Archive for December, 2013



When candidates come to your door they’re coming in with an impression of your company. It’s based on what you, the recruiter or HR professional, have shared with them. It can come from conversations they have had with family, friends, colleagues and others in their network or online research. Either way candidates are walking in with ideas as to what the job entails and what your company has to offer.

The big question is: are candidates getting a complete picture? Finding great employees is hard work but building and maintaining a great brand can make it easier. Discover a handful of best practices for managing your company’s public perception among candidates.

Develop An On-going Working Relationship With Marketing

As Jeremy Langhans, manager of global talent acquisition at Expedia recently said, his role has become more like that of a digital marketer than that of a traditional talent acquisition and HR professional. Your company’s brand is no longer just about what your customers think but it also encompasses what employees and job candidates think too.

Brand, or in essence company culture, are increasingly becoming important to the investment community as it can be seen as an indicator of internal and long-term health of the company. James Heskett, a Baker Foundation Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School and author of The Culture Cycle, has been quoted in the Harvard Business Review as saying “effective culture can account for 20-30 percent of the differential in corporate performance when compared with “culturally unremarkable” competitors.”

HR, recruiters and marketers should work to identify similarities and difference between customer brand and employer brand. The more understanding of what stands out as your company’s overall brand, the more cohesive message both parties can distribute. In addition, conversations should address how both teams can work together to build the brand, what channels can help disperse the message to target audiences, and what tools can be used to measure and track engagement and receptiveness to the brand.

Promote The Good, Fix The Bad

Marketers know that if you have a product that’s receiving negative feedback from consumers, it won’t sell. reports that 80 percent of consumers said they changed their minds about purchases based on negative information they found online. However, the Wall Street Journal also reports that people are more influenced by positive online reviews than negative ones.

Bottom line: it’s critical to take account of positive and negative feedback about your employer brand. This means not only listening to what your employees have to say but also what’s been said online and throughout social media.  This audit of feedback can help to understand what really resonates about your brand and what needs to be fixed.  If key parts of your employee value proposition permeate beyond the HR, recruiting and marketing team, keep finding ways to promote and encourage those aspects. If you are receiving strong signals that something at your company is not working, fix it and fix it fast. If you try to aggressively push out your employer brand and it includes fixable problems, those problems will only become more obvious. As a result, your brand and your recruiting funnel could be at risk.

Make Your Employment Brand A Team Sport

Effective employer branding is not just about the voice and opinion of one HR person, it is about collective story telling. From the CEO on down, everyone at the company has the opportunity to shape and influence your company’s perception. While ideas on how to build the brand may stem from senior leaders with the help of HR, recruiting and marketing, successful execution is dependent on all those who help to share their work experiences and engage with the company.

For example, more and more employers are asking for their employees to share reviews about their work experiences on Glassdoor. Not only do the reviews shed light into life within the office walls, but it can also offer valuable feedback on whether your employer value proposition is resonating with the employee base.

Also encourage employees to grow and connect with their online networks.  By asking your employees to share job openings with their friends, colleagues and followers, it can help improve your talent pipeline.  You can also invite them to share interesting news about your company such as an exciting new product or service or a company milestone – again, this can help lend support in attracting talent.

Understand The Lifecycle Of Your Employer Brand

It’s important to recognize that what makes up your employer brand is reflective of more than the current employee population. Former employees, job candidates who received or didn’t receive a job offer, contractors, interns  and others  all shape what people know and think about your company.

Many focus heavily on the up front branding opportunities – the opportunities that can lure in new employees. Interview experiences and treatment of employees when they resign, get fired or when their project completes are some of the key moments that can influence what a person feels and says about that employment experience.  In other words, do all those that come into the employment fold, leave with a good impression? Would they recommend the company to a friend?

Make sure to identify the opportunities of interaction between all employees from the moment they consider whether to apply for a job to when they no longer work for the company. Take note of what you do to engage and your responsiveness. Create programs which allow all types of employees, current and former, to connect and share with each other. As Deloitte points out, “an alumni program can be a smart investment… alumni can be valuable customers and advocates. You’ll be glad you kept up with them when they end up in the position of being able to buy your products and services.”  Deloitte also notes that, “the networking benefits of an alumni program can be an important part of your employee value proposition. For the most sought-after employees, it’s a proven recruiting tool.”

Key Takeaways

When it comes to effective employer branding, HR and recruiting should not take the effort on alone. Cross collaboration with marketing and across the entire employee base are needed if the efforts are to come together strategically and be executed on across all fronts. While it is cliché to use the term ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to employer branding it’s exactly what you must do – you must be aware of what’s working and what’s not in and outside of the ‘box’… or in this case the office walls.

A marketing talent war has begun. Organizations that have been slow to evolve don’t know it yet, but the battle is brewing among forward-thinking agencies, publishers, corporations and media companies.

The prize?

Tech-savvy, hybrid marketers who are capable of building and managing fully integrated campaigns that produce real business results. These next-generation professionals excel in digital marketing disciplines of analytics, automation, content, email, mobile and social.

As the hybrids emerge, legacy corporate silos will crumble and traditional-minded marketers will become irrelevant.

But, these modern hybrid marketers are a rare breed.

Attract the Unicorns

In his blog post, 50% of All New Marketing Hires Will be Technical, Scott Brinker, president and CTO of ion interactive, states, “There’s a real scarcity of technical professionals, even more so for those with passion and aptitude for marketing.”

Brinker says, “There will be enormous competition for those unicorns, not just from other marketing departments, but from marketing software vendors, consulting firms, agencies, and a whole new bumper crop of start-ups, all of whom need this talent in pursuit of their missions.”

So what can your organization do to attract talent? In short, think like modern marketers, and put inbound marketing strategy and technology to work.

1. Map skills gaps

Start by identifying the skills needed for a modern marketing team, and then rate your staff and agency partners. Consider these core areas:

  • Coding/programming
  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis
  • Email marketing
  • Event planning/production
  • Graphic design
  • Lead management/nurturing
  • Mobile strategy
  • Paid search management
  • Public relations
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Strategic planning
  • Video production/editing
  • Website management

2. Define candidate personas

Profile career candidates the same way you would buyer personas. Ask yourself:

  • What matters to them when researching career options?
  • Where do they go for information and resources?
  • What are their primary concerns and questions?
  • What is their educational background and career experience?
  • How do they evaluate companies?
  • What do they value, and how do they make career decisions?

3. Adjust brand positioning

Think of your organization as a career destination, not a steppingstone. Hubspot’s Culture Code, which has nearly 1 million Slideshare views, is a great example of positioning a brand to attract talent.

Intrinsically motivated professionals, who are essential to your success, value companies and careers with purpose.

4. Create candidate-focused content

Are you publishing blog posts, ebooks, photos, videos and more targeted at career candidates? If not, you should be. These content assets are the ideal way to tell your company story and engage prospective employees in your brand.

5. Build landing pages with profiling questions

Shift away from the standard online forms and job listings, and use landing pages with lead forms to capture candidates. The forms should be tied to a back-end contact management system, which maintains updated records for each candidate.

Here’s an example of the PR 20/20 career opportunities page, which is built on a HubSpot landing page. We’re still evolving the format and fields, but our goal was to gain greater insight into candidates, and connect their responses to contact records in HubSpot for scoring and nurturing.

Which leads us to the next step!

6. Score and segment candidates using behavior-based signals

Once you gather profile information, you can activate a candidate scoring system (similar to how you would setup lead scoring), which gives preference, or greater weight, to specific skills, education and experience.

But don’t stop there.

By integrating marketing technology into your recruiting process, you can use behavior-based signals to impact candidates’ overall ratings. Did they view the “about” page? Did they click on the “careers” page recommended reading links? Are they following the company on Twitter and Facebook?

Segment the most engaged candidates into priority lists, and move on to step 7.

7. Activate automated email workflows

Nurture your career candidates. Use marketing technology to set up automated emails that provide them with valuable resources, and offer you additional touchpoints to monitor their engagement and interest.

The candidate-focused content you created in step 4 fuels the nurturing emails. Watch open and click rates, and be sure that you’ve accounted for these interactions in your candidate scoring formula.

Your best candidates are going to be the professionals who meet the obvious skill/education/experience requirements, but also demonstrate a desire to continually advance their knowledge and capabilities, and engage with your brand.

By applying inbound marketing strategy and technology to your recruiting process, you will give your organization a distinct advantage when competing for top marketing talent.