Hi, my name is Georgiana. I am the CEO and founder of Beaglecat, and soon you will be listening to Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. In this podcast, I regularly talk to employer branding managers and acquisition managers, and human resources managers in tech companies in Germany, Romania, and the US. For more content on employer branding-related themes, go to employerbranding.tech or beaglecat.com. Stay tuned!
Season 6 of #EmployerBranding: The Inside Podcast is LIVE!
In the 1st episode of this season, we had the pleasure of speaking with Chelsea Howard, Founder of Drift Employer Brand Community. We talked about humanizing employer branding, defining an EVP the right way, and also about being truly honest about your uniqueness. To build a strong organizational foundation, one must look beneath the surface and acknowledge that “employer branding & corporate branding exist in symbiosis”.
What you’ll learn by listening
- Human centric employee experience and authentic Employer Branding
- What is employer branding from a solopreneur’s perspective
- How employer branding & corporate branding exist in symbiosis
- How to do the work: defining your EVP
- Humanizing employer branding, key takeaways worth taking into account
- Candidate experience & providing feedback in the interviewing phase
- What is the employer brand iceberg?
- The importance of building a cohesive employee experience
- How can recruitment and employer branding meet halfway
About Drift Employer Brand Community
We support workplace culture for human beings: grounded in authentic representation, real inclusivity and designed to deliver value across all core drivers of the employee experience.
With nearly a decade of experience building employer brands, creating EVPs and designing employee experiences, we are ready to support you to create a workplace culture that is grounded in authentic representation, real inclusivity and designed to deliver value across all core drivers of the employee experience.
Podcast link – Enjoy listening on Spotify!
Podcast transcription – Employer Branding T.I.P S06Ep.1
Hi, everyone! This is Georgiana with a new episode of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. Today I’m talking to someone from Canada. Hello, Chelsea Howard. Nice meeting you and thank you for being with me today.
Hello, Georgiana. Thank you so much for having me.
I have to say that when I first found your profile on LinkedIn, well, first of all, I was attracted to the fact that you’re also an entrepreneur. And you’re also able to I don’t know if you’re a solopreneur or an entrepreneur, but you will tell us more about it in just a bit. And actually, Chelsea has her own, should I say agency, a little consultancy agency.
Yeat, consultancy agency works. Yeah.
That is called Drift Employer Brand Consulting. And she works as a workplace culture and employee experience strategist. And the reason why I invited Chelsea today was that so we can debate some of the some pieces of content that she has written recently that I have read and found really appealing and useful to our audience. But first of all, Chelsea, if there’s any other thing you would like to tell us about yourself, please. Once again, welcome!
Thanks again, so much. And you really nailed it. You gave me a great intro there. So I am a solopreneur. I spent about 10 years in corporate HR strategy. Way back I actually launched my career in marketing, but moved really quickly into kind of the HR marketing space. I spent like a decade in employee experience and employer branding as an in house person on corporate strategy teams. And I just have such a passion for the human centric employee experience and authentic Employer Branding. I always knew that this was something that I wanted to do on my own for clients. And just, I think I’m about to celebrate my one year birthday at Drift, on September 9. And I couldn’t have predicted how well it’s taken off. I work with clients from a range of industries to establish employer brands, but also so much more than that: end to end EVP, activations culture work, all that kind of thing. It’s my passion to to do this work.
But you know, the passion project that kind of fuels the other side of my of my consultancy is the content that we’re going to be talking about today. And so, what I’ve been working to do in tandem with my consultancy is to establish a little bit more of an organic community of practice around Employer Branding. Because at least here, in Canada, I feel like there’s a real lack of that hardcore, market-driven insight. And like you said, like the healthy debate that goes around these key principles that are influencing the way that we attract and retain talent. So I feel like when I was inside organizations, I was always looking for that insight. So now I tried to produce it to help other people.
It’s not a problem because I have one for two weeks. I’m also petsitting. This is actually all wonderful because as I was telling you, I feel that we’re lacking the healthy debate. I had been in Berlin for about four years now. And I have to tell you that at least where I am activating in a circle of experts, not much was happening a few years ago, but now more and more people are doing things. And they’re organizing events once again, and they’re going to conferences, so I feel that there’s a lot we can talk about. I’ve been meaning to ask you what is Employer Branding, according to Chelsea? What is it according to recruiters, and how do CEOs perceive employer brand?
Okay, so for me, I have a very specific definition of employer branding that I work with, as I think most consultants should in my position. It’s really important to have a defined view. But I also like to recognize that there’s no one white right way to do this. I mean, it’s still such a burgeoning discipline. There are lots of definitions that exist and that work for organizations. I have had a lot of success, viewing and strategizing the employer brand as a creative identity that functions as a lense on your corporate brand that is targeted for talent, attraction and retention. So, this definition for me has come out of 10 years of trying to position this in a way that people will understand and not react in a certain way to typically the biggest objection that you hear about Employer Branding, when you go inside an organization is from the marketing or the communications or those external facing teams that are worried that it will dilute the corporate brand image. But for me, the employer brand and the corporate brand exists in symbiosis.
And while the employer brand may not look or feel or sound exactly like the corporate brand, it shouldn’t, because you’re trying to attract a completely different audience for a completely different reason. So why would it sound the same as the overall corporate brand, even though it doesn’t look or sound exactly the same? It is a lens on the brand, it is inspired by your overall brand, it’s just targeted for a different audience that’s looking for different things from your company. I actually published a blog post on this on my Medium fairly recently, and it went kind of viral on LinkedIn. It was just my description of kind of the relationship and the in-situ employer brand, where is it in the in the organization. And the way I describe it is kind of like a brand house almost. So your corporate brand sits on top, and the function of the corporate brand is to amplify certain messages to your consumers. So they will buy the product service or solution that you’re selling. The employer brand actually extends past all of those consumer impact groups; like you know, your customer-focusd people, your innovation people, the people who are developing the new products or services and solutions, the employer brand extends past those groups is relevant to them. But it’s also relevant to all of the other groups within your organization, because you’re actually marketing your company as a place to come and work. So the objective is different.
The way that you convey the ethos of your company shouldn’t waver between the corporate brand and the employer brand. It’s just the creative identity you use to communicate it. So that’s how I see Employer Branding, I think for recruitment teams. Typically, they see employer branding as the suite of tools, platforms and resources that they have to cast as wide a net as they need to get the talent. So they probably think of it more as a recruitment marketing strategy, as opposed to employer branding. So they see it as my license to LinkedIn, and the social content I get to produce and you know, how I get to share? You know, I like cool stuff that the organization is doing to attract new candidates. And all of that is part of the employer brand strategy, but it’s not the employer brand itself.
And I think CEOs and executives see it as your employer reputation. So that Glassdoor ranking or that comparatively ranking or the social sentiment or Share of Voice, the buzz that’s generated around who you are as an employer in the industry, I think that if that’s strong, and that’s good, a lot of C suite executives equate that to having a really great employer brand. But really, that could just be like people, it could be any number of factors, right, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong employer brand if you’re a sought after employer. So um, like I said, I think to sum up, there’s a lot of different ways of seeing it. I feel that executives and C suite executives are typically preoccupied with how we are looking in comparison to our competitors, and how we are coming out in this new labor market. And what people are saying and what people are thinking and how this is probably impacting the corporate brand image. I think that they see the employer brand is kind of living in that space. Recruiters are more on the tactical side. And I think where employer brand actually sits is that guiding force, that guiding creative identity that influences that consistent presence and how you show up on your on your branded platforms.
Absolutely. I agree. 100%. And since we’re speaking about these basic definitions, of course, I couldn’t have not mentioned the employee value proposition. And I’m not willing to define it at the moment. I’m wondering how many of your clients really allocate resources to define and get into putting it in writing somewhere in the company where everyone can see it, and then act on it?
I have several of my clients now that have what they consider to be. Because that’s what it is, right? It’s what your organization considers to be your employee value proposition. And that can show up in a number of different ways. I would say the minority of clients and companies allocate resources to actually doing the work to define an EVP. And I think it’d be easier easier for me to explain this if I just if I give you My definition of it which is so so the way that I approach it the way the drift methodology is to assume that your EVP already exists within your organization, we just have to uncover it. So there’s an intensive for me when I work with it with clients.
There’s an intensive research process. There’s competitive and labor market insight. There’s employee focused groups, there’s one on one interviews with leaders, there’s the mining of all of our data, and then that informs, you know, themes that we then calibrate that then become the pillars that then that we then iterate on. And it’s this whole process to establish this strategic framework that has two main purposes when it comes to actually applying it to strategy. So once you do all of the work, and you find what your EVP is, you can use it as your guide post or your north star to influence a consistently applied employee experience, which is extremely important by using like a calibration method to look at all of the different points within your employee experience.
And it also serves to inform it’s like the unifying idea, the unifying concept for your employer brand. So I’m actually fortunate enough this year to be taking a client right from end to end, we started from Ground Zero, even though he has just been in the can, we’re moving into the the graphic design, it’s an incredibly rewarding, exciting process, when everybody’s on the same page in the organization. And you can start to see your culture come to life through these beautiful words and images, and you can see it to start to resonate. And then you can see it actually come to life in your strategy. I would say that most organizations don’t have a bucket of budget right now for EVP. Because there’s a number of reasons, sometimes it just doesn’t exist. Sometimes it’s felt that it’s not needed, we have what we need in terms of our culture framework, we don’t need to go back and do this exercise.
All of that is fine. But what I have found is that the EVP is an incredibly valuable tool, when it just comes to defining your strategy and understanding how you show up and communicating your culture and providing that framework for your employer brand. So everything you do in this career space for your talent, looks and feels and sounds consistent and meaningful in the same ways. So that’s kind of how I see EVP. I think more and more and more organizations are allocating budget and funding. However, I will say that I experienced a good deal of trepidation in companies, especially larger companies to go out and ask their employees, what the hell is actually going on here. And I think it’s, it’s a little bit of fear, for sure. And which is understandable, you know, like tough times, you know, things are changing, people are burnt out, you don’t necessarily want to hear those things. But we have to hear those things, we have to face the hard truths in order to span the gaps and deliver an EVP or a culture framework that’s actually going to deliver your employees what they need, so they can propel your business forward. So that’s kind of my crash course my like, elevator pitch for EVP. Slightly better than an elevator pitch.
I agree. 100%. Although you might not like what you’re going to read, if you ask them what they feel is the EVP it’s very, very helpful.
Just take your ego out of it. You know, like, you love this company. You’ve worked for this company for 25 years, you think it’s the best. Great! Chances are it’s a great company, even though it’s not perfect.
And then you have founder syndrome and then it’s just like this deep personal insult if anybody doesn’t like what you’re doing. So there’s a lot of that humanity to wade through in order to get to like you it would be wonderful if we could just put all our science hats on or our experimenters science brands and say, Oh, this is just, we can approach this in a dispassionate way. But that’s not how human beings are.
And which brings me actually to the next question, or the next topic, if I can call it this way. Humanizing the company’s employer brand, you do have a few posts on this topics. And I’m wondering if you were to just sum it all up into three main things, three main takeaways. What would they be?
Humanizing is an interesting concept, right? And I get a lot I get some flack for like, what is it even you know, it sounds a little bit
Sorry for interrupting. It’s the second time that I’ve read about it during the past two weeks. I know someone else is actually giving talks, Ted Talks on humanizing brands. He said, Okay, this is interesting. It’s become something in itself contrasting.
I have a bias for implementation, right. So I don’t like to talk about anything conceptually, unless I can give advice on how it can actually come to life and how you can see it. So a lot of my posts, if you go to the Instagram or the LinkedIn page, they’re very tactical, like five ways you can add more humanity to your employer brand, or I have a series that performs really, really well. When I say, on your career site instead of blank, say this. So it’d be like, on your career site instead of we’re a leader in innovation. Like what can you say that’s more human? So what I boil it down to honestly, if you’re looking to humanize your brand, and humanize your tone, starting with just the way that you communicate about it.
I typically advise to go onto your career site or wherever there’s external facing talent messaging, and look at those key EVP messages like we’re innovation focused, or we’re driving the future, or you can grow and learn here and all of those different things. We are inclusive. All of those different things that that companies say that are great sentiments, but they’re so overused now that they just don’t mean anything. So yes, of course, inclusion is important to your strategy. But what does that actually mean? So I challenge people in facilitated collaboration sessions, and you know, even just in consults, to rewrite as if they were talking to a friend or a close colleague, these statements in their own voice, and then they will see the difference between what is a corporate tone and what is a human tone. Now, the advice is not to rewrite all of your career site as if you were texting it to a friend, it’s just to look at the different ways that we communicate when we’re talking to someone in a personal warmth, way, a one on one way, a human way.
So for humanizing brands, I think that corporate brands kind of caught on a while ago, you heard the concept of like selling lifestyles, you can see the way that the humanity is kind of infused these big corporate marketing campaigns in a lot of senses, some sectors, that just industries, it just doesn’t make sense. But it always makes sense to humanize your employer brand, it always makes sense to look at the life that you’re selling as part of this company, and encapsulate that as part of your your messaging and part of your creative. So for me, the three kind of tenants of humanizing your employer brand is number one, the voice that you write in and the voice that you use. Are you are you talking corporate speak? Are you using jargon and buzzwords? Are you saying things that are only really relevant to your internal culture, I struggled with this in finance, they wanted to use all of their own acronyms, and they didn’t want to budge. But it doesn’t make sense. You have to talk to somebody on a level that they’re going to, you know, that’s going to resonate with them.
So tone of voice and the way you express yourself is huge and humanization. empowerment of employee voices, I think talent advocacy, including that as a pillar of your employer brand strategy, so enabling your employees and leaders to be advocates for your employer brand, you would think this would be a no brainer, but it’s so so many organizations, there’s a very risk averse attitude to allowing your employees to advocate for you in social and digital spaces and giving them the tools that they need to amplify brand messages and use their own kind of lived experience at your company to advocate huge, huge driver of high quality hires, and, you know, adding like that organic human element to your employer brand. But a lot of companies are just kind of worried, I guess what their employees will say employees are worried what they are and aren’t allowed to share. So it’s a big area of opportunity. And then I mean, we hear the word authenticity, all the time. So I don’t think that that means too much anymore. For me, authenticity is just just be honest, you know, just be honest.
They use authentic for everything. If everything is authentic, nothing is authentic, right. So like, authentic is just just be honest, like if you have a driven culture of high performance bias for delivery, you know, but you’re working on these game changing tech initiatives. But you know, your employees, some weeks they don’t get too much sleep like you. That’s just the way it is. You have to say that that’s the way it is. You can’t say that you have a flexible work environment and include inclusive work environment, if your company is like Tesla. It’s just like, it’s like and people will know and you’ll attract the wrong type of people that people who are looking for an environment that’s completely different than yours, and they’ll leave you. So don’t try to be what you’re not. There’s some there’s a concept called Chateau culture, I think, theoretically, I can see was Gerard Egan, but like, don’t quote me on that.
And it might have been in like the 90s. But I did a big deep dive into workplace culture, all of the different theories that they’ve come up with of different types of culture and how to understand culture. And I just wanted to like understand it, so I did a deep dive into it a little while ago. Anyway, he came up with this, this idea called Shadow culture, every organization has their culture culture that they like to talk about. And then they have their sub cultures or their shadow cultures that they like to deny. But the true empowerment is when an organization can recognize and own its shadow culture span the gaps, obviously, you know, we can’t have anything that’s, you know, unethical or harmful for people happening. But if there is a shadow culture that performs and produces and people, the people within that shadow culture in your organization, appreciate it for what it is own the shadow culture, own the nooks and crannies and like the dark elements of your culture, bring them to the surface, find out how to polish them up and make them meaningful, and then market them authentically. You know, it’s not bad to have a culture that is maybe against the mainstream understanding right now of what we think a good culture is, you just have to be honest about what it is. So you can attract the people who are looking to work in a culture like that one.
Chelsea, good to see you for the second half of this podcast that we enjoyed so much. We had to cut.
Yeah, absolutely. It was just too good.
It was it was a good conversation. And before I, before we spoke for the first time, I took a look at all the amazing content that you posted on LinkedIn. And one of the images that really attracted my attention was that of the employer brand iceberg, where I think you really point out some very valuable things that I would like you to maybe expand underwater, you have the VP at the very end. And then at the very top of the iceberg, you have the you know, you have recruitment marketing activities, which are my favorite ones as I am a marketer. How did you come up with a with this idea? And can you can you maybe expand a little bit.
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know if I mentioned this the last time. I’ve just recently discovered this about myself that I am a kinetic learner. I used to say I was a visual learner. But I actually learned things by doing. So I have to whenever I’m learning, like, say I’m learning a new dance step, I have to actually someone has to take my body and move me in the way and then I’m like, Oh, I get it, I have to like go through the process of modeling something oftentimes to really wrap my head around it. So that’s why I love creating these models and bringing in real world concepts like the iceberg that has been used very widely to describe this type of concept where there’s a lot happening under the surface, and all you get to see is what’s happening on top. The whole philosophy of the iceberg, if you will. So yeah, so this, this graphic kind of came to me in the way that most do where I was just kind of fiddling, sitting around and noodling on, how can I really represent all of the different elements that contribute to an employer brand.
And there’s various different ways that this has been represented, as you know, an ecosystem or a system of, you know, interacting parts. But, you know, in this moment, I think it was around 10 months ago, though, that I created this graphic, I was really thinking about it in terms of okay, what are the, you know, what are the things that are kind of churning below the surface that are fueling the employer brand, and what does, you know, the external kind of talent marketplace get to see. So, you’ll see on the graphic, I have, you know, the two parts labeled, so we have the above the surface or the above the lion piece, where this sort of top of your, your iceberg is showing, and then we have the below the surface. So I’ll start with the below the surface pieces. So the water itself, is the organizational culture, because that is a critical component in employer branding. But in my view, I don’t necessarily see these things. As you know, I don’t see necessarily the employer brand as impacting organizational culture. But I do see organizational culture impact impacting employer brand in that it’s the environment, that where everybody works and interacts and the environment in which you do business.
That gives rise to whatever your employee experience is going to be right like, the workplace culture, in effect does dictate a huge portion of the employee experience. So we think The organizational culture as the as the ocean that the iceberg is kind of sitting and swimming in. And then there are two big components of the iceberg that sit under the water inside your organizational culture, which are the employee experience and the employee value proposition. And these are the things that form the foundation that gives rise to the creative identity and the thoughts and all of the different strategies and tactics that then take shape externally as your employer brand. But just sticking with the below the surface pieces for a couple more seconds. Interestingly enough, the I feel that the employee value proposition and the employee experience have a bit of a chicken in the egg situation going on in the debates around you know what, what comes first, you need an EVP to inform experience or does your employee experience shape your EVP? And I think it’s, I think the answer to that is yes. That could be true. I’ve worked with clients from different organizations where they have a really strong kind of cultural ethos and a very defined employee experience that everybody buys into. And that functions as their employee value proposition.
And they can move forward confidently with an employer brand, because they have, you know, such a structured culture internally that you know, everybody is working to sustain for other organizations, larger organizations, multifaceted organizations, organizations that are new, or products of mergers and acquisitions, all of these different types of situations, I see the employee value proposition as a really valuable tool going through the process of employee listening and discovering what that EVP is, can really kind of capture and provide a structure and a framework for implementing a consistent employee experience. So I think it’s best to have you know, you have your your defined kind of employee experience, what you want people to see, think, feel and believe about your organization, and you have your guiding light, or your North Star, whatever you want to call it, the employee value proposition that provides that framework and that structure for fueling your employee experience. And all of this exists within the ocean of your organizational culture and all of its various sub cultures. So that’s kind of a descriptor of my thought of the below the surface peak. I’ll pause there for a second because I just talked for a long time, have any reaction?
I’m really happy that I asked this question. I’m happy that you answered it. And it’s interesting for me in in a way that you put things this way. Because a while ago, I wrote this post on on LinkedIn that got me quite a bit of backlash. about it. People get offended.
I know. I love that kind of healthy debate. It’s just Yeah, it was so interesting to say to see how people are attached to their ideas. But yeah, go on.
And it was basically about the fact that I had stated that using fancy billboards or, you know, recruitment, marketing, billboards to that end is not employer branding. And then I had a lot of replies from people telling me why is it not Employer Branding? How can you write this so click batey. And I didn’t get a chance to maybe really explain myself and saying that I come from a place – Romania is this place – where most managers allocate budgets for a few activities in recruitment marketing. And then they call them employer branding. And to me, working with these managers and with these leaders, it becomes so frustrating and having to explain to them every time that this is not how things work. And it’s amazing to have your billboard. Go ahead, go for it. Yes, it’s fine. But underneath everything so hollow and everything. I’m glad we’re on the same page.
Exactly. I know it’s all related, right. I do get into debates occasionally on my content and for making bold statements such as you made it. I mean, obviously, you’re not trying to throw shade on organizations for having nice billboards. Like that’s not the point. I actually just did a post this morning. And I had a similar situation where I was involved in a bit of a back and forth last week around this. And it is to the point that you need those foundational elements; you need to engage in the employee listening at the outset. You can’t just package up a shiny, polished, beautiful message of What You Wish your culture was, and then we sell it to candidates as if it’s the truth. If it’s not, it’s okay if your culture we this is where we left off the last time, it’s okay, if your culture has some shadow sides, you need to be authentic about it and saying that we have a tight employer brand strategy and an amazing employer brand. If you have no idea if it’s actually authentic to the experience of the candidates, once they get into your organization, then, you know, I highly suspect that, you know, if an organization is engaging in this type of very polished, streamlined marketing image without having those foundational pieces, they’re going to have serious retention issues and burnout.
Exactly, exactly. And this happens so many times, this happens a lot. And it happens also in Berlin. I see it happening, maybe a little less than in Romania. But what I see a lot we’re where I’m from, is that they hire these very expensive marketing agencies. We’re also a marketing agency, and we also have recruitment marketing projects. But these agencies were to whom they pay 50 – 60,000 EUR to have this amazing outdoor campaign and online campaign. And at the same time, it’s so few times based on what the employer brand of the company really is. I found it unfair.
The other thing, too, is this is the plight of employer branding is so often inside organizations, I think, folks, marketing teams, whatever the the people who are in charge of the in house, oversight of the employer brand, want to treat it, like branding, right? Like the consumer facing brand. But it doesn’t get the same point, it doesn’t get the same resources, it doesn’t get the same consideration, like what you just described, right?
And then imagine what you could make what you could do with that money by hiring someone to manage employer branding in house with the same money.
Absolutely. And you can make the side by side comparison and say, Okay, we have $100,000. And we’re going to try to attract this new consumer segments for this new product that we’re marketing. You’re going to do the market research. Any any firm would not just go blind into a new consumer segment and try to market to them based on I don’t know what they pulled out of the air. However, so often, you see the same practice being enacted for employer branding with no employee or candidate research. So how are them? How does that make sense? So I think we’re both saying the same thing is that below the surface in forming an employer brand that is, you know, impactful and does what you need it to do is a cohesive employee experience and employee value proposition.
And however you choose to go through that process in your organization, whether or not you choose to call it the EVP or the employee experience, as long as you have those strategic components in place, and you have an understanding of how your employees view your culture. That’s the fundamental piece of creating an employer brand that actually does what you need it to do. And then if we go to the top of the iceberg, we have all of these different, you know, components, tactics, tactics, essentially. So I see kind of the sky, the ocean is the culture, the sky is the external talent marketplace or the labor force, or however you want to term that that’s where you’re you really employer brand into the wilds to do what it will. And then there are different components that you can control that are sitting on the iceberg. So the iceberg is all of like, I see it as all of the controllable factors that you could go up with your little ice pick and chip away at or you know, like, form and create the talent marketplace and the organizational culture.
They’re much Wilder and a little bit more nebulous. But all of these things on the on the iceberg you can control. So your employer reputation, a lot of that is a function of how people see you and the history of your company, and all of that kind of thing. But you can look at different platforms now to kind of steer your organizational reputation in a way that you want to using the authentic insights and experiences of your, of your employees. As well as improving and streamlining and creating cohesion within your organization. It just enhances your employer reputation over time.
The other part kind of closer to that surface line where we’re getting a little bit closer down to the ESX. And the ebp pieces is your employer brand strategy. So that should really be born out of, you know, the EVP work that you’ve done. And you should always have a strategy of how you’re going to engage in what you’re going to say. You should have a diversified mix of platforms that you that you interact with, within a specific network that you kind of play in, and then it should be very deliberate, I think and you should extend your strategy and plan for coming years and coming talent pools and new hiring forecasts under the umbrella of your employer brand strategy. And then the the strategy gives rise to your recruitment marketing tactics which sit right at the very top. And that’s how you interact with the talent marketplace. It’s how you take your EVP and your employee experience, and you make it meaningful out in the external labor force. So this is a it’s a pretty basic model.
And yet a very thorough depiction of the process. And I think it’s really worth printing out. In terms of how it should be done, don’t just jump to the middle or to the very top, just take a look at this tiny, tiny look.
If you are going to jump to the middle, or the wherever, at least be aware that these are other things that are going to come up along the way. Like if you decide to just focus on recruitment marketing, for instance, just be aware that you’re going to have issues in the onboarding process with, you know, just continuities between what you told people and what they’re experiencing now, and that’s going to impact your employer reputation. So you’ll probably have to do some reputation management, and then that’s going to impact the way that people you know, it’s, it’s it is very much an ecosystem as well as an iceberg, I think. And it’s just finding ways to get it across to people that there are, it’s multifactorial, it’s not just a billboard, it’s not just a strategy on days of paper, if no one thing it’s like, like a brand on the consumer side, it’s a host of influencing factors that you need to sustain and manage in order to a, you know, cultivate the culture that you want, and sustain the culture that you want and be create the workforce that you want by attracting the right people in now.
That’s right. And speaking of speaking of retaining and attracting people, I have two three more questions, which actually relate to this field. I told you that I applied for many jobs. Recently, I got one of them with an organization whose hiring process was extremely smooth, and with whom I felt a connection from the very beginning when I spoke to their first point of contact – the talent acquisition person. But otherwise, I applied to, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight companies. It’s not a lot. And I got lucky and very fast. I know people who apply for jobs here in Berlin and a German market as expats and they struggled nine or 10 months before they find a job. I was super lucky.
But I wanted to see what it’s like; because I hadn’t applied for a job properly in years. And I wanted to see the kind of responses I would get, the kind of typical replies that an employee gets. And I have to say that maybe out of five or six applications, I only received one negative reply with consistent feedback. And I replied back to that talent acquisition person and told them this is very helpful. I’m going to put this into practice, which I did afterwards, applying for the company that I will work for. I was wondering, what has your experience been with candidate experience your personal experience applying for jobs? What type of answers do you normally reply? Because it was so I don’t know how to put it discouraging and so blunt. Sometimes you get those typical replies in German most of the times, and I really feel like typing back my answer and asking, why not why candidate because I’m not speaking German proficiently?
What is it? Give me the feedback. We’ll never know exactly. And it’s not helpful, that’s not helpful to anybody? No, I think that the candidate experience is a huge area of opportunity for almost all organizations. I’ve coached quite a few people, friends and family members, and also a couple of clients through the job hunt process just this past year, you know, from start to finish. 100% of the time across all industries I mean, you know, you’re in this employer brand HR industry, I’ve had a client that I’ve coached in like the telecom fiber design space. I’ve had a client that I’ve coached in the web development space. I’m currently talking and working with somebody who’s applying for jobs in major hospitals. It is all the same. We don’t like a demoralizing experience because you will go in sometimes for a panel interview and you’ll get a one line response.
You weren’t selected maybe three, four or five weeks later. That’s the experience I had to with major companies that you wouldn’t expect. You know, you do two or three interviews with different people and then you wait for two months and they tell then you get an email when you’ve forgotten about it. Oh, we went with another candidate, you’re like, Oh, gee, really like I was holding my breath. You know, like, it’s just and I don’t I don’t think I don’t point blame on these organizations, I think when you’re hiring on mass, it can be very, very difficult to maintain a level of personalization. But I certainly don’t think there’s any excuse for smaller companies to engage in this type of behavior. And what’s really encouraging, I will say, is the host of new tools and technologies and platforms that are coming out that are designed, it’s a great combination, I think of embedding like human centric innovation, or the human voice of digital, I guess, as we put it. And what I’m referring to are these kinds of like video interviewing platforms, I was actually just asked to give some feedback on one recently, where it’s you click into a job description.
And you immediately have, you know, three videos of three different people in the company, someone who actually works in the role a leader of the role, a hiring manager, saying, hey, person, this is what I do, immediately a more human experience. And maybe it’s not a one to one, but you can get that realistic job, but you get a better feeling. Right, exactly. And then, you know, it continues on these types of technologies and platforms. And you know, new, more, much more accessible and self service applicant tracking systems and HR systems, allow for that easier kind of higher touch approach. When you’re dealing with candidates and allow people to customize, you can customize, if you’re dealing with 100 candidates a month, and you’re rejecting 500 candidates a month, I understand you can’t customize, but you can make it feel personal. You can write empathetically, you can connect on a human level.
And you can provide basic feedback, especially if you’ve gone through an interview stage, you know, if this is just your application wasn’t a fit at this time, sure, craft a nice empathetic template. But if someone has done, you know, invested the time to come in and speak with you, they deserve a little bit of feedback. They deserve that that’s investment for investment. That’s reciprocity. And I think more and more candidates are just getting fed up with that. And they will self select out of the process if they feel like they’re talking to exactly a robot that will frustratedI actually documented all of the steps and all of the emails because I feel like I’m going to write an article on the topic. There’s nothing new everyone is about this. Nowadays. We all know how recruitment is broken. But I just I got so frustrated. So so frustrated. Yeah. Because one one reply, just just one line. One line? Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s no copywriter that could have helped you to at least write two paragraphs?
And yet, the answer is no, they don’t. And and it’s not prioritized. And I really think that this is a function of deprioritizing this type of strategic work at the at the upper levels. Oftentimes this gets lumped in a lot of the times with employer brand. And sometimes the employer brand person will also be a recruiter, and also be a person who’s managing candidate experience. So it yes, it’s not given kind of the the credence that it should. And I always like to draw comparisons, and make kinds of connections with other functions of organizations that operate very similarly and have a very similar impact, but often get way more AirPlay at senior strategy tables and way more leadership investments.
And the piece I’m thinking about is the user experience. I mean, if you haven’t, if you have a platform, like say, a major bank, you know, is online with their mobile banking, they invest millions, millions of dollars every year and making a seamless user experience when they’re requiring new consumers. Yeah, when your customers are interacting with their platform. You know, it’s it’s customer centric, obviously. But I’m not suggesting that you then take the millions of dollars and put them into the candidate experience. What I’m saying is take some of that methodology in that focus.
Just the fraction, just take a little bit of the of the, of the thought process behind creating an agreeable and a seamless and a personalized user experience. Because there are people the people are buying your products people are applying to work for you, people, people, this group of customers doesn’t have radically different needs and is not less valuable. Then you’re the people that you’re applying for a job because chances are the people who are applying for a job are also going to buy your product and service. I know for a fact that the bank I worked at if you didn’t have an account with them, you were made to sign up for a checking account upon hire so they could deposit your your checks they’re not going to deposit paychecks into another Thinking accounts.
So by that fact alone, they’re making probably a pretty significant portion of their revenue is just coming from New Account signups from their new hires every year. So why would you not treat them with the same consideration? Why would they go to your banking platform and have this lovely, seamless, humanized experience? And then try to apply for a job with you and they get robot responses, if any at all? You know, that’s not, that’s not continuous. That’s not if you’re a purpose driven organization. That’s not purpose driven. You know, it’s about leveling the playing field in a certain sense, and people are applying for your jobs, and people are buying your products and services. So let’s take trout centric approach, right?
That also reminds me of someone who told me two weeks ago, or maybe I saw it on LinkedIn, how they got the reply, for a job that they applied for in 2019. And they had gotten a call. And I found it funny.
Wait what? Really? Unbelievable. But it needs the time and attention that we give to consumer facing marketing, we just do I know that’s a pipe dream, it’s never gonna happen to dedicate the same amount of attention to non revenue generating roles. I mean, there probably are some companies that are doing that. But most of the big ones never will. But just a fraction of the time and attention that you give to thinking about the experience of your customers. Give that to thinking about the experience of your talent and your employees. It seems so simple, right? But it’s not.
And to be honest with you, this was one of the criteria that was most that were most important to me when I decided to apply for jobs. And the reason why I decided to apply for this company I was telling you about was that I am basically their second hired person in Berlin. And the first one was the tech recruiter. And I, as a branding lead, I’m going to be the second one. So I’m going to have to work with this person in creating the hub.
And to me, it seems, of course, I don’t know if it’s going to happen the way I have it panned out and the way I imagined it. But it seemed to me that okay, I’m going to act as a support for this person, I’m going to have to meet them halfway and make their job easier in a way and then I come back to my to my initial question or to the question I hadn’t get, hadn’t yet asked, How can we meet recruitment halfway? We have branding managers, how do we make their job easier?
Yeah, so this is a great question, because you do support the recruiter team quite often. But that’s not all you do. And I think, oftentimes, it’s misconstrued the role of employer brand is being solely dedicated as a support service to the recruitment team. And I think oftentimes, as an employer brand person, you find yourself in a position of feeling like you are reporting into the recruitment team, and whenever they need you, you just kind of run to put out you know, whatever fire develop a strategy for whatever hiring demographic they’re having trouble with today, you know, like that’s, that shouldn’t be the reactive role. So it’s really important to establish boundaries at the at the outset of your relationship with the recruitment team and the marketing team.
Stepping into the role and saying, This is legitimate employer brand is its own discipline. It’s a strategic discipline that is essential to the success of our overall talent strategy. No one part of it is more important than the other. And I am here to be the strategic steward or guide, you know, and I will work with different stakeholder groups. So kind of stepping into that role and understanding that that is who you are, you’re not, you know, a messenger person for the brand team. You’re not a gofer for the recruitment team. You’re the employer brand strategist. And in turn, understanding the needs of the recruitment team and understanding what their expectations and boundaries are, what is the typical year look like for you in terms of recruitment, exchanging strategies and hiring forecast information at a regular basis to understand where the needs are and keeping in contact and constant communication after that initial boundary has been set is super important, I think in meeting each other halfway, because what they need to understand about your role is that you have an ocean of strategy to deal with from the candidate experience to the way that the company is perceived in the external market to all of the different talent demographics that you have to support for to EVP and employee experience work.
And what you need to understand about them is that they are under the gun for multiple different hiring managers to make these hires fast and their job depends on it. So they need oftentimes resources and creativity that they lean on you for. So if you can establish that relationship at the beginning, your two strategic centers kind of leaning on each other for support when you need it, then it’s it’s, you know, it just sets up the relationship in, I think, a healthier way for like long term success. And then, you know, talent acquisition is a great data source for employer brand strategy, just, you know, employer brand strategy is a great creative resource for recruitment, there is a very symbiotic relationship. But because of the pressure that recruitment teams are under typically to deliver headcount and to deliver results, I think, and, you know, the focus that gets put on recruitment teams, when things aren’t going well, by HR leadership.
Yeah, I think that it let it it pushes the relationship between employer brand and recruitment into this strange space a lot, a lot of the times and I think having like a strong boundaried relationship, and like a mutual respect for each other’s disciplines, and frequent kind of stakeholder calls, I would say as as often as monthly, like you’re meeting with your recruitment partners, that’s what I used to do. When I was at the bank, I was very useful. I had a monthly meeting a monthly standing hour long meeting and whether we had anything to talk about or not, we would hold that time. And, you know, if there was nothing to talk about immediately, it would be like, Okay, what do you have coming up? Give me some anticipations? What are your theories? What’s going to be hard next one, and we just stayed in touch with each other. And even that, oftentimes, you know, wasn’t enough to offset that tremendous pressure that recruitment teams are under. But it does give you that little bit more of a grounding, I think in a mutual respect and relationship that you can, that you can work from when tufts when tough stuff comes up, as it often does.
Exactly. That’s for sure. There is a lot to fix when it comes to recruitment. But I’m wondering if leadership is at fault, for a great deal of what’s happening? Isn’t the lack of prioritization, the lack of resources?
Yeah, yeah. I think, yeah, I don’t know, like at fault is, is harsh for me to say, I think I have, I tend to kind of lean towards, you know, these are systems and structures that were in place when these leaders came into the company. And I do think that there was a certain amount of privilege at the upper levels, typically, when somebody is in an executive role, and they’re out of touch with the day to day of what’s going on, it can be very difficult to communicate with them on a level where you feel like they’re understanding what they’re asking of you a lot of the time. And I do think that there is a certain amount of HR leadership in play when it comes to that that tense relationship that sometimes emerges with the employer brand and the recruitment team. And the idea that the employer brand function is there to serve recruitment and to deliver results for our business partners and to make help us make those hires in a speedy way. Like, those are ideas that are perpetuated from the top, and I find it’s even What’s even more detrimental, I would say is a lack of awareness, the wrong awareness is less detrimental.
I think that a lack of awareness, because if they have an eye a perception or an idea, or an opinion of what Employer Branding is, you can kind of start from there. But a lot of times, I think what actually drives a lot of the confusion and conflict is just a sweeping lack of awareness at the upper levels of what Employer Branding is, I can’t tell you how many times I got called a social media guru, when I was called in to do a presentation to a table of executives, like, this is Chelsea, she’s great with social media, and she does all our fun ads on social. It’s like, that’s not what I do. You know, and you should know that because I’ve been working for you for three years. So I think it’s that on maybe like, in some cases, it’s an unwillingness to want to branch out into that space. Maybe it’s a resistance to the idea that this is something that’s valuable and something we need to invest our time in, I think there’s still a fair amount of that old guard mentality, like people should just feel lucky to work for us.
So why do I even need to invest in this stuff? I that still exists, it’s and it’s exists a lot like it’s still very, very prominent, that mentality. And I think that all of those things combined basically like the entrenched culture and change resistance around this space of, you know, kind of being more active and more strategic and intentional about the way that we represent ourselves to candidates and the way we treat them. If that’s not valued, if that’s not seen to be of strategic value, but you’re a person who thought Little job is to work in that space, you’re going to have an uphill battle no matter what. So to answer the question, yeah, there isn’t a leadership role to play in creating, you know, a harmonious system, where all of the different teams that have influence on the employer brand can, you know, have a voice and feel that that’s valued for sure.
Exactly. And I also feel like in the, in the past, I don’t know, two, three years, things have changed dramatically. I don’t know, if it’s because many people such as you, or James Ellis, for example, a lot of education, sent a lot of newsletters and put a lot of useful content out there. But it seems to me that people are learning that more and more Employer Branding roles are being opened, which is a good sign.
Good. Absolutely a good sign. And I think that, yes, James Ellis is great. The talent brand Alliance does awesome stuff, there’s a huge passionate community of folks like yourself. Employer branders, the world over this discipline has emerged, and the people who believe in it, really believe in it. And I would say most of my content reaches primarily employer branders. That’s primarily in reaction to this podcast. But there is a there isn’t a demographic that is paying attention as well, in just the kind of the generalized HR strategy space. And occasionally, you’ll see a Chief People Officer weigh in, and then, you know, in HR business partners, like I was just doing this. So there is a swirling dialogue going on. And we are moving the needle, like anything, right? It’s just going to happen slowly.
I think it’s going to happen the way it happened with content marketing, like 1012 years ago, yeah, I have a feeling it’s about the same sort of dynamic and, and wave that slowly building up. And I think we’ll be seeing very dramatic changes.
Seeing some of the employer brand commercials, like bolt is a company out of the UK, I think may know, actually, if we know, both, so I was just watching their employer brand spot that they produced. And it’s very, it’s awesome. It’s like this high tech production value thing where they’re going around their space, and they’re talking about all of the incredible innovations, I think they’re like, electric car sharing something like that. They’re trying to make transportation.
Uber, Lyft. Here in Germany, it’s like Uber.
I love the way here’s what I’ll say I loved about Bolt is that they managed to produce a very high quality production value spot and be authentic. They use their they obviously had a lot of, you know, great camera work. And the shots were set up. And it was clearly a big production. But then they had this moment where they panned over because they’re going to like different employee groups. And then someone will talk and in one line kind of sum up what they do. And they pan over to their I think it’s their their developer team, or maybe their cybersecurity team. And it’s just a bunch of people like kind of looking like ninjas just like sitting on their computers. And then he went, he whispers, he’s like, this is what they do. And one of them looks up and they’re like, like that.
And that’s like, Okay, we’ll leave them alone. And then they go over here. And I’m like, You know what, that is great. Because that shows that they work hard. And that’s the culture of their their team, their heads down. They’re solving problems. They’re zoned in, but they’re still part of this culture. So you have no illusions about what it’s like joining the web development camp. Oh, exactly. team over here that have to watch that one. But they managed to do it in a way that was humorous and light and fun. And in the context, you can see, yeah, that team probably worked hard. And they probably work long hours, but they’re a part of this incredible vision. Like I just thought that that was such a cool way to embed authenticity. And also this this like high energy very attractive kind of EVP to a certain demographic, like, I wouldn’t touch a job like that with a 10 foot pole. I don’t want to work on it, like, but there are lots of people who do that’s like their dream to work on a team like that. So I got really excited about that one. And to your point, I do think we’re seeing a bit of a groundswell of more of this activity.
And hopefully over the next like 510 years, it’s going to blow up and, you know, the, that will there’ll be like continually because I remember I don’t know if you remember the GE commercials, the employer brand My mother makes planes that talk to the sky or something like that. Yeah, check out the GE one because that came out like 10 years ago and that was the one to beat for like 10 years. I can’t tell you how many employer brand best in class presentations I saw was like in GE I’m like, guys, they did that 10 years ago. Can we can we can we Do not like, build. But it was it was really good. It still stands the test of time, I think. But yeah, I think more and more people are like hopping on this, this philosophical bandwagon that like, we can’t just do the bare minimum of a job posting anymore. We actually have to invest in this.
Indeed, indeed. But I hope to still be doing this podcast in five or 10 years time and then we can meet again.
Hopefully before that. Let’s check in five years.
This has been really fun. And I hope we can meet over a cup of coffee at some point. Yeah, I forget to Canada. I haven’t even been to the states in a long time.
coming up, so if I’m in your neck of the woods, I will look you up too. And we can please
Thank you, Chelsea.