5 steps toward defining your employment brand

Accounting firms thinking about their branding is nothing new. You’re used to articulating what differentiates your business, the values you stand for, and your unique selling proposition. When you think about your brand, you usually do so in the context of clients, putting yourself in their shoes and asking what qualities they should associate with your firm. While these customer-facing branding activities are vital and worthy activities, you should also practice these exercises in the context of prospective employees. Doing so allows you to develop your employment brand.

On the LinkedIn Talent Blog, Sarah Lybrand defines “employer branding” as “how you market your company to desired job seekers.” Your employment brand functions exactly as your client-facing one does, driving potential team members to your brand or, if you’re not careful, driving them away. In accounting, where there is always a talent war for the brightest minds in the profession, curating your employment brand can pay massive dividends. That’s why it’s so shocking that so many firms overlook this crucial process.

Simply put, you need to take an active role in defining your employment brand if you want to maximize its value. Employment branding requires a careful consideration of how you want to appear to the very best job seekers. Obviously, prospective team members weigh factors like pay and benefits when deciding on a company, but they also consider reputation. Employers with a bad reputation, which is to say a weak employment brand, have to spend more to find qualified candidates and often lose out on the top-tier prospects. To avoid these undesirable outcomes, follow these steps to take control of your branding as an employer.

Learn from current and former staff
Before you can get your employment brand to where you want it to be, you must first assess where it’s at. The best way to do this is to talk to the people who engage with it most, your current and former team members. See what people are saying on places like Indeed and Glassdoor, and talk to your staff about their employment experience. You have to be willing to dive in here and discuss both the good and bad. A thorough and honest inspection will point you to your next steps.
Create a unique employment proposition
The same way you have a unique selling proposition for clients, create one for employment practices. Your unique employment proposition should answer one simple question: "What makes your firm a singularly awesome place to work?"

The answer to this question shouldn’t be a bulleted list of positives. It shouldn’t look like the list of features you’d find on a tech soution’s website. Instead, it should be broad and far-reaching, touching on your core values and company culture. In essence, it should provide a mission statement for who you are as an employer and what you can offer team members.
Match policies to your branding
A great unique employment proposition is nothing without the policies to support it. When you think about things like vacation time, remote options, and benefits, you should do so in light of the employment brand you want to create. You can’t say you are a firm that values employee autonomy and then constantly monitors every action your team members take. If you pride yourself on being a place for professional development, you had better offer programs and avenues for growth. Policies that reflect the brand you want to cultivate will align your daily operations to the message you broadcast, making both stronger.
Get the word out
The best employment brand in the world can’t do much if jobseekers don’t know about it. Large companies like Starbucks have social media pages and teams specifically dedicated to crafting and promoting their employment brand. You may not have the resources to do something on that scale, but you should still do all you can to tell people what a great employer you are. Your website should feature a page for job seekers, and you should leverage opportunities to showcase your worth as a job provider.
Hire to your brand
Because every team member contributes to your company culture, it’s important to recruit people who reflect the employment brand you want to create. Often, your current employees will be the greatest supporters of your employment brand, encouraging friends and peers to apply for open positions. You have to evaluate a lot when hiring, but you can’t forget to ask if a candidate fits your employment brand.
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