Employer Branding Is More About the Candidate Experience Than Fancy GraphicsNovember 12, 2010 by Steven Rothberg
Jonas Barck, marketing manager for Universum Communications, invited me to attend their employer branding conference this past Wednesday at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In addition to the facility being absolutely top notch, so was the content.
At about 2pm, a recruiter for one of the many Fortune 500 employers in the room commented that his takeaway from the day was that employer branding was a lot more about delivering a positive candidate experience than fancy brochures, web sites, pamphlets, or career fair giveaways. Yes! In one sentence, the recruiter absolutely nailed it. All of the fancy collateral in the world won’t result in the improvement of your organization’s brand unless there is real substance to back-up the style. In other words, actions speak louder than words. If you tell candidates that you have a collaborative work environment — which Gen Y loves — then they better not walk into your office and find a Dilbert-esque cube farm.
One of the presenters who did a great job talking about branding was Kelly Bartkiewicz, Personnel & Organization Director – Talent Management at MARS. You’d think that with all of their wonderful candy, pet food, and other consumer goods that branding would be the least of their problems and yet it actually is one of their most significant problems. You see, consumers and therefore candidates have preconceived notions about MARS because MARS has a strong consumer brand. But that brand isn’t what they want to project to their candidates because working at MARS is a lot different than eating their candy or feeding your dog Greenies or any of their other pet-related products. So MARS has to stay true to its consumer brand yet also carve out a different employment brand. That’s not an easy task but it seems that Kelly and her team are having real success in achieving that goal.
Another large but very different organization that we learned about was the National Security Organization. Lori Weltman, marketing manager, delivered the keynote presentation on how the NSA connects with its candidates. As a very selective intelligence agency, it takes them months and months to go from the point of initial contact to extending an offer of employment and just that delay frustrates a lot of candidates and inevitably costs them some good hires. Yet they’ve also learned that their candidates value working on some very, very leading edge technology without the pressures of earning a profit this fiscal quarter and their candidates want to do real, meaningful work that helps their nation. So the NSA focuses is branding messages on those and other hot button issues. Unlike MARS, the NSA has no consumer brand as it doesn’t sell anything to consumers. Yet that lack of consumer brand presents challenges to the NSA as they need to explain what they do to an awful lot of very highly qualified and difficult to hire candidates. Again, Universum picked a great presenter as Lori did a great job of communicating their tactics and strategies and her employer seems to have great success in achieving their goals.
Kudos to Universum and all of the presenters. The conference was informative, engaging, and well worth the time for everyone in attendance.
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