Why Startups need Employer Branding!

Be ready because this is TLDR :)

I’ve been in the HR industry now for around 6 years, mainly working in the recruitment space and helping people with career advice. So far, I’ve been in the startup scene for around 2 years. So yes, I still have a long way to go and many things to learn! I’m not saying that I know everything!

2 years ago I came to the Netherlands with a beautiful naivety about how startups are technologically advanced, creative and innovative places to work. I imagined how big an impact I could have in recruitment and candidates’ professional lives, while building a company people love to work for. The naivety came from these blindly beautiful premises I got from somewhere…

1. Recruiting is a first-order company and business priority, it’s highly important. So recruiting never takes a back seat.

2. Everyone in the company is involved in recruiting and it’s an integral part of the company culture. Each department or team in the company should give you a hand or will have an idea of how they can help.

3. Startups are innovative, creative places to work where the best talents feel happy, are engaged, and have fun. In this fast-paced environment they have incredible space for growth.

I’m not saying that these premises were not right but there definitely is a big space for improvement and that’s alright! I’ve had the opportunity to learn from those ahead of me and observe some facts about startups, and how HR, talent & recruitment work within them. I love puzzles and I used to love sourcing and finding talent. I was following the newest trends and hacks, wanted to know them all, but looking to the shift of the last decade and living in the current fast-paced technological age I see the future of HR&Recruitment elsewhere and I’m afraid that sourcing is not part of it anymore :-( I see a few new trends happening:

1. Finding Talent/Sourcing is not hard expertise anymore, for two reasons: One, the expectation of personal branding requires all of us to have career tools (resumes, social media profiles, etc.). If you don’t choose to brand yourself as an up-to-date expert in your field, you could likely lose out to someone who has and it could send the wrong message. The second reason is simply Artificial Intelligence.

2. Recruitment is shifting to marketing and this shift is creating new expertise: Recruitment Marketing. Basically, employers need to start using marketing methodologies to attract new employees.

3. Employee Experience is crucial to attract the best talent and it’s vital for startups to grow and survive. It includes topics like: Employee Happiness & Satisfaction, Feedback, Recognition, Performance management, Talent development, Physical & Technological & Cultural Environment etc.

Here are a couple of facts that I noticed which are just supporting my thoughts and are important (at least for me) to think about more deeply:

1. Talent and people-oriented ideas and approaches are going more to the front line. There is a huge amount of investment and innovation in the HR recruiting field to hire better.

2. People are constantly looking for a job so they can feel valued, earn respect, feel proud or feel comfortable and happy. They are identifying themselves through their own career. Studies show that nearly 80% of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64% of 30-somethings and 54% in their 40s. Another study shows that 40% of employees who left their jobs did it within 6 months of starting in the position and another 16% of all employees within 12 months, meaning more than half of voluntary turnover happens within a year of new hires’ start dates. Alarming, right?

3. Millennials are changing the rules (by 2020, this generation will comprise 51% of the Western workforce)!

Professional development and guidance is the number one thing millennials are looking for in their new jobs. Studies show that more than 60% of this generation expects professional development in their workplace, making this a much bigger issue for startups then we think!

This generation is coached their entire lives by technology and their parents provided them with every resource possible. When they enter the workplace, they expect the same — to be guided by their employer. But here’s where the problem stands, managers are frustrated that they don’t have the time to coach each of these individuals. They are busy with building a company, the product…

When trained, millennials are passionate, multitaskers, hands-on with technology, fast, entrepreneurs and able to think like executives. Coaching and talent development brings these individuals to the next level. By leveraging and developing their strengths, they can become those performers startups need and look for.

4. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. creates a need to optimize your own career, create a need for your own personal brand and create a need to look for the most attractive product., Because of this companies should start to think of themselves as an employer brand.

Employer branding is one of the ways we are attracting individuals but also how we can keep them. It’s a constant indication to your employees that you are a great place to work. A strong employer brand will make hiring & recruiting easier, will help reduce turnover and `if people hear how great an employer you are, they will be more likely to buy your product or use your service, even if they don’t work for you.

Today startups will have to start developing a strong employer brand to get the best talent to work with them. If they can bring the right people to the right roles they can avoid turnover problems, the company can grow and keep people happy at the same time. Ultimately, all of these effects greatly impact revenue.

Since there are so many options for today’s talent, employers have to work harder to stay relevant and top of mind. Employers should put their employer brand at the very center to not only increase awareness but to also create trust. Recruiting & Retention become so much better and easier when companies get these individuals the tools and the resources they need and are looking for. Studies by Careerbuilder.com and CEBglobal.com show that candidates visit around 12 sources of information about the employer and 57% decided to apply prior to a site visit. And something else I’ve often heard, candidates actually monitor potential employers for 6–7 months before they apply (This makes me wonder… does this mean that the “source of the hire” is not really relevant anymore?)

5. Satisfied and engaged professionals are doing their best work. A recent Gallup report proved that an engaged employee is a highly productive employee. “It’s not surprising that every employer wants the most productive employee. In businesses with highly engaged employees, profitability increased by 21 percent, sales productivity by 20 percent, and output quality by 40 percent. And with absenteeism down by 41 percent, it would seem that those employees actually liked going to work.”

If you are still reading this long blog, are you still asking yourself if startups really do need employer branding?

From my perspective, there is no doubt that they absolutely need it. Startups fall into one of two groups: growing and dying. If they want to grow they need to start soon and they need to talk about it often and take action. I think that technology, as they say, is a blessing or a curse, and we all are live and online. It’s a digital era, we are living in an extremely noisy place. If you’re building a startup, if you’re part of a startup and you want to see that company succeed, you basically need to grow constantly. And to do that, you’re going to need to attract talent. In order to do that you’re going to need to tell an employer story which will be authentic, and people can relate to and find themselves in. So you rather start put an effort into it. And you know what? Meanwhile, companies like Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Amazon, Netflix, Booking.com, TravelBird, Shazam and other companies who see this need will happily do it and keep hiring the best of the best if you do not.

Employer branding is really a big complex topic and I’m not an expert. At this stage of my knowledge, I decided to start sharing my thoughts and my observations in my blog. I’m highly interested in two main topics: “Employer Branding & Recruitment Marketing” and second, “Employee & Candidate Experience”. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, observations, tips or any ideas! I would really appreciate it!

Cheers, Eva