Employer Branding Recruitment Marketing

9 Fixable Mistakes When Creating an Employee Value Proposition

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Profile photo of Kaitlyn Holbein
Written by Kaitlyn Holbein

Uncovering your company’s authentic employee value proposition can take several iterations. If you’ve made some mistakes the first time around, don’t worry — there’s nothing you can’t fix. Here are 9 pro tips to get your EVP on target.

9 Fixable Mistakes When Creating an Employee Value Proposition
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In talent acquisition, we all know the importance of setting our companies apart from other employers in today’s hyper-competitive hiring market. And, of course, one of the most effective ways to determine and communicate your company’s differentiators is through your employee value proposition (EVP).

Your EVP is the creative platform (message and visuals) that communicates the “what’s in it for me” of working at your organization. It can be composed of, but not limited to, your company’s culture, mission, values, approach to getting things done, and more.

Creating an EVP is one of the most important things you can do in Recruitment Marketing, as it sets the tone and acts as the guiding star for how you approach recruiting and candidate and employee communications across the board. And because it can take a lot of time and resources, and is usually a highly visible initiative internally, you probably feel the pressure to get it right the first time.

But don’t worry! Uncovering your company’s authentic EVP can take several iterations. If you feel that you’ve made some mistakes the first time around, or want to be aware of common pitfalls to avoid from the start, here are some pro tips for how to ensure that your EVP is on target.

9 fixable mistakes when creating your Employee Value Proposition

1) Not having an EVP in the first place

All initiatives carried out by your Recruitment Marketing team should reflect your EVP. If you don’t have an EVP in place before tackling other employer brand projects, your company is essentially driving in the dark in terms of your content strategy. You won’t have a clear vision of where to go and what factors to emphasize as you describe job opportunities to candidates.

Whether you’re creating a new social ad, blog post or job description, they should all reflect elements of your EVP. For example, if the international nature of work and travel opportunities available with your company is a central component of your EVP, this should be obvious across most of the recruiting content your company creates.

However, if you haven’t researched and unearthed this as something candidates and employees appreciate as one of your company’s differentiators, you won’t know to focus on this factor in the first place.

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2) Not differentiating enough from your competitors

Your employer value proposition should shape perceptions and help candidates to choose whether your company is the right fit compared with other employment options.

When you don’t take the time to understand your competitors’ EVPs, however, you risk:

  1. Not knowing where you can differentiate yourself as a company
  2. Saying the same things your competitors are saying

Either one of these approaches can negatively impact your employer brand, causing your company’s Recruitment Marketing collateral to be lost in a sea of similar content. Candidates might drown out your posts on social media, for instance, and gravitate towards other more unique options on their feed instead.

To make sure your company stands out and to identify where you can separate yourself from the competition, I recommend that you conduct a hiring competitor scan to audit how they promote their differentiators.

Go through every touch point you can in your hiring competitors’ candidate journey and note what messaging and visuals they’re using to describe their employee experience and entice candidates. Make sure that the final creative platform you land on presents the unique selling points for working at your company differently or focuses on other factors altogether.

3) Not doing market research for your Recruitment Marketing Strategy

Do you know what your audience actually values by role type and region?

The kind of messaging and content that appeals to a salaried hire is likely going to be different than the messaging and content that appeals to an hourly hire. The same thing can be said about communicating to healthcare professionals compared to software engineers.

Along similar lines, what appeals to someone in San Francisco is likely going to be different than what appeals to someone in Des Moines, even if it’s for the same role. This is because lifestyle and values can change from place to place.

For example, a flexible remote work policy might appeal to someone from Boston more than it appeals to someone in Austin. This is due to the fact that Boston experiences much harsher winters, possibly making it harder for Bostonians to get to the office during the colder months of the year.

This is why it’s crucial to conduct market research, check that your EVP aligns with what different roles and regions value and modify your messaging accordingly.

Some roles may not always have research available online, so you may need to ask questions to your current employee base to uncover more insights. For some of these position types, however, there are already insights available online that you can reference – like Stackoverflow’s annual developer survey that shares insights about what this talent market values.

4) Putting perks first

Your EVP should be more meaningful than free lunches, an unlimited vacation policy and a nice gym.

While candidates and employees like these perks, so many companies now offer them (in certain industries) that they’re no longer a differentiating factor.

Perks and benefits can certainly be a part of your EVP, but it should be more focused on the bigger value that employees get from their experience working at your company.

For example, your employer value proposition might instead emphasize the social good that will come from employees’ work or the satisfaction of collaborating with coworkers who’s values resonate with yours and who want you to succeed.

Perks and benefits can certainly be a part of your EVP, but it should be more focused on the bigger value that employees get from their experience working at your company.

5) Being too general

We’ve all seen the job ad that boasts about a company’s “fast-paced environment,” but what does that actually mean in terms of the employee experience? Does it mean that employees are often expected to work long hours to get the job done?

The more specific you can get with your EVP tagline and pillars, the better you can explain to candidates what it’s actually like to work at your company. This can help to attract candidates more effectively and ensures candidates are making an informed decision when they join your company.

One easy way to make your EVP more clear is to break down any loaded or overused terms in your messaging and explain what they mean in a tangible and easy-to-grasp way.

For example, instead of saying our company has an “open culture”, we can unpack what that looks like in action. This might be something along the lines of:

“At company X, all members of the management team at every level encourage regular feedback, discussion and questions. This is why our team has implemented a weekly ask me anything (AMA) set of office hours to encourage employees to feel comfortable coming forward with any ideas, questions or concerns that might be on their mind!”

6) Making a top-down EVP

To develop an authentic EVP, it’s important that your primary input comes from employees across locations and levels — not just from leadership.

If your c-suite wants to dictate what your EVP should be, you need to advocate for your employees and explain why a top-down EVP is unlikely to be unsuccessful. Remind leadership that employees will be going to broadcast their real experiences on Glassdoor, kununu and other job review sites anyway, which makes it important for the EVP to emerge directly from employee feedback.

Otherwise, if candidates are hearing mixed messages, you might cause some serious brand mistrust and even backlash that can damage not only your employer brand but also your corporate brand (just think about the ramifications of the Verge’s expose on Away!).

7) Not factoring in local and role-based differences

Even within the same company, office culture can vary quite a bit from location to location and from team to team. For example, the way employees operate and what they value in the workplace might be different in your company’s Toronto office compared to the Los Angeles office.

To make sure that your employer value proposition is as accurate as possible, be sure to take into account these differences when defining your EVP and communicating with candidates in different locations.

Creating team EVPs is a great way to tell employee stories. Your localized EVPs should still align with your company’s overall global EVP. However, you might develop a sub-set of messages for important markets or teams that expand on things and provide additional, specific details.

You can figure out these differences by filtering your global EVP research and uncovering the themes and details that are specific to certain regions or teams.

8) Not taking the product or challenge into account

While it can be tempting to focus solely on your company culture when constructing your EVP, factoring in your actual product and the problem it solves is a good idea. Taking this approach gives candidates a bigger, better picture of what they’ll be working on, who they’re helping, and what challenges they’ll get to focus on.

Plus, this can attract more dedicated candidates who care about more than just the perks. Remember that customer reviews of your product also influence candidates, and these product review sites can be an important touchpoint for some candidate journeys.

9) Suffering from “analysis paralysis”

There are so many different factors and steps involved in defining an effective EVP that I know it can feel a little overwhelming.

However, instead of letting that hold you back from getting started, consider breaking the project down into approachable, bite-sized tasks.

Come up with a project plan that showcases these bite-sized pieces and share it with your leadership team and other stakeholders. Then follow the project plan and address each step in turn, without worrying too much about the steps that follow until you’ve had the chance to complete the current project phase.

If you feel overwhelmed at any point during uncovering your EVP project, just break the current project phase back down into the smallest possible set of tasks (no matter how seemingly small or insignificant!) and focus on completing those tasks. This will help you to keep momentum and avoid the dreaded “analysis paralysis” mindset.

If you’re looking for help on how to break this down, you can take a look at a recent blog post I wrote for The Employer Brand Shop blog, which outlines how to uncover your organization’s EVP in 7 steps.

Learn how to fix these 9 common mistakes in high volume recruiting

Ready to refine your EVP?

Remember, it’s not easy to capture your company’s authentic EVP the first time around. And even if you did nail it, chances are your organization has evolved over the past few years and it’s time to take a fresh look. Hopefully, these common EVP mistakes are helpful as you go about creating or refining your organization’s EVP in 2020! If you have any questions or want to share any insights you had on your own EVP development journey, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Ready to create your own EVP to enhance your Recruitment Marketing campaign? Learn how forward-thinking employers create value propositions to attract and recruit talent for teams, business units and locations. Watch the Rally Webinar On Demand: Evolve Your Employer Brand: Storytelling for Team Value Propositions.

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9 Fixable Mistakes When Creating an Employee Value Proposition
5 (100%) 2 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Kaitlyn Holbein

Kaitlyn Holbein

Rally Content Contributor, and employer brand & recruitment marketing consultant with The Employer Brand Shop.

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