How Employer Branding For Startups Is Different Than Established Companies

When thinking about building an employer value proposition that informs an employer brand as a startup, a few considerations need to be made such that an organization that is earlier on the company lifecycle can compete with more established, even legacy, brand names.

While it can seem like a daunting task to develop an attractive employer brand from scratch, startups have unique advantages that they can tap into to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Being smaller, agile, and more nimble can afford candidates and employees with opportunities that don’t exist at larger, more established organizations. The key, however, when considering employer branding for startups is to ensure the attractive employer brand adheres to a few core principles.

1. Startup Employer Branding Must Be Relevant

It can be tempting as a younger, innovative, startup organization to break the mold and push the boundaries of what is possible in business, and what isn’t. And while this can absolutely be true, startups must pursue an employer brand that is relevant to today’s job seeker. The demands and desires of the candidate pool and talent pool are always shifting and are dynamic. This means that while startups can try to innovate across aspects like benefits, perks, and other cultural aspects of work, it is important to first gain a clear understanding of the motivations of the marketplace, then build from there.

2. Employer Branding For Startups Must Seek To Make A Tangible Difference In The Lives Of Employees

While it can seem cliche for organizations to want to make a real difference in the lives of their employees, great employer brands and great organizations seek to do this in the small, but meaningful, ways only organizations – and the collective power of resources – can achieve. This doesn’t mean startups can lean on meaningless mission statements and empty promises. Startups must tap into the needs and wants of their employees, and understand the daily pain points that can be alleviated. A good example is an organization we work with that stood up a comprehensive credentialing and certification program in response to an overwhelming professional development desire across the staff in its organization. Because staff members wanted to pursue avenues that not only enhanced their skillsets, but could potentially help the organization, the company chose to pay for all relevant certifications, professional development, and educational courses for employees.

3. A Startup’s Employer Brand Must Be Capabilities-Driven

The most important aspect of a great employer brand is the delivery of the promise. There is no use in making brand promises that your organization doesn’t have the resources or capabilities to keep. This is especially important as a startup, where resources are inherently more restricted than at a larger, more established organization. With that in mind, startups need to ensure they generate more bang for their buck when thinking about employer branding – while making sure that each and every promise made to their employees is kept. This is the only way to build the trust necessary to unlock the full potential of a startup’s workforce and talent base.

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