How to create trustworthy employer branding
By Freja Nilsson
Employer branding is more important than ever before. It's no longer enough to provide good benefits, development opportunities, and interesting tasks to attract talent. Employers must also convince jobseekers that their company is a place where the jobseeker belongs and that the company's culture and purpose align with their values. And, as if this isn't hard enough, it must be done in a trustworthy way. So, how do you create trust when trying to position yourself as a great employer? And what should you avoid doing?
In this article, you will find some useful tips on how to succeed with your employer branding while gaining the trust of jobseekers. The tips are based on the latest edition of our yearly Careers survey, interviews and our interpretation of trends within the area.
Clearly explain your purpose
In our yearly Careers survey, where we ask jobseekers what they think is the most important when evaluating a potential employer on their corporate website, we see that jobseekers' demands on companies are increasing. The Careers survey is one of three surveys that we base our annual Webranking research on. According to the respondents of the survey, the most important information when assessing a potential employer is an explanation of the company's purpose. One of the respondents—a 32-year old male from the UK—said:
"You want to work for a company that is going places, that has a clear vision, and is inspiring. There should be a ladder in the progression both personally and growth in the company. I want to see an explanation of the company's long-term vision, I want to work for a company that is innovating. Something that is beyond sitting at a desk and doing the same thing every year."
Some of the respondents of the Careers survey also mentioned that they sometimes feel like companies' employer branding doesn't seem trustworthy, for example when describing company culture. Our interviewee elaborates:
"You often see the company’s values but they often don't live by them, it should be more than just buzzwords. I want to know if the employees feel comfortable? Is the organizational structure flat? I think it is good to connect the values with the company’s mission"
He continues by giving some examples of how to succeed when presenting your company culture:
"I think it is important to show examples, what is personal and unique to that company? You could also link to Instagram feed, and show pictures of social activities. It is also good to show charity engagements, I think this is especially important in a very corporate environment."
Increased scepticism towards employer branding
In the survey, we also see that some jobseekers are sceptical of employer branding initiatives, especially on social media. There's an increased awareness about employer branding as a phenomenon and that companies want to be seen in as good a light as possible. When asking jobseekers about how much they trust different company communication channels, we saw that most people trust the corporate website (87%), followed by LinkedIn (82%) and Instagram (79%).
When asking why someone would not trust a company's social media channels, these were some of the comments we received:
“The information on social networks does not seem reliable to me. Only biased information is displayed”
“They want to keep up a nice picture of the company”
“Too slick pictures”
"Too much customer service/branding"
Many companies put a lot of effort into building their employer brands on social media, mainly on Instagram and LinkedIn. For example, 45% of the respondents in our survey answered that they use sponsored posts/ads on LinkedIn.
We asked our interviewee how he uses social media when looking for jobs, and he gave the following tips on how to succeed with your employer branding on Instagram:
"I think Instagram should be more fun. Show social things, a personal side of a company. I think it is similar to a video testimonial, I want to see people in their natural environment."
Some things to avoid
There are some "red flags" in terms of company communication that would cause people to not apply for a job. These may differ between people, but some general advice of things to avoid is the following.
1. Don't present generic sustainable statements
As sustainability issues are becoming more and more important in society, it is natural for companies to want to highlight their sustainability efforts. Our Careers survey also shows that jobseekers are looking at sustainability information on corporate websites, so there is no doubt that this is important to include. However, your statements should be backed up by data and concrete actions to avoid being too generic and thus not seem trustworthy.
2. Don't talk about benefits that don't mean anything (like a free pizza night)
Before presenting something as a benefit, ask yourself if this really is something that your target group of jobseekers want? A free pizza night could be great but should perhaps not be presented as a main benefit for the role.
3. Don't talk too much about your values without providing examples of how they are being lived by
The same goes for your values as for your sustainability statements, you need to provide some kind of proof and examples of how your values are integrated in your everyday business. Our interviewee elaborates his perspective about companies presenting their values.
"Values are often corporate nonsense, I feel like you often need to talk about them in an interview and then when you join the company they are not relevant nor lived by."
Top tips summarised
To increase the chances of succeeding with your employer branding, it is all about creating trust and standing out from the crowd. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
1. Present employee testimonials in videos
Providing video interviews with your employees helps jobseekers to get a better feeling of you as a company and their potential colleagues. Of the respondents of the Careers survey, 44 % prefer to see testimonials in short videos. In 2020, only 27 % of the respondents preferred video, so this is something that is getting more popular.
"Testimonials in texts tend to come across as quite generic to me. In videos, you can see a person's character. It is like when dating, you want to see the persons you would work with, are they something for me?"
Testimonials included in text format are still valuable according to respondents and could be a good place to start, but also be complemented by videos.
2. Be original
It's common that companies within the same industry look at each other and describe themselves in the same way. With jobseekers usually applying for a large number of jobs and going through many websites and social media accounts, this can be a disadvantage. So, try to find out what is unique about your company and your employees and highlight that.
"Be original, most job descriptions are extremely similar. Make sure your job text reflects your company's values and culture."
3. Be clear about what you offer and what your purpose as a company is
To motivate a jobseeker to apply, it is important to clearly summarise what you're offering. Having a clear employee value proposition will also help you stand out from the crowd. Here, it's important to do thorough research about what the people you want to hire want and expect. Do they want remote working possibilities? Health- and wellness programs? Good development opportunities?
Adidas is an example of a company that does this well. On their website, they present their benefits, work-life balance, and development programs and opportunities. They also describe the office and which perks come with it.
As mentioned earlier, it's also of high importance to jobseekers to feel that their work has a purpose. You need to make a potential jobseeker feel that their work would contribute to serving a higher purpose.
Essity does this well. On their website, they have a great video showing their employees, as well as a clear explanation of their purpose. By including the statement "Working at Essity is not just a career; it is a chance to directly make the world a healthier, more hygienic and safer place", Essity clearly explains that by working for them, your work would lead to making the world a better place. And who wouldn't want that?
4. Be transparent
Trust and transparency go hand in hand—to be able to gain trust, you need to be transparent about things like results of employee satisfaction surveys, financial results, reviews from Glassdoor, etc. Some of the respondents of our Careers survey said the following on the theme of transparency:
"Be completely transparent about yourselves as a company"
"Not only say positive and attractive facts"
If you aren't transparent, chances are high that jobseekers will find out negative facts about you anyway—younger generations in particular do a lot of research online about companies. Our interviewee elaborates:
"Graduates are really savvy and do a lot of research, they are tuned in on financials of a company. They do look into those things so they are important to include."
5. Show your office and surroundings
It's also important to include images of the office and surroundings, as this helps jobseekers get a better feeling of how it would be working at the company. Even if many companies work from home to some extent, a nice office is still of high importance to jobseekers. Our interviewee says:
"Sometimes information about the office itself is missing, you want to visualize what the office has. It is a big selling point for jobseekers to work in a cool office. If a company have those things and don't show it, I think it is a missed opportunity. Also, if a company doesn’t show the office you get suspicious if the office maybe is not nice."
For more findings from our Career Survey, see the article Three crucial pieces of information that jobseekers expect.
How can we help?
As concluded in this article - creating engaging and trustworthy employer branding content is not an easy task. Comprend has many talented consultants ready to make your employer branding-related content stand out from the crowd.
An example of this is our work with Spirit Energy, where the challenge was for a new business to be regarded as a trusted partner, attract the best talent and be considered a good corporate citizen. A distinctive tone of voice aligned to the emerging company culture was also required. The result?
Since launching, the key engagement metrics of the Spirit Energy website have more than doubled, with increased activity and high retention on mobile devices, particularly within the #TeamSpirit section (which is the Careers section).
More about our content offer and how we can help you succeed.