Matt Handford, the SVP of People for Hootsuite, has written a good article for HR Morning about how to attract and retain talented employees in a tight labor market. He focuses on your "employer brand" strategy. Handford explains:
It should go without saying that in order to develop a strategic and effective brand persona, there needs to be a plan behind it. First off, it’s critical to understand that a brand is not the perks or salary associated with working at your company. While perks like dog-friendly offices, free beer, extra vacation and ping pong are elements of creating a positive workplace it does not, and should not, define you as a brand.
Take a critical look at your current brand and define what you want to be known for; when a potential employee thinks of your company, what is the ideal perception you want to create? By thinking from that perspective, you can work backwards and develop steps to increase your brand’s strategic positioning until you are attracting the type of talent that aligns with your vision. Ultimately you want to capitalize on what makes your brand unique, and build from there.
Handford is right on the money. The key question is: How do you build such an effective employer brand strategy? I would argue that it begins with an in-depth examination of your current competitive position in the labor market. Clearly, you need to speak with your employees. What does the brand mean to them? More importantly, however, you must spend time with two other groups of people: those who you hope to recruit (perhaps college students, for instance), and those who have rejected you. The latter group is especially important. You need to speak with those who have either connected with your firm in some way, but ultimately did not choose employment with your company, or those who have chosen not to engage with you at all. What's driving them away? Answering that fundamental question is the first step in building an effective employer brand strategy.