Monday, November 29, 2010

Communication matter - dare to stand out

The number of communication channels has exploded over the last years. The social media has taken over the place and a single message can reach thousands in a very short time. At the same time, traditional print media has proved to be here to stay and the word of mouth seems to be a stronger communication channel than ever. As the time is passing by and talent shortage being the biggest future challenge, employers are struggling over what channels to invest time and resources in and what to communicate to an demanding audience uploaded 24/7 with networks connecting the whole world.

When planning a communication campaign towards future talent, there are some golden rules to follow. The first one is the audience, the target group of the message. What kind of future talent are we looking for and how should the audience be broken down into a target group in order to find the true stars?

Different target groups value different things and in order to attract the right talent the message needs to be customized based on the preferences by the selected target group. The employers need to dare to stand out and communicate unique messages. A recruitment ad should be attractive and increase interest, but at the same time reflect the company’s culture and values. Today, in order to succeed with the communication of the employer brand, the corporate brand and consumer brand, the brands need to be in line throughout all communication as the target group will be influence by all of them. Communication of the true values and culture is a key as the new generation has both the interest and the knowledge of comparing digital messages to the reality. If a new hire realizes the values communicated, that he or she believed in, are not present in the organization, the person will sooner or later look for another job.

As important as the message, is the communication channel. An attractive message will not attract the right talents if communicated through the wrong channel. There is no communication channel that can be used for all types of messages as little as one message can be used for all talent groups. Apart from traditional recruitment brochures and recruitment ads, more and more employers take the step into social media using social communities, blogs and employer videos. But remember, to drive brand awareness, the print media is the best.

When identifying the right communication channels, the company’s current position among the selected target group and on the market needs to be taken into consideration. Some channels will deliver better results than others, and also regarding choice of channel, differentiation from competitors is the key word. Research and evaluation of different channel alternatives requires more work, but will pay off as the message targets the desired target group.

Globally, the most used communication channel for students to find information about an unknown employer is the employer websites. But something needs to drive you to the webpage, and very often it is the print, e.g. career magazines. And remember; don’t fill print material with company history and hard facts that the talent can find on the internet. They don’t use print to get this kind of information. The second most useful channel according to the students is career fairs. This also proves that personal meetings and print communication are still as important as the communication on the internet when students are unfamiliar with an employer.

Social media as a communication channel is here to stay and today there are thousands of different social media publishing technologies available. Most popular are the personal social networks (Facebook), professional social networks (LinkedIn), blogs, microblogs (Twitter) and video sharing platforms (Youtube). Still there are many employers reluctant to step in to the social media. Even though an employer decides not to be present and take actions within the social media, the employer will be discussed, criticized and cheered in the networks. As it is not possible to take control over the discussions on the web, the best strategy is to be involved and follow the discussions to be updated on the discussions around your brand.

As the content in social media is user-generated, the way of communicating differ from traditional one way communication. The involvement needs to be engaged and ongoing, resources allocated and social media platform to engage in chosen. The interactions should be personalized discussions instead of information sharing and it’s important to be available and engage in conversations.

One group that sometimes is left aside when communicating the employer brand is the internal audience, the current employees – your ambassadors! The most credible sources for gathering information about potential employers are according to students worldwide, people they know working for the employer, friends, and other employees at the employer. The employees are the most important asset in the organization and the most trustworthy brand ambassadors. This is also why it is crucial that the external message towards future talent, is handed up by the current employees. Satisfied employees are the best communication channels you can get.

There are always risks with communication. The wrong message, sent to the wrong target group communicated through the wrong channel. A golden rule in communicating the employer brand is continuous communication to the target audience. During down turns when recruitment is slow, the message needs to be different from the message at good times. The best talent communication campaigns and messages are created by the marketing, communication and HR departments working closely together with the parts of the process they are experts on. In order to be successful in communicating you need to do your home work and make sure you know the target group to communicate to, their preferences and where to find them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Start working on your “employer value proposition” now!

If you are involved in employer branding, you have noticed that this field is becoming more and more crowded. Professional services firms – whose only product is their talent – have tripled their business the last decade, which means that they are even greater competitors for talent today.

Furthermore, despite financial crises, a wider variety of companies are working with employer branding than ever before in 2010. Everyone is doing it, from Google to governments, from super-sized corporations to mid-size regional employers. They are all fighting for talents - as you are. And the war for talent isn’t just a war about people; it’s a demographic too. In Norway, the last five years, Cities and regions have been branding themselves against each other, trying to attract the ideal talent and families for their region.

We are facing two main challenges in the future: First, the aging population, which leads to scores of workers going into retirement. Second, the shortages of crucial skills among workers. According to a survey I read some years ago, conducted by the global business research organisation Conference Executive Board , I remember they stated that the quality of applicants is 10 per cent lower now than it was a decade ago. So, what can you do to put up a good fight?

The answer is: “Start with your employer value proposition”! This is the foundation for all other employer branding work. If you ensure that it is distinctive, true and long-term, it will act as your own Force and keep you powerful.

Good luck!

Friday, October 15, 2010

What are leading companies doing in terms of employer branding?

What are leading companies doing in terms of employer branding? What are the new trends? What are the strategies used by companies to profile themselves in order to reach the talent market? Let me present the current trends that I have seen lately in Europe, Asia and US. In general, companies want measurable results for their efforts. Although still popular with traditional corporate presentations on campus, companies are adding more focused events for students. Many companies use one-on-one “marketing” earlier in the recruitment process. In addition to trends such as niche-specific recruitment marketing, employers are making better use of web sites and social media.

The strategies companies use to market themselves to respective target groups are more refined than they have been in the past. The financial crises put more pressure on HR and demand for ROI. Universum has identified a few trends in this area that showcase the best employer branding has to offer.

Event-based marketing
Although events have been a popular venue for employer branding for quite some time, the style and scope have changed in recent years. Traditional events where companies invite students to dinner and hold a corporate presentation is supplied with events that focus solely on recruitment. A recent survey from Universum conducted among 1000 companies shows that 63% are doing events in 2010. The activities during the event may include competitions that present a problem for the students to solve. Vestas in Denmark ( is a good example, inviting students from 10 – 14 countries each year to a 4-days event. With these competitions, both students and recruiters gain better perspective on one other; the students have a better understanding of what the position will entail and learn more about the company culture. The recruiters have more concrete information and insight into the applicants. Furthermore, companies are including line and senior managers much earlier in the recruitment process. “The idea is to make you feel special, and also give candidates the sense that the senior management at the company is actually going to care about their success. It’s a huge driver when you’re hiring at the undergraduate level or graduate level, definitely in the US, but also globally among the new generation (generation Y).

Moving online and to web 2.0
Just as consumer-marketing activities occur more often online than off, employer branding has started to follow suit and change its communication platform. Lately, many companies have moved their consumer marketing activities online, and the same idea is slowly trickling through to the employer-branding field. The same survey shows that 54% of the companies are planning to work with social media during 2010. They put up sites for fan clubs on Facebook, and it can became a cool sort of viral marketing. Now we’re seeing that this is starting to reflect in the employer-branding space. In the employer-branding area, some companies have also started using podcasting in their recruitment marketing practice as well, especially in the US and Asia.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big 4 challenge Google’s position as the world’s most attractive employer

Universum released the global talent attraction index last week: “The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2010”, based on close to 130,000 career seekers, with a business or engineering background. Following the unprecedented world release in 2009, Google still manages to keep the no. one position, but this time facing growing competition from the big four auditing firms. In the business category, 2010 has been a good year for the auditing industry, as the top four companies now take four out of the top five places in the ranking. “We’re witnessing the auditing firms and FMCG companies reconquering their talent group after a brief love-affair with the IT industry”, said Michal Kalinowski, Universum’s CEO in an interview last week. On a less positive note, the companies in the Banking and Investment industry, Management Consulting, and Oil & Gas, now encounter the problem of being perceived as less attractive employers.

In the engineering category, however, the IT-sector companies continue to dominate: the top three employers
Google, Microsoft, and IBM—maintain their positions from last year. The notable changes are Japan’s Sony at no. four and Apple’s new entry. German car manufacturer BMW is still the most powerful employer brand in the automotive industry. In the top 10, where American corporations dominate, praise must also be given to Siemens for their 8th position.

World’s Top 10—Business
1. Google (1)
2. KPMG (8)
3. Ernst & Young (5)
4. PricewaterhouseCoopers (2)
5. Deloitte (10)
6. Procter & Gamble (6)
7. Microsoft (3)
8. The Coca-Cola Company (13)
9. J.P. Morgan (7)
10. Goldman Sachs (4)

World’s Top 10—Engineering
1. Google (1)
2. Microsoft (2)
3. IBM (3)
4. Sony (7)
5. BMW (4)
6. Intel (5)
7. General Electric (6)
8. Siemens (8)
9. Procter & Gamble (10)
10. Apple (new entry)

In parenthesis is the company’s position in 2009.

Go to

Lovisa Öhnell, Universum’s research and consulting director, commented about 2010’s index, “Firms in the professional services need to attract top talent to be successful; the auditing firms are aware of the challenges and spend a lot of resources in talent attraction and employer branding. Regarding the career seekers in the engineering field, potential hires find companies that are innovative and produce exciting products & services to be attractive employers nowadays”.

In a world where top performing employees are becoming a scarce commodity, finding the right people is critical for business success and stock market value. At a time where low birth and death rates are significantly shifting world demographics, the dilemmas of the 21st century are not only “Who will make up the workforce?”, yet more importantly “Who will own it?“ Universum’s global talent attraction index is based on the number of nominations by career seekers—in 12 of the world’s largest economies—for companies they would ideally like to work for. The relevance for companies: 1) This target group will soon graduate from top academic institutions and enter tomorrow’s workforce; 2) The index indicates the companies that are top-of-mind employers and to what extent; 3) These are the companies that have a competitive advantage in the “War for Talent”.

“Multinational corporations are increasingly aware of the current and future challenges of a shrinking workforce. To counter problems in securing their talent pipeline requires a talent attraction and employer branding strategy. The companies that will be able to draw this next generation of top talents are presented in Universum’s global talent attraction index 2010“, concluded Michal.

The index reveals some dramatic trends

When 70% of corporate value is from intangible assets (according to Accenture) and skill shortages are acute worldwide, being an attractive employer is critical to keep a sustained competitive advantage.

1. American multinationals increase their lead over the rest of the world.

Already in 2009 the American companies was the largest single group in the top 50 companies (20 among business students and 17 among engineering students – even not counting Big 4 and large management consulting firms as US organisations). This year the number is 24 for both lists.

“It seems that despite the challenges to the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model, the American corporations are increasingly the preferred destination for global top talent. They are often perceived as the true international organisations, where nationality will not stand in your way to the top”, said Michal.

“An interesting sign of things to come is that for the first time ever there is a Chinese company in top 50 – Lenovo nr 44 among engineers” commented Michal.

2. Employer Brands decoupled more and more from Corporate Brands.

Comparing the list of the most attractive employers with the list of most admired companies (by Fortune) or most valuable brands (by Interbrand), it is clear that extremely attractive employers do not depend as much on their consumer or corporate brands. The overlap between the rankings above and Universum’s global index is only half.

3. Companies that help talent develop the “me brand” are more attractive.

The world’s global talent are concerned about their own development and outside image. For that reason, they tend to choose companies that provide professional training and development, a good reference to a future career and organisations that have leaders who’ll support their development. The big 4 auditing firms just happen to be perceived by the talent group as fulfilling these important selection criteria.

4. Perception of industry and brand are interdependent.

Due to the banking and investment sector being perceived as responsible for one of the world’s largest economic meltdowns in history, employers in the industry have lost their appeal as a great place to kick-start one’s career. Management consulting companies have also dropped in the rankings, often linked to the banking and investment sector, and may have been perceived as part of the problem for past financial mismanagement. Due to public consciousness of environment issues companies in the Oil & Gas industry also face challenges to attract top talent and have also experienced a drop in the rankings this year.

About Universum’s Global Talent Attraction Index

The global top 50 is based on the frequency of being selected as an “Ideal Employer” by career seekers in the world’s 12 largest economies: U.S., Japan, China, Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Russia and India. The target group is comprised of close to 130,000 career seekers, who are studying for degrees in one of the world’s reputed academic institutions.

About Universum
Universum is an international company that specialises in the field of employer branding*. Founded in 1988, its goal was to improve communication between students and the employers who want to recruit them. Today, Universum’s mission is to help employers excel in recruitment and retention by ensuring improvements to their employer brand. Universum delivers a full range of services in research, strategic consulting and communication solutions that enable employers to better understand, attract and retain current and future ideal employees. Universum is a trusted partner to 1,200 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, and co-operates with 1,500 universities worldwide to conduct research on the career and employer preferences of top talent. On an annual basis, the company surveys approximately 400,000 students and professionals worldwide. For more information, go to
*Employer branding is the strategy companies use to appeal to desired current and future ideal talent.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Selling employer branding to top management

In order to effectively initiate and execute your employer branding strategy, support from top management is necessary. So how do you get top management interested? Employer branding is a cross-functional responsibility that spans across several functions and areas of expertise, such as marketing, HR and communication. Hence, it is vital to reach consensus and build co-operation internally. Without top management’s active support, effective employer branding may be difficult to execute.

I often see that Employer branding initiatives are often met with deeply rooted skepticism such as it is too difficult to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and measure results. Why should anyone invest in a new project with hard-to-measure pay-off and no solid facts to lean on? Hopefully, yours is the organization where the top management puts emphasis on people strategies. However, people-related initiatives are not alone in being difficult to measure. In fact, many marketing professionals I meet encounter many of the same kind of obstacles and critique. The difference is, however, that marketing professionals have more experience “selling” their ideas and initiatives to others. Therefore, the next time your top management team does not recognize the importance of employer branding, the solution may simply be to improve your sales pitch!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The value of Employer Branding

The buzz word “Employer Branding” is back after some difficult years with the financial crises. The word “Employer branding” sound nice but what is the value? For the last two years I have heard many times: “We only focus on short term recruitment and don’t have the time or resources for employer branding.”

But investing in long term employer branding is investing in short term recruitment. Unfortunately the opposite is not true - investing in short term recruitment is NOT investing in long term employer branding. In fact, prioritizing employer branding gives a better return on your recruiting investment in terms of both money and quality. The British Lloyds TSB knows this first hand, just to take an example. Their Dark Horse campaign in 2006 during the good times (featured in the first issue of Universum Quarterly 2006), cut the company’s graduate recruitment cost by half, to an average of GBP 3,500. Studies show that recruitment, including senior executives, can cost up to $70,000. How much money would you save? Even more important to the cost savings is that the quality of the candidates will improve. This means shorter recruitment periods and better-quality employees in the empty seats.

Another misconception about employer branding is that it is only warranted when a company is actively recruiting. The financial crisis has showed that many seem to think employer branding can take a hiatus in times of non-recruitment. But, as the best in the business know, beginning to build an employer brand when recruitment picks up again is way too late.

So to all companies out there – those who recruit and those who currently don’t – enjoy this blog and use it for a better Employer Branding future :)!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Social Media increase transparency

The world is more transparent today than ever before. And companies are highly affected by Social Media that makes it so much easier to expose what’s going on inside the company to the public. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and YouTube are new channels where people share their views and experiences about employers. Rumours, scandals, lay-offs and lawsuits that may have very negative effects on the employer brand are nowadays very difficult for companies to control. As a result, it has become more costly for companies to promise what they can’t live up to. Increased transparency means that the employer brand must be very much linked to the reality inside the company.

Luckily, Social Media also brings some good news for employers. Companies may actually gain from the new channels as these channels increase the opportunities for interactivity with job seekers and bring a more personal touch.

This increased transparency means that companies today have to be more consistent in the way they treat their employees. And they have to be very clear and carefully inform the labor market about the work conditions and the culture inside the company. The good thing however is that companies can use exactly the same communication channels to increase the knowledge about the company and the workplace. Social Media may actually be used to spread the word about the employer and also be a tool for recruiting ‘passive job seekers’, i.e. highly attractive candidates who are not actively looking for a new job but are keeping an eye open for new opportunities. Some companies have started using blogs and Facebook to give job seekers and other parties a more personal ‘feel’ of the company. These communication channels open up for interactivity and two-way communication. As such, they may complement the traditional one-way communication channels.
Small companies with limited marketing budgets may also use Social Media to create familiarity and awareness. Another reason for using Social Madia as a marketing tool is to create a more personal dialogue with current and prospective employees. As I see it, Blogs have so far been underutilized as a direct recruitment tool. However, many companies are presently exploring the opportunities to communicate with job seekers through Social Media. From an employer branding perspective, Social Media can become a part of the overall corporate communication mix as a way of enhancing knowledge about the company among target groups.

I look forward to see how companies will use this opportunities in the future!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The cost by not offering Gen Y the Work/life balance

New surveys from Universum conducted around the globe shows again that work/life balance has become a common expectation of working life. Gen Y expects companies to offer work conditions that make it easier to balance professional and personal lives. A growing labor shortage in the future within several occupations also means that employees can demand more from their employer, and not only higher salaries, but also demands for working conditions that fit in with their lifestyles. At the same time, I have seen that an increasing number of employers put a lot of effort into marketing their work/life balance initiatives to attract and recruit talent.

As I see it, there are several drivers behind why work/life balance has become more important for Gen Y. Firstly, an overall labour shortage within highly attractive occupational groups implies that employees can set the tone and demand more from their employers. Secondly, values have become more important for the choice of employer. The young people of today, Gen Y, compared with earlier decades, are more loyal to themselves. Many employees identify themselves with their job, but also with what they do on their spare time. Life outside of work has simply become more important for peoples’ self-image. Another driving force behind the increasing focus on the work/life balance is the changing conditions of working life. Globalization, new information technology, the 24/7 society, less hierarchical organizations and constant change hugely increase the pressure on individuals and their ability to adapt to new conditions. And to cope with these challenges employees need opportunities for relaxation and recovery to stay productive.

Work/life balance has therefore become a business imperative for companies as they have noticed that they are fighting a losing battle on the talent market if they are not able to offer the talent what they are asking for. Many companies have also started calculating the benefits of work/life balance – and the costs of failing in this area. A stressful working life is expensive. For companies, costs include high employee turnover, increased burnout and sick leave, failed change initiatives, reduced commitment and difficulties in recruiting the talent that the company needs. Poor work/life balance conditions may have negative effects on the employer brand and in the long term the company will face serious difficulties when it comes to sourcing human capital.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Millennials vs Gen Xers

There is a lot of talk about the Millennium Generation around the globe these days. And especially the differences between the Millennials and Gen Xers.

The Millenials are often called Gen Y in Europe. There is a real shift in attitude and priorities between the two generations. For Gen X is still very individualistic. It’s all about a challenging work and a performance-based culture. The Millennials (Gen Y) have a very different way of looking at the work environment. They’re very team-based, they really want to contribute to society, and their work/life balance is something they are not willing to give up. Millennials want more structure and mentorship. The challenge of employer branding is trying to understand that you have to brand yourself differently because that’s a different generation. They look for different things when they join a company and are motivated to stay by different things than the Gen Xers. For example, Millennials seek structure, training and collaboration. That’s why internships and rotational programs are so popular – Millennials see them as a structured an stimulating way of learning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Talent shortage in China

The last years booming in China has made the country as a popular country to invest in, especially for multinational companies. At the same time qualified people with the right skills is missing and Employer Branding becomes even more important.

I met many multinational companies on my round trip to Asia, like PwC, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, L’Oreal, Volvo, BCG, Siemens, Deutche Bank, JP Morgan, ING and 50 other employers. Many of those companies learned me a lot about the differences in the educational system. In China, education tends to lean towards theory while education in Europe and the US emphasize practical experience and teamwork. Someone told me that Chinese students still need to learn old scripts by hart even if it’s in an old language and useless in the daily life. So even if the talent pool is huge, there are still shortages in suitable talent for foreign companies.

They also told me that multinational companies looking for talent who are fluent in English may also be disappointed. Many graduates from Chinese universities lack proficiency in English, which means that they are not qualified for many of the jobs that that are in demand worldwide. And this is naturally also a problem for Chinese companies that want to expand internationally. Some foreign companies in China are recruiting from India and the Philippines where talent who are fluent in English is easier to find. Chinese students are even not allowed to stay in contact with other students from other countries through social networks such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Those channels are blocked. When I arrived to China, I was told to not use the following words in my emails or write them on internet: “4th of June”, “Falun Gong”, “Dalai Lama”, “Taiwan” and “independency”. China has one of the most advanced systems for monitoring the internet.

China as a country is also facing a problem, 80% of Chinese students want to study abroad, and only 25% of them will come back after graduated. The Chinese government is now looking into different incentives to get them back.

As a result, some multinational companies have started taking training – for example in English or leadership skills – more seriously. Companies that want to use the talent pool in China simply have to be prepared to invest more in education and development to make sure that the Chinese talents achieve the desirable set of skills they demand.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Employer Branding in Asia

I have just returned from a longer Employer Branding turne in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, where I managed to meet more than 50 employers. During my trip I realized that the cultural, religious and socioeconomic differences are even larger in Asia than in Europe and the US. With this in mind employers have to be extra sensitive to local variations in culture and attitudes when they tailor their employer brand for different parts of Asia. Hence, it’s crucial that employer branding strategies are developed based on local input – and not in a top-down approach from an office outside the region, e.g. Europe or the US.

Some lesson learned

GENERATION Y: There is a big focus and awareness about Generation Y among employers in Asia. They call the young talents for “small princess” and are afraid that they will become too spoiled. The result of the one-child policy is that parents put all effort in their child and get very high expectations on them.

RELATIONSHIP: Establishing an employer branding presence in Asia depends on many factors such as personal relationships with officials and government entities – all of which take time to develop. The most attractive companies to work for in China have been in this region for a long time and their strong employer brands reflect their commitment and investment.

FEAR: Your reputation, regardless of if you are a company or a person, is extremely important in Asia. Many companies therefore feel that the safest way in doing employer branding is to do the same as the competitors. It takes time to try something new.

EMPLOYER BRANDING: Employer Branding is a new fast growing discipline. It’s a quite new topic and executed on an operational level rather than a strategically level. Employer Branding is still short term recruiting rather than long term branding. Few seniors or leader groups are involved in the Employer Branding work. It will take time before CEOs realize the advantage of Employer Branding.

RESEARCH: Using research to track and benchmark the Employer Brand is still a very new philosophy and tool for them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Employer Branding surveys around the globe

The recruitment market is finally heating up again. At least based on feedback from many companies around the globe. They are starting to find it difficult and costly to replace talents as valued employees leave the workforce when times is getting better. As a response, Universum is right now conducting the world’s largest Employer Branding survey to help companies to understand more about preferences among young employees.

Having started with India in November and in Europe and North America in December, Universum is now reaching the final stages of the most ambitious research on student career expectations ever, conducted in 31 countries. To deliver the reliable and comprehensive trending data, relationships with close to 1,000 universities around the globe is needed. Around 350.000 students will complete the Universum surveys this year. The surveys are the first step towards developing a successful employer branding strategy, answering questions such as:

• What do students expect from their future working life?
• Which companies do students identify as ideal employers?
• Which companies are competing for the same talent?
• Which communication channels do students prefer to use?

Universum conducts regional and country specific research on several student populations:
graduates in Europe, US, Asia, Canada, Australia, Russia and South Africa.

If you are interested in understanding more about the surveys, send me an email at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pages vs Groups when doing Employer Branding

Many companies have the last six months asked me if they should create a group or a page on Facebook to promote their employer brand. My recommendation is clear – go for pages!

Members vs Fans
Pages are made for brands, corporate, celebrities and employers, while groups are more like "clubs" in the real world and made by individuals. Therefore, pages have “open” fans and Groups have “private” members. This means that Pages are better for your employer brand if you want to interact with students and professionals without having them connected to a personal account, and even people without an Facebook account can fins you and read your Page.

Size limitations
It is also important to be aware of size limitations to groups. Only groups fewer than 5,000 members can send out private messages/emails. There is no limit on how many fans you may send an update to, or how many total fans a Page can have. You can easily invite all your friends to join a Group while with Pages you will be forced to drop invites manually. This is probably to protect your fans from spamming them. Page administrators can only send updates to fans through the Page, and these updates will appear in the “Updates” section of fans’ inboxes. Groups are thus good for viral marketing, meaning that any member can also send bulk invites to his/her friends and so on.

Groups offer far more control over who gets to participate in the group. Access to a Page can only be restricted by ages and locations. On the other hand, you get visitor statistics on pages. Also one key difference is that Pages are indexed by external search engines such as Google, while Groups are not.

Customization - Applications & URL
Finally, Pages can contain applications on your page, so a Page can be more tailorized and show more content and you can get your own URL, e.g And you will also be able to buy Facebook ads to gain more fans to your Page.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Career fairs and campus activities

Career fairs may have a traditional and old-fashioned feel these days in the social media world, but they are nevertheless still very popular among students as well as employers. Career fairs and other campus activities such as seminars and company presentations constitute a relatively inexpensive way of strengthening the employer brand.

The traditional career fair has not lost its attraction among companies and Universum’s worldwide research ( shows that they are popular among job seekers in most regions. Careers fairs and other campus activities give employers the opportunity to market and communicate directly with their target groups. For recruiting companies, career fairs constitute a cost-efficient recruitment channel. You have all students under the same roof! You never know how you could target them in best way when they are professionals and “out there”.

Objectives and measurements
Careers fairs and campus activities should not be used arbitrarily. In order to get the best possible return on investment, you should define the expected results and – if possible– evaluate the cost-efficiency of different channels. Your company should have a clear idea or objective of using a specific information channel.

Some common objectives are:
• Increasing the knowledge about the company through direct/personal communication
• Making contact with prospective employees
• Attracting students and graduates to internships
• Direct recruitment

Apart from more explicit objectives, career fairs and campus activities fill other functions as well. Employees that take part in the events often get a positive experience. Moreover, they get the chance to represent the company, help build the employer image and recruit new talent to the company. Careers fairs and campus activities thus become means of strengthening the internal brand as well as the external brand. Think about that on more time!

Top three preferred sources of information among graduates
In Univerum’s global research (, students are asked how they prefer to gather information about potential employers. The following show students’ preferred sources of information for different regions and countries:

Denmark: Employer websites, career fairs, employees
Sweden: Career fairs, Internships, company presentations on campus
Germany: Internships, employer websites, employees
Italy: Company presentations on campus, career websites, employer websites
Spain: Internships, career fairs, company presentations on campus
Singapore: Career fairs, internships, employer websites
India: Friends and family, career website, employer websites
China: employees, company presentations on campus, internships
US: Career fairs, internships, employer websites

Universum conduct annually surveys in 31 countries.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The ROI of employer branding

Effective employer branding has very obvious financial advantages for anycompany. It decreases the costs in the whole competency supply chain – the process of attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining employees. At the same time, the return on investment on human capital will improve as a result of a more motivated and dedicated workforce. The benefits are obvious, but need to be marketed to the top management group. You simply have to ‘brand’ employer branding by using the right language and the right measures as the CEO and CFO are using. To find and measure ROI on employer branding is extremely difficult, but some of the more obvious advantages of strategic employer branding are listed below.

Access to talent
In order to meet its business goals, your company needs the right kind of resources. And the most important resource for the majority of companies today is human capital. Strategic employer branding will give your company access to the necessary talent in the long run.

Cost savings in recruitment
An effective employer brand functions like a filter that attracts candidates who are genuinely interested in working for your company. At the same time, candidates who don’t fit in look for jobs at companies that suit them better. Therefore, efficient employer branding reduces recruitment costs as the company will receive more relevant job applications. Moreover, you will ensure both a higher quality and faster recruitment process.

Improved retention of key employees
Effective employer branding means that those who are recruited to the organisation already have a good idea of what it is like to work there. They make an informed choice when they start working for your company. This decreases the risk of a high employee turnover or the risk of employees believing that the ‘grass is greener’ at another company. At the same time they will be good and important ambassadors that through social networks will help to create a good employer brand.

Employees as headhunters
Employees who appreciate their employer will attract other competent people to the company. They will become good and important ambassadors that through social networks will help to create a good employer brand. Your employees simply become a group of dedicated headhunters. As your employees can give direct and correct information about the workplace, it is very probable that the individuals they encourage to apply for a job will also fit into the corporate culture.

Improved productivity
Employer branding ensures correct and consistent communication about the workplace. Consequently, the risk of falling short of employees’ expectations decreases, which is a very common cause of low motivation and high employee turnover. Also, people who are motivated are generally more productive and eager
to do a great job. Hence, a long-term focus on employer branding will most certainly improve the bottom line.

Make use of key measures
To generate extra funding for employer branding you have to be able to show the expected results, such as:
• Shorter recruitment cycles
• Reduced recruitment costs
• Improved performance indicators
• Improved productivity and quality
• Reduced employee turnover among key personnel

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A quick guide in Employer Branding for beginners

This short article summarizes my previous five articles about employer branding: step 1) conducting research, step 2) finding your EVP, step 3) making a communication plan, step 4) making communication material and finally step 5) bringing it all to live.

All five steps must be followed
Employer branding is an ongoing process and the chain will not be stronger than its weakest link. Lack of investment or commitment in a single stage of the process can spoil all your other employer branding efforts. Make sure that you carefully consider how the different stages of your work relate to each other in order to maximize the efficiency of your work.

Co-operation of functions crucial for success
HR and Communications/Marketing have to work in an integrated way for successful employer branding. Commitment and involvement of top executives are crucial for the success of your efforts. There are several reasons for this. First, all communications from your company affects your employer brand. Second, employer branding is a subset of corporate branding, and needs to be consistent with it. Finally, employer branding campaigns need to support the strategic objectives of the business.

Internal and external perception interdependent
You attract talent with your employer value proposition, your brand promise. If you do not deliver on your promise, it will result in frustration, low commitment and high employee turnover. Furthermore, it is important to remember that current employees are the most trusted sources of information among potential employees. They are very important ambassadors and use social media to spread the word, both bad and good. Therefore you need to ensure that you pay equal attention to your internal attractiveness as to external image perceptions.

Employer branding is strategic and long term
Do not confuse employer branding with recruitment. A strong and attractive brand is a prerequisite for successful recruitment. It takes time to create the brand and it needs to be upheld, even during economic down turns. It will be too late to start thinking about branding when you need to recruit again. Therefore you need to work with employer branding continuously, even during bad times.

A strong brand leads to profitability and ROI
An attractive internal and external employer brand is a base for successful operations. It diminishes costs of your ‘regretted losses,’ i.e. your unwanted turnover. It diminishes cost of
recruitment. Most important though, it ensures your supply of strategic talent for growing your business, for efficiency and for productivity. Working with the brand is therefore an investment.
Done professionally, it should lead to high returns on investment (ROI). Therefore you need to allocate sufficient resources to employer branding. Go and tell your boss!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Employer Branding, Step 5: Action, evaluation and adjustments

Now it’s time to make it all happen. This is the part that finally brings it all together and delivers the results (see step 1), step 2), step 3) and step 4) earlier in this blog). Thereafter you need to evaluate and adjust your activities – continuously.

Many companies have experienced great plans that have collapsed because of lack of implementation efforts or organization of internal work. The leader group is not with you. The seniors are not with you. Your employees are not with you. To avoid this, you need to put the same effort and resources into this stage as into all previous steps in the chain. Commitment and engagement and from the rest of the company is vital.

Set your targets, evaluate and adjust
As for any other business activities, employer branding needs specific targets in order to be successful. Targets can include:
· Attractiveness among a specific target group
· Number of applications with right profile you receive per position
· Percentage of satisfied employees
· Perception of your employer brand externally and internally and the gap between these two
· Employee turnover
· Time to fill vacancies with appropriate staff

Set the targets on a realistic level and attach a time scale to each of them. As with all employer branding work, involvement of senior management in setting the targets is important. Reaching the targets will require investments and therefore commitment from people controlling the spending is vital.

My experience is that the percentage of companies using research to evaluate their employer branding efforts is unfortunately still rather low. All companies should measure their employer brand based on research not less than once a year. That will give you enough information to conduct the necessary adjustments to communication material, communications plans and other Employer Branding activities.

Involve relevant departments and benchmark investments
A common feedback from my clients is that HR needs more involvement from both managers and from other departments in the employer branding work. Also, there has been an increase in desire to have cross-functional teams work with employer branding. Since employer branding is very much about communications, the least you need to ensure is information flow between all departments.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Employer Branding, Step 4: Communication Material

Do your employer branding ads show a good looking, welldressed person smiling at the camera, placed just above some text that is ended by your logo down on the right side of the page? This is the old way of doing ads. Today, in order to become an ideal employer, companies have to build consistent materials and differentiate not only their brand promise, but also the way they communicate it.

The aim of this step is to dress the chosen employer branding proposition in the correct words and pictures. The entire employer branding effort could falter if the communication materials are not created in a way that will achieve the desired effect among the targeted groups. A large portion of the employer branding budget is usually spent on this step. Spreading your communication material through diverse channels involves heavy investments, and is a crucial step in the process. The same way that you need to invest in advertising your products or services, you need to invest in the communication of your brand.

Coherence to previous steps crucial
It is essential that the communication material is in line with the communication channels and communication aims designed in previous stages. If you have information that print advertisement is not an effective way of communicating with certain target groups, it is obviously unnecessary to spend time and resources thinking about such a campaign. If you decide to use social media as a way of brand building rather than brochures it will have an obvious effect on the way you develop your website and the material used for other web channels, e.g. movies (

Moreover, coherence of previous steps can save companies from the trap of thinking employer branding is all about producing communication material. Not seldom, when asking companies why they decided to produce a certain brochure, I often get an answers like ‘all competitors are also doing brochures,’ or ‘we had nothing else to take with us to this career fair.’ So, think for a minute before you decide to produce your communication material. If it is not thought through properly, the result can be a confusing picture of the company.

Dare to be different
I know that it is increasingly challenging for companies to differentiate their message to current and potential employees. This is one of the drivers behind the reality of focus on employer branding. The need for differentiation among hundreds of detergent products that all do the "same thing" was the reason why marketing became a profession. I have already spoken about the need for differentiation in step 2) - the chapter on employer value proposition. However, it is far from enough to have a differentiating employer value proposition if you are not communicating correctly. Your communication material needs to reflect the feeling that you want to convey about you as an employer, not only the facts and not only the general statements. I suggest a simple test. Compare the advertising material used for employer branding by you and your closest competitors. Does it look different or similar? Take out the names of the companies and show it to a random group of current employees – if they can single your material out, you have done well. Conduct the same test on external population – if you get the same results, congratulations.

It is possible to differentiate. If people can differentiate between 20 different mobile phones or jeans brands, then something as complex as an employer value proposition must be possible to differentiate. Remember though that not only the tangible aspects of your offer should be used to differentiate. Use emotions to convince your target groups that you are the right choice for them.

The ‘global’ vs. ‘national’ challenge
One of the considerations growing in importance for many companies these days in the work with communication material is the balance between one centralized message – with a same proposition independent of location – and the local cultural differences that affect all communication. Universum’s ( strong recommendation is that your choice should follow the choice you have made for your corporate branding and strategies. If they are global, you should aim at getting your employer branding to be global and vice versa.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Employer Branding, Step 3: Communication Plan

Now, after having conducted the research in step 1) and finding your EVP in step 2) we are finally ready to choose the right channels to communicate internally and externally, and to coordinate the employer branding communication with other types of existing communication.

The selected employer value proposition from “step 2” needs to be communicated in a planned fashion in order to affect your target group. Choice of communication channels should be guided by what you want to achieve with the communication. Many employers I have been in contact with use a wide variety of channels - some are traditional, such as using ads and brochures, others are more unusual, such as using social media, online games and movies.

Different channels for different aims
Print should be used to create a feeling for you as an employer, focusing on the intangible values that characterize you as an employer. My experience is that there are too much information on the world wide web, so print is the channel that will increase awareness for your Employer Brand, and trig students to read more about you on the internet and visit you at company presentations. Social media, blogs and home pages can then be used to provide more factual information and information on tangible benefits. Finally, visits at company presentations should help potential employees to identify with the company. The candidates should be given the opportunity to meet current employees and get a feel for the atmosphere in the workplace. They should walk away from the visit feeling like they could be a part of the team at the company.

You should carefully consider the position of your employer brand before choosing the channels. If you are well-known but ‘misunderstood,’ some channels will do better than others. If you are unknown, mass marketing channels should be in your portfolio. If you are part of an industry where differentiation is tough, maybe you should go for other channels than your peers. The same care should be used when selecting internal communication channels. I often see that management spends more time on external communications and events than on revitalizing the current staff ’s commitment to the company’s branding.

Invest in the right channels
Today, the website is one of the main channel companies use to communicate their employer brand, and it is a channel that candidates find very useful. However, there is not always a match between where companies communicate and where their target groups get the information. Research that Universum Communications AB conducts annually with more than 300,000 students worldwide shows significant difference between desired and actual ways of communicating in different countries.

Make use of ambassadors
An efficient and inexpensive communication channel is your own personnel. No matter the number of employees in your corporation, every person can communicate how good (or bad) your company is. According to Universums annual surveys, a very popular source of information for graduates and professionals is ‘acquaintances employed by the company’.

Integrate communication, be coherent
Ref “Employer Branding is not easy”, the same survey shows that about 90 percent of the companies stated that their HR departments are involved in employer branding activities (which is reasonable). The good news is that 50 percent of all respondents mentioned involvement from the marketing department and 60% said that top management is involved. In this phase of the process it is crucial that HR has the support and synchronizes its activities with the communications, marketing and information departments. In order to be effective, the employer branding campaign must be consistent with other marketing campaigns that your company has created. I have seen examples where employer branding campaigns have been called off or made useless by ill-timed or contradictory campaigns from other parts of the company. To avoid throwing your money out of the window you should coordinate messaging.