Why Employer Branding Matters for Engineering Hiring


March 25, 2023


180 Engineering

Corporate branding is a buzz phrase that’s often tossed around in relation to marketing. Experts recommend developing your brand in order to influence customer perception and get an edge on the competition. And when businesses think about their customers, they usually think about their paying clients.

But a strong brand identity is crucial for recruiting top talent as well, particularly in engineering, where competition for talent is fierce.

Think about it. Skilled engineers are in high demand. Why should they leave their current employer to come work for you?

While job postings relay critical information about open roles, candidates usually want to know more about the company itself. That’s never been more prevalent than in this post-pandemic world. During the pandemic, many people had time to think seriously about their work/life balance and consider what makes work meaningful to them. Bringing home a paycheck is no longer enough for many. Instead, they want to work in a supportive environment that is aligned with their personal values and invested in their happiness and success.

This is where your employer brand, or identity, comes into play. As Gábor Zöld points out, “You need a compelling value proposition that makes talented developers want to work for you and the existing ones want to stick around for a long time.”

Building a strong, enticing brand can take a significant investment of time and resources. But the payoff is well worth it.

What Is An Employer Brand?

It’s important to understand that an employer brand is more than a slogan. Peter Simic uses the example of Netguru in his piece on employer branding. Simic points out that, in order to develop their brand, Netguru wrote a 50-page booklet on their company culture, highlighting why it’s a great place to work.

There is no general rule regarding the length or depth of a document devoted to an employer’s brand. A 50-page document may be overkill for your own company or it may be just a starting point. But think of it as a guidebook that outlines your company’s governing principles, particularly those that define how you conduct business and take care of your employees and customers.

Because your Human Resources department has a tremendous impact on your reputation and your brand, through every interaction with candidates and current employees, it’s critical to coordinate with HR on brand development. And, it goes without saying that your focus with HR should be on creating exceptional experiences for all candidates and current employees.

Spotlight Your Company’s Values

As Chelsea D’Angelo explains, “Your core brand values are defined as the beliefs that you, as a company, stand for. They serve as the compass that guides your brand story, actions, behaviors, and decision-making process.” Strong, well-defined, and authentic values are critical for connecting and establishing a relationship with clients and customers on a deeper level.

Core values also have a significant impact on attracting and retaining talent, as well as on employee engagement. More than ever, people want to work with employers that have compatible values. In order to make sure that your company’s culture and values will be a good fit, candidates frequently research companies online before applying.

Publicly stating your values honestly and transparently can help you attract top talent that will be a good fit for your company. The About page on your website and your social media accounts are the intuitive places for this information, although your values should be reflected throughout your online presence. In a piece for Column Five, Katy French suggests highlighting your values online by:

  • Creating compelling content about your values that is interesting and engaging;
  • Including photos and/or videos of your products and employees;
  • Keeping your language brief, clear, and simple;
  • Offering definitions of each value; and
  • Making sure that your values are reflected in every aspect of your business, making it clear that you’re walking the walk.

Should a candidate choose to work with you, having clear insight into your values will help them prioritize what matters, and ultimately boost their engagement, productivity, and quality of work.

Tell Your Story Authentically

As Peter Simic points out, storytelling is an important tool in attracting top talent, regardless of which industry that talent works in.

Given the nature of engineering, some might assume that engineers just want concise factual details, and not a story, whether they are reading a job posting or scanning your website to find out more about your company culture. But a compelling narrative can be widely appealing to all sorts of audiences.

The best stories are personalized ones that create an emotional reaction. And, yes, this applies to brand stories as well. In a piece at Shopify, Dayna Winter explains:

A brand story contains many of the same elements that draw you into your favorite book or film. And it’s a story that serves a similar purpose. It has characters (you, your customers), a conflict (personal or customer pain point), rising action (your journey to solve that problem), and a climax (the launch!). Most importantly, it leaves the reader or viewer with a feeling.

Your company’s story is a compelling way to share your values and culture with candidates. Telling your leaders’ stories, especially those that show how and why they became leaders, demonstrates that your company doesn’t just pay lip service to your stated values, but that those values are embodied throughout your company.

It’s equally important to tell the stories of your employees since those will be highly relatable and engaging for candidates. Think of it this way: in today’s world, when people are curious about a new product or service, they look for reviews. The stories that your current employees tell are essentially reviews that can convince top talent to come work for you.

Prioritize Learning And Professional Development Opportunities

Engineers are, by nature, problem solvers. They enjoy challenges and learning opportunities. And, in fact, solving technical problems is the number one factor that engineers consider in a job offer, ranking even above salary considerations.

To be attractive to top talent, continual learning is a critical value that you need to embrace and one that should be spotlighted in your brand identity. Learning opportunities show that you value your employees and are committed to their success.

Fostering learning can be done in a variety of ways, from paying for learning materials or conference fees to subsidizing the costs of pursuing additional certifications or advanced degrees. It can also be more informal, by providing mentors or job-shadowing opportunities.

However you encourage continuous learning, it’s important to highlight that particular value as part of your brand. Stories about professional development and on-the-job growth should be a cornerstone of your brand marketing when it comes to recruitment.

Prioritize Diversity

Candidates and employees increasingly value diversity in employers.

The social justice movements that erupted in 2020, most significantly Black Lives Matter, prompted many companies to address their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies. In tandem with this shift, Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, is beginning to enter the workforce and this group of workers highly values diversity.

By highlighting diversity in your brand, you will appeal not only to candidates who appreciate a diverse workforce but also to those individuals targeted by DEI policies.

While online photos, videos, and stories should show a diverse range of individuals, it’s important to ensure that your language is inclusive as well. Adapting your habits and choosing words that avoid unconscious bias can take a bigger effort than you might expect. Exclusionary language is deeply ingrained in our culture and often used without realizing its meaning or impact. However, to truly prioritize diversity as a foundational value, it’s important to choose your words thoughtfully, whether while working on your brand messaging or living the values of your brand in the workplace.

Secure A Marketing Partner

To best promote your brand identity to candidates, you should work with your marketing team or secure an external marketing partner. Attracting top talent in engineering is difficult given the low unemployment rate in the industry. A marketing team can help position your company strongly in this highly competitive job market. They are experts when it comes to taking your carefully-crafted brand and using that as a foundation to create compelling content for your online presence.