Job Seekers Must Educate Themselves on Employer Brand

Understanding Employer Brand

Is Employer Brand Important in Candidate Selection?

As a job seeker, one of the best things you can do is to get in the heads of recruiters, hiring managers and company leaders. If you understand why, how, and who they hire, you’re already steps ahead. This includes understanding an organization’s tools, processes and resources—everything from what happens after you submit your resume to the candidate selection and evaluation process.

However, it’s not just about the process—every company has some sort of strategy around hiring including their brand in the talent market.  Just like companies such as Apple or Coca-Cola spend millions of dollars to sell their products every, they also pour money into selling their jobs.

Definition of Employment Brand

The concept of an employment brand is an important one for companies in this competitive job market with 51% of employers saying they have an employment branding strategy in 2012 according to a recent study by Bernard Hodes.  Nineteen percent of companies surveyed admitted to re-working their current plan and another 24% are working towards one.

What does this mean for you? Employer brand. A company’s employer brand is the perception you, the job seeker, have of what it’s like to work there and the reality of that experience. It’s like walking into a big retail store. You have expectations about the products you’ll find there and the service you’ll receive. If those expectations fall short, it hurt’s that store’s consumer brand, their reputation in the marketplace. You’ll take your spending money elsewhere.

The same can be said for an organization’s employer brand. If you take a job based on the promise of challenging work, certain benefits and growth opportunities, and once you start, that promise isn’t met, it tarnishes the reputation of what it’s like to work for a company.

As a job seeker, understanding a company’s employer brand is essential to both determining if the company is the best fit for you and your success in the application and selection process. An employer brand can provide exceptional insight into an organization and the opportunity.

When companies define and communicate their employer brand, they’re focusing on what matters most to their employees and what they do well.  They connect that to their culture and to employees’ success: who performs the best in the organization and how do they think act and behave.

As a result, good employer brands clearly define the most important returns you’ll get from working there.  This includes specific benefits and perks but more importantly, the workplace lifestyle or flexible workplace.  An employer brand can help provide insight into the people, the culture

Big Brand Employment Like Zappos

For some organizations like Southwest and Zappos, this means employees like to have fun at work and embed their personalities into everything they do. For companies like Google or 3M, it’s all about innovation—employees have to have a passion for trying, creating and believing in new things.  Southwest flight attendants often tell jokes or sing songs at the beginning of a flight—this isn’t a fit for everyone. If you take a job and the fit’s not there, you’ll be asked to perform and behave in a way that’s not comfortable to you and ultimately, you won’t be happy. Really understanding a company’s employer brand helps you as a job seeker ensure you’ll fit.

Understanding employer brand also means you have a sense of what the company is looking for. What are the qualities (outside of the skills required for the job) that are an embedded part of the company’s culture? What behaviors are common in successful employees?

Take Marriott International’s employer brand line “Find Your World™.” Marriott’s not looking for passive employees that just want a paycheck.  Find Your World™ sends the message that growth and movement are encouraged among their many locations and brands. If you’re looking for upward mobility and the chance for varied challenges throughout your career, you can share that as part of the process.

Knowing how a company brand’s it’s employment experience can give you an edge up as you look for a job. You can better position yourself as a fit if you understand what matters to a company. The important point here is to make sure you don’t force it. If you have to stretch the truth about yourself or your experiences to sell yourself based on a company’s employer brand, it won’t work for you or the employer.

Job Seeker Education Key in Company Recruiting Process

As you’re learning about a company’s employer brand, keep in mind that not every organization understands the concept or does a good job of defining their own employer brand. Less sophisticated companies focus only on advertising their jobs and the associated tangible benefits that come with them (medical benefits or a flexible work schedule).

These things are important, but as a job seeker you’ll be much more successful in the long term if you think about the entirety of the opportunity—the employer brand. Consider the promise the company is making and ask yourself if that promise really matters to you. Use the brand to evaluate fit—are you the kind of person who wants to act and behave that way on the job?  If you’re in a job and not sure whether to stay, ask yourself if the organization’s employer brand resonates with you? Are they delivering on what they promised? And if so, is that the promise you want?

Understanding employer brand doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s a simple way to think about it. Take a look around your home or your workplace. As a consumer, what products can you really get behind? Where do your loyalties lie? The same goes for your next job. Choose an employer you can really get behind, believe in and support. Their employer brand holds the key to understanding just that.


Susan Strayer is the founder of Exaqueo, a talent and brand consulting firm specializing in strategies for start-up and high-growth companies. She’s spent years recruiting and creating talent and employer brand strategies for companies like Marriott International. The Ritz-Carlton, The Home Depot and Corporate Executive Board. She’s the author of two books including The Right Job, Right Now: The Complete Tool-Kit to Finding Your Perfect Career (St. Martin’s Press). Connect with Susan via @SusanStrayer or at

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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