Maximizing Employer Branding for Small & Medium-sized Companies

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

For over a decade, Brad Owens helped Fortune 500 companies (including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Nationwide and many others) attract and hire talent at all levels of their organizations.

In this episode, we’ll learn how Brad Owens uses his experience to make an impact on smaller and medium-sized companies as the “Robin Hood of Hiring.” He coaches leaders and top-level HR professionals to solve problems attracting, hiring and retaining their teams.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Listen on Apple PodcastsStitcher RadioGoogle Play or SoundCloud.

Why do you work with small and medium-sized businesses?

I have dealt with companies with 0 employees, and I’ve dealt with companies that have had 200 employees. So any company with fewer than 500 employees are the companies I work with, the majority of the time. My goal is to help them develop strategies but in the long run that they would not need me anymore. I empower them to do it themselves.

How do you get qualified applicants for SME’s?

This comes down to employer branding! One of the big things that smaller businesses don’t understand is this concept of employer branding. What I see a lot of them do is that their stuck hiring in the 1920’s. They write job descriptions with the exact specifications you need in a person, and you cant get that job without these. But I’m sorry this is not the case anymore. There are a lot fewer people in the job market, and there are a lot fewer people who are perfect for you. We need to focus on attracting the right people.

Why is employer brand so crucial to SME’s?

If you’re not thinking about culture, you’re not going to get the right people in your business. The more people who know about you and what you care about. The more likely they are going to refer people who they think is the right fit for you.

For example, if we use a business the size of 27 people. That’s already big enough of a company with a culture that’s bigger than you. So I would start going around to people that have high-level roles and start asking them questions like how it feels to work at the company? And what can we be doing better? If your not making every business decision with what they say in mind then your not doing it right.

What do you start with low budget employer branding for SME’s?

I would start with some baseline priorities such as:

  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed

Create employer pages on these platforms, and I would challenge everyone when they write job ads on these platforms, in the very first sentence, to include the reason why a candidate should work for. Candidates want to know why they might be the right fit for you.

Whats the number one pitfall to look out for?

Not setting out to listen to your candidates. I say that because most companies will look at a resume and get a picture of who a candidate is without actually meeting them. But I’d love for people to come up with a blind interview process. You don’t know anything about them, and they’ve gone through the pre-screen process, but you interview them without knowing anything about them. So you have to listen to them, and most people go into interviews already with questions to ask and their asking questions that don’t work. So know you’re ‘why’ and be selective with every candidate.

Do have any tech hacks you can recommend?

Here’s one. Standard ATS’s have great features where you can set automated replies to applications, but bigger companies can afford the multiple thousands a year that it costs to run these things. I use an email marketing platform called Convert Kit, and I’ve found that you can use it as an ATS kit for much cheaper. The number one complaint is I’ve applied, but I never heard anything. But with this, you can do that. As long as your using something that helps you keep track of people, stick to the one that works for you.

How do you measure the ROI of your employer branding efforts?

Measuring for me is all about if your happy with what you’re getting. So the percentage of what comes in that’s a good fit for you versus the ratios that are bad. I would look at your rates between good hires and bad hires. If you’re getting 75% bad hires then you need to reevaluate what you’re doing.

What companies do employer brand the right way?

Media Minefield, small company and they have been voted best place to work a few times, and it’s due to their family and team-based culture.

ConvertKit are also doing a great job, they have 34 employees and 20 different cities, and they still have a great and open working culture, and meet up very regularly.

Tons of these tech companies work remotely but still have regular meets and maintain a healthy company culture.

What if your company is not as ‘cool’ as these tech companies?

It all comes down to caring; they can make sure that they care about their people more than anyone else. If you care more, you show more compassion, and you can create a genuine and honest culture that people want to be a part of.

What’s next for employer branding?

We’re going to see a significant shift towards employee-centric website focus. You’re going to be seeing employer branding all over company websites showcasing their people. We’re going to see a lot more companies investing resources into building out their websites as a genuine candidate attraction tool.

Connect with Brad on LinkedIn!


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