May 25, 2020

Is An Employer Brand More Than Just Six Boxes?

Ben Dowse
Ben Dowse Senior Recruiter

Who am I? How do I come across to others? Have you ever posed these questions to yourself? Taking stock of who you are at your core helps us understand ourselves. But still, people will have different opinions about you. The question of “who am I” is subjective.

What is an employer brand?

For companies, it’s similar. What makes your company special? What do your employees think of the organisation? How are you perceived by potential new employees?

An employer brand is the subjective perception of your company’s identity and reputation. This impression will hopefully form something that attracts, retains and engages talent. However, it can also lead to indifference or even aversion.

The six employer brand topics

To try and make the definition more tangible, at LevelUp we recognise that there are six topics within the employer brand; the employer value proposition, employee advocacy, content, social media, the candidate journey, and your career page. Yes, a brand is hard to put it into six objective categories, but we gave it our best shot.

employer branding categories

An honest reflection of who you are

Do you remember what the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, once said? “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” So maybe you think you tick the six employer brand boxes, but what are people actually saying about your company? 

If you think you have mastered the six topics of employer branding, there is a chance you will have created a decent reputation and a fairly authentic identity.

But, just for a second, think of your employer brand as a one-way mirror you’d find in an interrogation room. A window into your company from a potential employee’s perspective and a mirror looking back at you. What do you see in the reflection? And what would a candidate see?

four people in an interrogation room

When your employer brand doesn’t reflect who you are, it’s pretty easy to paint roses on the windows and pretend things are different. But, when they get over to the other side, your new employee will be disappointed.

A good employer brand is one that others look through and see an honest, real and thorough insight into an employer

An employer brand is subjective, but facts about your employer value proposition are not subjective, right? Do people really get flexible working hours? Or is that only on a Saturday? If your employer brand is honest and real – it will resonate with the right people inside and outside of your company. 

The true ins and outs of a company can dissuade potential candidates, but that’s great, right? You’ll be weeding out the incompatible before they get through the door!

So, if you master the six topics and also tick the integrity box, your employees will genuinely look forward to coming into work every day. Also, you’ll attract the perfect match time and time again, and your talented employees will be more likely to reach their full potential. More on the “why an employer brand is important” in the next article.

The example of Google

They receive a whopping 3 million resumes a year and only picked 7,000 employees, they’re clearly an employer of choice. Their careers page is colourful, full of content and smiles, it’s easy to navigate and it’s aligned to who they are as a business. On top of that, their employer value proposition (EVP) is arguably one of the best in the world; smart colleagues, a strong diversity agenda, solid compensation and benefits and beautiful campuses (with slides in their offices).

2 people walking

Communication – another integral part of an employer brand

You can’t have a successful employer without an engaging candidate journey, strong employee advocacy and a decent strategy on how to communicate your employer brand. Oh, and a true and honest reflection of who you actually are!  

Imagine you have a swanky careers page, amazing thought leadership content, your social media (with dogs, plants AND boardgames) is on point, you have an unrivalled employer value proposition because you are able to pay higher salaries AND what you portray is actually genuine. You still won’t attract or retain the top talent, unless your communication, and more specifically, your candidate journey is awesome.

“Thank for application” 🤯

Did you hear about the company in Amsterdam that has a robot interviewing candidates for the first two rounds? Sounds pretty impersonal. In our projects, we have seen strong candidates waiting for a response for 45+ days and my personal favourite, an auto-response email: “thank for application” 😩.

If you communicate with potential candidates well consistently and you guide them through a top-notch candidate journey, you’ll have the foundations to start building a good employer brand. I’ll talk more about “why” and “how” in upcoming articles. 

Candidate advocacy at it’s finest

Two months ago, my colleague was interviewing a candidate. She wasn’t what we were looking for. Still, my colleague put her through an engaging candidate journey, listened to her properly and gave her advice. Now, although she is a very nice human being and spends time getting to know people, she also has the mindset that every candidate is an opportunity to get closer to the needle in the haystack.

This mantra paid off. The candidate’s family member was exactly what we were looking for and she put us in touch with him and we made the perfect hire! Candidate advocacy at it’s finest.

Whether you are pursuing it or not, your company has an employer brand – internally and externally. If you have a startup with only one applicant, that applicant could tell five people about their candidate journey with you and your employer brand is launched.


So there are 6 steps, plus another two; honesty and communication. Every step you take, every move you make (great song), everything others write, say, or express through dance, contributes to your identity and reputation as an employer. Yeah, it’s subjective, what one person likes another might not. But, that’s fine, if you have an honest, well-communicated employer brand that actually reflects who you are and who you want to be. Your brand will start resonating with more and more perfect matches. Talent will thrive.

In my next article, I will be talking about why an employer brand is so important – particularly in a startup.

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