Measuring the success of employer branding

A strong employer brand has a significant impact on the success of recruiting teams. When candidates have a positive impression of your company, your recruiting team doesn’t have to work as hard to attract them or move them through your hiring funnel, you spend less on job ads and third-party recruiters, and you see improvement in engagement and retention in the long term.

A strong employer brand doesn't just impact how candidates feel about your company. It has an incredibly positive effect on employee engagement and retention, two of the prime metrics that you use (or should use) to measure the ROI of your brand. Employer branding allows you to reach qualified candidates, who turn into employees committed to your brand’s vision that become part of your talent community. It impacts every aspect of the hiring lifecycle, from attraction to recruitment to engagement and retention.

In today’s talent marketplace, employers are fighting to attract and retain a smaller pool of candidates, especially for hard to fill roles like developers, engineers, and other STEM-based jobs. The candidate journey has changed. Candidates want to know more about your company and what it stands for before they apply to open jobs. Companies that invest in employer branding are seeing lower cost per hire and time to fill, but you have to be able to link that lower cost to branding.

The more data you can gather that helps you understand and measure the success of your recruiting efforts, the better you can identify what initiatives directly impact business outcomes. This gives you a solid platform on which to present goals and KPIs to your company leadership to maintain current processes that directly impact your brand, as well as implement new programs to improve these metrics.

Five Metrics to Measure Employer Branding

Employer branding impacts the entire hiring lifecycle, but it can be challenging to tie increases or decreases in retention, engagement, or other employee data points. There are five important metrics that can help talent acquisition leaders demonstrate the ROI of an investment in employer branding.

1. Cost per hire. This is the sum of your recruiting costs divided by the number of hires in a specific time period. If you drill down to cost per hire by source, that gives you a high-level snapshot of where your candidates are coming from and it allows you to determine if these are the quality candidates you want. Changes in cost per hire during a set time period following an employer brand campaign are a good indicator of how successful that campaign was at bringing in candidates that meet your company’s hiring standards.

2. Time to fill. The longer a position goes unfilled, the more productivity will be disrupted, and the more the responsibilities of that job will be distributed to other staff members. By measuring fluctuations in time to fill, you can evaluate the speed of your recruitment processes and provide hiring managers with realistic time frames for filling vacant positions. Longer time to fill directly impacts perception of your employer brand, as applicants are left waiting at bottlenecks in your hiring process and may also be left with a negative impression of your brand.

3. Impressions vs. engagement. Most talent acquisition leaders think about these in relation to social media, but they apply to all channels, from your career website to landing pages to where you post jobs online. In order to attract and retain quality employees, you first have to get your brand in front of them. But the difference between “impressions,” or how many candidates see your content, versus “engagement,” how many candidates actually apply to your post, is key: The wider the gap between the two, the lower the performance of your job posting. These numbers are also an indicator of positive or negative brand perception.

4. Candidate conversion ratio. This is the percentage of candidates who move forward in each step of the hiring process. Because this metric reflects candidates who have moved through stages of your funnel within a specific time range, it can be a helpful measure of the health of your talent acquisition funnel. Each stage of the funnel will filter out a certain number of candidates, so that number will decrease the farther you get into your hiring funnel. This allows you to see a snapshot of where your candidates are abandoning the process, opting out, and identify areas for improvement. Increased conversion rates of interested applicants after implementing employer branding tactics is a good indicator of the success of a brand campaign.

5. Net promoter score (NPS). This gives you quick insights directly from your applicant pool. For recruiting departments, the NPS is a single item that asks something along the lines of, “How likely would you be to recommend applying to our company to a friend or colleague?” The scale goes from 0 to 10 with candidates who respond from 0 to 6 labeled as Detractors, 7 and 8 labeled Passives, and 9 or 10 labeled as Promoters. The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. The big advantage of using a NPS for your candidate experience feedback is its simplicity. You can ask candidates to rate their experience within a couple seconds over text, email, or even over the phone.

These are the basic metrics to help you measure your return on investment in employer branding. You’re simply tracking the increased awareness of your brand that leads to more and better applicants, and tracking how and where these applicants translate to hires. You should see increased conversion rates from applicant to employee, decreases in time to fill and the progress that allows recruiting teams to make, and a decrease in third-party recruiter spend.