​Employer brand, as important as ever

21 May 2020

By Sarah Knight

​Employer brand, as important as ever

It might surprise you to hear that, in our experience, there aren’t any more people looking for work, in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, than we’d normally see.

The Exeter and surrounding area has, for some time now, enjoyed a low level on unemployment – indeed in an article published by Business Leader earlier this year stated that the city ‘boasts the second lowest unemployment out of 320 cities in Europe.’

There’s no denying that the local employment market hasn’t been completely untouched by the events of the last few weeks – the sad demise of one of the area’s largest employers, Flybe, is testament to that. And we’ve certainly been in touch with candidates who’ve found themselves, unfortunately, in a redundancy situation, however we haven’t seen the sharp increase in the number of people looking for a new job that we thought we might, at the beginning of the outbreak.

The introduction of the job retention scheme which currently runs until the end of October, has enabled employers to furlough members of their team, which in turn has led to a large number of candidates who were actively seeking a new role, to think twice about it now.

Thinking twice about a new job

Here’s some of the most common reasons we’re hearing from candidates who’ve chosen to put their job search on hold for the time being:

  • Increased loyalty: A lot of employees feel they’ve been very well treated by their existing employer and therefore feel more loyal to them

  • Guaranteed income: With the furlough scheme, comes job and income security, for the next few months

  • Childcare: With no confirmation of when the schools are going back, many people aren’t going to kick start their search until they reopen or they’re able to get other childcare in place

  • Better the devil you know’: Moving’s just not worth the risk!

All this potentially means for the time being that we’re still going to have a ‘tight labour market’, which isn’t great news for anyone looking to hire in the next six months or so.

Therefore, for organisations that are continuing to hire, or are planning to hire, it’s crucial to consider you’re positioning – not only to attract new employees but to retain the top talent in your team too. Investing in a positive online presence, coupled with a positive employer brand is key.

How to make candidates want to work for you

We’ve talked before about ways to create a buzz around your organisation that can make candidates want to work for you, however, there are a few things we’re adding to the list!

Segment your audience

Really understanding the type of person you want to attract to your organisation can help you tailor your messaging and the channels you use effectively. For example, people at certain stages of their career will typically ‘hang out’ in different places online – particularly when it comes to social media.

‘Mix up’ your content

Likewise, people from different disciplines tend to want or need different types of information, presented in different ways too – so having a mix of video, visual and written content is important.

Have a recruitment micro-site

If your organisation is big enough, consider having a careers micro-site, as part of your website, to help candidates easily find all the information they need about roles, your organisation, the hiring process, the team and why they should work for you, versus a competitor.

Let your culture sing!

Whatever the channel and whatever the content, make sure your company culture shines through. Your existing team can help with this – sharing good news stories, what it’s like to work there, what a working day looks like. They should be your biggest advocates!

Commitment to the community

Now more than ever it’s important to be seen be ‘giving back’, so highlight any support you give to charities or other groups.

New ways of working – flexibly

Employees have long had the right to request to flexible working, however the move to enforced home working, where possible, has almost certainly raised potential employees’ expectations that working from home, or having more flexible hours to better support other commitments such as caring for a friend or relative, or looking after children, is almost a ‘given’.

Share your organisation’s approach so candidates can clearly see what their options are in the new normal that’s ahead.

Your approach to safety

Feeling safe at work has always been important but, certainly with many of the organisations we work with, hasn’t been something to shout about – it’s been a ‘given’.

Now’s the time to start talking about and demonstrating your commitment to keeping teams safe, in light of COVID, to reassure potential applicants.


Invaluable at the best of times, however having a ‘stamp of approval’ is needed more than ever when there’s a shortage of great candidates. We’ll often ask people we’re working with if there are any organisations that they’d particularly like to work for and it’s interesting that the same ones crop up time and time again, based on recommendations.

What is your organisation doing to make sure you’re an employer of choice in the local area?

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