Let's put our heads together



    Let's put our heads together



      Part 1: The State of Employer Branding in Australia 2021.

      A series of articles drawing insights from TQ's Employer Brand and Experience Diagnostic, to unpack the state of Employer Branding. I'll cover EVPs, Careers websites, Social Media, Application (candidate) Experience and Employer Reputation.

      This is Part 1 of a series I will be writing and sharing in coming weeks. This installment is an overview, but in other articles I will be drawing insights from TQ’s Employer Brand and Experience Diagnostic, to unpack each of the sections below – sharing obvervations, ideas and recomendations for what’s ahead in this space. I’ll cover EVPs, Careers websites, Social Media, Application (candidate) Experience and Employer Reputation.

      Of all the hot Talent topics in 2021, ‘Employer Brand’ is close to the top of most people’s lists. Whether it’s helping organisations compete for talent in this very tight market or fending off the looming ‘great resignation’ – what, where and how much to invest in Employer Brand is part of every talent team’s roadmap.

      I work with a variety of organisations in Australia, both in an Advisory capacity, and also as a hands-on practitioner. One of the tools of my trade is a diagnostic that I developed to help organisations measure the impact of their Employer Brand and Candidate Experience, compared to key talent competitors.


      Mystery shopping as a candidate, we gather 41 data points per organisation across areas such as EVP articulation, web site optimisation, social media and reputation. The outputs show scores for each dimension we review, along with overall scores (plus a series of recommendations and insights to act upon) – ranked as either Foundational, Transforming, Progressive or Ahead of the Curve.

      Having conducted x40 Employer Brand and Candidate Experience audits in the Australian market during 2021 so far, the summary below shows.

      • Technology Brands set the highest bar
      • Not one brand makes an ‘Ahead of the Curve’ score overall yet
      • The majority of brands sit in the mid-tier of ‘Transforming’, where we typically see that unless an organisation scores 35%, it’s tough to get good ROI from their EB investment / ecosystem
      • The application process is the lowest scoring dimension that we review
      • The lowest scoring organisations I have reviewed to date are from education and government institutions


      There are of course some important caveats to the high-level insights above – it’s not a full picture of the Australian landscape, you’ll notice the absence of Healthcare or Mining, for example. However, having run this diagnostic consistently for a couple of years, the snapshot in the images run very much in line with previous findings, such as:

      1. EVP – stand out, segment, inspire.

      Mapping competitor propositions can be like a game of ‘spot the difference’. Faced with shifting candidate priorities, towards meaning, work-life and pay (Gartner, for example) there is an obvious temptation to lead with these attributes. But this can present a new challenge – how do we make zoom-based company culture A sound different from zoom-based company culture B?

      Some of the other big differences, which I’ll unpack in future posts, between low to high scoring organisations, include;

      • The level of segmentation – Mid-performing organisations will break down their propositions to a functional level. Taking it a step further, I talk a fair amount about the shift to job-level / individual value propositions (IVPs)
      • Levels of creativity and innovation – whilst over-produced videos can lack authenticity, the other end of the spectrum, home-grown can leave candidates just as cold
      • The shift from high level claims (‘we believe in this… we act like that’) to proof-point based communication (Here is our vision, this is how we are tracking, here is an example of this in practice).

      Whilst there have been some strong re-brands in the Australian market of late, I expect to see a substantial amount more companies both internally and publicly re-framing their EVP, in the coming months – aligning tightly to purpose, organisational brand, internal and external audience needs. There has certainly been a lot of activity behind the scenes!

      2. Careers Website – personalise, engage, convert.

      Often cited as the leading destination for candidate research, the trusty corporate careers site has been left sadly unloved for years, locally. Some of the higher performing sites I have reviewed recently in our market include TelstraREA and Accenture.

      I believe one of the biggest shifts, likely to really start gathering pace in 2022, is the adoption of ‘smart’ careers sites. Sites that capture data to personalise the experience for visitors and build relevant journeys for them. This has happened in North American and European markets and it’s starting to happen here too. This technical constraint has hamstrung many organisations to date, but as investment in front-end website experience and CRM continues, this will be an area of increased competitiveness, especially for mid to large organisations.

      Lower scoring sites will be typified as having;

      • Brochure style pages with a lack of content formats (long blocks of text instead of web/mobile friendly content)
      • Clunky job search functionality
      • Simple, un-engaging user experience or journeys

      3. Social Media – authenticity, advocacy, inbound.

      The wheels are definitely turning as organisations make the shift from a reliance on outbound (posting job adverts) to inbound marketing (creating demand through blogs and SEO, for example) with the new battlegrounds appearing to be LinkedIn Life and increasingly Instagram for careers. That said, you fair percentage of organisations in my sample, score a foundational ranking here.

      Some of the greatest opportunities for organisations include;

      • The basics – ensuring key managers and leaders have up to date profiles on platforms such as LinkedIn, I can’t tell you how much missed opportunity there is here.
      • More advanced, but essential – establishing and maintaining a solid Employee Advocacy Program. Relationships with corporate brand teams seem to be one of the secrets of success here!

      4. Application Experience – respect, ease, value.

      Since I started this diagnostic, I have noted a slow but necessary uplift in the quality of application experiences, but there is still lots of room for improvement. Aside from the obvious tech hand-brake which inhibit progress from many organisations, the major shift comes with the mindset of moving from a process…to an experience. I’ve heard RMIT talk about designing their experiences so that candidates learn ‘something about themselves, and something about RMIT’ – that is an excellent frame to use, then use HCD, technology/ human interactions and content to make it all happen.

      This graph below shows exactly 50% of the organisations beneath our 35% suggested threshold, with 26% in the ‘Foundational’ level.

      • Inability to apply using social profiles
      • Overly long job adverts (description or PDs) which is particularly damaging for mobile
      • Poorly framed questions around disability allowances, gender or sexual orientation
      • Automated emails that share no value (or human-ness) with the candidate



      5. Reputation – trust, transparency, engagement.

      I have met a number of organisations that carry little regard for peer review sites. Whilst it’s hard to deny that ‘disgruntled from Dandenong’ has more to say than ‘happy from Humpty Doo’, we’ve all seen research that as consumers we trust the recommendations of others more than branded content – it strikes me that the importance of a well-managed Employer Reputation is likely to grow on our shores. (Not just considering peer review sites, but broader organisation reputation and employee trust, for example.)

      A key observation I have made is the lack of engagement I have seen by local employers on the peer review sites. So, the profile on Indeed or Glassdoor may have been claimed, but what about when a representative of an in-demand talent cohort like a ‘software engineer’ says something defamatory about gender diversity policies?

      A transforming level of maturity is to have a claimed profile. But leading organisations will regularly use the insights to inform the EVP/ messaging and have robust governance practices to monitor, engage and escalate accordingly.

      In the coming weeks, I’ll take a closer look at each of these areas to unpack my findings in more detail, sharing examples, recommendations and insights that can enhance your organisation’s approach and results.

      If you’d like to find out more about the audit itself, please just send me a note.


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