Employer branding is having its 15 minutes of fame right now, but every sensible employer knows there’s more to it than just the buzzword. With the right employer brand, your candidates should be lining up to apply like a southern gal at a Lilly Pulitzer for Target premiere. Your employer brand is your talent attraction strategy and should display exactly who you are as an employer to talent worldwide.

To learn more, check out our research report: Employer Branding: What a Known Identity Can Do For Recruitment.

93% of CEOs are aware of inadequacies in their talent attraction strategy, but more than 60% state they haven’t addressed this issue. What’s stopping leaders from taking action on improving talent attraction efforts? An organized process. Without one, you’re a leader with a whole lot of problems and no clear direction to a solution. While you can’t develop a strong employer brand in just one day, you can implement the first step: an employer brand audit.

With an employer brand audit, you not only become aware of all inadequacies in your talent attraction strategy, you develop an outline of actionable tasks that can be delegated to respective departments. Follow these steps to complete your employer brand audit in less than one day:

Step 1: Setting Your Employer Brand Audit Up for Success

Time: 30 Minutes

If you haven’t met Google Drive yet, introduce yourself right now. Create a folder specifically for your audit to house all of your findings. Then create a spreadsheet that covers each of these areas:

  • Online Presence
  • Social Media Presence
  • Recruitment & Hiring Process
  • Candidate Experience
  • Rewards and Recognition/Compensation
  • Current & Exited Employees

Scroll to the bottom of this article for the full, detailed list. Keep in mind that you’ll be measuring your company against its major competitors for each category. Determine three competitors in your market and at least one company to serve as an employer branding inspiration. This company does not have to be in your industry. They should however, be looking for the same candidate personas and candidate target markets as you are.

Step 2: Conducting the Employer Brand Audit

Time: 5 Hours

Now that you’ve outlined the audit, it’s time to get to work. Conduct a SWOT analysis for each category, and use a separate document for quick reference later on. A SWOT analysis evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses cover your company successes and pain points, while the opportunities and threats provide an outlet to compare your competitors. The absolute most important part of this section is the opportunities and strengths. Identify your weaknesses but do NOT dwell on them.

Throughout the entire auditing process, make sure to focus on these key points:

User Experience

Having a mobile optimized company website and career site is now required by Google if you want to keep your current search result rankings. Not mobile friendly? Then prepare to lose your top spot. Plus, why would you want to miss out on the 65% of people using mobile devices to search for jobs? User experience isn’t just about being able to view your career page on a mobile device. It should also focus on the ease of access candidates have to career information and the workflow they follow to convert into applicants.

To Do: Get in the mind of the candidate by building out a list of questions they may have. Search your site (and your competitors) to see if you’re covering all bases.

Where this matters most: Company Website, Company Career Site, Job Advertisements & Descriptions, Application Process

Recruitment Messaging

With three generations in today’s workforce, you need messaging that resonates with your intended audience. Johnson & Johnson reworked their recruitment messaging to be highly specific and saw their talent pool improve by 54% and new hire turnover drop by 23%. Whether you’re targeting college grads, military veterans or senior executives, make sure your career site, recruitment advertisements and job ads offer tailored messaging to each segment.

To learn more about talent management, check out our upcoming webinar.

“Does your messaging sound like HR or Marketing? It shouldn’t. It should sound like your employees’ voice, their story, why they love working for you. The same goes for those horrible stock images of fake models laughing or thinking deeply around a conference room table. Lose that crap and get real. Better yet, show your employees love and watch them amplify your message.” – Bridget Webb (@Webb_Bridget), Employer Brand Enthusiast

Generic recruitment messaging doesn’t yield results, and your competitors may be sweet talking top candidates away from you.

To Do: Sign up for a free trial on SEMrush to analyze your competitor’s recruitment advertising. Here you can see Google Ads your competitors may be running, keywords they’re ranking for and website traffic information.

Where this matters most: Company Career Site, Company Career Social Media Accounts, Recruiting Channels, Recruitment Advertising, Job Advertisements & Descriptions, Job Boards, Social Recruiting

Return on Investment

Be on the lookout for ROI red flags to help better direct your spend. Is it college recruiting season? Pull those numbers from last year’s career fair and determine which career fairs brought in the most qualified talent. What channels (digital ads, social media, employee referrals, job boards) are bringing in the most applicants? 60% of recruiters in 2014 reported their highest quality candidates came from employee referrals. Where do yours come from? How much traffic are your recruitment advertisements bringing to your career page and are they converting into candidates, and then hires? While it’s difficult to compare your competitors, you can complete an in-depth overview on what’s working and what’s not.

To Do: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your social friends for help. Post to your Facebook and ask your friends if they’ve ever been digitally targeted by one of your competitors. Online music sites like Pandora and Spotify are widely used for recruitment advertising. Sign up for an account and see how other employers are reaching out to candidates.

Where this matters most: Recruiting Channels, Recruitment Advertising, Career Fairs, Job Advertisements & Descriptions, Job Post Distribution, Job Boards

Step 3: Analyzing Results and Creating Actionable Items

Time: 2 Hours

Actionable items will stem from analyzing the opportunities and threats sections of your SWOT analyses. At the bottom of each SWOT analysis sheet start a bulleted list where you can brainstorm ideas and suggestive tasks. Jot down every quirky idea that comes to mind (even if it sounds stupid at first) because when you look back later, they may propel a more reasonable idea.

Outlining, conducting and analyzing your audit can be done in 7.5 hours, leaving you 30 minutes for a quick lunch break. In less than one day, you can have a complete overview of the current state of your employer brand, your competitor’s employer brands and a new outlook on ways you can improve your talent attraction strategy. Don’t forget the complete list below of areas to cover in your audit, and if there is anything you think should be added to this list, tell me in the comments!


Your Employer Brand Audit Should Include:

Online Presence

  • Company Website
  • Company Career Site
  • Online Reviews (Glassdoor and other employer review sites)

Social Media Presence

  • Company Social Media Accounts
  • Company Career Social Media Accounts (if you don’t have these… red flag!)

Recruitment & Hiring Process

  • Recruiting Channels (Digital, Social, Traditional)
  • Recruitment Advertising
  • Career Fairs
  • Job Advertisements & Descriptions
  • Job Post Distribution
  • Job Boards
  • Social Recruiting Efforts

Candidate Experience

  • Application Process
  • Applicant Screening Process*
  • Interviewing Process*
  • Selection & Notification Process*
  • Onboarding Process*
  • Training Process *

Current & Exited Employees

  • Performance Management Process*
  • Current Employees*
  • Exited Employees* (include candidates who dropped out of the hiring process)

* excludes competitor analysis and should only be looked at internally

Want to give some of these strategies a go? Let me know how they turn out! @marenhogan


Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer, writer, and business builder in the HR and recruiting industry. Founder and CEO of Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy, outsourcing, and thought leadership to HR, recruiting technology, and services organizations internationally, Hogan is a consistent advocate of next-generation marketing techniques. She has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies, and been a thought leader in the global recruitment and talent space. You can read more of her work on Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and her blog Marenated.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter Today and Receive the Latest Content From Our Team!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter Today and Receive the Latest Content From Our Team!

You have Successfully Subscribed!