Quantity versus quality: the employer branding challenge

New research shows international brands that HR leaders might envy may be attracting more talent, but not better talent.

Quantity versus quality: the employer branding challenge
Having an internationally recognized brand is not enough to attract the right talent, new research finds.

Unappealing or confusing employer brands are preventing companies from making the most of their recognisable name, according to an international survey from advisory firm CEB.

Although three-quarters of companies around the globe have invested in formal employer branding initiatives in the past three years, just a quarter of candidates applying for roles are high quality.

“Today’s employers face greater challenges than ever in attracting the right mix of talent, especially as the economy allows for a move from survival to growth mode," CEB executive director Jean Martin said. "As businesses diversify their products and services, they have to hire people with skills their brand was never designed to attract."

The companies have seen the number of applicants per open position rise significantly (33%) in that time period, which suggests that employers have simply succeeded in attracting more, not better candidates.

The study, which surveyed more than 2,000 recruiting staff from North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, found that employers are under increasing pressure to attract new types of talent.

What's more, most applicants are not accessing information that originates with the company, with 61% saying they were skeptical about what employers had to say about themselves.

“Employers simply cannot carry on doing what they’ve always done. Branding for universal appeal just results in more headaches for the HR team who have to sift through a greater volume of low-grade candidates,” Martin said. "Companies have to stop chasing universal popularity and adapt a ‘lure the best, deflect the rest’ mindset to employment branding."

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