5 Things Freelancers Should Learn From Employer Branding
According to Universum, employer branding is “the process of promoting a company, or an organization, as the employer of choice to a desired target group, one which a company needs and wants to recruit and retain.”
Employer branding isn’t a new thing. In 2009 Lara Moroko and Mark D. Uncles referred to employer branding as “a critical management tool for many companies” (WSJ, “Employer Branding,” March 23, 2009.)
But you’re a freelancer, solopreneur — employer branding’s not the tool for you. Or is it?
Check out these five employer branding principles:
1. Market to a “desired target group.”
When promoting their products and services, companies have long divided consumers into segments. Now they apply the same approach when reaching out to employees. Successful employer branding promotes a company to specific—ideal—potential, or current workers, not the whole world of job seekers. In a similar fashion a freelancer should identify, and market to a “desired target group” of clients, not all clients under the sun. Channel your marketing efforts into landing ideal clients, the ones you need and want to work with.
2. Know your target group’s expectations.
Let’s say a company makes work/life balance the focus of its employer branding assuming that it’ll resonate with its employees. As it turns out, however, the employees don’t place work/life balance, though important, at the top of their priority list. What happens? Wrong assumptions result in unsuccessful employer branding. The same is true for your promotion as a freelancer. Assumptions aren’t reliable. They may land you in hot water. It’s crucial to know your clients. What are they like? What do they expect from you? Do your research.
3. Define and promote your culture and values.
Culture and values — that’s what employees are looking for in a company first and foremost. ‘An employee’s rating of “culture and values” is 4.9 times more predictive of a company recommendation than salary and benefits’ (Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte.) When we talk about companies, workers, freelancers — we talk about people. Like-minded people seek each other out. It’s important for employees, as people, to know what it’s like to work for a company. It’s equally important for your clients to know what it’s like to work with you. Define who you are, and what you stand for. Share your message.
4. Provide growth opportunities.
Sometimes—it’s especially true for young job seekers—getting your foot in the door is worth taking an entry level low paying position. However, with no career opportunities whatsoever a company’s unlikely to attract and/or retain its employees. Freelancers should incorporate this potential growth factor into their promotions. When you market, think ahead. Make your clients think ahead. It’s not just about one or two commissioned assignments, however brilliantly executed; it’s about the scope of what you—a freelancer—can do for your clients. Make them see your worth.
5. Be a good listener.
We are all human. All humans crave connection. And each of us has a story to tell. Smart companies provide their employees with opportunities to share their personal stories. Smart leaders incorporate those stories into their companies’ employer branding. Smart leadership listens, remains open, and builds on employees’ ideas. Because any productive relationship is a two-way street. It’s all about communication. Mutual growth. When you as a freelancer talk to—and hear—your clients, when you value their input — everybody wins. Stay involved. Be flexible. Keep an open mind. Listen.
“A company has a reputation in the market for its products and what it sells, but companies also have a reputation as employers,” noted Jason Seiden, employer branding specialist.
It’s never too late to jump on the employer branding bandwagon. Go for it. Do it now. There’s no time like the present.
In fact, now is a great time for novices, for they have all the accumulated over the years employer branding data at their disposal.
And who says freelancers-solopreneurs cannot benefit from employer branding knowledge?
The five proven employer branding principles described in this article will help you build a strong reputation as a freelancer. Apply them, and take your freelance career to the next level.
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