The Employer Brand: Would Your Customers Want to Work for You?

By Eddie Francis

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Eddie Francis, employer branding and customer service blog for Social-Hire.comAs a leader in your company or organization, think about the last time you walked into a place of business as a customer and left thinking about whether or not you would work there. What would you say if you walked into a health club where the employees have unhealthy attitudes? What did you think the last time you ate at a restaurant where the cooks and servers were having fun? The reactions of your customers can drive the effectiveness of your employer brand and don't ever underestimate that dynamic.

Southwest Airlines immediately comes to mind. Known for energetic and generally good-humored employees, I have often caught myself thinking that it would be pretty cool to work for them. I’m not the only one who thinks so. SWA has cleverly built an attractive employer brand on customer interactions. I have actually seen a room full of recruiters light up because they want to work for Southwest. With more than 47,000 employees, there are bound to be unhappy people at SWA but the combination of effective branding to customers and job seekers easily commands attention.

On the other hand, you have the curmudgeons who can't seem to hide their issues. Having worked in higher education as a public relations/marketing director, I can tell you that the connection between unhappy students—the customers—and unhappy employees is hardly a coincidence. Ask these employees if they would send their kids to the college and that may tell you something about the overall brand. You don’t need an MBA with a concentration in organizational leadership to figure this stuff out. A crappy brand means missing out on some of the better candidates out there.

This is so let's not forget about online branding. Employers who fail to pay attention to their web presence also lose out on quality candidates. On one recruitment project, I knew the client would be a tough assignment after reading negative online employee and customer reviews in certain markets. On another recruitment project, I estimate that roughly 98 percent of the candidates I contacted were genuinely excited to hear from us because they let us know that they were already loyal, happy customers; and they were more than happy to pass the word to colleagues about job opportunities. Going back to my experience in higher ed, I put months of work into one university's web site to not only better serve potential students but I also wanted to attract quality faculty and staff. As a result, not only did leadership become more consistent about job postings but HR cleaned up previously poorly written postings with the university experiencing an increase in its applicant pool.

It goes without saying that it takes in-depth internal work to develop an effective employer brand but customer reaction is a great place to start. Having a customer express that he or she wishes to work for your company or organization goes a long way.

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