“There’s gold in them thar hills!” – unknown

The original speaker of the above quote may be unknown (with a few suspects), but its background is not. Whoever spoke it first was referring to the gold rushes in Georgia and California, insisting upon the riches any brave miners might find. This context makes it an ideal quote to plug “EVP” into—after all, your EVP is a true nugget of gold. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find unspeakable treasures.

When looking at building an employer brand, your EVP really is the gold standard to set your plan of action and content around. But before diving even that far in, there may be an important question on your mind…

What really is an EVP?

Simply put, an EVP, or Employer Value Proposition, is an employee or candidate’s answer to the question: “What’s in it for me to work here?”

As clearly as its stated in the term, it’s a value proposition. If you’re still unsure, it might be easier to think about it in terms of a consumer brand—for example, think of the value prop Chick-fil-A gives its customers: sure, you can get a chicken sandwich anywhere, but what other fast food restaurant gives you the friendly service you get here? To translate it to your employer brand: sure, you can work and make money anywhere, but where else are you going to get [insert your EVP here]?

Armed with this better understanding, you may be quick to start ideating on your mission statement or company values. Stop right there.

An EVP is NOT your mission statement, and it’s not the values your founders instilled into the operations of the company. You’re thinking too internally. Remember—an EVP has to answer to the candidate, not to your company.

Rather than focusing on values and missions, it’s time to pivot and work at defining your EVP by defining different themes that can answer the question, “What’s in it for candidates to work here?” These themes can be based on compensation, benefits, career prospects and more. Whatever the themes are, they need to be answering that oh-so-important question.

Choosing Your Themes

Now you know what you’re mining for, it’s time to figure out exactly how you extract your valuable EVP from all the noise in your company.

First thing’s first: Tell your HR department to take a couple seats, because they are not needed for this part of the process. This may upset them—after all, they’re the ones who will oversee the execution of branding the employer with these themes—but once again, figuring out these themes needs to be based on how employees (and, ultimately, candidates) view the pros of working for your company. It’s not for the wannabe-PR department that is your HR team to define what they wish the company’s value prop was.

Don’t get crazy: You need to put some limitations on yourself. Ideally, an employer has no less than 3 and no more than 5 EVP themes, with 4 being that sweet spot. There’s enough of a variety that you can create unique content from these themes (we’ll get to that in a minute) without repeating the same value prop over and over again, but there’s not so many themes that you sound unbelievable. No candidate will believe you if you try and say you do 10 things completely perfectly and differently than any other employer.

Make the legwork count: The only way to get the information you need to define solid EVP themes is by interviewing current employees. This does not mean you pick your favorites, the ones you know will feed your confirmation bias; rather, this means you need to take a complete cross-section of your company and interview a significant portion. Some of the questions you want to ask them include:

  1. What do your family/friends think about you working here?
  2. What’s the best part about working here?
  3. What do you like least about the work you do?

And so on. Not every question will be, nor should be, comfortable. You’re digging up that *real* factor and sometimes it isn’t always pretty, but candidates will be impressed with your honesty if the negatives do make it into your themes.

Assess and actualize: With interviews complete, it’s time to analyze the information. See where the consistencies are amongst your employees’ answers—there’s your gold. Those things you hear over and over again are your themes.

What To Do With Your Nuggets

Your EVP themes are your pieces of gold, but you can’t just throw and shout them at candidates—you have to apply these themes in a smart way.

Enter: content.

Your EVP and the themes that make it up are what should ultimately drive all the content for your employer brand. Say your company’s training and opportunity to learn on the job is one of your themes—get employees on video and in interviews for blog posts talking about the training they’ve had and how its helped them in their career. From there, all you have to do is watch the high-quality candidates start to flow in.

Want more goods on developing your EVP? Our team at Kinetix are pros. We can help you with interviewing employees and determining that sweet spot of themes to take your employer branding to the next level. Not to mention, with our Buzz (Employer Branding) product, that’s just the beginning of what we can do. Take the first step in starting a conversation when you hit us up for a free audit of your existing branding and the EVP it may or may not reflect today!

Kate Weimer

Kate Weimer is a Marketing Lead at Kinetix, specializing in social media recruitment marketing and account management. Using a combination of her background in social media and love for the written word, she’s shoving all buzzwords aside and making HR and recruitment marketing work in today's digital world. Want to hang? Hit her up on Twitter or LinkedIn , or contact her via email.