Employment branding

Have you noticed that advertising is getting a bit gutsy these days? And I’m not referring to Super Bowl commercials. More and more we are seeing the use of ‘attack’ or ‘aggressive advertising’ being used in the consumer-marketing world. This is a direction that was prominent during the days of Mad Men, but could it be re-emerging as the next big trend?

Microsoft’s recent ‘Scroogle’ campaign is similar to a political attack campaign. In the commercial, Microsoft attacks Google for everything from invasive ads in Gmail to sharing data with app developers. It ends by revealing that Microsoft is behind the message with the statement,  “For honest search results, try Bing.” It’s definitely aggressive and controversial.  However, with controversy comes attention, and the metrics have been pretty good.

Kindle has taken a similar, but slightly less aggressive approach when comparing the Kindle Fire with the I-Pad Mini. Ford also aired an ‘attack’ on Honda in their recent campaign.

So what does this mean for us?  Can we effectively recruit great talent with a more aggressive approach?

For employment marketing to be truly effective it needs to answer the question, “Why should the people you want to employ, choose to work for you rather than anywhere else?” We always advocate being straightforward and direct, but I wonder where can we draw the line? Many times we know exactly where the pool of talent is that we want to attract, so why not just directly target them and exploit the weakness in the competition?

Some organizations are beginning to dabble in this direction. Last year, Yahoo stationed carts passing out free chai along Silicon Valley shuttle routes hoping to poach talent from companies such as: Google, Facebook and Apple. The cups were accompanied with a handout blatantly saying, ‘Yahoo is hiring, contact this guy.“ The approach is direct, maybe arguably aggressive, but it’s also been effective both in creating a buzz and an increase in hiring numbers. While this was not a formal HR initiative, there is speculation that this has attributed to the increase in applicants for their HQ.

The employer marketing world tends to be risk adverse. I would assume that if you’re in a Talent Acquisition role, you may be thinking, “I would never be able to pull that off.” The way we communicate is constantly changing and it makes me wonder, will this be the next big thing in recruitment? What would a more aggressive approach look like in your company? How brave would or could you be?

I welcome your thoughts.

By Nicole Dorskind


It’s like a kale salad or those high heeled sneakers or #throwbackthursday. The word “innovation” is all the rage.

I’ve been working in employment marketing for a few years and have done my fair share of competitor analyses. I’ve seen this buzzword splattered throughout company websites and recruitment collateral, promising potential employees they will be working for an organization that will cultivate their creativity and help them change the world. Blah, blah, blah.

But what does being innovative even mean? And what qualifies your company to make such a claim? Being a cool shiny new start-up? Being the first? Can organizations that have been around for decades be innovative?

Let’s think about Apple – a brand synonymous with innovation. Is it because they created a “floating” Mac screen or that they nurture the spark of great ideas? I think it’s a combination of both.

The products you create are a direct result of how you operate. Steve Jobs created an environment that gave his people the freedom to question the norm, to not settle for a simple solution, to create the future they wanted to see. Having these ideals at the heart of your business is bound to foster innovation.

Now, what do you think of when you hear the name Ericsson? I think of broadband and 3G, which then reminds me I haven’t paid my cell phone bill this month. I don’t immediately think of imagination and innovation. But I am wrong.

Ericsson is a Swedish telecommunications company. More than 40% of the world’s mobile traffic travels through Ericsson’s networks. But what makes them innovative is not just the products they create, it’s how they have built innovation into the core of their company.

Ideaboxes is Ericsson’s own internal sharing platform where employees can post their ideas, no matter how large or small. They will receive feedback from their colleagues all over the world and have the support to transform their rough ideas into polished plans of action. This platform gives them a voice, and the opportunity to turn thoughts into reality. Ericsson encourages every single one of their 100,000 employees to think “inside the box.”

Today, there are over 30,000 ideas swirling through Ericsson’s IdeaBoxes, being tumbled and shaped and refined into solutions that will make connections faster and phone bills cheaper.

Ericsson is one of these companies claiming “innovation,” but platforms like IdeaBoxes give them the right to. I wish other organizations would start putting their money where their mouth is. Click here to learn more about IdeaBoxes.

Is your company truly innovative? Tell us about it. We want to know.

By Jacqueline Monti, Account Executive and Social Media strategist at work Group.

The ideas that drive employer marketing and internal communications are based on a 20th Century paradigm: we’ll define what we want people to think, and then find an interesting way of pitching that to them. And this came about because these ideas were appropriated from the world of consumer marketing.

When the web came along in 1993, nothing much changed, as early web content was still fundamentally people or organisations talking about themselves. What’s changed in recent years is the explosion of user generated content – unofficial people who share unofficial opinions with everyone they know and many they don’t, about everything they do and buy. And where they work.

This challenges the idea of “brand guidelines” or “corporate messaging,” as most of what’s written about you won’t be following these – whether it’s an employee tweeting that their annual review was a waste of time, or an unsuccessful applicant writing about their interview in a forum. And for most employers, the majority of applicants will be unsuccessful.

There are a substantial number of people in the world with an opinion about you as an employer, and most of them don’t work for you, and won’t ask your permission. It includes everyone who works for you, everyone who has worked for you, everyone who’s applied, and everyone who’s just thought about it. And many people who merely know one of those people well.

You don’t own the web, and you can’t dictate your brand.

Many employers find this a worrying trend, as it opens them up to criticism, which may be unfair. But too often these are the same employers who inhibit other people – the ones who work for them and are happy – from putting the counter-case by imposing tight restrictions. The more you encourage people to give honest and personal opinions about you, the more likely it is that accuracy will rise.

This does of course mean that you have to be ready for fair negative comments to emerge. No employer offers the perfect employment experience to everyone, but if people know what it’s really like to work for you, is that necessarily a bad thing? People who apply anyway will know exactly what they’re signing up to, rather than leaving after three months because the reality didn’t match the marketing.

This offers an unprecedented opportunity to change fundamentally the relationship between employer and employee, and between recruiter and target market. It’s going to be a very different relationship, and a far more honest relationship – and you’re going to benefit from that.

It’s easier than it’s ever been for you to really engage with your workforce – whether it’s understanding how they feel, fixing problems or generating ideas. Likewise, it’s simpler than ever to find out what the outside view is. Try searching for “I used to work at…” to see what people actually say about you as an employer.

It no longer makes sense to think of a small group of specialists and consultants defining the employment brand. The employment brand is defined by a huge collective of people who can’t and won’t be controlled. What you can do is match your official position with the best of what’s said unofficially, and do so in a way that’s authentic and verifiable. As to the ‘worst’ of what’s said unofficially, you could ignore it. But you could also take the opportunity to improve it, or perhaps even accept it and talk about it? Not everyone is looking for the same work-life balance, for example, and you’d give credibility to the positive things you do offer by admitting some unavoidable drawbacks.

A few basic steps

We think there are a few general principles to follow, although what you’ll ultimately end up doing about it will depend on what you find:

Understand your audience. You have a good sense of the technical or professional competencies you’re looking for, but you also need to understand behaviours, motivators and preferences. Start by establishing what makes employees thrive, then look for people like them.

Identify your EVP. It’s the honest, simple answer to “Why should the people we want to recruit want to work for us rather than anyone else?” If people do choose you, the answer exists.

Review your ‘customer’ experience. What does applying to work for you feel like? What happens when you reject someone? What’s the reality of the working environment? What do you do when someone leaves? All of these will be talked about when you’re not there.

Gain support. Actively engage everyone in your workforce in what you’re doing. People already doing the job will explain it most convincingly, and the way a recruiting manager conducts interviews will have a bigger impact than your careers site.


This article was published in HR Magazine.

Splunk is the magic word.

Behind the words you read on this screen, there is a hidden universe of machinery that must work in perfect and constant unison. These machines generate staggering quantities of unstructured data that must be counted, logged and categorized in order to manage the content that you see. Splunk is a company bringing simplicity to this chaos and is making businesses, such as Macy’s and Verizon, work better, smoother, and faster. According to Mark P. Mills, CEO of Digital Power Group, “machine data about the Internet is growing at a faster rate than even the explosive growth of information on the Internet,” making data analytics the hottest degree to have. Read more to find out why Mills believes companies like Splunk will eventually lead the revival of our floundering job market.

Intuition or Information?

Marketers are overwhelmed with statistics about the needs and trends of their consumers and now, thanks to social media, they can also see the direct interaction between their brand and their customers. These hard facts should make business decisions and branding initiatives easier, right? Not according to Christa Carone, Chief Marketing Officer of Xerox. Carone is challenged with a major repositioning effort hoping to change the stakeholder and public perception of Xerox as a company. Due to information overload, Carone’s felt the true message was being smothered, and that the essence of their brand wasn’t something to be measured. Read more to see why Carone followed what her gut told her, opposed to what the research did.

Branching out to other networks.

LinkedIn may have some serious competition to undertake if it wants to maintain its title as the top professional networking site. BranchOut, a platform where members can search companies and find among their Facebook network who works there, recently reported receiving $25 million in new funding and a staggering growth spurt of 2 million new members a week. Read more to find out how this two-year old company is helping recruiters find more relevant candidates quicker and easier –and how BranchOut may give LinkedIn a run for its money.

The branding race has begun

The common perception of National Public Radio (NPR) is not that of a digital giant, rather one of a veteran non-profit media company. However, top digital talent is what they need in order to continue their mission of creating a more informed public.

24 Hour Fitness is identified by its flexible hours and openness to the average worker’s busy schedule, yet when they go to career fairs recruiting talented professionals to run this multimillion dollar business, students think they are there to sell memberships.

Once considered a passing fad, employment branding is proving to be the best resolution for increased employee and candidate engagement, better cultural fits and reduced attrition.

Click here to find out how these two organizations are aligning their core values with their employee promise and showing why, for the right person, they would be a great place to work.

Do more, manage less

The Peter Principle states that as people continue to get promoted they “do” less and manage more — ultimately getting to a point where they’re in a position that they aren’t good at and don’t enjoy.

Tracy Dolgin, President and Chief Executive at the YES cable sports network, reversed this principle and implemented a “doer” mentality during the recruitment process for YES.

“We wanted it to be more like a start-up environment, without a start-up product,” Dolgin said. He wanted to create a flat organization where passionate people could create amazing things by doing what they do so well.

Read the full interview with Dolgin, where he discusses his perspective on leadership and how his methods could work for your company.

Two perspectives are better than one

When defining a corporate strategy for a business, it seems that moving away from the traditional perspectives of older executives and incorporating newer perspectives of younger generations may be beneficial to a successful execution.

Generation Y’ers are competitive and see things through eyes shaped by social media. They are conditioned to view data transparently as opposed to privately and look for ways to perform in the moment, opposed to the uncertain future.

Generation X’ers don’t consider winning to be the ultimate goal. Their independent and careful dispositions force them to question how feasible certain strategies will be under vastly different circumstances.

Click here to read more about these generational thinkers and their questions on everything from the underlying philosophy of a corporate strategy to its timeframe and tactics.