How to Develop an Employer Branding Strategy in 2020

By Kelsey McKeon / 18 June 2020

Employer brands offer a value proposition to prospective employees, but how has employer branding changed during the unprecedented events of 2020? The Manifest surveyed 500 hiring managers to find out which employer branding strategies businesses should employ, which could benefit them during COVID-19.

An employer brand signals to job seekers that a company is a great place to work and that it’s worth the time and effort to apply to an open position. Only a few months ago, companies used pictures of trendy workspaces and posts about catered meals to entice applicants to apply to open positions.

Then, COVID-19 disrupted economies around the world. Record unemployment, combined with a renewed national focus on diversity in the workplace, means employers must adjust their employer branding on social media, online job boards, and even their company websites.

As businesses start to reopen and companies explore hiring options, here are 4 ways your business can develop an employer brand that’s thoughtful and sensitive to the current business environment.

Our Findings

  1. 98% of companies promote open positions online, which means companies must keep positions up-to-date to avoid confusing or disappointing job seekers.
  2. More than half of hiring managers (57%) used social media to promote their company’s employer brand in the past year. Social media is a fast way to reach millions of people looking for jobs.
  3. Almost three-quarters of HR professionals (71%) use job boards to promote open positions online. HR software can help hiring managers keep positions up-to-date on multiple platforms at once.
  4. Most job seekers (70%) value a commitment to diversity in potential employers. Hiring managers should promote their plans to create a more equitable environment in their workplace.
  5. Almost all hiring managers (91%) promote benefits to attract job candidates. Businesses should consider promoting benefits such as healthcare and paid time off (PTO) as part of an employer brand. 
  6. One-third of hiring managers (33%) promote flexible remote work options in their employer brand. Companies should avoid promoting in-office perks while hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How to Create an Employer Branding Strategy in 2020

  1. Promote open positions accurately
  2. Demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion
  3. Highlight benefits that are most relevant to job seekers during COVID-19
  4. Provide transparency on flexible remote work options

1. Promote Open Positions Accurately

Imagine a recent university graduate is looking online for a job. She browses Indeed and sees an open position at a startup in her town. She rushes to apply on the platform but is dismayed when she receives an automated email notifying her that the company has instituted a hiring freeze during COVID-19. If the company wasn’t hiring, she thinks, why did it advertise the open position?

Employers must share accurate information about available jobs during COVID-19 and when jobs are no longer open or available. 

Almost every hiring manager (98%) promotes open positions for new employees. As businesses begin to hire again during and after COVID-19, hiring managers should use employer branding channels to keep prospective applicants in the loop about hiring plans.

98% of HR professionals promote open positions online

Hiring managers should use 2 main approaches to keeping active positions updated:

  • Update social media about open positions and closed ones.
  • Use HR software to manage job postings across websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.

These two employer branding tactics will demonstrate a company’s empathy for people looking for jobs in a highly competitive market.

Update Social Media Platforms About Open and Closed Positions

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn help employers communicate with candidates directly. Most human resources professionals (57%) promoted open positions on social media in the last year.

57% of hr professionals used social media for an employer brand.

Social media allows employers to post about job openings in real-time.

Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of cloud services provider GetVoIP, uses LinkedIn to post his company’s most current job openings.

VoIP's job openings on LinkedIn

 

Source

Hiring managers can post open jobs on LinkedIn, and job seekers can find the available positions at the top of the company profile above regular posts.

Employers can also promote those opportunities in individual LinkedIn posts to increase their reach and provide additional context about hiring plans during COVID-19.

A LinkedIn post to accompany the Paid Media Manager position, for example, could say:

“We’re hiring marketing teammates to expand our lead generation. Check out our open positions here!”

Hiring managers should use social media to communicate with potential hires directly during this time. They can use social media posts to announce open positions and share updates when positions are closed.

Software Helps Human Resource Teams Manage Open Positions

Hiring managers should use human resources software to make sure unavailable listings are removed from online job boards and the company website. This establishes your company’s reputation as an empathetic employer.

Most employers (71%) promote open positions on job boards such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn.

71% of HR professionals promote open positions on job boards

Previous research from Clutch also found that 41% of hires found jobs on online job boards, making it crucial that hiring managers keep these listings up-to-date.

Software tools help businesses manage job posts across websites. Jennifer Walden, director of operations at lawn care advice website WikiLawn, uses BambooHR to share open positions on job boards around the web.

“With BambooHR, we can post our job openings on various job sites, track applications, and allow managers and other authorized staff to review those applications with ease,” Walden said. “We also use BambooHR to unify our copy and images for job postings so that we're presenting the company in a way that helps employees better integrate with us once they're hired.”

BambooHR and similar applicant tracking systems (ATS) allow employers to post the same information across multiple job websites. Other popular ATS products include:

  • Taleo
  • Jobvite
  • Silkroad
  • ADP

This means hiring managers can maintain consistency in tone and employer brand voice, as well as information shared across channels.

Businesses must be mindful of the challenges job seekers face in 2020 and adjust the promotion of open positions accordingly.

2. Demonstrate Your Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Protests against racially motivated police killings in the U.S. and around the world have sparked discussions about racism in the workplace. Prospective applicants want to know that your company is committed to maintaining an equitable workplace for all employees.

Most job seekers (70%) say a company's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is important when evaluating a potential employer.

70% of job seekers say a commitment to DEI is important to them

Many employers in the U.S. are prohibited from discriminating against employees by law. Applicants often can find equal opportunity employer statements on company career pages that address the business’s hiring practices. 

These statements appear in the footnotes of a company website and often include required language on how the company complies with equal opportunity employment laws. 

Some employers, however, use equal employment opportunity (EEO) statements to provide more insight into the company hiring culture and values.

Google, for example, adopts an informal tone in its EEO statement.​

Google's equal opportunity statement

Source

Using statements such as “we don’t just accept difference — we celebrate it” demonstrates to potential applicants that Google is committed to workplace diversity beyond its legal requirement.

Job seekers may also value resources such as press releases or social media posts about a company response to the June 2020 protests when evaluating a potential employer.

Slack, for example, shared its press release about George Floyd’s death on LinkedIn.

Slack's response to George Floyd's death on LinkedIn

 

Source

Sharing any statements of solidarity also helps demonstrate to potential hires your company’s commitment to equality in the workplace.

These gestures, however, must be followed by concrete action.

Jes Osrow, SHRM-SCP, is co-founder of The Rise Journey and a consultant specializing in working with tech companies to create more equitable workplaces through frameworks of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). 

Osrow recommends that hiring managers do a comprehensive audit of their website, careers page, and employer brand as a whole to understand what potential new hires see when evaluating their company for diversity.

“What does your external branding actually say to candidates versus what [do] you want it to say?” Osrow said. “It doesn't cost any money to have somebody on your HR team go through your job descriptions and make sure you don't say ’ninja’ and ‘rockstar’ 18 times. Instead, create a statement that says ‘At this company, we want to be inclusive and promote belonging.’” 

After auditing a careers page, hiring managers can update the content to include language about specific goals the company has for promoting inclusion and belonging in the office.

“The biggest issue I've seen is the misuse of DEIB in the recruitment process and it not being an actuality in the workplace,” Osrow said. “Take that step of humility and say ‘We're not perfect, but here's what we're doing to achieve true diversity at our company.”

Hiring managers and human resources teams should make sure any commitments to diversity made in the hiring process should be present in the workplace as well.

3. Highlight Benefits That Are Most Relevant to Job Seekers During COVID-19

Many job seekers are looking for the stability full-time employment provides beyond in-office perks such as catered meals and gym memberships.

In your open positions and promotional materials, highlight your top benefits that will provide applicants with a sense of security. These benefits might include employer-paid healthcare options, long- and short-term disability benefits, 401(k) match, and paid family leave.

The top 3 benefits HR professionals promote to attract candidates are:

  1. Health insurance (67%)
  2. Paid time off (50%)
  3. 401(k) matching (50%)

Top 3 benefits HR managers promote

Some benefits, such as health insurance, are even more important to promote as job seekers consider their healthcare needs during COVID-19. 

If your company is not currently hiring, use this downtime to update your careers page to include appropriate details about your benefits.

Pay transparency service PayScale, for example, uses graphics to showcase benefits on its careers page.

Payscale uses brief keyword phrases and graphics to list its top employee benefits succinctly. An airplane icon, for example, accompanies PayScale’s flexible time off policy.

Payscale's list of benefits on its website

 

Source

Hiring managers and marketing teams can also collaborate on blog posts outlining the importance of offering healthcare benefits during the uncertainty of COVID-19 and time the post to coincide with an initial wave of hiring during the pandemic.

Any content about benefits can also be repurposed for social media or for use in job postings.

Businesses should be clear about the benefits they offer and mindful of global circumstances when promoting those benefits to potential employees.

4. Provide Transparency on Flexible Work Options 

The COVID-19 pandemic may accelerate the transition to full-time remote work. In-office perks currently aren’t relevant or attractive to unemployed or underemployed people looking for potential jobs. 

Many businesses have transitioned to full-time remote work during COVID-19. Before the pandemic hit, only 39% of businesses offered flexibility with remote work. According to data from Clutch, however, 66% of workers are working remotely at least part of the week as a result of the pandemic.

Companies should promote flexible working options when advertising open positions instead of focusing messaging on in-office perks. 

Only one-third of hiring managers (33%) promote flexible and remote work in their employer brand.

33% of human resources managers promote flexible remote work in employer branding

The recent rise in remote work might mean job seekers expect greater flexibility with remote work in their next opportunity.

Amanda Dexter is a current job seeker only interested in companies that offer remote work.

“I am looking for employers who allow work-from-home part-time or full-time or, at the very least, make it worth your while to go in,” Dexter said. “More than anything, COVID-19 has made me realize how badly I need a work-life balance. My mental health has improved so much [working from home].”

Remote work during COVID-19 has allowed many workers to enjoy newfound flexibility in daily routines and work-life balance that long commutes previously made impossible.

Hiring managers should use social media to show how employees are making the most of their remote work.

An employee-generated social media campaign shows that your employees are engaged with company culture. This helps prospective employees envision what it might be like to work for your company.

You can start an employee-generated social media campaign by:

  • Creating a hashtag
  • Asking employees to submit pictures and captions of their remote work stations
  • Scheduling each post on social media

PayScale, for example, uses the hashtag #LifeatPayScale to find employee-generated content to share on its social media platforms. This post is from a 5-week series on Instagram called #FidoFriday, where PayScale employees share pictures of their dogs.

life at payscale remote work social media campaign

Promote your company’s remote working options on social media to tell prospective applicants that you care about their work-life balance.

Employer Branding Requires an Empathetic Approach in 2020

Employers looking to promote open positions and their workplace offerings must empathize with the unique challenges job seekers face in 2020.

Hiring managers and human resources teams must maintain up-to-date job descriptions and positions listed around the web. 

There has been a renewed call for more equitable and diverse workplaces in 2020. Businesses should demonstrate to potential new employees that they are committed to building a diverse workforce in their employer brand.

Benefits are more important than ever for potential hires. Show job seekers you care about their well-being by promoting healthcare options, PTO, and remote work.

Adapting employer branding strategies to 2020’s unique challenges will allow companies to attract top candidates during a troubling time.

About the Survey

Clutch surveyed 505 full-time employers in the U.S.

Sixty-two percent (62%) describe their role as a hiring manager; 50% as a human resources generalist; 34% as a recruiting or staffing specialist; 20% as an executive; 10% as a consultant; and 5% as other.

Thirty-five percent (35%) live in the South, twenty-four percent (24%) live in the Midwest; 18% in the Northeast; and 19% in the West.

Six in 10 respondents (60%) are female, and 40% are male.

Forty-three percent (43%) of respondents are ages 18-34; 47% are ages 35-54; and 10% are 55 years old and above.

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