Making a good first impression is absolutely vital for companies if they want to attract and retain top talent. Staff generally want to work for companies who have good benefits, a strong industry track record and a reputation for being good employer. The 50,000-plus people employed by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin were probably attracted by the company’s inextricable association with positive brand values such as honesty, integrity, fun and openness.
It takes time, however, to reach that position, especially in the increasingly competitive digital, design, marketing and communications industries where companies have to fight hard to gain market share and attract the best staff. But it is possible for employers to stand out from the crowd by adopting some very simple policies when recruiting new talent.
Respond quickly to an e-mailed job vacancy enquiry and check that staff on the switchboard know which procedure to follow. Make sure unsuccessful candidates are given feedback on why they didn’t get the job. Conduct exit interviews when a member of staff leaves the business.
All of this helps to create a strong brand in the eyes of prospective, current and former staff. Don’t forget that people outside of the company will talk about the business to their friends and peers.
Responsibility for creating a good employer brand lies with everybody in the business, from the MD or CEO to the receptionist. Imagine, for example, that the social media manager posts a tweet about something bad that’s happened at the company. Prospective candidates might read that tweet and decide they’d be better off working somewhere else.
Job interviews should be an opportunity for employers to sell themselves and their brand values to potential candidates. As well as discussing the requirements of the role and the benefits package, the interviewer should also talk about the culture, the company’s approach to work-life balance and the values to which staff must adhere. That will leave candidates with a good first impression of the company, regardless of whether or not they end up taking the job.
It takes years to build a strong brand but, as Gerald Ratner discovered,only a matter of seconds to ruin it. During a speech at an Institute of Directors conference in 1991, the high street jeweller infamously described his company’s products as “crap”. His reputation (and the reputation of his company’s brand) was reduced to similar stuff.
Continually making a good impression on the wider world really matters. Just ask Sir Richard Branson or Gerald Ratner.