Your Employment Brand is Making Me Feel Bad.

Holland Dombeck McCue Change, Employment Branding and Culture, Holland Dombeck

I spend my Saturday mornings coaching for Girls on the Run (GOTR), a transformational youth development program, teaching life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The ultimate goal of the GOTR program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment. (A mission I feel any career agent  can get on board with.)

This week’s theme was “Positive Self-Talk, And Why I Choose It.” But before I could dig into “Positive Self-Talk”, the girls first had to understand the meaning of “Negative Self-Talk.”

From the curriculum:

Negative self-talk is when we think or say negative things about ourselves. You may not use negative self-talk, but I am sure you have heard it. Negative self-talk can be saying things like “I am not smart” or “I am not brave enough to try something new.”

Some of the outlets and examples we were given as coaches to discuss were TV and women communicating feelings about their appearance or weight in a negative way. Not always in plain language, but enough to leave a subtle, and negative, impression on those watching.

This lesson really got me noodling about social media and your career—and more specifically, social media envy and your career.

For a large portion of the social community, social media outlets are a highlight reel.

  • Staged, filtered images of fancy cocktails and life happenings
  • Articles with catchy titles that make you appear well-read (even if you didn’t’ actually read the article)
  • Statements of self-validation in 140 characters or less

It’s a highlight reel that may leave some feeling that their life, by comparison, may be somewhat lackluster.

Employment branding, in some facets, walks this same line.

At its core, employment branding is an instrument leveraged to attract, engage and retain talented candidates and employees, in the same way that marketing applies such tools to attracting and retaining clients, customers and consumers.

However, with the adoption of social media outlets as a distribution channels, EB tends to play on the social media envy strings of those tapped in.

  • Staged, filtered images of ping pong happy hour and away-from-the-desk office happenings
  • Articles with catchy titles that make the organization seem “smart,” even if those employed at said organization wouldn’t normally read the stories on their own
  • Statements of “we’re great and where you are currently is not, so come join the party!” in 140 characters or less

Another highlight reel that may leave some feeling that their career/employer, by comparison, may be somewhat uninspiring.

We closed the lesson by teaching the girls how to re-frame negative self-talk. For example, instead of saying “I am a terrible runner,” we coached them to say “Running is a challenge for me, but with practice, I will reach my 5k goal at the end of the season.”

If you’re sitting at your desk today and considering a change of scenery, I challenge you to first give rephrasing a shot. (Unless you’re an eternal optimist, the practice can feel a little uncomfortable.)

Take your role at face value. Truly consider the core of what you do and the organization you do it for. Then have an honest dialogue with yourself.

Are the negatives pushing you towards the idea of change just self-imposed limitations of your current role? Have you identified and considered the full potential of where you are now?

Remember those EB highlights are a marketing tool—a carefully crafted sales pitch designed to peak your interest and drive applications. Yes, we want you to come join our team, but we also want you to do it for the right reason(s). Not because we’ve mastered Instagram.