Rhona Barnett-Pierce


Making the Case for Employer Branding: Proving ROI & Securing Buy-In

If you’re involved in hiring at your company, you’re probably already sold on Employer Branding. You’ve likely experienced the benefits of a strong employer brand, or at least you’ve heard your friends at other companies raving about how they’ve seen the quality of applicants increase and their spend on agencies go down. But how exactly do you get leadership at your company to see the benefits and give you some money to invest?

Black woman participating in Family Feud game show and the words: It changed my life

The answer lies in speaking their language and quantifying the financial impact of employer branding. As TA professionals, we’ve all made mistakes when trying to prove the ROI of employer branding to our leadership teams.

You’ve likely found yourself in a meeting with your CEO and CFO, armed with data from a vendor on how employer branding helps you hire better, reduce your time to fill, and increase your employee engagement scores. You thought these metrics would be enough to convince them to invest in your employer branding initiatives. But as you presented your case, you could see their eyes glazing over. They weren’t interested in HR jargon; they wanted to know how employer branding would impact the bottom line.

As James Ellis mentioned in a recent podcast episode, “Businesses only care about five things: making money, saving money, getting new customers, limiting risk, and stroking ego.”

The biggest mistake we often make is not speaking the language of leadership and failing to quantify the financial impact of employer branding.

We focus on HR metrics instead of financial outcomes.

If you get your CFO to stop seeing employer brand, and more importantly, to stop seeing recruiting and TA as some sort of cost center, and see it as something that’s driving financial output, they will cut you a check tomorrow to make that happen. – James Ellis
Rhona Pierce, a Black woman, smiling and holding a money gun with money pouring out

Failing to demonstrate the financial value of employer branding can lead to a lack of resources, support, and buy-in from leadership. Our initiatives will be deprioritized, and we’ll struggle to make a meaningful impact. On the other hand, if we can clearly show how employer branding drives cost savings and revenue growth, we’ll be able to secure the investment and support we need to build a strong employer brand and attract qualified talent.

Here’s how to effectively quantify the financial impact of employer branding:

#1. Gather data on your current talent acquisition costs.

You should know how much you’re currently spending if you want to calculate ROI and potential savings. As James mentioned, collecting data on your advertising spend, agency fees, cost per hire, and time to fill is crucial for calculating the ROI of employer branding.

To do this:

  1. Pull reports from your ATS and other recruitment tools
  2. Analyze your invoices and budget statements
  3. Collaborate with your finance team to ensure accuracy

#2. Measure impact over perception.

In the podcast, James explains, “It’s really hard to measure perception, but it’s not hard to measure perception’s impact.” Instead of focusing solely on metrics like brand awareness or social media engagement, we must tie our employer branding efforts to tangible outcomes.

GIF of James Ellis speaking on the Throw Out The Playbook Podcast

To measure the impact of your employer brand:

  1. Track the number of qualified applicants and hires attributable to your branding efforts
  2. Monitor changes in cost per hire, time to fill, and employee retention rates
  3. Pay close attention to your offer acceptance rate and track that number.

#3. Calculate the potential cost savings of a strong employer brand.

Kandi from RHOA and the words I'm on a budget

James explains, “If you have less need for ads because each ad is targeted to the right person and saying something worth listening to, then you’re going to save a lot of money because you’re not going to use those ads.”

To estimate the cost savings of a strong employer brand:

  1. Project the reduction in advertising spend due to improved targeting and messaging
  2. Estimate the decrease in agency fees as a result of a stronger talent pipeline
  3. Calculate the potential savings from a lower cost per hire and time to fill


It’s all about changing HOW we speak about the impact of Employer Branding. There’s nothing wrong with tracking traditional HR metrics and focusing on how the things that we do make people feel. We are in the business of people. You’ll never hear me advocate against that. But when we speak to leadership, we have to speak their language.

A strong brand that is clear, that shows your difference, that creates financial incentives and financial outcomes, that is not necessarily expensive. – James Ellis

If you want a personalized report you can send to leadership to prove the ROI of employer branding, be sure to download James Ellis’s free report.

And if you want even more tips and strategies on making the financial case for Employer Branding, be sure to listen to the full episode of Throw Out The Playbook with James Ellis!

Talk to you next week!

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