Every employer dreams of having a steady stream of highly qualified applicants knocking at their door, hoping to be hired — applicants who are skilled, fully engaged and who mesh with their current employees and fit within their culture.

And as idealistic as this sounds, companies with a strong recruitment brand enjoy this benefit. Just ask the folks at Google, Johnson & Johnson, and Apple. They understand the value of a strong brand.

So what is a recruitment brand and how can you develop one?

A recruitment brand is a message that communicates what it’s like to work at your company. It tells the world who you are and what you believe in — your mission, culture and values. It’s your way of telling applicants: “This is who we are, and individuals who believe and think like us are welcome.”

Whether it’s Zappos that promises to “deliver happiness to the world,” or L.L. Bean’s “deep history and a powerful connection to the outdoors,” or J&J’s family-friendly environment, a positive recruitment brand attracts candidates who identify with their beliefs and culture; a candidate who wants to be part of an organization that is made of employees just like them; and a candidate who shares the passions and commitment of the organization.

With a strong recruitment brand, candidates will seek you out, saving you time and money on recruitment initiatives. But even more importantly, your brand is the glue that holds your current workers together, increasing employee retention, engagement, loyalty and productivity.

Building a brand takes three uncomplicated steps:

UNDERSTANDING WHO YOU ARE

Ask yourself: Why would anyone want to work here? Why do you? What makes your organization attractive? Organizations are good at promoting themselves as part of the sales process, and you should do the same with recruitment. In recruitment, you are selling the organization to prospective employees. So take a hard look at the things that distinguish your organization and promote them. Show candidates why they should want to work for you. Getting the answer to these questions will help you define your company’s brand.

PROFILE YOUR IDEAL CANDIDATES

Creating these profiles allows you to target, find and recruit your ideal candidates. This sounds simple, but so often employers do not know the type of people who will be successful in their organization. Your recruitment brand is a reflection of your corporate culture. Employees must be able to fit within that culture. Counterculture employees can contaminate the brand and culture. Hiring the wrong people will compromise your organization.

COMMUNICATE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK AT YOUR COMPANY

Get your employees involved. Have them share their personal stories about working for your company. These compelling stories of why people want to work in your company provide insight into who you are and define your recruitment brand.

Communicate your brand consistently and with clarity in all your recruitment pieces. The message in your advertisements, recruitment brochure, website and social media must constantly promote your brand. Look at L.L. Bean’s website. Watch the videos on the Tom’s of Maine website. Their words, photos and videos support their brand and define their work culture.

Your employees, who can often be your best recruiters, should be walking billboards for your recruitment brand. Whether it is casual conversations with friends and family about working for you, comments made on Facebook, or representing your organization at a job fair, what they say should reinforce your brand while promoting your organization as a great place to work.

As your brand evolves, listen to hear how it is echoed by your employees, customers and the public. What’s being said about you? Is there chatter in the press or in the social media? Google your company. It is important to understand what’s being said, for good things will draw in job candidates and bad things will scare them away.

Every organization has a recruitment brand, whether you consciously develop one or not. Candidates formulate their own perception of your company by what they hear, read or see. And if you lack a well-formulated, affirmative brand, the void becomes your brand. A positive recruitment brand will attract your targeted candidates to your company like a magnet, ensuring that you always have a steady stream of candidates drawn to your door.

As the economy rebounds and competition for recruiting star performers heats up, the companies with a positive brand and reputation as a great place to work will surge ahead of the competition. Are you ready?

Rick Dacri is an organizational development consultant, featured speaker at regional and national conferences, and author of the book “Uncomplicating Management.” He is also a member of the Association for Consulting Expertise and can be reached at 967-0837, [email protected] or www.dacri.com.