Employer Branding and the Candidate Experience
By Karl Wierzbicki

Posted Nov 18, 2016 at 15:33 ·5 min read


Job search is online. Resumes are not only digital, they’re social. And recruiting is looking a lot like marketing.

In the competition for talent, your employer brand is as essential for attracting quality candidates to your career site and into your applicant tracking system (ATS) as your consumer brand is to your marketing efforts. In fact, 86% of HR professionals agree that recruitment is becoming more like marketing and 89% believe a strong employer brand gives them an advantage over the competition when it comes to hiring1. What these HR professionals know is that the best candidates do their research, starting, in most cases, with the company’s career site2.

Employer Branding: The Good News

The good news about employer branding is that its importance is now being recognized at an executive level. In June 2016, Universum released Employer Branding Now, in which 62% of leaders identified employer branding as a top priority for 2016. More importantly, the report also revealed a new commitment among c-level respondents to developing stronger, more attractive “employer value propositions” (EVP)3.

Of course, defining a strong EVP is only the first step in creating the kind of employer brand that will attract the best candidates. How you communicate and exemplify your EVP throughout the hiring process is the true test. To succeed, your employer brand must be consistent in both messaging and implementation across at least these three key components of your recruiting process:

  1. The social media platforms where today’s candidates congregate
  2. Your career site(s)
  3. Throughout the online and mobile application process

Ideally, your EVP will also permeate your onboarding process and define the ongoing relationship your organization has with every employee. But, for now, let’s stay focused on the candidate experience during the process of searching for and applying to jobs online.

Employer Branding Fail

While it’s encouraging to see greater interest in employer branding and the need for a strong employee value proposition, the third “must have” component identified above is one area where the gap between talk and walk is still sadly evident. Especially when it comes to mobile job-search and application!

Despite the growing commitment to employer branding on social media and career sites, many organizations fail miserably when it comes to the mobile candidate experience. In fact, we hired a third-party researcher to test two leading enterprise applicant tracking systems, used by some of the best know global brands—and the results were not pretty. You can read the summaries of those reports here:

  1. How Mobile is Taleo?
  2. How Mobile is PeopleSoft Candidate Gateway?

To be fair, this disconnect between the career page experience and the mobile apply UX can be a challenge to overcome with the resources at hand. While it’s relatively easy to address branding on careers websites, and even on the job search and job description pages, once the candidate enters the ATS online application process, it’s much more complicated. Surface level pages are technologically accessible for improvements. The pages within the ATS application, on the other hand, are difficult to access. Improving them requires a level of domain expertise that most companies don’t have in-house and the agencies that do have the expertise are expensive. That’s why most companies, even leading global enterprises, improve the top-level pages of their online recruiting process, yet hand-off to native, unbranded, ATS pages for the application process. This creates an inconsistent, mobile-hostile experience.

Create a Consistent Employer Value Proposition

The concept of employer branding and the employer value proposition continues to evolve, but, fundamentally, an ideal employer brand communicates “The perception of the organisation as a great place to work, [to] both current and potential employees”4.

In order for this desired perception to be formed in the minds of today’s candidates, two things have to happen during the candidate experience.

  • First, candidates have to encounter your employer branding where and how they prefer to experience it—i.e. on your career website and increasingly on a mobile device.
  • Second, when candidates do experience your employer brand, it must reflect their understanding of a great place to work, not yours. An EVP that effectively attracts strong candidates is both consistent across the experience and aligned with the expectations of the target audience. Disjointed and/or dysfunctional experiences on their default technologies (i.e. online and mobile) will immediately disrupt that alignment.

Don’t Squander Your Employer Branding Efforts

A strong, attractive EVP can help establish an organization as an employer of choice and serve as a powerful recruiting differentiator. But even well-branded organizations that fail to extend their employer branding across the full candidate experience will lose ground in the competition for digital native talent.

When your employer branding efforts stop short of your ATS, you lose both credibility and candidates, because applicants feel let down by inconsistent and/or painful tech experiences. If you present an exceptional, progressive EVP on social media and your career site, yet fail to back it up with an exceptional, progressive online and mobile application process, your strategic employer branding investment may well be wasted.

There are solutions which are affordable, use web standard technologies, which provide complete control over Taleo and other ATS. These don’t require domain expertise with the ATS, and don’t require any proprietary tools or skills. You can put the experience in the hands of designers who have the skills to design an online application experience that embodies your EVP and brand.

To create a beautiful, branded, fully mobile candidate experience for your career site and enterprise ATS, contact InFlight today.


  1. ICMS Hiring Insights, Recruitment Marketing: Fad or Future? https://www.icims.com/hiring-insights/for-employers/ebook-recruitment-marketing-fad-or-future
  2. The Talent Board, 2015 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report, http://www.thetalentboard.org/article/download-the-2015-nam-candidate-experience-research-report/
  3. Recruiter, Matthew Kosinski, The State of Employer Branding in 2016: More Important Than Ever, But Far From Perfected. https://www.recruiter.com/i/the-state-of-employer-branding-in-2016-more-important-than-ever-but-far-from-perfected/
  4. Hudson RPO. How to Launch a Successful Employer Brand. http://hudsonrpo.com/employer-branding-strategy