How Can Startups Work Towards Building Their Employer Brand ?

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible for us not to hear about startups and how they got funding from investors and venture capitalists. In fact, you’ll find that a good number of millennials are working at startups.

What appeals them to join a startup? Well, a lot of things. They are unconventional. They seem to have cut down on hierarchy. They give freedom to experiment. They provide numerous opportunities to deserving candidates. And the best part is that they are fast-paced and grow at a very steep curve.

Having said this, there is a gloomier side of the startups. They are chaotic. They don’t have a proper recruitment function in place. They find it difficult to attract the right talent. The problem is that they can’t hire just any talent. Because it may prove to be an expensive mistake.

Working at startups may seem trendy from outside. However, if we take an in-depth look into it, a major population of professionals still prefers to work with established organization. Not because conventional organizations are better places to work, but because a startup’s employer brand isn’t very attractive.

If you’re a startup, you may argue that you haven’t even started working towards building your employer brand. But the truth is – you already have one. Whether or not you agree, people already have their opinions about you as a business and an employer. Job seekers have this knack for finding and learning more about employers that can offer them a great work environment, learning opportunities and additional benefits to make their lives easier.

Therefore, even as a startup, you don’t have any excuse to not to work towards your employer branding. So, now let’s take a look at how startups can do to build their employer brand:

  1. Employer Brand is Beyond Dollars

    An organization doesn’t become an employer of choice just because it offers handsome pay packages to its employees. Of course, it’s one of the main motivators but not the most important one. More often, the attributes of an employer brand are intangible and are not measured in terms of money. The decision of job seekers is influenced by work-life balance, working environment, personal growth, learning and career advancement opportunities to a great extent.

    Though startups are more chaotic and less organized and need to work harder and longer than established businesses, employers must ensure to place emphasis on the above mentioned intangible aspects in addition to the total compensation and benefits.

  2. It Starts From Within

    Employer branding is based on the core principles that a company believes in. This is because these principles and values have a significant impact on the life and work environment within the organization. An employer brand can be measured in terms in employee happiness and their sense of belonging towards the organization.

    It may be difficult to achieve this, but it’s worth the time. Focusing only on potential talent won’t help achieve your talent goals. You need to work harder to engage your existing employees and live up to their expectations.

  3. It’s Important to Build a Recruitment Function

    Not having a proper recruitment function in place brings a bad reputation to startups. Plus, it makes recruiting at a startup all the more challenging. When startups grow, their talent requirements change drastically, especially after a fresh round of funding. At this stage, it’s difficult to build a recruitment department right from the scratch. In such a situation, the hiring goes haywire, ultimately bringing a bad name to the company.

    Startups need to understand that recruitment function is to be developed simultaneously. It’s not always necessary to hire recruitment specialists from outside even when there is a money crunch. This is where your existing employees play an important. They are at the heart of brand storytelling. They can create meaningful experiences for the new talent. This is when they assume the roles of recruiters and brand ambassadors.

  4. Don’t Underestimate Digital

    Your reputation on the internet plays a significant role in your hiring mission. Job seekers make it a point to visit your website, look at your social media pages and engage with you in some or other form before applying for employment at your organization. Digital has given more power to job seekers than ever.

    As a startup, take a hard look into what you’re rolling out on social media and how successful are your digital marketing campaigns are. However, your image on social media shouldn’t be taken as the ultimate thing. It is one of the important means to engage potential talent.

  5. Keep in Mind the Career Goals of Potential Talent

    The top career priorities of young professionals are:

    • Entrepreneurial opportunities
    • Re-engineering opportunities
    • Autonomy
    • Professional on-the-job training
    • Personal growth
    • Work-life balance

    A startup has an edge over large companies in a way that they can offer a more valuable work experience to professionals. Though the latter can offer higher compensation and fancy perks but youngsters look for more flexibility, autonomy and a valuable and diverse experience. A startup can give its employees the opportunity to explore areas other than those falling into their expertise. This also helps them explore alternative career options.

    Build your employer branding strategy around these career objectives, in order to make your organization more attractive to the young talent.

  6. Develop a Culture of Experiment and Fail-Fast

    Most unconventional organizations swear by it. They encourage their employees to experiment with their ideas, allowing them to be entrepreneurial and innovative. However, they don’t punish them if they fail. Rather they encourage them to try and fail fast, so that they can move on to the next venture.

    Startups can differ from large organizations in this respect. Instead of following a deep-rooted hierarchical culture, they can allow more autonomy to their employees, giving them space and resources to pursue their interests.

  7. Your Promises Must Match Your Actions

    Strategic consultants believe that companies should begin by delivering the promises they have made to their employees. If an organization promises something at the time of hiring and fails to deliver them to its employees, it results into employee disengagement, which directly affects the company’s employer brand. It’s recommended not to promise what you cannot fulfill in the near future.

  8. Give a Clear Picture of How It is to Work at Your Startup

    When potential employees have a view that goes beyond compensation, they are more interested in engaging with you. Seek help from your employees. After all they are your brand ambassadors. They’ll come up with innovative ways to show potential talent how it is to work with you.

Employer brand building and management is as important for startups as it is for established businesses. It’s not necessary to make huge monetary investments into it. But then it requires innovation, resilience and employee engagement to display your work culture.


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