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Employer Branding after the Downturn

I am looking out over a snow covered landscape. The heavy snow passed a couple of days ago and the severe cold (this morning it was - 8.5C) has set in. It will be another few days before we get a thaw. It has set me thinking…… The last two years has been a blizzard of harsh conditions for many organisations. Re-structuring, Redundancies and Pay Cuts have been Key agenda items for many HR Directors.

However, I see a thaw coming. Economies across the Globe have started to grow again. The international Companies in Ireland are beginning to experience an upturn. There is a re-emergence of active recruitment. Graduate programmes are beginning again.

So what will our Company’s reputation be when it returns to the recruitment market following a period of restructuring? How will our Companies be viewed by potential recruits? What will be the condition of our Employer Brand? What will the ‘stories’ be in the market about how we handled our Staff during the downturn?

Our Marketing Colleagues spend lots of money creating positive warm feelings around our Products and Brand names. Many HR Directors also put considerable effort into creating Brand image around our Companies. They participate in programmes like ‘Best Companies to Work For’. They take care that their Recruitment and other Programmes promote a positive ‘Employer Brand’ and are targeted to impact existing Staff as well as potential future recruits.

So do we need to do anything special now, after the downturn, about our Employer Brand? It seems to me that we do. Remember that while your organisation may have done a good job in handling Staff issues during the hard times, many did not and there are people out there that have after effects of bad experiences.

Effort spent re-visiting the experience that potential recruits have in dealing with our organisations would be a good investment. Issues like … how do we acknowledge applications? What documentation do we send out? Are our interviewers (both line managers and HR Staffers) properly trained? Is feedback handled well? Are you in control of what your Recruitment Agency is saying? How long is your selection process taking?

So as our Companies re-enter the recruitment market, it will be worth paying attention to concerns of potential recruits arising from their experiences and those of their friends during the downturn.

Jim Waters

6 December 2010