Understanding the deeper meaning of Employer Branding (in 2020)
November 4, 2020
min read

Understanding the deeper meaning of Employer Branding (in 2020)

Ana Gospodinova
Ana Gospodinova
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Rapid growth and evolution of tech companies inhibit the accelerated employer branding development from its original concept introduced by Simon Barrow in 1990. In 2020, the situation went upside-down with the occurrence of a pandemic crisis that has shifted startups’ and companies’ behavior in their hiring strategy creation and day-to-day business operations.

The abrupt transformation from conventional to home office/remote work situation urged recruiting professionals to transform everyday hiring activities. When approaching potential candidates virtually, limited presentation capacity made it challenging to execute employer branding strategy with the full online and offline capacity as it was practiced in pre-pandemic times. 

At the moment, no one is an expert in all the above mentioned. 

Ways to rethink Employer Branding

Even though it has existed as a dominant practice for several months, remote working and hiring still evolves and adjusts to ongoing global changes. However, we are confident that in crisis times like these, the common perception about employer branding is still very correct. When executed well, it impacts every aspect of the company, but it also relies on support from every organization aspect. 

Today, a strong employer brand is more than ever necessary to leave an immediate and lasting impression on potential tech candidates. It has to attract, engage, and retain the best people without feeling and interacting with the actual brand values (besides on screens, of course). Nowadays, non-existing or semi-existing physical contact with potential tech candidates makes employer branding activities challenging to implement, forcing recruiting professionals to constantly re-format hiring practices. According to the Harvard Business Review, the employer brand should always grow out of the established company brand. 

Even before the 2020 events, recruiting professionals noted a potential problem in employer branding. The problem appears when an organization disconnects the employer brand from the corporate brand and its core values. In 2020, the situation complexity goes to another level, knowing that employer branding strategists are limited to the virtual environment only.

Employer Branding in 2020 

Let’s quickly remind ourselves what employer branding strategy is. 

Employer branding consists of the employer brand representing what organizations communicate as its identity to both potential and current employees (i.e., mission, value culture, and personality). 

According to Sullivan (2004), employer branding is “a targeted, long-term strategy to manage the awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders regarding a particular firm.” 

Conventionally, recruiting professionals consider that the employer branding strategy shows prospective employees that you have a brand that they’ll want to work for. It’s a process of promoting the company or startup as the employer of choice to the desired target group with the overall goal for the HR team to attract, recruit, and retain its employees.

Many studies indicate that candidates are more likely to apply for a position listed by a company that actively manages its employer brand (check our recent Developer Report 2019). In a remote working environment, recruiting teams should consider adjusting the current employer branding strategy to align with the digital/virtual communication purposes and make it a remote employer branding strategy. The question is – how?

When communicating employer branding to tech talents in the remote working era, companies should develop strategies that are more prone to work in a virtual environment, merely focusing on specific advantage points. Recruiting professionals should choose advantage points upon the most promising employer branding components inside their organization. Following the principle, it will make the employer branding strategy more visible, efficient, and useful to optimize (limited) resources and create a more considerable impact on the target audience in a virtual environment. 

If delivered effectively, the advantage points will increase the organization’s perception as a great place to be. 

The deeper meaning of Employer Branding

The purpose is a key factor in unlocking how we engage with candidates and get them interested in job offers. Through various meaning concepts, recruiters can create purpose-driven job ads, purpose-driven messaging, or define how to share personal purpose stories. 

The strength of the leadership is fundamental for successful employer branding strategy creation, as it develops the reasons people want to stay inside the organization. Software developers pay large interest in the ways how startup or company leadership interacts with its employees. Building trust between employees or taking the blame for mistakes as an act of leadership usually emits the message that a company acts the way humans do: It’s prone to errors and capable of building great things. 

Employer Branding 2020

Workplace interaction defines a vital pillar that needs to be incorporated into the employer branding strategy, especially when hiring remotely. Knowing how a company or startup interacts with its employees is essential during demanding times, such as the current pandemic crisis. A healthy open communication channel goes a long way in making your team feel cared for as people and not just as employees of the company. The essence of employer branding is to position the business as a great place to work and encourage employees to do the most of branding by themselves!

If you are a recruiting professional, ask yourself how you communicate the benefits of working for your organization in remote working times? Tangible or intangible values shape your employer brand’s core – the so-called Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Pay close attention to devs’ salaries, knowing your revenues and capabilities while business operations aren’t at 100%. Organizations should revisit employee benefits and parental care to align with the “home office” situation and possible health threats to employees during the crisis. Of course, recruiting professionals should always emphasize career opportunities because the chance to compensate for excellence and advance in a career is possible in every situation. 

Now more than ever, companies are being examined for their commitment towards diversity, equality, and inclusion beyond public statements and superficial efforts. Always run the extra mile to ensure that the recruiting process is inclusive to all tech talents who may apply and interview in the future!

The employer branding strategy is essential in every organization looking to attract talents. Understanding the deeper meaning of employer branding becomes necessary for tech companies, as nuances will play a decisive factor for software developers when choosing the right company with the right values and culture for their dev career. 


Sullivan, J. 2004, “Eight Elements of a Successful Employment Brand”, ER Daily, 23 February, available at: www.erexchange.com/articles/db/ asp = April 14, 2004 cited in Backhaus, K., and Tikoo, S. (2004), “Conceptualizing and Researching Employer Branding”, Career Development International, Vol. 9, No.4/5, pp.501-517.


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