#178 Building a Stellar Career Path in Employer Branding

Blog header #178 Building a Stellar Career Path in Employer Branding  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Dreaming of a career path in employer branding?

Did you know that employer branding is the rising star of corporate growth, no matter how big or small the organisation is? 

What is common with businesses that want to succeed, grow and sustain a loyal customer audience?

They all need the people who:

  • Create the innovations that give businesses a competitive edge
  • Talents who package those innovations into offers that almost sell themselves
  • Employees who take care of the customers in ways that build loyalty
  • Managers who help employees grow and make the most of their skills, capabilities and potential day after day
  • and leaders who paint an exciting and compelling vision of the future for the business, customers, and employees.

The competitive business landscape is getting fiercer with technological advancements available, if not to all businesses, at least to most.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to build products that are truly better than those of competitors.

That’s why talent acquisition and retention have become paramount to organisational success.

This is not just on the employee level but also in choosing the right leaders to manage people and results, lead with purpose and future opportunities, and understand what is left to stand out in the competitive landscape.

Employer branding is one of the emerging areas guiding leaders and employees toward growth and innovation. When I talk about employer branding, I’m not talking about recruitment campaigns. I’m talking about branding, which is a very different domain from creating campaigns.

As we dive into the essence of building a career path in employer branding, in this ever-so-dynamic field, it’s pivotal for leaders and managers to recognise the transformative power of authentic employer branding.

Real employer branding is a force that not only attracts talent but shapes the very core of successful organisations worldwide and creates a point for authentic competitive advantage for the entire business.

And with that, I welcome back to Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast! 

In this episode, we’ll address the stellar career path in employer branding for you.

What does it mean for your career and life? Why is this a really compelling direction for you? What does it mean and require from you to drive your career towards becoming a master of strategic employer branding?

My name is Susanna Rantanen, and as one of the world’s top employer branding experts and influencers, I invite you to this weekly dose of modernised employer branding education and inspiration.

I’m here to give you information, keep you up to date and help you to succeed in your current employer branding tasks or plan and build a successful career in employer branding that resonates with top management and your key decision-making stakeholders in ways that they want to support you and pave your career in this domain.

If this resonates with you, make sure you subscribe to this podcast on your favourite app and make it part of your weekly routine!

Why not also follow and interact with me on my main social media platforms, Instagram and LinkedIn, and my newer growth social media platforms, YouTube and TikTok, where I eagerly explore how to grow an audience and make the most of these video platforms?

Listen to the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast on your favourite podcast app

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The Statistical Backing: Why Employer Branding Matters

Did you know that many recent research underscores the strategic importance of employer branding?

If you have followed LinkedIn Global Talent Trends reports and their other specific studies on employer branding, you know that their research suggests that companies with strong employer brands see up to a 50% reduction in hiring costs and a marked decrease in turnover rates.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report highlights that organisations with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

These statistics paint a clear picture: the future of business growth is intricately tied to the strength of its employer brand.

These statistics paint a clear picture: the future of business growth is intricately tied to the strength of its employer brand.

Susanna Rantanen

In a world where more than 70% of job seekers now evaluate and asses an employer’s brand before even applying for a job, the message is clear: the future belongs to those who master the art of employer branding.

The Employer Brand Manager’s Skill Set for the Future

You probably wonder what skills you will need as you develop your career path in employer branding and grow and master the role of an employer brand manager?

These following skill sets are what I find extremely relevant and important for any aspiring employer brand manager based on my own experiences. I have worked in employer branding for two decades, and since 2010, I have been building and managing not only the employer brands of my own businesses but also helping hundreds of our clients in building and managing their employer brands.

Top Set of Skills Advancing Your Career Path in Employer Branding

#1 Strategic Understanding and Vision

What I can not emphasise more is strategic understanding and vision.

At the core of business-relevant employer branding lies a strategic understanding of how a business works, particularly how your employer’s business works and what your employer’s business strategy means for talent attraction, acquisition, and retention. 

My strong strategic business acumen has been one of my key competitive advantages all through these years. Imagine how easy it is to win the trust and buy-in of the CEO and other top executives when you speak their language.

This core skill has given me the capability to foresee the evolving needs of the organisation and how those needs impact the people plans, needs and requirements, company culture and leadership. 

Imagine your position as the people advisor to your top management if they never need to worry about the impact of their strategic planning on people because you interpret it for them and present them with a solution.

Banner for the short survey asking feedback, ideas and wishes for a certified employer brand manager program

#2 Great Communication Skills

The second critical skill set is great communication skills.

Mastering the art of communication is indeed a core skill because it’s not that your organisation doesn’t have those elements that make you a fabulous employer and place to work.

It’s very often the lack of communicating those consistently in the right way.

Employer branding is not that part of HR work where you develop and maintain the winning elements of a great organisation, leadership, and employment, or where you work relentlessly to create amazing employee experiences, loyalty, customer satisfaction, and business success.

It is quite common to confuse the act of building an employer brand with the act of developing the culture that creates the experiences of a top notch workplace.

Let me explain you why:

When you build a brand for a product or a service, you already have the product or the service, the customers and you have the customer experiences proving there is something to brand.

You are ready to sell the product more widely, and that’s why you need the world to know about it: become aware, try it, and love the experience.

Branding is not the part where you create the tangible product.

It’s what comes with launching the product and letting the world know about its unique characteristics, experiences, and promises for a better life. It’s about giving the product a soul and a personality.

The act of employer branding often gets mixed with developing tangible leadership skills, internal processes and policies, career opportunities, a set of benefits, and the rewarding system that lead into compelling and heartfelt opportunities and experiences for the people.

Employer branding is about packaging those opportunities and experiences into a specific – and might add competitively different and unique brand promise for a better life, and then using communications and marketing to ensure people in your target audiences have lots of run-ons and encounters with it.

Employer branding is about packaging those opportunities and experiences into a specific – and might add competitively different and unique brand promise for a better life, and then using communications and marketing to ensure people in your target audiences have lots of run-ons and encounters with it.

Susanna Rantanen

And, the difference between branding a product and branding the workplace is that the workplace already has a soul, personality and voice through the company culture and employee experiences when those need to be created for a product.

Many marketing and advertising agencies get this wrong and end up creating a fake brand for a workplace that always backfires.

And, the difference between branding a product and branding the workplace is that the workplace already has a soul, personality and voice through the company culture and employee experiences when those need to be created for a product.

Susanna Rantanen

That’s why great communication skills are essential for you in building that stellar career path in employer branding.

And not just where you work now, but if that organisation does not provide you with a growth path in employer branding, then getting that next level somewhere else requires you to become a great employer brand communicator.

Great communicators all share three key characteristics (Donald Miller):

1. They are understood. They know how to articulate their thoughts into clear messages.

2. They are perceived as interesting by their audience. They have the skill to win attention and captivate their audience with clear messages, which don’t leave the point open to interpretation.

3. They inspire change. A message that fails to impact is just plain fluff. Means nothing more than white noise (internet spam) to the recipient.

So, what kind of communication skills will benefit you in building that stellar career path in employer branding?

  • Copywriting skills
    • Short-form for social media posts and captions, career site content and any advertising copy you may write or assess written by someone else.
    • Long-form for writing articles, job posts, career stories and other longer-form content. These can be used in employer brand marketing phases to win attention, grow awareness, build brand affinity and convert people in your target audience as leads, candidates, advocates or whatever is your conversion goal.
    • Copywriting is probably your most important communication skill because it’s quite likely you’ll be creating lots of content yourself for a long time unless you have resources available to hire or buy expertise in this area.
  • Conversation skills
    • Conversations with your target publics – inside and outside your organisation, including your stakeholders is a tactic that helps you to get your point across.
    • The purpose, especially with your stakeholders, is to build trust instead of barriers.
    • Equally important are conversations with your target audience on social media, at events and internally in the workplace as a form of building trust and affinity. 

So, basically, you need to become a great communicator and master compelling copywriting, trust-building conversations and engaging social media marketing. 

So, basically, you need to become a great communicator and master compelling copywriting, trust-building conversations and engaging social media marketing. 

Susanna Rantanen

Crafting those short-form and long-form stories that resonate, connecting on a human level, and articulating the unique proposition of your employer are skills that set you apart as a great employer brand strategist.

Check out these additional resources on developing your communication skills:

Getting your talent marketing key message right (episode 82)

Using persuasive communication in talent marketing (episode 87)

Copywriting for HR (episode 129)

Copywriting headlines that win attention (episode 130)

#3 Data Analysis

Data analysis is the third definite area of skills development in strategic employer branding.

You need this skill regularly to stay on top of talent market data and available research and make conclusions about how given data impacts your work, the business, and, thereafter, your employer branding strategy. 

Keeping your eyes on any available talent market data gives you that compass you need to successfully measure the impact of your strategies, understand the competitive landscape, and tailor your approach to the ever-changing market dynamics.

Here is some good information on what talent market data and intelligence is for you to keep your taps on in the future.

#4 Talent public relations and nurturing stakeholder relationships

Building and maintaining relationships both within and outside the organisation is pretty darn crucial for your personal career success.

You need to have the buy-in from the top management, marketing and/or communications, people managers and leaders in your organisation and your company’s employees because you will need their support.

And not just, ‘yeah you’ve got my support’ but the kind of support that gives you space, ownership, resources, part-taking when you need it. Not to mention the hugely necessary trust that this is really important for the business. Your key stakeholders need to understand that it will help them to help you and give you the time you asked for.

So, what does nurturing stakeholder relations mean?

  • Regular conversations and open communication lines with an emphasis on how you can help them with employer branding. 
  • Aligning visions, ensuring coherence between internal and external branding, and advocating for the value of employer branding to skeptical stakeholders. 
  • Showing keen interest in your stakeholders’ problems and pain points so that you will know what they struggle with the most and can figure out when employer branding is a solution or part of a solution for their struggles. 

Talent attraction and retention have become one the biggest struggles for pretty much all CEOs and other leaders in organisations.

Employer branding could be a huge solution opportunity for them.

However, most leaders mistakenly believe employer branding is just a campaign, so you need to educate them in those conversations to help them learn what it means and how employer branding on a strategic level can become a substantial competitive value-added asset for them and the business.

Most leaders mistakenly believe employer branding is just a campaign, so you need to educate them in those conversations to help them learn what it means and how employer branding on a strategic level can become a substantial competitive value-add asset for them and the business.

Susanna Rantanen

#5 Financial acumen and understanding of the concept of ROI – Return on Investment

Understanding budgeting, ROI, and the financial implications of employer branding initiatives is essential for building that stellar career path in employer branding.

It’s about proving the worth of your strategies in terms that resonate with top management and stakeholders. 

You need to build your employer branding case every year to get the budget and resources required to succeed in this role in ways that end up helping the top management, too.

Depending on the level of an employer branding maturity in your organisation, it’s quite possible that you have to start small and focus more on educating your stakeholders until you have won enough trust.

Starting smaller – I call this pilot employer branding – helps you leverage more trust and resources for your work in the years to come.

Employer Branding Career Progression: From Novice to Visionary

So, now we have your top 5 skills to focus on.

Next, let’s paint a vision of your potential career progression from a novice to a visionary.

The Foundation: Learning and Development

I continue to believe the best start for an employer branding career comes with a focus on mastering employer brand communication—both written and verbal.

This gives you the most work opportunities as employer brand communication and marketing is an area where there is a lot of work and only a few truly talented professionals to this date. 

Even if you know how to write press releases or have loved journaling your own life in your diary, it is not the same as knowing how to recognise suitable employer branding topics to communicate about and create consistent written or verbal content that invites a specific target audience into an organisation’ story as current or future employees.

Here, you should  develop your knowledge and skills about the basics of strategic employer branding and employer brand marketing.

It is important you make sure you understand the nuances that differentiate branding, marketing, and communication and how to apply these skills in the chosen or available media and channels you have for communicating with your target audiences and stakeholders.

Advanced level: Strategic Influence and Analysis

As you have built this solid base, the next reasonable and natural career progression step in employer branding should shift your attention to strategic planning and data analysis. 

Start engaging with talent market research, social media trends, and the metrics that measure the success of employer branding initiatives. 

You cannot succeed in employer branding ever without having a really good understanding of your target audience behaviour, motivators, pain points and desires as well as of your target market including your key competition for the same talent.

These are not permanent, meaning once knowledgeable always on top of it.

The markets are dynamic and change. People come and go, consumer behaviour changes, expectations change, business needs changes, new businesses come and old disappear.

The operational environment is always on the move because so much happens in and around the world, shaking and shaping businesses, organisations, value systems, people, and the way we live and want to live.

Leadership: Shaping the Future

As you progress, your role evolves from executor to strategist. 

You’ll lead strategic employer branding,  influence organisational strategy, manage employer brand perceptions, collaborate with stakeholders, and manage stakeholder buy-in.

You now work with partners inside and outside the organisation, hire and coach people in your employer branding team, probably build your own professional networks and contribute to your employer branding domain.

And most of all, you lead the employer branding work that provides the tangible benefits of a strong employer brand to top management, the business as a whole and the people working in your organisation.

Growing into a leadership role is an awesome career journey and because everything is still so new, you have all the opportunities you want for yourself available if you just go for it.

Self-Driven Success: Carving Your Career Path in Employer Branding

This takes us back to you, your aspirations and desires and your personality, self-awareness and self-confidence required to carve your own path in employer branding, as this is such a new domain, you cannot expect to get much help from your own superior or marketing or communications.

I want to emphasise this: the journey to becoming an employer branding leader is self-driven. 

With organisations still grasping the full potential of employer branding, your initiative, creativity, and ability to present data-backed strategies will set you apart. 

You need to find your online mentors and examples to follow so that you can self-drive your career development in this amazing field. Since you have listened to this podcast, I hope and know that many of you know that I am your mentor and guide in this universe, and that’s what you need. You need someone who paves the way for you, someone who you can learn from, mimic, and use as your source of inspiration and motivation and a guide to show you which way to go.

Regularly seek learning opportunities through online courses, mentorship, or industry conferences. 

Your career is a testament to your ability to foresee opportunities, solve complex problems, and present solutions that align with your organisation’s strategic goals.

Take matters into your own hands if this career is what you want. No one else will do it for you or provide you with opportunities that even they know nothing about.

Conclusion: The Vanguard of Organisational Success

As we look to the future, it’s clear that the leaders in employer branding will be those who are not only skilled communicators and strategists but also visionaries capable of propelling their organisations to new heights. 

Your career in employer branding is not just about finding talent; it’s about building cultures, fostering innovation, and driving growth. 

With each step forward, you’re advancing your career and shaping the future of work. 

The path is yours to forge, and the impact you can make is limitless. Welcome to the exciting world of modern employer branding—where your vision becomes the blueprint for the future of organisations around the globe.

Additional Resources to Carve A Career Path in Employer Branding

Those new to employer branding

If you are new to this podcast and a career path in employer branding inspires you, I have two very easy, also free recommendations  for you:

  1. If you haven’t yet, download my free ebook Building A Modern Employer Brand. This ebook explains modern employer branding and how it differs from traditional employer branding. If that ebook—it’s only a few pages—excites you, then I am your guide. I invented modern employer branding, and no one else can guide you better in this path than I. 
  2. If I am your online guide and mentor, then make sure you follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube if you spend time on the Tube. That way we are connected beyond this podcast.

Those more experienced in employer branding

We are building a stellar employer branding online program for talents like you to become certified in modern employer branding.

Please respond to this short survey and let us know your thoughts on such a program and if you want to learn more about this opportunity.

Banner for the short survey asking feedback, ideas and wishes for a certified employer brand manager program

If modern employer branding, or a career in employer branding hasn’t hit your role, that’s okay my friend. I’m not who can help you or excite you about work and life. But I’m sure there is someone out there who can. You just need to find that person.

That’s all for this week, my dear audience!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast on your favourite podcast app or YouTube!  And while you are there, why don’t you rate this podcast, too!

Moi moi, see you next week at the same place and time!

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