Why Employer Branding will Matter More Than Ever in 2016

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report, employer branding has made a comeback as a top priority of employers. An average of 59 percent of the world’s employers are boosting their investment in brand creation and management (in the U.S., the number is 62 percent), so it looks like 2016 will be the “Year of the Brand” for recruiters. Here are some important points to help make sense of this emerging trend.

RELATED: 3 Recruiting Trends in 2016

Millennial Recruits Respond to Branding

It’s important to keep in mind that the outstanding majority of prime recruits fall into that desirable demographic known as Millennials. Today’s young go-getters will blossom into tomorrow’s seasoned executives — but unless companies appeal to this generation’s needs and preferences through their branding efforts, other employers will be the ones who benefit from that blossoming.

Branding for Millennial job recruits means speaking their language and saying what they want to hear. For instance, this age group is known for seeking transparency in the workplace and a sense of purpose in their work. This means they’re more likely to respond positively to portrayals of an open, democratic corporate culture that prioritizes communication between workers, managers and executives. Millennials also tend to prefer smaller, more collaborative environments where each person can play a vital role, so an emphasis on teamwork and individual recognition would be a smart branding move.

Since Millennials are extremely reliant on social media, it only makes sense for employers to beef up their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and/or other social media channels — and to spotlight this modern user-friendly atmosphere as part of a youth-conscious overall brand image. The great fringe benefit here is the fact that you can easily turn your Millennial recruits into brand ambassadors, which helps you garner even more top talent.

Website Branding Matters

Which specific resources should employers focus on to help them build their brand and attract the best candidates, regardless of age group? Many of them should probably start with the “Careers” page on their organization’s official website. A SmashFly study of Fortune 500 company websites awarded these organizations an average grade of only “C” on their recruitment marketing practices on this critical page. Many of them were too focused on job listings instead of their brand image, failing to tell a compelling, persuasive, engaging story. Employers also need to make sure their entire website is “mobile friendly” by investing if a responsive web design that offers the best user experience for various screen sizes.

Telling the Story through Social Media

What about social media? While the majority of job seekers prefer LinkedIn as their social media channel of choice, the role of video as a branding (and recruiting) tool should not be forgotten. Simply adding a video icon to a job posting can raise its view rate by 12 percent, and the application rate by 34 percent. Since YouTube is right up there with Google and Facebook among the planet’s most trafficked websites, it only makes sense to create a steady stream of high-quality, optimized recruitment videos and post them on this media giant. Employers who experience low click-through rates (due to to sheer noise level and potential for viewer distraction on YouTube) can always try posting the videos directly on their Careers page instead. But wherever the video goes, it needs to be sufficiently entertaining, thought-provoking and exciting to make the job seeker inquire further.

To Blog Is to Brand

Last but not least, written blog content can go a long way toward expressing and reinforcing an employer’s brand message. Engaging thought leadership articles that address job seekers’ problems, questions and interests help to paint the employer as a reliable, trustworthy authority on the things that matter most to those readers. At the same, building up a critical mass of high-quality blog content helps make a brand that much more visible online by prompting Google to rank it more highly in search results.

Will the majority of job seekers prefer LinkedIn as their social media channel of choice? Will LinkedIn be the go to social media channel for employer branding?

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