Employer Branding Strategies: Delivering an Innovative Brand

By Astrid Wonderley on June 21, 2022

Today’s talent shortage has recruiters struggling to source and hire the people they need to meet the demands of the business. According to research from Indeed, 42% of employers are worried they won’t be able to find the talent they need in 2018. This shortage makes it imperative that organizations get creative about their employer branding strategies.

Top brands are taking more innovative approaches to employer branding. REI, an outdoor recreational outfitter based in Seattle, delivers a personal recruitment strategy that makes it easy for candidates to get to know and engage with their brand.

Three employer branding strategies we can learn from REI.

1. Treat candidates like you treat your customers.

REI's careers website

As a retailer, REI understands customers, and they treat candidates like customers. When you visit REI’s career site, it’s just as engaging as the website for customers. The messaging and imagery are inspiring and inviting. They encourage candidates to explore what makes REI unique.

REI knows that people are spending more time on their phones and tablets and expect those experiences to be just as seamless as the experience on their desktop. People aren’t just shopping on their phones; they are applying for jobs from their phones. Indeed estimates that 80% of building, grounds, cleaning, and maintenance job seekers start their job search on a mobile device. People who work in a sedentary office setting are less likely to search on their phones, yet the lowest rate of mobile search is still 45% (for computer and mathematical occupations). If the mobile experience isn’t optimized, you diminish your talent pool.

When accessing the REI career center from a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, it’s easy to search and apply for jobs. The mobile experience mirrors that of the desktop experience regarding accessibility and usability. Candidates can easily search for jobs based on criteria they select, or they can view jobs by scrolling through the list

Once a candidate selects the job for which they want to apply, they can create a profile easily by using any information they have already have stored in Dropbox, LinkedIn, Google Drive, or similar storage tools to provide their resume.

From a candidate perspective, the experience of applying for a job at REI via mobile or desktop appears is very similar and equally convenient. With nearly 50% of candidates across industries beginning their job search on a mobile device, providing an easy-to-use application process is an important way to engage talent.

2. Speak to candidates in a variety of channels.

Respondents to the Indeed survey reported that 71% of employers source new hires from job sites, 42% find hires through digital ads, and – somewhat surprisingly – 38% find talent using print ads. This indicates employers are utilizing various methods to find candidates.

To compete, it’s essential that you use a variety of communication channels to engage your talent pool. Some candidates will connect with video; others will look for information on LinkedIn; while others will search Facebook. When you use a variety of channels to distribute content, your talent pool expands exponentially.

On their YouTube channel, REI has videos that illustrate their corporate values. One video highlights REI’s “Yay Days.” As the video explains, these days are “a way for all REI employees to get outside and play or do a stewardship project.” Every six months, employees receive a “free outdoor hall pass.” The video sends a powerful message to candidates about why they might love to work at REI.

REI's YouTube channel

REI also uses Facebook to extend their employer brand. A sub-page on their main Facebook account is used to share job postings. Candidates can view current openings, review job descriptions, and apply for a job directly from the Facebook page.

REI's facebook job search

The Facebook page isn’t only dedicated to what’s currently open; REI also uses the page as a vehicle to entice passive candidates to connect. In the sidebar, users will find a link to “join the talent pool” which takes the Facebook user directly to the REI Career Center where they may upload a file, copy and paste their resume, or use LinkedIn, Dropbox, or Google Drive to create a profile. Even if there isn’t a specific job that interests a candidate, REI has a process in place to engage them as a passive candidate for future opportunities.

REI's career center

With 500 million users, LinkedIn remains one of the most powerful social platforms for job searchers and employers alike. Candidates use the professional networking site not only to find jobs but also to conduct research about potential employers.

REI satisfies candidates’ need for information by providing a robust LinkedIn Company Page that showcases their employer brand. In this LinkedIn post, REI shares content from Glassdoor that highlights the company’s position as a top seasonal employer because of the amazing perks they offer. This creative strategy illustrates the power of using a content – yours as well as what others publish – to shape your employer brand.

REI's LinkedIn feed

3. Assess and select candidates carefully.

If you have gotten your employer branding strategy right, your candidate pool will inevitably increase. Now you need a plan in place for assessing whether someone is the right fit for your organization. REI’s senior vice president of HR, Raquel Karls, told Business Insider they’re first-and-foremost looking for employees who share the brand’s values.

“You don’t have to be scaling mountains every day, but you have to have that passion for public lands, the outdoors, what we’re doing here which is connecting you to everything you need to choose a life outside,” she said.

Not all organizations are fortunate enough to have such a clear sense of their corporate culture that translates to their employer branding strategy. HighMatch helps organizations identify and articulate the traits that are important to their culture. So, when they do assess candidates, it’s easy to identify who shares the traits they value, and who will add value to the culture.

When used early in the process, HighMatch also helps recruiters screen candidates. Job Fit scores make it crystal clear whether a candidate is a high, medium, or low fit for the job and why, so you can focus outreach on the individuals who are most likely to succeed.

A creative employer branding strategy that uses multiple channels takes time and effort, but that effort is worth it when you’re able to attract top talent who will help you take your business to the next level.