No trend is officially ingrained in the mainstream of our culture until it has unleashed a steady torrent of buzzwords (see e-business, e-commerce, and e-tailing - all equally horrific in their own right). And it is now official that in the world of employment marketing, we have witnessed complete and utter capitulation to the phrase "employer of choice."
"Employer of choice" is an outgrowth of the employer branding craze we have all come to know and love. On the surface, it's innocuous enough. After all, what organization wouldn't want to be an employer of choice? It's so non-specifically positive that you can't help wanting to get on board with any initiative that contains it as a goal, descriptor, or reference. It is the employment marketing equivalent of "ice cream social."
The issue however, is when employer of choice morphs from a general business objective to a de-facto brand strategy. Every organization is different (it's this kind of insight that keeps people riveted to articles like this). As such, you need to specifically ascertain just how your employer brand needs bolstering. But not to worry - there is a way to avoid the employer of choice quicksand of generalization. It begins with asking yourself the following questions:
Do the people who you want to attract even have a clue that your organization exists?
If not, you may want to focus on letting them know about this key point. Strategies and tactics to achieve this goal tend to center around creating high-visibility. Once people realize that you are in business, you have achieved the basic goal of awareness and are now ready to move on to the next question.
Do the people you want to attract care that your organization exists?
In other words, are you relevant? As cruel as this may seem, most candidates are not spending a lot of time wondering if your organization offers jobs in their field of specialization. Be as specific in your messaging as you are in your hiring. (Note: This challenge in brand development is often exacerbated by targeting strategies that assume everyone should know about your company. This is just as much of a challenge as it spreads resources too thin.) Once you have achieved relevance, move on to the next question.
Why would anyone choose your organization over another?
To answer this question, it's important to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses as an employer, but also your competition's. The more scientific the approach, the more valid the positioning - and the more valid the positioning, the more likely that candidates will understand your point of differentiation.
There are other stages in employer brand development beyond awareness, relevance, and differentiation, but let's not get overly ambitious today. I would love to think that with this one article, the phrase employer of choice would vanish for all eternity. But I know that no matter how compelling these few paragraphs might be, there is always another, move devious buzzword just over the horizon. I probably shouldn't even mention it, but "magnet employer" is just around the corner.
If at any time, you'd like to discuss the intricacies of employer brand development or your own "employer of choice" initiative, call me at 978-823-2687 or send a buzzword-free email to firstname.lastname@example.org.