How to Become an Employer of Choice

by Mike Tannian on March 10, 2022

Determine what you need to do to become an employer of choice, from improving your hiring process to sharing compelling stories about your organization. 

Article Highlights

With organizations vying for the same top talent, yours needs to stand out. When it comes to accepting a job offer, you want candidates to choose to work for your employer over others. 

So, what is an employer of choice? The definition is simple. 

An employer of choice is an organization that’s known for its healthy organizational culture, robust career development opportunities, and unique brand image. It has such a positive reputation that even passive job seekers may consider leaving their current job to work for this “choice” organization. 

If you want your org to become the one that professionals flock to, you’re in the right place. Below we’ll cover the ways you can position your organization as a great place to work, from improving your hiring process to strengthening your organizational culture and more. 

Ready to give your organization’s reputation a boost? Keep reading.

Improve the Hiring Process

The hiring process is the first opportunity you have to position your organization as an employer of choice. As such, it can be helpful to conduct regular evaluations of this process to identify opportunities for growth. Below we discuss some areas of improvement your organization may consider targeting first.  

Write accurate and compelling job descriptions

Just like eyes are the windows to the soul, job descriptions are the windows to your organization. An accurate and compelling job description accomplishes the following: 

  • Paints a picture about the day-to-day of the job
  • Gives potential employees a taste of the organization’s culture 
  • Details a position’s overall contribution to the organization
  • Shares logistical details, such as pay and benefits 

When writing your job description, be sure to include all the information your ideal employee needs. Instill meaning into the role by discussing its larger contribution to the organization but don’t forget to include the nitty-gritty details, like where an employee will be working and who they will report to.

Accurate and compelling job descriptions also include information about salary and benefits. Not only does this establish expectations, but it may help reduce gender-based salary gaps, solidifying your reputation as an employer of choice among diverse applicants.

Facilitate an equitable process 

An employer of choice has equitable processes and a diverse workforce. Since almost one-third  of job seekers refrain from sending job applications to organizations without diverse workforces, facilitating an equitable hiring process is fundamental to diversifying your applicant pool and attracting top talent.

And that doesn’t just mean tacking on an equal opportunity statement to the end of your job description! Consider implementing some of the methods below to make your hiring process more equitable. 

  • Remove names and gender for the initial screening of job applications (learn how the City of Seattle used NEOGOV’s Insight to do this here).
  • Use inclusive, non-gendered language in your job description
  • Hold unconscious bias training for hiring managers and anyone who’s reviewing applications or conducting interviews 

Build a timely hiring process

A lengthy hiring process isn’t good for candidate experience — or your organization. In fact, 45% of people who responded to NEOGOV’s 2021 Job Seeker Report said that the primary reason they didn’t apply to a job in the public sector is that the hiring process is too slow. 

But how are you supposed to speed things up given your limited resources? 

One way is to automate the hiring process by using software like NEOGOV’s Insight. In addition to providing an online self-service portal for human resources professionals and candidates to communicate, Insight enables prospective employees to:

  • Check on the status of their application and
  • Self-schedule interviews, written exams, and other tests

Which means candidates can quickly move themselves through the process and you can focus on your recruitment strategy (instead of playing phone tag scheduling interviews and fielding questions!). 

NEOGOV Recruitment Button

Provide feedback to candidates

While you may currently be sitting on the “hiring side” of the table, chances are you’re well acquainted with the uncertainty that accompanies a job search. 

So you can imagine how it must feel when a candidate is told HR will “be in touch soon” after a final interview, only to hear… 

Nothing.  

Don’t be that organization. Let every person who applies to a job know when you’ve made a final decision about their application. Write a personalized note to those you interview thanking them for their time and providing feedback. Candidates will appreciate your transparency and be more likely to consider applying to open roles in your organization in the future.

Foster a Strong Culture 

An organization’s culture plays a huge role when we consider what is meant by being an employer of choice. No one willingly chooses to work for a toxic organization. 

And culture starts with an organization’s leadership. How leaders discuss company values or recognize employees all impact culture. Below are some of the key things to focus on when it comes to positioning your organization as one that has a healthy, strong culture.

Company values (does it value work-life balance?)

You’ve been through enough onboarding sessions to know that one of the first things handed out is a one-pager listing company values. But values are so much more than words on a page. An employer of choice “walks the talk” of its principles.

This means that values are deeply ingrained in a healthy organization’s culture. Fundamentally, these values demonstrate respect for employees as human beings. Employers of choice foster a work environment that promotes work-life balance, enabling employees to bring their “best selves” to the job every day. 

Mission employees can rally behind

One of the primary reasons individuals pursue jobs in the public sector is so that they can do meaningful work. 

But the importance of a strong mission isn’t relegated to public organizations. In fact, 64% of employees report a company’s mission as being one of the main reasons they stay at their job. 

As such, both public and private organizations should carefully consider the way they frame their organization’s overall mission. A good mission statement is succinct, memorable, and compelling. 

An example is NEOGOV’s mission statement: We serve the people who serve the people. Based in the public sector, NEOGOV rallies its staff to serve government employees. By equipping them with leading HRIS software, these workers can better serve citizens and the community. For NEOGOV staff, that’s a noble cause that instills purpose into their jobs.

Employee benefits

An attractive employee benefits package is one of the top three motivators to pursue a career in the public sector. So your organization should think carefully about the types of benefits it wants to include in its overall package. An employer of choice has an attractive benefits package that includes things like: 

  • A comprehensive health insurance plan
  • Unlimited paid time off 
  • Retirement benefits
  • Professional development opportunities 
  • Flexible work schedules

With 69% of employees saying additional benefits may increase their organizational loyalty, introducing some of these benefits to your organization is a no-brainer. 

Flexible or remote work schedules

Organizations that remain rigid about full-time, in-person arrangements may have a harder time recruiting (and keeping) employees — and this goes for public sector organizations, too. That’s because 86% of employees prefer flexible work schedules that include some form of remote work. 

In addition to adding hours to the day in saved commuting time, flexible work schedules show you trust employees to get the job done. Many individuals also self-report that flexible work arrangements have improved employee productivity. 

Clear paths to promotion

Talented employees aren’t going to stay at an organization that doesn’t provide growth opportunities. Employers of choice regularly encourage every current employee to participate in professional development opportunities, such as:  

  • Paying for continued education, certifications, or other training
  • Offering lunch-and-learns
  • Encouraging employees to set aside time during the day for self-directed learning

Organizations should create a clear path to promotion when possible. In doing so, skilled employees can progress on their career paths without having to leave your organization, thereby increasing the overall longevity and tenure of employees. 

Employee recognition

Employee recognition ensures that individuals know their hard work is valued and appreciated. In addition to improving employee experience, this may also increase employee engagement and facilitate greater employee productivity. 

When surveyed by Glassdoor, 81% of employees stated they’re motivated to work harder after receiving a “job well done” from their supervisor — significantly more than those who worked harder because they were worried about their job security (37%). The table below offers some examples of the ways you can recognize your employees.

Type of Recognition

Informal

Formal

Public

  • Congratulating employee in front of the team 
  • Telling an employee’s manager they’re doing a great job if they’re not your direct report 
  • Offering awards or public recognition at employee events 
  • Noting achievements in a newsletter or on a public bulletin board 

Private

  • Sending words of thanks in a private message 
  • Offering a “job well done” in a 1-on-1
  • Noting achievements in performance reviews
  • Merit-based raises or other monetary rewards (i.e. bonuses)

Tell a Compelling Story

The last thing you want to do is hem and haw when it comes time to tell a potential employee why you love working at your organization. 

You can't plop a PDF of your organization’s values onto your website, then hope people will find it and understand why it makes your organization an employer of choice. You need to put your organization's brand out into the world in a way that captivates potential employees and lands an enthusiastic “yes” from job offers. 

So, how exactly are you supposed to do that? 

With stories that affirm your organization’s brand. 

When identifying what stories to tell, consider the key takeaways you want your ideal candidates to have about your organization. Then, include the characteristics below to maximize the impact of your storytelling.

Employer_Branding.jpgTell stories that humanize your organization 

Employers of choice recognize that the individuals they hire aren’t just cogs in the machine: they’re human beings with complex emotions. As such, the stories you tell should appeal to the real people you’re trying to recruit. 

Consider the unique personality, experiences, skills, desires, and preferences of your ideal candidate. Then, identify how your organization embodies these traits and share stories accordingly. Share real employee feedback about what it’s like to work for your organization. 

Tell stories that prove your organization lives its values

What’s more compelling: telling a job candidate that x% of people at your organization believe your organization lives its values… or providing a story that unequivocally proves that’s the case, even to an outsider? The answer is obvious.

Candidates want evidence that your organization has meaningfully integrated its values into all the ways it behaves. Share stories that show your values in action at all levels of your workplace, from decision-making to employee achievements. Share stories about your organization's commitment to supporting employees' professional and personal aspirations.

Tell stories that are exciting

Exciting stories engage all senses. When someone is engaged and excited by a story you’re telling, they’re far more likely to remember it later. That’s because our brain releases cortisol when we’re engaged, which contributes to memory formation.

To build a story that candidates will remember long after your initial conversation, share dramatic (yet truthful) stories that divulge the risks your organization takes and the rewards it (and its employees!) earn as a result. Share a time when your public organization helped your community through an emergency or an unexpected event. 

Tell stories that connect the head to the heart

Stories told without emotions are dead on arrival. Brand stories that blend facts and emotion create something more persuasive than either would be on their own.

So share emotional stories that exemplify how employees improve your community. If you work in the public sector, discuss the ways your employees regularly connect with residents, from solid waste employees checking in on elderly residents to social workers providing support services. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. You’ve learned what is meant by employer of choice and have a clear path to becoming one yourself. 

From identifying ways to improve your hiring process to honing your storytelling skills, you know what it takes to position yourself as an attractive employer in this competitive market. 

Hopefully, the next time someone asks you “what is an employer of choice,” the definition will be… 

“This one.” 

If you want to learn more about competing in today’s market, you can find out how to recruit and retain top talent in the public sector on our blog.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.