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In the fierce battle for talent, Employer Branding can help the underdog beat out tech giants

In recent years, smaller companies have learned how to attract and retain talented employees - with some even beating giants like Facebook at their own game

James Spiro 09:2625.09.20
Over the years, tech companies have grown and become more prosperous. However, due to Israel’s size and the number of job seekers, small and medium-sized companies have found themselves fiercely battling each other to attract and retain high-quality talent. Out of the tooth and nail race to acquire talent and make companies more desirable, an entirely new service emerged — employer branding.

 

“The three elements of marketing and employer branding are the Message, then the Media, then the Audience,” explained Raz Mitzna, owner of Attract and Retain, a company that specializes in long term recruitment and retention strategies.

 

Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock

 

“Employer branding for me is managing the reputation of companies as a workplace. It’s not about the logo or tagline, it’s about what people say about your company. It’s about two audiences: current employees and potential employees.”

 

Nowadays, many talented software engineers would be proud to say they work at a company like Facebook. Not necessarily for the salary or the perks, but for the brand associated with their position within the company. According to Mitzna, when people go out to social meetups (or Zoom calls) and talk about their experience of their work life and office job, a successful employer branding strategy can help elevate less recognizable companies and improve the perceived desire to work there.

 

The three elements that Mitzna mentioned touch on each part of employer branding. For example, companies that try to create a strong message as to WHY people would want to work for them need to be aware of the channels used to distribute that message. The Media can be social networks, billboards, or even enthusiastic word of mouth. Finally, the Audience of the messaging depends on whether they want to attract new talent or help retain the current team they have - and avoiding them jumping ship to larger global organizations.

 

Israel-based Natural Intelligence is aware of the ‘Halo effect’ that companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have for candidates looking to work in tech. Even though the company operated largely under the radar for its first eight years, Natural Intelligence has grown into a company employing hundreds and making millions - and it is now time for them to compete against the large players.

 

Even if the offices of international companies that set up base in Israel are modest or intimate, workers can still enjoy the brand and reputation of working at a Silicon Valley startup. CTech spoke with Yoav Tzuker, Head of Innovation at Natural Intelligence, about how native Israeli companies can compete against the Tel Aviv offices for Google or Facebook. “We had to brand ourselves and ask, as an employer, who we are and what we stand for: What defines us?”

Natural Intelligence claims that their employer branding strategy has been so successful that they’ve actually managed to employ people who had job offers from Facebook and Amazon. According to Tzuker, the evolution that forced them to consider themselves as a brand (and the product in an employer branding strategy), helped them become “one of the most desirable workplaces in Israel.”

 

Complications can arise for companies with sensitive products, such as gambling, who seek talent in a country where its service is banned. Online gambling company 888 operates globally yet does not have a client base in Israel due to regulations. Still, they managed to recruit almost 600 Israeli workers to focus on online marketing and development for the rest of the world.

 

In the battle for talent at global companies, how does 888 attract and retain workers who might find the product too sensitive?

 

“We believe in talking about everything in a very open way,” 888’s Sharon Ziv told CTech. “We invest so many efforts to make sure our employees feel comfortable in our company. There is so much we can give our employees that still keep us attractive.”

 

Ziv started as a marketer in 888 before evolving into her role managing the employer branding efforts of the company as a whole.

 

“When we look at employer branding, it is clear there is a differentiation between the employer brand, and what do we do as marketing efforts to market our products,” Ziv explained. “We understood we needed to strengthen our brand to put up a fight.”

 

Salesforce’s Senior Director of Marketing and Branding Nili Gur told CTech in a phone interview that employer branding requires a lot of the same practices as marketing. “But instead of marketing a product, I’m marketing my reputation and Salesforce’s reputation to attract talent and a tool to help retention,” she said.

 

The companies that spoke with CTech discussed the importance that HR has on shaping the policy and direction of employer branding. Gur notes how HR’s involvement in the strategies is “huge” compared to conventional marketing, which she claims is usually “99% external.” Mitzna said that HR within each company “leads the project” since “the principle now is that every company chooses marketing efforts in order to recruit.”

 

In some ways, employer branding has been painted as the next and natural step to help companies attract and retain talent. In others, it is a total reshuffle of marketing, PR, and social efforts in an attempt to reshape each company as a product that needs to be sold to potential employees. Lunch cards and pension plans are being replaced with sports swag and social media posts. To be part of a community - whether it be in the office or online - has become the desirable trait for young people looking for work. For small companies battling the giants, the race is on.