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!
It’s #ThursdayPodcast once again! In the 3rd episode of #EmployerBranding: The Inside Podcast (season 6), we had an amazing opportunity to speak with Alex Her, talent brand leader and Global Employer Brand Manager at GoDaddy.
We talked about overcoming #challenges, #failure and why it matters to fail fast, #employeeadvocacy, and a lot more. We also spoke about TEAM, a new creative concept that proves to us that employer branding is no longer a nice to have, but a must-have.
What you’ll learn by listening
- Challenges in employer branding & how to overcome them
- How to fail fast & learn more mistakes to succeed in employer branding
- Overcoming naivete in employer branding: practitioners can’t make magic happen
- How implementing employee advocacy initiatives strengthen company culture
- Building relationships, the key to strengthening your employer brand as a bootstrapped company
- Transitioning from trend to reality: EB is here to stay!
- The TEAM concept: what it is & how does it work?
GoDaddy helps the world easily start, confidently grow, and successfully run an online presence. GoDaddy was born to give people an easy, affordable way to get their ideas online. Today, we have millions of customers around the world, but our goal hasn’t changed. We’re here to help people easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures – online and off!
Podcast link – Enjoy listening on Spotify!
Podcast transcription – Employer Branding T.I.P S06Ep.3
Hello, everyone. This is a new episode of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. I am happy to be presenting a super special guest today. His name is Alex Her is from the States again, in my opinion, one of the people who has a lot to say when it comes to employer branding. Alex does so many things at GoDaddy, but not only. He works with the Talent Brand Alliance. He is a global speaker and a storyteller. He covers many, many things when it comes to employer branding and talent acquisition. And I would like to let him introduce himself. Alex, thank you so much for talking to us today.
Yeah, Georgia. And thanks for having me. As you mentioned, Alex Her, based here in the States in Austin, Texas. I’m a world traveler though, but I love all things Employer Branding, I’ve had the great fortune of being in this space for about six years, working across multiple brands, right now Go Daddy, and I’m also a board member on the Talent Brand Alliance. But I’m leaving that position here at the end of the month. So if there’s anybody who listens to this, it’s an opportunity to join that fine group of individuals.
But I do also assist with the Employer Brandwagon, it is one of the founding leaders there who helps out with, you know, just any sort of efforts that they need for me or writing or videos with my partner in crime over there Elle Green. I enjoy being in the space and helping those who may be either struggling about the problems to get in or you know, those who are brand new, to educate them grow the space.
Exactly, or I don’t know sometimes, or even those of us like me, who are sort of at the intersection between recruitment marketing, digital marketing, and employer branding, and who have a lot to learn from people such as you. I spoke to James Ellis from the States. I spoke to some other very, very nice people who put a lot of educational content out there. But I’d like for us to start our discussion by focusing a little bit on your role with the Talent Brand Alliance.
And more specifically, I’m wondering whether in your role, you’ve encountered people or companies that were struggling about the same issues that people who are telling, you know, we’re not getting enough budget, people don’t really allow us to be a standalone function. People don’t give us enough importance. What has been your experience so far? And what do your colleagues mostly complain about when it comes to employer branding?
Yeah, I mean, basically, you can add all that to the list and a whole lot more. I think that’s one of the best things about the Talent Brand Alliance is that you have individuals where, you know, it’s a safe spot without, you know, giving specific situations way because it should be a safe spot. It’s talking through those different hurdles that everyone has. While we may have a fully functional team that is supported at GoDaddy, that’s not the case, right? I myself have been in situations with other companies were okay, hey, listen, you’re doing the work.
But are you getting the visibility that you want or that you should be getting? I think it’s come a long way in the last six years, but there are still people to this day, we’re okay. Hey, they’re doing a lot of scrappy work where they don’t have a budget, like they have to prove it’s, Hey, we want you to come in and do this. But you know what? No budget, you’re going to do it on your own, you have no team and you know, they TBA gives them the ability to go there and you know, just ideate with individuals, people who’ve done it for a long time, like myself, or people who’ve gone through like, you know, some of the different problems. We have mentors, mentees and just people who overall just just want to assist. But yeah, and then if you want to get to I mean, there’s other situations where we probably we don’t have enough time and the hours in the day to cover through all those things.
It’s really funny in a way for me and sad at the same time, because I’m always thinking that things are much, much better and much more developed in the States than they are in Europe. But I think we have problems at the same time, probably sometimes at different magnitudes.
I would say, you had a good conversation with a couple of practitioners recently. The employer brand started out in Europe. So it was coined back in the 1990s by Simon Barrow. However, from there, it’s much more mature, but then, you know, we, I guess Americans are probably like more risk adverse, you know, we’re gonna go out there and try some crazy things. But just because we do, that doesn’t mean we have all the budget. You’d be surprised there. Because I think everyone thinks, Okay, you gotta be a startup or like a very, very small company just above that, where you don’t have your employer branding down. There are very high end companies who do not have that down, either don’t care about it, or have a team and don’t care about giving them a budget. They don’t even have that built out. So it definitely varies from company to company, city to city, country to country. It all varies.
Probably, in the end, I don’t know, leadership to leadership. When you say company to company, but yeah, maybe we touch on.
Leadership too. I think that’s key, right? Leadership is cool, because they have to give you the ability to, because, you know, like, one of the things we talked about Employer Branding spaces where you, you know, like, we talked about EVPs, you and your tag lines really activating that, getting the message out there to recruit the people that you want. And that’s what we needed too. We have to have the ability to be creative, to be able to fail fast. Because if you can’t, you’re always like, Okay, this one idea has to land. You have to mess up to learn from those mistakes, and then go out there and try these different things. And if you’re not given the ability to do that by leadership, it’s tough if you’re not supported.
Exactly, exactly. Well, you have so much experience when it comes to employer branding. But you also started out just like everyone else, right, at some point. So I’m wondering, looking back, what would you say is the biggest mistake you made when you were just starting out?
Huh? Wow. Let’s look at the list of things that I would say. The biggest mistake is assuming that if you’re told by set leaders, that company that you can, you know, go in there and deliver on an EVP that it can happen. And that I think that we’re naive as employer brand practitioners, because we assume we can make magic happen, right? We’re idealists, we would like to have control. And we have to be that crazy to think it’s going to happen. So I was that crazy to think it was gonna happen.
And, you know, I felt I can go in, I could run everything from scratch, and make things happen, take some company that had a bad culture, take the good and the bad, deliver something. And what I found out right away was, you know, you can take if they if there are good values, a good foundation, people, you know, you have a strong culture to work with, you can then take that over and infuse that into the employer brand, your EVP and ultimately, your employer brand. But that was not the case. I fell flat on my face. And it’s something that I have learned and that’s the other stuff that goes into the team concept that I created earlier this year. But I don’t want to dive too much into that concept. That was my biggest mistake so far.
But do you also have a project that you’re super proud of? At the same time? There must be at least one.
Definitely. One of the aspects of employer branding that I’m very big on is employee advocacy. I had the opportunity to create a program from scratch as a team of one back in Informatica. So I was working with a, you know, across 27 countries like 5000 employees, and it was me working to harness you know, just harness these relationships with state coal orders from across every country like every department and get them to join a talent attraction. So we call it the talent attraction program. And my sell to them was, okay, let’s start first I know the recruiters and the sources will join. But let’s get them in there first. And then you know, it’s a two for one.
So one, they’re going to develop their personal brand, because I’ll be giving content that will be from the company itself, employer branding based content, and then industry based content where they can stand out, as you know, like a source or recruiter who knows what they’re talking about. And then we extended that over to including individuals from the sales organization, the engineering or the marketing. And from there, we went from, like, 20 people up to 500 plus. And then we had built that out to the point where, wow, yeah, so we grew grew tremendously. And then, so we had the benefit of having a data scientist at the time. So what we did is to get tracking down to, it was the best tracking I’ve had so far in my career, my data scientist was able to take our data from there from the advocacy program.
So we’re using gaggle amp at the time, and then drop it into Tableau, and then show Hey, out of all these different users who are on the platform, who’s using it, from what country? How many times are they sharing? And what content are they sharing, like, it was way, way more in depth than any of the platforms will give you. That’s the project I’m most proud of, because, you know, I had gone from a team when I was at Cox enterprises to my, you know, working on my own, it was making really, things work, you know, having to be the ultimate teammate to make things happen. And to bring that you know, that many individuals together, while it wasn’t the entire company, I don’t think your program ever, you know, it’d be ideal to get there. I don’t think it ever happens like that.
But getting 500 Plus individuals having to be excited about the program. And then also, the details I forgot to mention is that rewarding them too, like for the most shares, the most engagement, you know, first and second place, and people were out there, okay, hey, you know what, I love this company, I’m going to make a Twitter account. I don’t know what Twitter is, I’m going to make it though. I’m going to be more active on LinkedIn. And they’re still using that till those days. So I think my job there was done, you know, although I’m not there anymore, it was amazing.
It does sound really, really impressive. And there’s a lot of input here that I can put in practice. And I’m sure our listeners can too. And you were mentioning at some point how you were working on your own you had been working previously on your own. So and then wondering, is it possible to do Employer Branding, when you’re bootstrapped?
As a company, when it’s just you, and probably the TA and then the CEO, and everyone’s just doing this ping pong, back and forth? I don’t know, maybe employee advocacy programs? Are they possible in a small company on a shoestring budget? What what do you think?
I think they are. James Ellis wrote an article about a year ago, and it’s regardless of where you sit, regardless of how many people you have on your team, if you have a team, you have to go out there and knock down those silos. You’ve got to build those relationships. Because you could have a team of five, you know, right now have a team before at GoDaddy, if we are not out there working with other people, and we just assume, hey, we’re going to come up with everything, we’re going to be exposed, I can tell you that, you know, wholeheartedly that that that will happen if we’re just creating videos. And people say, okay, hey, Alex may know stuff, but why is it just him and his three other teammates and all these videos, and you have these TikTok’s these blogs?
That’s not inclusive of anybody. And people can you know, people can see that right away. But I think even if you’re bootstrapped, I mean, you know, when I was at Informatica, like, I had no budget. I came in, and it was day one, hey, work on the career page. So I was working on the career page, working with teammates out of India, and all along with that, too. Let’s get some pictures of people. So I, you know, people have like full, fully functional teams that do creative and everything else. I was a team of one doing all that, but you’re just you’re taking and you’re working with your teammates. I think that comes down to the foundation of what we do. Not, you know, you could have an agency who can help you out.
But still, I think the work has to be done that way. And being in a bootstrap situation to me, I think teaches you a whole lot more about what we do and how to be better at that because you know, that if, you know everything falls apart if you eventually lose budget or you have to start from scratch. You’ve done it before you can do it again. Yeah, you could teach the basics
Why do I get the feeling of that we’re witnessing something that’s similar to the appearance and the development of content and digital marketing years ago? It’s maybe my personal impression, because I only started with digital marketing about, I don’t know, 12-13 years ago. And I learned it all from the States, from people just like you who are putting content out there, who are sharing their experience in their companies, and seems to me like, wow, this was massive. And then slowly, I saw it growing, growing. And then in the UK, and then in Romania, where I was from and then, I don’t know, six, seven years ago, I feel like we’re all HubSpot infused everywhere. Right? So there’s a market everywhere. We all know what it’s about. Is there a parallel to that when it comes to employer branding? Do you think that there’s a chance this isn’t a trend and that employer branding is here to stay? And it’s going to increase in force and importance as time goes by? What do you think?
Yeah, I think just look back at the last year, obviously, as long as I’ve been in space, right. And then, because when I got in, like you mentioned, right there, digital marketing was, you know, there, it was everywhere, you know, when I took my first role to get into EB, I thought it was a digital marketing position, then you find out, hey, there’s actually this thing called employer brand, that’s part of that. And then, back then you’d see people who didn’t have the right job titles, who would get laid off at the first time when there was trouble at a company. And then over the last two and a half years, I think that’s where it proved that it was no longer just a nice and cute thing to have, but a must have.
And I say that because you know what, early 2020 when companies knew, hey, we are going to, you know, we had a pandemic a huge lockdown, and they needed to cut their losses. Who did they let go of? They let go of, you know, folks like you and I. And then what happened, though, then you had a lot of the social justice issues. Issues with Okay, how did you feel like Airbnb. That’s probably one of the best examples. They just cut people loose, and people were upset about that. But then eventually they got their brand back on track. But a lot of companies let people go. And then they wondered, okay, well, now that we let these people go, we’re getting bad press. We don’t know how to pivot from where we’re at. Who was helping us before? Well, you fired those people and then you know, going to what 2021 up to now to 2022 there was such a focus, and then what the the buzzwords became, alright, diversity and inclusion, which should always be something top of mind, not a buzzword.
And then the other thing that we’re going back to employer brand, which is not a buzzword. It should not just be okay, hey, this is a nice cool thing to have. But it’s a necessity, you need that there. I always keep my job alerts on just to see, okay, how the market, you know, trending before, and you probably see like a page maybe of job postings that were like, talent, branding, employer branding, recruitment, marketing, but now, easily two to three. And then there’s companies where like, you didn’t know that they cared about that, but everybody knows that they have to have a presence. And not just at the specialist level, companies have done a better job of getting people up to like a manager, senior manager, director, even up to a VP level. So I think that validates what we’re doing. It’s definitely here to stay. It’s on us to make it a priority.
And if we make it a priority, we can help those individuals who are always stuck in that bootstrap situation, to have a voice, to have data and information to work with, to justify building out those teams because I think that’s the next step for us is just that being you know, like siloed into these individual teams or being having one or two individuals and always fighting for budget. It should be where a company’s know that and you know, we’re still getting there. We’re not there yet. But we’re further along than we were many years ago.
Or even or even two years ago when it was a completely different story back then. And now I also started applying for jobs. I am going to start a full time job in the beginning of October because now I have like three full time jobs. So I said okay, it’s time to focus on just one in employer branding. So that’s what I will be doing. At first it was just out of curiosity, just to see how many companies I can find in Germany that I like and that I could see myself working for. And I was pleasantly surprised, I have to say, and I’m still getting the alerts from many, many organizations looking for specialists, for managers, global managers, sometimes. I’m thinking, I think two years ago, this wasn’t the case. If I recall correctly, I also was not actively looking for a job back then. But it’s my impression that it’s different.
Oh, it’s good. It gives practitioners options, right? You know, if you’re not happy once, you don’t have to, because before the thing would be okay, hey, I know I have the foundational skills. And we had a session on this at TBA, it’s like, okay, where do you go, then if your job has been eliminated? Do you go back into internal comms? Or do you pivot over to marketing, branding? Straight up digital marketing? Or do you go back in HR? Like, it was was a scary time back then. But now people have a multitude of options.
Yes. So yeah, I think I think we’ve we’ve come a long way. I have found something really interesting on your LinkedIn page. It’s called the team concept. And I was wondering if we can expand a little bit on that one, because I found it extremely interesting. Maybe you care to elaborate on it, and to tell us how we, as practitioners, can leverage it, especially those of us who are still working independently, for example.
Thought you never asked, but I think it’s something that I came up with that can be used by an actual team themselves, or an individual. So, we came up with TEAM. It stands for: T for time, E for empathy, the A for advocacy, and M to magnetize and activate. And what that means is, when you’re working as either a consultant, and I can say I’ve done both consultant or in house practitioner, you need time to do that right? Time to either develop your program, go out there; because you can’t develop an EVP in a day, nor week or two, although a lot of these companies want you to come in and say, Hey, build our brand. You don’t build the brand where you can, we are storytellers who communicate that outwards.
However, you need the time to do those, those virtual speaking tours with your teammates learn about what’s what’s good, what’s bad, what’s ugly, get an understanding of the problems that they’ve been having. And then, you know, E with empathy, you can’t just go in there with the big bad approach. And I say this, you know, being American, because you have a lot of companies out there, their corporate HQ is in America, they go to the smaller countries, and then they’ll say, hey, you know, what, alright, we’re taking over, we’re doing things our way. It never works that way. You have to listen to them what they’ve gone through, and let them be a part of the action.
For me, that was the biggest thing that helped me out when I had joined GoDaddy last year because I, I love Europe traveling there. It is a goal to eventually you know, go abroad one day and, and live there. So I could empathize with that read. But um, you know, it was okay, how do I help my team, so I joined from America and I handled AMEA, you know, work in those hours, work or my teammates, helping to establish our brand over there. You can’t make it happen if you’re assuming it’s your way or the highway. We may know the best practices and the best platforms to be on. But getting that local knowledge, learning what they’ve gone through, will help you out and empathizing with them, I think does that.
And then, once you’ve done everything, you have the time, you’ve spoken to people, you’ve gotten the buyer and you’ve listened to them, or you’re listening to them. It’s the advocacy piece where, okay, how do we work together? Now we know what the what the issues are. We know let’s go find these people on LinkedIn. I won’t say Facebook, because I don’t think a lot of teammates actually connect on Facebook, but I would say LinkedIn, for sure, Instagram and Twitter. But what you’ll find is outside of talking to people, and you know, you can establish pretty quickly who your advocates are. But looking at those platforms where people are naturally sharing your blog, your jobs, your career page, anything that has to do with that.
Those are the people you need to be reaching out to. And then from there, all right, give them some content to work with, like, you know, tick tock you just mentioned there’s you might have a lot of teammates who like an I love tic tac. I know my teammates do so. Alright, how do we get some buy in how do we get them to partake in some videos, some blogs, help us out with some photos, some graphics And then hey, why don’t you also educate them and empower them.
So then you have the advocacy portion going out there. And then once you’ve developed all this different content, okay, you got to magnetize that right? You need to activate this out there, which, you know, or you can do that organically on the social channels you already have. If you have your employee advocacy program, there you are, you’re magnetizing it that way through your people, and then your paid advertising. So paid advertising, AKA your recruitment marketing. You’re using that in the form of Google Display ads, out of home billboards and advertising, Facebook ads, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, it’s getting it out there, right? You want to capture attention, so you want to magnetize them, I want to find those passive job seekers with everything that we’ve put together with the other three steps. And then hey, let’s sell them on what we offer to them. Bring them in, and there you go. That’s that’s pretty much how the TEAM concept works.
It’s funny for me in a way, when you mentioned employee advocacy, and because I was mentioning TikTok, because recently, I was speaking to someone in a company here in Berlin, who said, they are getting so many CVs and so many applications from tech developers who are watching videos of their employees on TikTok. What, wow, this is amazing. This is just impressive. And it’s zero cost at all in the end, I mean.
It just requires time, it costs time. And, you know, it’s got to find the people who are creative to do it, right. Because I think what, what we get lost in in the spaces, okay? If I had budget, let me go get the highest end technology. But okay, once you once you spend that 60 70,000 Euro 1000 euros on that, who’s going to be in the video, like you are you have a top, you know, most cases you have a 12 to 24 month contract, but then you’re putting requests out there, are they going to be in your videos? If not, if you like, if you spend that much, you come back with two videos, I think it’s gonna be a little tough to have that conversation with leadership. But as you mentioned, something as simple as tick tock, or it’s as simple as a SSH host that you know, someone is putting out there on their own using the stuff that you taught them on the other platforms. That goes a long way. And you know what, it’s free.
Exactly. And some people are just natural-born talents. When it comes to TikTok, I’m not there. I’m not really following it, but some people are really good had hit and I think people are amazing. Alex, this is really, really nice. I’m really enjoying our discussion, especially after the crazy week that I’ve been having. I’m gonna go to my last question now. Sure, which is, if you’d like a little more on the theoretical side of things. I came across a very nice LinkedIn post by Leonie Marshall, who works at Ernst and Young I think she’s in the talent acquisition department I really don’t remember but her post was really really amazing. And Leone speaks about how motivational theory can aid the understanding and the application of employer branding in an organization and I’m just gonna quote part of this post “the best starting point in developing an intentional EVP is to develop an excellent knowledge of the key motivators of the talent, the organization wishes to attract and retain”. What do you think, agree or disagree?
I agree with that, and if everything works out, because, you know, I appreciate you I had came across that read a bit of that and then you know, we share some dialogue about that. I mean, you do need to look at the key motivators, right? Because I would say before you had some EVPs that were out there and the attack lines they established where they got demolished right during the during the pandemic, right because they were they weren’t useful anymore they they weren’t anything that were would uh, you know, motivate people and bring them in because what some of the people you know, keys motivators is okay if I can you help me grow, can you help me work on challenging projects, those are things that motivate individual individuals to to join your company.
And now all the focus is there, because people have had the time to, to you know, either sit at home by force by you know, by lock downs, and they have to reprioritize but, so I agree with this, but I think what has to happen though, too, along with you having the key motivate motivators inside EVP it’s the company values also have to support what you’re doing right because if you’re focusing on key motivators, which is good, and then they get In the door, and they realize, okay, hey, you sold me on this. And I can, you know, like for us, at GoDaddy, we say you belong here. If I say you belong here, you joined GoDaddy, and then all sudden you find out, hey, that the value is actually don’t add up to that, like I was, I was sold on Elia come in, and you know, I wasn’t able to do anything, then it all kind of fails. But I think this in an ideal situation, this is what would what you you would want to do.
I think this is an excellent point. And it reminds me of something I was talking about today with a very good friend of mind was managing a software development company of about 150 people based in Romania. And we were talking about values, just how, how do you create values that can be reflected within all areas of the company, and he goes ahead, and he tells me, listen to this, we use values for evaluating people, whenever we have the performance evaluation, of course, we look at the technical aspects all the time, but we also look at the values and how that person fits the values. And if they don’t, during that evaluation, we’re going to establish that, okay, there won’t be any race, or maybe they don’t belong in the company anymore. So I said, you know, it really got me thinking this is very, very useful. And it’s actually, it’s a no brainer, in the end.
And if you look at it, right, I mean, some people may disagree with that. But I mean, you have a lot of companies that when they give reviews, as you mentioned, there’s nothing like they just they will ask your goals, you know, what are you looking to do and five years of something or down the road, doesn’t give them a clear direction. But if you do push that back, as you mentioned back to your values, then okay, hey, that’s, do they fit the culture that the people like, because, you know, if everyone’s like, hey, we like to, I’m not gonna say we’re a family, people are been tearing it up that line up on LinkedIn.
Your family doesn’t fire you but but you know, if you say, hey, you know, we, you know, we work together and or, you know, some of those different cliche lines that are out there. If that’s if that’s really a pillar of, you know, your values, and someone doesn’t lie with that, then like, it’s true, why? Why are they there, where they’re at, they’re not going to, I wouldn’t say fall in line, but you know, and try to do their best to, to work together with everyone. And you know, these establish those values. I’m not saying you have to, like change yourself. But if the, you know, the goal of the company is, hey, we, you know, we support. And I’m trying to add a loss of words here, but I’ve checked, you know, if they’re like community first, right? Or if they say, Hey, I have a local hard local impact or something along those lines, and that person is not found that then I think both both parties have to reevaluate what they’re doing then.
And I suppose at the same time, you need to make the most actionable, right, that was actually as operationally as possible in the end so that you know what to evaluate eventually, and what to look for, as a person because sometimes I feel that they remain so vague, and so inapplicable, it’s just, it’s ridiculous sometimes, honestly.
Oh, yes. Yes, I agree. It’s like okay, well, what am I okay, we’re just gonna meet for an hour. You’re gonna tell me what I’m doing? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. Tell me what I’m doing what I’m not doing great job move on, like, gotta have something to strive for.
Exactly. Exactly. Cool. Alex, this is it. This has been it. This episode. I enjoyed talking to you. I mean, I thought I would get I was expecting to get a lot of useful insights from someone with so much experiences you thank you so much for doing this. Good luck with everything you do at GoDaddy and not only. All right,
Thank you. Appreciate it.