Almost two-thirds of all global HR managers name the war for talent as their biggest challenge according to the most recent LinkedIn* Recruiting Trends. Especially in the IT sector it is hard to find qualified staff. Just take look at the homepages of all the major IT consultations: cries for help everywhere. So what is the plan? Creating an attractive employer brand and communicating it in a highly targeted manner – this is what the majority of HR professionals want to invest in. Employer branding as a means of recruiting requires professional communication skills though. Communication agencies with expertise in the target market are the right partners for this task.

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According to IT publishing house IDG’s “IT Jobs in 2020” report, IT security specialists, cloud architects and data professionals as the professionals that are most in demand today. Recruiting strategies to find such talent are based on many pillars: internal talent management using smarter HCM suites, training, cooperations with personnel consulting – but all of this is not enough, certainly not in the hotly contested IT market.

HR pros and candidates believe in employer branding

More than 80 percent of the HR professionals surveyed by LinkedIn said that employer branding has a significant impact on recruiting success. In the same study, candidates had their say as well. They confirmed that in addition to attractive career opportunities and exciting challenges, a great corporate culture is a key aspect in the decision making process.

Candidates will not get the opportunity to experience the full corporate culture though – that just takes too much time, a culture cannot be transported in an interview or two. What candidates can experience though throughout the application process is the brand, more precisely the employer brand and the associated values. This is where every employer branding process begins: With defining what you want to be known for.

Step by step: From brand to communication

Research: An employer brand is what your employees think that your employer brand is – not what you wish it would be. What makes your company different as an employer? Which aspects make you attractive, which ones frighten candidates off? In a very first step, get a clear picture of the status quo.

Plan: In close cooperation with both, management and staff, you will develop a uniform employer brand. Do not underestimate the time this might take – six months are minimum if you really prioritise the project. Make sure you benchmark your drafts with competing employer brands. You can summarise your result for everyone in an Employer Brand Booklet.

Anchor: Because the employer brand has been developed together with your workforce, it should be not too hard for them to identify with the associated values. Your employer brand must be anchored nevertheless, through measures of internal communication.

Check: Before kicking-off communication for your new employer brand, check all applicant touchpoints: from the career page to job advertisements to the reply letters – do they really reflect the new employer brand Are you providing a seamless brand experience?

Communicate: Finally, you can communicate the brand with Earned (for example media and influencer relations), Owned (on your own channels, for example, your LinkedIn career page) and Paid (to increase targeted reach).

Activate: Good news: You do not have to communicate all by yourself. In your company, you will surely find happy and supportive employees who are already active on social media. If you give them the right framework, you will win a strong team of employee advocates to support you.

IT starters and professionals

As a communications consultancy, which has specialized in IT, technology and innovation topics since its foundation in 2000, we possess deep insights into this sector. Hotwire communicates products, solutions and sets the agenda for companies like McAfee, Citrix, Qualcomm, Eaton and many more.

We focus our programs on senior positions, CIOs, CTOs, CISOs or other IT managers who make or participate in decisions. The younger generation of IT professionals is a dialogue group for our customers, too. We understand the media, blogs, conferences and trade fairs as well as the relevant social channels connected to the industry and know exactly where to target talent in the context of employer branding communications.

Example: Attention through added value

This focus enables us to address these groups in a targeted manner with career-relevant topics and to raise interest in potential employers. For our customer msg, a consulting house focussing on digital excellence, we have examined, for example, which skills IT-workers need today and matched these with the skills that are currently being taught at the top universities. We identified a "skills gap", a discrepancy between knowledge supply and demand.

msg was able to explain and comment on the results of the study as an expert in the articles we secured for them (e.g. in Computerwoche). In the articles, we also stressed the message that the relevant skills can be acquired working for msg, thus futureproofing oneself for their own professional future. Media relations are, however, only one tactic of many, which are possible around employer communication.

Employer branding beats better software and sourcing

"If you had an unlimited budget, what would you invest in?" was one of the questions in the LinkedIn Recruiting Trends study. Employer branding was ranked first place, even ahead of "new technologies" and "better sourcing". Worldwide, 53 percent of HR professionals confirmed this preference, while in Germany the number was even at 64 percent. From our point of view, this comes as no surprise. A strong employer brand has been confirmed to contribute to the two main objectives of the HR department: to keep talent and to shorten the time until new qualified employees are found.

* Full Disclosure: LinkedIn is a Hotwire customer in Germany. Thanks to this fact, we have been able to deal intensively with the subject of employer branding in recent years. For companies, there is no way to bypass the business network, especially when it comes to employer branding.

Image: © blackdiamond67,