Fortune magazine's most admired companies list for 2012 is out. Ever wonder why Disney is #13 on "most admired" but does not even appear on Fortune's list of best companies to work for in the United States? The reason is a gap between the corporate brand and the "employment brand."
Just as a brand helps make positive associations for the product for potential consumers and a corporate brand helps make positive associations for a company's products under the corporate umbrella, an employment brand makes positive associations for the consumers of the company's jobs. In this case, the "consumers" are potential employees, and the "product" is the jobs they are advertising at the time.
Changes to these four areas don't just happen by accident. At Vocollect, for example, we have an innovative way to interview prospective candidates on the "visit day" that makes the process smoother and faster for applicants. This process helped me understand our collaborative and innovative culture and helped attract me to the company. Other elements of the "product" such as the game room with pinball and ping-pong tables helped position the company as still a cool tech company despite our relative maturity.
Employment branding is a critical consideration for HR in an era of competition for some of the most skilled positions. If you disagree with me, someday try hiring a skilled product manager with a degree in computer science and experience in a full cycle product development process from concept to launch. You'll find it's not as simple as just paying more than the competition. In fact, I know some engineers who just ignore the recruiter calls these days because, despite the potentially better pay, they just "can't be bothered" given how well-paid and happy they are right now.
Understanding where HR falls short requires some serious market research among the target hire population. To my amazement given this talent shortage, in my experience there are only a few research companies thinking seriously about this topic. One is Gallup, the polling-organization-turned-consulting-firm, which has devoted an entire practice to employment branding. Another is Kenexa, a consulting firm that specializes in the topic. Global firms such as Ipsos seem to have pockets of interest in employment branding worldwide, most notably in the UK office. Maritz Research has clearly done work in this area but doesn't highlight it very well.
So here's my challenge to some of the "big guns" out there: trumpet your employment branding market research better on the Web, in articles and even in the comments below. There is a latent market out there waiting to improve companies' hiring processes. And improving the interview processes and the jobs themselves for all of us who are occasionally in the job market.