For others, your message will resonate at that right moment when they decide it’s time for them to change roles or organizations. But either way, your branding effort will, and should, help appropriate individuals self-select and become active candidates.

This is where the mindset about active and passive candidates needs to change as part of an employment brand implementation. If we agree that your branding efforts will convert passive candidates — individuals who up until this point were considered ideal candidates — to active candidates, and if we believe that these candidates change in no other way aside from deciding on their own, with the help of your employment brand effort, to apply (without you having to source and court them further), then it stands to reason that by not changing your mindset, by still acting on the belief that active candidates should be considered secondary in quality, you will bypass more and more exceptional candidates who would be a good fit for your organization.

Not only that, but by failing to giving more credence to active candidates once you promote your employment brand correctly, you will fail to realize the efficiencies that your initiative should instill.

  1. By helping the right individuals choose to actively apply to your opportunities, you should, in theory, be able to spend less time (and money) hunting and more time assessing and following up.
  2. If, however, you continue to view all active candidates as inferior, you will by necessity overlook, consider as secondary, and/or possibly miss out on exceptional candidates who were passive by nature until your brand message “spoke to” them.

Not changing your mindset about passive candidates once you communicate your employment brand also implies that there is something wrong with individuals who would choose on their own to be part of your organization.

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. If you take the time to communicate your authentic employment brand proposition to the world, and then you actively discount any individual who is compelled to apply due to the message you convey, what does that say about your company? In other words, should an individual always have to play hard to get to be considered a quality candidate? Don’t you want to hire someone who not only has the talents and skills you seek but who also both understands what your company stands for as an employer and wants to be a part of it?

Employment branding continues to remain one of the most highly recommended efforts to improve not only the efficiency of a recruitment effort but also to enhance employee retention and ultimately to positively impact a company’s bottom line. If you make the investment, be sure to take the time to manage the critical change of mindset about active and passive candidates so that you can gain the most from such a vital initiative.