Future Outlook: 2020 Employer Brand Predictions and Trends

With the end of 2019 in sight, our team of experienced strategists already have eyes on 2020 and beyond. And, it’s a good thing we do as the Talent Board’s recent study shares, “the number one recruiting focus for 2020 will be employer branding.” 

What will employer brand professionals focus on? 
What are the trends, best practices, and nextGen opportunities? 
What changes are in store for the candidate experience? 
How will teams align and work smarter? 

“While employer brand isn’t a new phenomenon, there are plenty of organizations still trying to understand what it means,” says Susan LaMotte, exaqueo’s Founder and CEO. “When we think about what lies ahead for our industry, we’re not focused on tactics and technologies. The real value in the future of employer brand is strategic and holistic—branding and marketing the entirety of the employment experience.”

What will your strategic shift be for 2020? Our team shares predictions and trends for the new decade. 

Candidates are treated as consumers of your brand

Today’s candidates are incredibly connected and brand savvy. Before a potential candidate even considers working for a company, they experience touchpoints with the brand that influence how they feel and what they think about the brand as an employer. 

Companies need to identify those touchpoints and consider how to tell an authentic story. Each interaction influences how a candidate may feel about potential employment. By considering those influences at the very early stages, employers can separate themselves from other organizations competing for the same talent. 

Personalized experiences are curated by HR 

Today, many of our experiences are customized to personal tastes. Netflix recommends movies and shows we should watch next. Amazon reminds us of our browsing history and suggests other things to buy. It’s almost an expectation that our future needs and wants are automatic and anticipated. We see this trend as translatable to the entire employment experience:

  • Within career sites—providing answers to frequently asked questions, sharing employee stories, and explaining company culture can anticipate the needs of your candidates. 
  • In communications—making it personal by using a candidate’s name, providing a person to reach out to with questions, or proactively setting expectations makes them less transactional and more of a custom interaction. 
  • On a new employee’s first day—delighting them with a parking spot identified with their name or their favorite beverage. 

Each of these curated, meaningful moments can deepen engagement and build a level of trust with an organization.

Candidates are at the center of recruitment experience

Recruiting is evolving from a transactional process to a candidate-focused experience. What was once an exercise of processes and tools, now considers interactions and relationships. Although technology plays an important part, its purpose is to drive efficiency in the process. This then allows more time and resources to focus on humanizing the experience. 

We’re starting to see our clients put forth a concerted effort towards the experience candidates have with their organizations—beginning with an audit of candidate touchpoints. From there, we can determine which moments matter most, and elevate them to improve the experience and drive better outcomes. The audit also helps us understand where to pull through the authentic employer brand. The connections made, relationships built, and emotions touched will set a company apart in the 2020 talent marketplace.

Content that truly engages candidates throughout their journeys

From our research, we know career websites are a vital touchpoint in the candidate journey. There is a shift in focus from pure user experience (UX) to candidate experience (CnX) when it comes to the digital landscape. While proper functionality and usability will always be paramount, our clients are paying close attention to the content on their careers sites. How does  the current content resonate with candidates? Is it resonating or do we need to rethink our approach? Does it contribute to conversions? How does content play a role in onboarding? 

Prioritizing CnX as a true differentiator can be a valuable exercise for companies looking to make a greater impact via their websites. With Google’s continued dominance over the search landscape and its penchant for algorithm changes, employer brand managers must evolve content for increased search engine optimization (SEO) utilizing Google’s content strategy

Keeping the candidate in mind and giving them opportunities to dig deeper and further engage with your organization is a win for everyone. In this constantly changing landscape, website search-ability will continue to keep companies thinking about SEO.

Organizations show dedication to the employee experience 

Forward-thinking employers are starting to put a more intentional, dedicated focus on the holistic employee experience. As organizations expand their employer brand reach beyond candidate attraction and recruitment, they are infusing it into the full employment lifecycle to excite and show commitment to their people. 

An employee’s experience with your organization doesn’t stop once they’ve signed their offer letter, completed their first day of work, and wrapped up their new employee orientation. The experience as an employee is just getting started. Each company achievement, restructure, promotion, and anniversary date  is an opportunity to re-engage and re-energize your employees. This trend means job responsibilities will evolve, titles will change, and unique career opportunities will focus on strategies in support of a meaningful employee experience. 

Virtual reality finds a home in human resources 

While many organizations are just starting to build video libraries, others are taking videos to the next level. We’re excited to see virtual reality (VR) and 360° videos make their way into employer branding. These interactive and immersive experiences are great for helping candidates explore the work environment, see what it really looks like inside the company, and decide if what they want aligns with what a company offers. We also think there’s a place for VR further down the employee experience in helping to orient new hires to the organization.

Employer brand plays a more strategic role 

It’s exciting to see so many organizations embrace employer brand. And judging by the number of open employer brand jobs across a variety of industries, it’s clear the value is increasing. But what’s also changing is the role itself. 

Employer brand used to be seen as a project or initiative, or the tactical application of recruitment marketing and advertising--posting job advertisements across channels. But that’s no longer the case. Savvy organizations are building out employer brand functions to support the more elevated and strategic role employer brand is playing. This includes driving awareness and change in the organization, leadership and ownership of employer brand similar to the consumer or customer-facing brand, and even the inclusion of marketing and internal communications colleagues on the employer brand team.

Employer brand is fully lived as a cross-functional strategy 

The larger the organization, often, the larger the silos between departments and functions. When leading an initiative like employer brand, which touches both internal and external audiences, organizations should take a cross-functional approach. With our clients, we’ve seen the positive outcomes when functions like marketing and human resources partner together; as well as the unintended consequences when employer brand is siloed to one function. 

Companies will want to take advantage of any opportunity to bridge partnership internally. Whether between talent acquisition and corporate communications or corporate marketing and recruitment marketing, leaders can gain access to larger budgets by treating employer brand initiatives as cross-functional. Brands undergoing a refresh on the consumer side can take advantage of the change and refresh or create their employer brand. However, it’s worth cautioning from partnering with a firm that can “do it all” and instead, select an employer brand partner that understands employer branding and the candidate experience. 

For brands not undergoing a refresh, there’s plenty of opportunity to make the business case for employer brand, especially when positioned as a cross-functional initiative.Organizations that focus on the full employment lifecycle and not just employee engagement or talent acquisition will find themselves better positioned to tackle the hiring challenges of 2020 than those organizations still advertising with “Join our Team” and “Now Hiring.”

What will 2020 truly bring for employer branding? While we don’t have a crystal ball, we do have more than 150 years of combined HR, marketing, and employer brand experience that allows us to share these thoughts and predictions. We’d love to hear from you, too. Tweet us @exaqueo to share your forecast for the 2020 employer brand future. 


Be sure to follow exaqueo on Facebook for the latest employer brand trends. And, check out our “employer brand resolutions” on Instagram the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. 

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