Embedded on the Careers page of the Arby’s website is a YouTube video that seeks to tell viewers what working for the chain is all about. “We don’t hesitate to push boundaries, challenge our comfort zones or even poke a little fun at ourselves—as long as our actions are uniquely Arby’s,” the narrator says as images of comedian Jon Stewart and the Vegetarian Support Hotline flash on the screen and orchestral music crescendos.
The video is just one small piece of the chain’s applicant-facing branding, aimed at improving the quick-service restaurant’s ability to find strong team members. “It showcases who we are as an employer and helps people self-select a culture that fits them,” says Melissa Strait, Arby’s chief people officer.
Most Americans are saying now is a good time to find a quality job for the first time since 2001, Gallup polling shows, but many companies aren’t effectively messaging to them. One problem, according to a report from the researcher, is that companies’ brand messaging efforts are focused toward customers—not potential employees.
Feeling the pinch of a tighter labor market, some restaurants are finding ways to translate what’s working in their consumer campaigns into job seeker-targeted messages. Here are some best practices of employer branding that can turn applicants’ heads.
1. Talk about takeaways
Arby’s explicitly communicates that people can “start here and go anywhere,” says Strait. In fact, the value is baked into the chain’s corporate social responsibility platform.
The operators of Fig and The Ordinary in Charleston, S.C., market their restaurants as learning institutions. “We present a list of everything they would learn in the interview,” said chef-partner Mike Lata at a recent industry event. “We tell them, you can go anywhere, but you will get an education here.”
2. Seek out nontraditional outlets
Each time Wienerschnitzel CEO Cindy Culpepper has been featured on “Undercover Boss,” the chain receives an influx of job applications. The exposure reveals a peek inside the brand’s work culture, which President J.R. Galardi says is based around fun, and doesn’t take itself too seriously by only using the normal career sites and job listings.
3. Cultivate a consistent message
To make sure new hires share Boka Restaurant Group’s values, all management positions for every restaurant are hired out of the central office with all high-level executives sitting in on interviews. “If we hire the right people, they will convey the same messaging,” says VP Ian Goldberg.
4. Share real stories
Panda Express spotlights employee stories on its career site, and posts about their lives with the hashtag #Humans ofPanda. “Social media platforms are direct opportunities to connect with followers and share inspiring stories about our people, brand and values,” says Communications Manager Juliam Lee.