The alternate title would be: “The Poor HR Pro’s Guide to Figuring Out Employment Brand.”
GE’s recent brilliant branding effort centered around “What’s wrong with Owen” is, I believe, getting a bunch of well-deserved press. Cynics will say that they could also generate brilliance with GE’s gagillion dollar recruiting budget. Maybe, maybe not.
But what about the reader of FOT who is grinding away in the job in Des Moines, working for a 100-1000 person company? Susie is trying to elevate talent acquisition at her shop, making things better for managers, but doesn’t have two nickels to rub together for ad budget. How does she create brand articulation like GE’s Owen campaign? Susie is just trying to get her recruiting function built out and solid, not living in fantasyland and thinking she’s Facebook or Google.
Fear not, FOT. Don’t buy into the hype that employment brand is hard or difficult. Everyone has a brand. You just need to talk more about it. Here’s a starter to-do list:
- Ask 10 people in your company why they work there.
- Ask your last 10 hires why they joined.
- Ask why the last 10 people quit.
- Take that information and summarize it with themes.
- Share that information with the executive team. They might not agree that’s what they want their brand to be, but it is.
- Get your best storytellers involved on your interview team. Have them tell their stories about those themes.
Here’s the key, kids: Authentic and genuine people telling an honest story are incredibly compelling.
All the interview training, ad budget, and marketing consultants in the world cannot beat a good story told honestly. GE’s budget is 1,000,000x most of ours, but they hit the authenticity piece. That’s what candidates respond to. It’s real and feels true—they needed tech talent to join the firm but people didn’t see GE as sexy. The honest story worked:
“We are seeing an increase of applications and interest in our leadership programs at multiple colleges. We are also seeing more interest from students, faculty and administrators to learn more about GE technologies… All told, after airing the commercials, visits to GE’s online recruitment site 66% month over month…”
Candidates judge a company’s culture based on the stories they hear. Take control of these stories. Embed these elements into your position descriptions. Build a career website that tells those stories. Only let good storytellers interview, or pair your tech experts who can’t tell stories with people who can. Brand means stories—tell a good one.
I have spent the last 20 years of my professional life advising leaders to make great talent decisions to drive business results. In my current gig, I lead talent acquisition and management for a multi-billion-dollar, 100% employee-owned construction company. I geek out on analytics, succession planning, etc. and love it when we position folks to do their best work. That’s fun stuff. I tease bad HR people, because I think we can all do better, myself included. That’s fun, too.