RecruitersHR good practiceExternal versus internal employer branding: Which is more useful?

External versus internal employer branding: Which is more useful?

  • Monday, May 8, 2023
  • Noémie Baudouin

Internal and external employer branding helps you stand out from the competition and gain and retain new talent. Which of these two strategies is more important?

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Due to the shortage of skilled specialists, a large number of companies are competing for the best talent. The rising rate of staff turnover is also making labour relations more difficult. In particular, Gen Z is showing a trend for  switching employer after just two years. It is therefore all the more important for an employer to establish a unique employer brand to attract and keep employees. There are various ways of achieving this.

Finding employees through external employer branding

External employer branding positions and strengthens the employer brand so that applicants are motivated and can be recruited. This is therefore about directing this tool towards potential applicants, their needs and their preferences. With a focus on the job market, companies address the uncertainties and doubts of students and recent graduates by demonstrating that they are a considerate employer and distinguishing themselves from the competition.

The aim of external employer branding is to provide as detailed and authentic a presentation as possible of what it is like to work in their company. This enables applicants to compare their own requirements and expectations with what a company has to offer and to find out whether a given employer is a good match for them. As a result, the quality of applications steadily rises.

External employer branding can for example employ the following measures:

  • Attending (university) career fairs
  • Maintaining a career site
  • Holding open days with guided tours of the company for applicants, face-to-face meetings with other personnel and presentations about embarking on a career
  • Having a presence on social media such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook
  • Storytelling: Employees tell their stories

An example of successful external employer branding

In its recruiting video ‘Join the Revolution’, SodaStream stages its characteristically creative and chaotic working day, its ambitious corporate objective of ‘Saving the World’ and the defining features that should attract its future employees. With humour and self irony, the CEO joins his employees to demonstrate what their work is really all about. Their motto is “Some people save the planet, others move mountains. At SodaStream, we do both, before our lunch break…” and they aim to live up to this in a guided tour of the company.

Creating employee loyalty through internal employer branding

Internal employer branding is intended to retain employees on a long-term basis by enhancing their job satisfaction and motivation. Both sides benefit from this. Staff enjoy coming to work and identify with the company which boosts performance and leads to specialists staying with the company. At the same time, the fact that the employees enjoy their work has a positive impact on how customers and potential competitors view the company.

The emotional bond of employees depends upon many factors, and salary is only one of those. According to the results of the recent JobTeaser survey, 57 percent of young professionals prioritise the work-life balance in their job search. Companies can use these measures to strengthen their internal employer brand:

  • Employee surveys
  • Free catering
  • Further education opportunities
  • Mentoring schemes
  • Compatibility between family and career
  • Team events
  • Corporate Influencers as brand ambassadors who report on their work and communicate their values in a credible manner on behalf of HR and PR

Example of successful internal employer branding

OTTO is an example of how corporate influencers can be used to disseminate an authentic impression of company messages. In 2017, the Group had a huge shortage of applications in the tech sector. To position itself better in the fight for talent and make the working atmosphere at OTTO more tangible for potential candidates, the company ran an internal ambassador scheme. Any employees who volunteered were trained in one or more of six in-house ambassador profiles. After their induction, they speak about the brand at events in the sector and within the network.

In conclusion, Combine internal and external employer branding

Good employer branding begins internally and makes an external impression. Unlike external employer branding which aims to gain new applicants, the aim of internal employer branding is to retain them on a long-term basis. However, many companies tend to perfect the external image they project but forget to attend to their internal employer branding. But of course, it is only through internal employer branding that employers can discover which of their unique attributes are most appreciated by their employees. This authentic perception of in-house strengths can then be built into the external image they project.

HR departments therefore achieve their best results by combining both methods. As to which of these is accorded the higher priority, well that depends on the aims and objectives within the company – and on the strategy employed.