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External employer branding must reflect internal culture

Large companies must now recruit differently, ensuring their external image matches the internal reality

An employer's brand must consider the internal culture as well as the one it wants to project externally, according to Charu Malhotra, global talent attraction leader for Ferrero.

Speaking at the HR Tech World conference in Amsterdam, Malhotra said that an employer brand could be undermined if those already working for the company don't view it as authentic. "You have to start inside first," she said. "If you pump out anything in a world where Glassdoor exists and communication is king then potential candidates will sense that it is fake."

One common pitfall is creating an employer brand that gives a misleading impression, Malhotra said. "You might emphasise the ping pong tables and pizza on Fridays, but that can lead to people feeling disengaged when they join," she said. "But when you reflect the internal experience [in your employer branding] that's when it becomes authentic. The correct recipe for an employer brand always starts inside."

In Italy Ferrero is a popular employer, but generally larger companies across the world are struggling to recruit in the same ways that worked before, said Malhotra. "Now graduates are not as interested in graduate schemes," she added. "They might, for example, be interested in working for a start-up instead, or for smaller companies. Our board are all Italian, and joined us from graduate schemes or from search firms so they don't have experience of our recruitment brand.

"I was able to make a case for change, and I said we needed to talk to our employees to understand their internal experiences."

She explained how her own firm had to tailor its employer branding to the various regions it operates in globally. "Nutella tastes the same everywhere, so can our employer brand be the same?" she asked. "It makes our board happy if it is, as there is consistency and control, but it doesn't work.

"If you try to reach everybody then you end up reaching nobody."