Skip to main content
  • About CIRA

How to build a purpose-driven employer brand

By Julia Hickey
Human Resources

Rethinking your employer brand and what sets you apart in an increasingly digital world is more important than ever – our open talent economy increases competition to attract and retain the best of the best. I’m here to give you a little insight on how we created our employer brand and what you can expect when you join the CIRA team.

Where do you work? Whenever you answer that question, your response helps shape the reputation of your company. 

A strong employer brand is more than just posting key messages on your website. It’s about how your employees align with the organization’s purpose. It’s about being intentional with recruiting and culture add initiatives. And when you have a strong one, it will reinforce your company’s reputation within the industry and community. Top talent will be lining up to be a part of your team. 

Commitment between your organization and people 

Employer branding is your company’s DNA which sets your advantage in a tightly competitive labour market. This isn’t something you can develop overnight. It’s a carefully brewed concoction of broader business objectives, deeply held values and culture. It’s creating chemistry and commitment between your company and future employees. There is no formula on how to create a credible reputation and employer brand, but I’ll share what worked for us. 

Our purpose at CIRA is to build a trusted internet for Canadians and that’s weaved into everything we do, especially our brand. It’s built on a clear tone and purpose with an end goal of magnetizing and retaining top talent. As a small company of 100+ employees, CIRA was recently awarded silver for “Best Employer Branding” at the 2020 Canadian HR Awards, meaning we eat employer branding for breakfast! And it took a lot to get here. Here are some tips on how to shape your employer brand.  

Start with your core values 

Your employer brand should have a strong foundation from your business. As outlined in CIRA’s five-year strategic plan, our purpose is to build a trusted internet for all Canadians through these pillars:

  • Community investment: Invest in programs that strengthen the internet in Canada and globally. Over the past six years, CIRA’s Community investment program  grants have provided $7.95 million in funding for 171 projects. 
  • Product expansion: Continually strengthen our business. In 2020, we launched the Canadian Shieldwith the purpose of providing free enterprise-grade protection for all Canadians.  
  • Organizational enablement: CIRA is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture to foster innovation and create an environment where high-performing talent are enabled to do their best work.   

Your ethos should be carefully articulated through your strategic plan and your employee value proposition (EVP). The very act of creating an EVP, increases the investment in your brand. To create our employee value proposition, we set up internal focus groups to discuss our values and how it connects to purpose, which was also a big part of building a culture of trust. Our EVP is intertwined into our company culture, initiatives like recognition programs, as well as our recruiting process.   

Recruit strategically 

In our new realm of virtual work, we are competing for talent on a different scale. Now that you can work from anywhere, people are able to work at giant tech companies without leaving their small-town homes. Be intentional in your recruitment process. At CIRA we relate all roles back to our bigger purpose and where they fit into the broader plan. Minor details matter when attracting top talent. Here’s what you can expect when you apply for a job with CIRA: 

  • We embody a positive and transparent candidate experience. We over-communicate to all applicants.
  • To better envision our community, candidates meet people from various teams. 
  • We explain what the company stands for and where future employees will fit into the mix.  
  • We highlight our important perks like home internet, transportation, health/wellness and work from home allowances, no cap sick days and the vast opportunities through our learning and development program. 
  • We focus on our employee value proposition, discussing culture adds and our commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

Focus (long term) on culture add 

A long-term focus on organizational culture will always outperform competition. Operating in a remote setting, internal communication can never be over-done to maintain connections. Lean into your recognition program, increase means of providing kudos across the company – through chat channels, tools, and all staff meetings. We focus on creating remote connections through company-wide team building activities, scheduled coffee chats, and training sessions. 

We showcased our diversity and authenticity in our employees through a corporate video about working at CIRA last year. We didn’t hire actors as our employees are our best brand and reputation ambassadors.  

Our genuine and driven experts present at cybersecurity, tech and communications conferences locally, nationally and internationally. CIRA’s reputation as a leader in the internet community is a reflection of our products, purpose and people.

Everything you promise must be true, an employer brand is only successful if you are intentional. You’ll attract and retain better talent, reduce recruiting timelines, and create a synergy like no other. 

Believe me when I say, you don’t have to work for a giant tech company ending in –oogle to experience new and exciting initiatives. Being a part of a smaller company provides the opportunity to launch products faster, be closer to customers, create solutions, and make a larger impact. 

Come work at CIRA, we’ve got everything you need. Word on the street (and virtual chats) is that CIRA is a high performance, purpose-driven employer. 

Visit to see our career opportunities. 

About the author
Julia Hickey

Julia Hickey works on the Human Resources team at CIRA. She has experience in the technology world, with a background in cybersecurity and policy compliance. Her interests include strengthening company culture and strategic planning.