Now is the time to build your employer brand — especially during economic downturn

In lean economic times, scientists and researchers will be scanning the job market in new ways — now you have a clear opportunity to reach them with your message.

While it might be tempting to go quiet and cease communications with current and prospective employees, organizations must harness this unique moment to showcase what they can offer to the best and brightest STEM talent. Due to disruptions in career fairs and conferences, where organizations can traditionally connect with star research talent, a new, digital-first approach is necessary to communicate your workplace values and make a meaningful impression on researchers.

This is where employer branding can help you stand out. Employer branding, the cornerstone of your talent attraction strategy, allows you to share stories about what makes your organization stand out — from your workplace culture and teams, to your research activity. Broadcasting stories about what makes you special ensures you’re building vital connections with current and future employees. Strike the right tone, and your future hiring initiatives will benefit. Fail to engage, and you might not stand out at a later stage in the hiring funnel.?

Now is the time to make yourself known — and not to go silent — as scientists and researchers are spending more time online. On ResearchGate, 20% more scientists are registering weekly to join the platform to discover research, collaborate, and connect, since April 2020. Furthermore, these STEM professionals are spending more time online than ever before, with a 20% increase in traffic since April 2020, a significant metric for a digital platform.

Given the surge in research activity online, it’s important to digitally communicate your workplace culture and research output, as 78% of researchers are open to new opportunities, even if they're not actively searching. Investing in digital employer branding lets you shape public perception within relevant STEM communities. But what are the functional benefits of employer branding for your organization?

Stand out from the crowd

In a changed job market, the opportunity to work for an organization with a positive online presence and that showcases its strong research work is important to STEM professionals. This warms-up potential candidates, by making them aware of your organization and whetting their appetite for the chance to join your team.

Generate higher ROI

Investing in employer branding of course takes some time and money, as everything from job posts to recruitment materials need to reflect your organization’s identity. However, it powers return-on-investment in the long-term because it reduces time-to-hire and improves your organization’s visibility. Because it can help you attract top talent, it also helps to build your institution’s reputation.

Support talent retention

Let employees help tell your organization’s stories by including them as contributors in your recruitment marketing. This also reminds your current team of the benefits of working at your organization, so they’re less likely to seek new opportunities elsewhere. Employer branding increases workplace pride and brings people together around a common goal to promote your organization. When it comes from the inside out, everyone can share in its success.

Share personality, purpose, and values

Rarely do brands have a platform to speak about themselves among a highly targeted STEM audience. Social media is, of course, one avenue, but many of the professionals you want to reach haven’t heard about you yet, or are not following you there. This limits your efficacy. Further, it’s not always the right channel to engage people about their future. When it comes to cultivating your employer brand online, sell your organization and why it stands out among the right audience, like ResearchGate’s network of +17-million registered researchers. It’s your chance to excite candidates about your workplace, so talk about your culture, people, values, and research activity.

Short-term thinking isn’t effective

Recessions can lead to ‘short-termism’ in an attempt to shield the balance sheet from negative financial effects. However, some things can’t be thought of in such terms – things like reputation, overall organizational strategy, and employer branding all fall into this category. It’s not a tactic that should be picked up and put down – to measure its lasting effects, give the activity the room it needs to grow, as it will have a bearing on cost-per-hire, time-to-hire, and retention rates. Give your employer branding strategy the space required to produce measurable data, so that you can understand the effectiveness of your strategy.?

In summary, employer branding can help you through an economic downturn. When hiring does occur – whether it’s on a reduced or resumed ‘normal’ level — you win if you are top of mind. It is also your chance to build trust and showcase your best qualities to relevant scientists and researchers, especially as they are spending increased time on ResearchGate. Together with jobs marketing and direct sourcing on ResearchGate, employer branding is essential to a full-funnel digital STEM recruitment strategy.

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