It is one of the biggest challenges facing the global economy today and in the future: according to a study by global management consultancy Korn Ferry, there will be a shortage of around 85 million workers worldwide by 2030. As a result, employer branding is moving to the top of the corporate agenda. Zaid Sagha, Senior Consultant Client Growth & Innovation at Mediaplus International, has developed an employer branding campaign for an international company and shares his experiences in this interview.

Zaid, you have just developed an international employer branding strategy for a client. If I want to become an international employer brand or recruit internationally, what should I bear in mind?

A brand that wants to expand beyond its current market and recruit local talent in the target markets where it operates should start thinking about its employer brand image. The employer branding image serves as an extension of the corporate brand image. When developing an international employer branding strategy, consider cultural nuances, diversity and local market trends. Tailor your messaging to resonate in each region while maintaining a consistent global brand image. Understand the local talent landscape, recruitment practices and legal considerations. Finally, the brand should use platforms and channels that are popular and relevant in each region.

For example, what makes candidates tick in China, India or the US? What makes them different from those in Germany? Do they need to be addressed differently in terms of content?

The work culture is different in each market. For example, in terms of leadership, China has hierarchical structures, the US has egalitarian approaches, and Germany is somewhere in the middle. When it comes to decision-making, the Chinese and Indian markets are top-down, while Germany favours a consultative approach. In terms of trust in the workplace, Germany and the US prioritise task-based trust, while India and China emphasise relationship-based trust.

However, we cannot generalise from these findings. Research is needed to understand the market landscape, talent behaviour and our brand perception. Decoding the information from the research allows us to draw some insights, which may sometimes be relevant to the current market situation or just a recent snapshot. Building our communications around these insights is essential and typically what makes a great campaign.

Does job search information behaviour differ from country to country?

Yes, information behavior and job search habits can vary from country to country. Each market has popular job board platforms, taking into account language preferences. Some markets may rely more on professional networks, while others may prefer traditional job boards. Local trends dictate how we can effectively reach our target audience.

What advice would you give to a company that is considering international employer branding or international recruitment for the first time?

When approaching the task, you have to know that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s something that needs to be worked on and built over time. It’s like starting a relationship with each market differently. Being honest and trustworthy is the most important part of building the relationship. Competition is only going to get tougher in the future. It is essential to research and understand the cultural aspects of each target market, establish a robust online presence on both local and global platforms, humanise the brand by using employee testimonials and success stories, and tailor content localisation to resonate with specific audiences in each market.

In your current case, the client is specifically looking for IT/tech specialists. what are the particular challenges here?

IT is currently the most in-demand sector across all industries. Of course, with advances in technological resolution and new technologies such as AI and others, the competition is only going to get fiercer. A critical aspect of the task is to understand the reasons why talent is choosing the competition over us. Identifying the underlying factors and the truth behind their choices, coupled with understanding the differences in their preferences and the needs of potential IT talent, will enable us to formulate a strategy to successfully attract IT talent in the future.

However, whether IT-focused or engineering-focused, the key is to understand the local talent landscape, recruitment practices and the talent journey. Each journey is born out of a specific barrier, and understanding this means examining the baseline, which includes factors such as the mental and cognitive load of choosing a new employer based on company reputation, growth opportunities, recognition, challenges, cultural fit and work-life balance.

To sum up, what are the top three tips you would give to companies regarding employer branding campaigns?

I actually have four tips:

  1. Building your employer branding image is not something you build quickly and it is not something you stop doing. It is an ongoing effort that requires your attention.
  2. While recruitment is a separate activity, building your reputation as an employer is another essential aspect. This contributes to long-term brand building and streamlines the recruitment process for future endeavours.
  3. Much like the dynamics in marketing, a sales campaign is different from a brand campaign. Brand campaigns have the potential to drive long-term success and generate future demand.
  4. When building your employer branding image, approach it in the same way as your corporate brand image. Be bold. Use creative and unconventional media channels. Go beyond the traditional messaging pillars that promote career development, culture, inclusion and diversity.