I remember a politician once commenting that there used to be a time when people would be chasing jobs and now (at the time of the comment) the jobs were chasing people. Although this comment was made a number of years ago, employers and employees know that it is still very valid in 2017.

We need to keep in mind that although we have had blips in our economy, we have not had severe unemployment for the last 30 years. This has changed the outlook of people in employment and job seekers in particular.

Go back 60, 70 years. Generally people were seeking employment to earn a living that was ideally more comfortable from that of their parents. Fifty years ago that changed as job opportunities had increased in the second half of the 1960s and employees were not just seeking a job to earn a living but were seeking to be motivated by their work. This gave them some opportunity to be choosy. With the economy showing good growth since the second half of the 1980s, expectations changed once more as employees started to seek development opportunities in their job.

Employees are looking for jobs that give them the opportunity to grow and that give them a means to the lifestyle they want to live. They are seeking employment with organisations that have a good reputation and help them to feel self-fulfilled. Employees are not just asking themselves about what they wish to do but also where they wish to work.

Employers are starting to recognise that their vision, values and culture have a huge impact on their image and, therefore, their reputation

The battle for talent among employers is so evident nowadays, as skills shortages are becoming even more acute in certain sectors. This has forced employers to rethink the way they position themselves in the labour market.

Traditionally companies relied on their consumer brand to provide them with a good reputation. A strong consumer brand would then be used to attract and retain talented employees.

This is no longer enough as there is also a need for employers to have a strong employment brand.

Employers are starting to recognise the fact that their vision, values and culture have a huge impact on their image and, therefor, their reputation. In turn this fuels satisfaction, happiness and success on the job. They need to be seen as a great place to work. The brand renders them unique when compared to other employers.

There are companies with strong consumer brands but who few people want to work with, because of their work practices, their values and their behaviours. Recently there was the example of Amazon, which certainly enjoys a strong consumer brand, but about whom there were a number of reports of ill treatment of employees at their warehouse in Scotland. These reports included threats of sacking employees for sick leave or slow-packing of products.

However, developing an employer brand is not just about pushing public relations messages to the market and refreshing them every so often. It is about the real life experiences of the employees, the way the leadership team behaves, the corporate values that are projected.

If there is any divergence among these three elements, it is bound to emerge in the public domain and the employer would have no control over it. The employer cannot exercise any control over what is said about it in chat rooms, blogs and online communities. So the employer brand depends a great deal on the authenticity of the employer.

My own experience in the recruitment sector shows that employers with strong positive authentic brands (and not all brands are alike, as the uniqueness of the employer is determined by the employer) attract talent to a greater extent than other employers, experience lower staff turnover and reduce their recruitment costs. In today’s labour market these are three outcomes that cannot be ignored.

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