Shaping Employer Branding the Right Way

Small Business Canada

Jason Kipps, Managing Director of Canada, Universum

Jason Kipps is a veteran in Canada’s talent management and recruitment field. He also has a keen knowledge of large-volume recruitment systems, marketing, succession planning, and social media recruiting. Throughout his career, Kipps has helped several leading global organizations in improving their recruitment ROI through cutting-edge consulting services and state-of-the-art recruitment solutions. He also worked in senior positions in some of the premier recruitment and talent management consulting firms in Canada. He was the Vice President, Business Development for Right Management/Manpower Group, Vice President of Marketing for Self-Management Group, and Marketing Director for Caliper Canada.

Jason Kipps is Managing Director of Universum. He is a certified HR leader with an extensive marketing background.  Jason has over 20 years of experience in Marketing, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Recruitment Marketing, and Organizational Development.  He is currently working on a book on building corporate culture. He is a certified executive coach and management trainer and got his start in recruitment working on athlete selection in the NHL and the MBA. Universum is the world’s leading employer brand company. Operating the largest career preference survey in the world with 1.7 million annual respondents in more than 60 countries. For more information about Universum, visit Universum – Employer Branding Agency (

Universum — the global leader in employer branding — released its annual rankings of the most attractive employers for young talent in Canada. Can you please share your keen insights on the uniquely Canadian survey results?

Industry trends: Industries such as Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology and Video games had strong 2021 performances amongst Canadian Business and Engineering/IT students. Both were likely caused by the realities created by the pandemic. Banking, Auditing, and Accounting companies in Canada all experience success in the Business ranking this year. Canadian banks especially doing quite well and the smaller non-Big 4 accounting firms with sizeable increases.

Industries like Energy and Retail took quite a hit this year in Canada; both in Business and Engineering/IT Although interestingly enough, the Canadian grocers listed in Retail weathered the storm in business and performed quite admirably compared to their 2020 performance.

Salary expectations: “Show me the money!” seems to be the calling card for Canadian students this year.  This also reflects the importance students are putting on attributes like “High future earnings” across the board. Overall salary expectations have increased in Canada by 6% to an average of $60,976 for students.  Students in business programs have increased their expectations by 4% and Engineering/IT expectations have increased by 6%. The salary expectations gap is narrowing in both Business and Engineering/IT. In Business, it has dropped to 12% (compared to 14% in 2020) and in Engineering/IT, it has dropped to its lowest level of 6% (compared to 8% in 2020). Overall however it remains at 14% for all Canadian students in all programs in aggregate

How does COVID-19 continue to impact Canadian students and how do this year’s data collection and interpretation differ from 2020?

Attributes of the career offer like “Respect for its people” and “Ethical Standards” show a high level of increase in attractiveness across the board in Canada and have gained considerable momentum throughout the pandemic. Among Business students, “Secure employment” and “Team-oriented Work” made big jumps in attractiveness. For the Tech group, “Professional training and development” has made one of the biggest increases in attractiveness.

On an overall student level, “Secure employment” has taken over from “High future earnings” as the most important attribute to Canadian students during our new pandemic reality.

How employers should position themselves to attract Canadian students and compel them to apply to hard-to-fill roles?

It really depends on the company, their talent needs, the preferences of their targeted talent and the company’s position in the talent market.  A well-known employer attempting to attract 1500 recently graduated IT engineers has different needs and requires a different strategy than a law firm looking to attract 10,  1st years or a bank looking to attract retail staff.   One size does not fit all but generally we would recommend:

  • Understand your needs, your internal reality and what you can comfortably promise your candidates
  • Do research or purchase insight on what your target talent want, what they think of you and your recruiting competitors and what channels will be most effective in reaching them with your messages
  • Do research or purchase insight on how your recruiting competitors are marketing and engaging with your candidates
  • Segment your communications to reflect the different interests of your different targeted candidates
  • Develop compelling and differentiating content that describes your employment experience in an authentic, true and compelling way
  • Activate your content on the channels most relevant to your targeted talent and boost it to ensure they see it
  • Track your conversions through the different stages of your recruitment funnel and adjust your strategy accordingly.  Make sure you know where you are improving and where you need improvement to track the ROI of your recruitment marketing investment

Why is there a need for companies to build best-in-class recruiting and the importance to rethink the work culture in the work-from-home era?

The talent market has never been more competitive and more of a candidate’s market than it is today.  Getting the best talent requires companies to put forward a best-in-class strategy.  Our research showed that Canadian candidates are considering more potential employers than they ever have before. That means employers have more competition for talent than they ever have before.  Long gone are the days when great talent will clamor to work for you.   Employers that are not proactive with their communications and the development of robust talent polls are losing out to those employers that make the effort to woo the candidates they want.  

To make things even more challenging, Canadian employees are rethinking their relationship to work.   Canadians want greater flexibility; our research showed that 76% of Canadian students were interested in working remotely.  Those work cultures that can adjust to the employment aspirations of their early talent will be much more successful in winning the talent they want.

How to attract high-potential LGBTQ+ talent, black student candidates, indigenous candidates, women, and other minorities and drive them to apply

Most employers are still getting this wrong. When asked about their most important application drivers, minority talent including young black professionals, LGBTQ+ and Indigenous talent did not identify “Support for diversity & inclusion” as a top application driver.   When it comes to attracting this talent, one size does not fit all.  What is important to one minority group may be different than what is important to another.   Generally, most minority groups we surveyed were more concerned about job security, the company’s ethics, and the opportunity for high future earnings.  This talent has a much broader definition of diversity than most employers do.  As a result, employers are developing content that misses the mark.  It fails to differentiate the employer from its recruiting competitors and is seen as tokenistic rather than relevant and authentic.  Employers that invest in understanding the true aspirations and desires of these candidates are much more effective in communicating with them than those that use generalities.  

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