The ultimate list of employer branding do’s and don’ts

As the economy improves, the race for recruiting and hiring high-performers gets as serious as the rush to snag the last piece of pie at the next big family dinner.

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The ultimate question then becomes – how can businesses make certain they stay top of mind with both active and passive job seekers?

In the past, you could just pour more money into job listings to buy yourself more visibility where job seekers are looking, but with all of the changes in the job market and the launch of Google for Jobs this strategy is pretty much dead. Instead, a strategy that works better now more than ever before is for companies to share their unique story in a way that’s attractive to potential new hires.

This strategy is essentially employer branding. Do it right, and A-players flock to your door. Miss the mark, and they all go to work for your competitors!

Here is the ultimate list of employer branding Do’s and Don’ts:

DO use your current employees

First-hand accounts are the best way to help possible applicants get to know your organization. Employer branding benefits greatly from stories from your current happy staff. Ask for employee feedback on topics including the on-boarding and training processes and day-to-day work goings on and make it accessible to interested candidates, whether that’s on your career site or employer branding profile. Honest perspectives in employees’ own words creates a positive branding experience for all parties involved.

DO consistently share your branding message

A cohesive brand sticks in people’s minds. Develop a mission statement and core values and make sure those, as well as company culture information, are shared across all your company’s public relation channels. In-person meetings and recruiting events, the website, and all social media channels need to distribute the same overall message to maximize branding effectiveness.

DO commit to maximizing the candidate experience

Once you make contact with a job seeker, there needs to be a uniform process in place that all hiring participants follow. The candidate experience is a big part of your overall employer branding. How long is the process? How many steps? How will you handle the people you don’t want to hire? Make sure every candidate is treated with respect of their time and with fairness. Because job seekers share their experiences across review channels and social media and the last thing you want is to get a bad reputation for not treating yours fairly or professionally.

DO be authentic. Always!

Candidates can smell exaggeration and misrepresentation a mile away, and it turns them off. Authenticity must be a top priority in a successful employer branding effort. Take time on the front end to establish an honest brand based on your personal experience and employee feedback. If this examination uncovers flaws in your brand, take steps to address and fix them. But don’t cover them up with insincere claims.

And then there are things you should NOT do:

DON’T ignore the power of online reviews and social media

Not taking the time to monitor and respond to your company’s online reviews and failing to develop your company’s social media profiles are two big tactical errors that will cause your brand to suffer. While an up-to-date website is essential, your company’s presence on company review platforms and on social media are even bigger influences on your employer brand than your website, because job seekers see them as less biased and more accessible. The added benefits: answering your company reviews lets you engage directly with former employees and tell your honest side of the story, while on social media you can share more varied and interesting information on a frequent basis. Review sites and social media are most likely where your ideal candidates already hang out, too, so it’s easier to make an impact when focusing on those mediums.

DON’T hesitate to use real photos and videos

Some companies stay strictly business in their branding efforts, and fail to hit the mark because it comes across as stilted and boring. Remember those great employee stories. Video them! Share employee and other videos along with photos of real employees (no stock photos!) in your office throughout your branding efforts. Doing so reaches more people and builds a broader picture of what it’s like to work at your company.

Using videos and employee photos helps with the next point.

DON’T neglect your website

While job seekers conduct their job research in a lot of different places (on reviews sites and social media, for instance), your company website is definitely one place that they expect to get a lot of useful information about you. An outdated website that doesn’t show open positions or contain a career page or About Us page can make you miss lots of A-players who care about what the real day-to-day is like inside your organization. So when it comes to your website, your best course of action is to keep it up to date and beef it up with a careers section that showcases your company culture, management team, and anything else that makes your business unique to job candidates. This way job seekers get a feel for your company, and the right ones get to know at least some things about you before their first interview.

DON’T set it and forget it

Just because your employer brand might seem to be performing well at one point in time doesn’t mean your employer brand will be relevant a year from now. Recruiting and on-boarding efforts that produce many well-qualified hires is a moving target. New social media channels and online trends are born all the time, for example. Leaders need to periodically review branding materials to ensure they are keeping up with the times and are still accurately representing your organization.

A hard-hitting employer brand that fills your pipeline with strong talent (that also fit your company’s culture) is crucial as your company grows. These Dos and Don’ts keep you on the right track to building a strong brand and maintaining a positive candidate experience, while also attracting more high-performers to work for you, instead of your competition.

This article first appeared on Kununu.