I was working at a research survey center and I felt like my colleagues at the time were hiring the wrong people. A month into the position, I knocked on HR’s door and said “I think that you guys could step it up in the hiring game.” They challenged me to do better and I just went from there, doing staffing, then talent acquisition for in-house agencies, and then eventually falling into employment branding.
I was at Ogilvy and Mather, doing their social media recruiting. The first year was great, but then, things took a turn. It was getting harder and harder to employ talent. I did some research and discovered that our competitors were focusing on employer branding. It was something that I’d never seen or even heard of, this whole world of, “put your culture out there, let’s highlight the employee story.” I basically said, "listen, if you want us to continue hiring the best talent, we’re going to have to start doing this new thing." And they said, "Ok, go for it."
Looking back, a lot of my career advancements have been down to me just knocking on doors and saying, "there's a problem, but here's a solution."
What really hooks someone, what really drives them to apply, is your authenticity. If your brand is shiny and sparkly, if you’ve got free cereal and almond milk, and you put that out there, that’s great, but what about the work? When people are doing employer branding the right way, it’s not so much about the platform that they’re using, but the actual message and the authenticity that the candidate feels is present in that content. If you see something on Facebook or on Snapchat, or when you take that ride of applying for the job, taking that call from the recruiter, interviewing; it all follows the same thread of authenticity. That’s what drives the candidate, the talent, to your company.
I think it’s even stronger with passive candidates, because keep in mind that they’re not looking for us. We either reach out to them, or they stumble across our content. Maybe they’ve read something in Fast Company, or Inc., or saw something on LinkedIn. Whatever the source, it starts them on a journey, and what I have found is, whether they are actively looking or passive, the authentic content they found either, #1 confirms where they want to work, or #2 it inspires them to make their next career move.
For example, at Horizon Media, new hires already knew about the Digital Detox days and Bagel Fridays because of the videos we put out. I feel like that’s what good Employer Branding does, it informs the candidate of what their experience will be, and it helps them confirm their interest or motivates them to make an informed decision.
There was a position where I worked at Horizon Media that had been open for six months or so, and the mobile team that was hiring asked us for help. We’d done some video work previously, but this time, I wanted to do something different. We ended up doing a parody of Adele’s “Hello.” I was able to get so many people in the company involved, and it was such an amazing thing to see when it was complete. One thing that we weren’t expecting was to get a lot of earned media, but the press picked it up, certain blogs were blogging about us and other companies were even showing it to their new employees! That kind of blew us away.
You have a whole company culture and it’s important to support this with branding, but that breaks down even more into sub-cultures. That’s what we want to capture when we’re doing a campaign — we want to know a hiring group’s individual culture and use this to build a campaign to make sure that we’re attracting the right people that are going to “click.”
Years ago I read about the term, “brandividuality,” and it resonated with me. It’s where your brand and individuality come together at an intersection to create the real you. Companies that understand the brandividuality of the talent they seek will be able to effectively differentiate themselves and find the best talent applying for their jobs.
In order to convert people, they have to feel that you've been straight up with them from the start. Whether that comes from a single Tweet, a click on your site, a video view, the in-house tour - it all has to match. It's all about being authentically consistent.