Employment Branding Fundamentals 3
Good friend Jason Seiden says, “Employment branding is not about the brand, it’s about the company.” It’s a helpful distinction. When branding experts look at the Employment Brand question, they see opportunities to extend the influence of the company’s brand. When talent acquisition people look at it, they see opportunities to make hiring more effective.
Seiden’s distinction helps focus on the meat of the Employment Branding question. Where the Brand, as envisioned and managed by marketing, is a monolithic thing, the Employment Brand is distributed. The Brand is the province of the customer experience. The Employment Brand is the province of the workforce experience (past, present and future). People can have experiences of either, both or none.
That’s why the range of approaches to Employment Branding is so wide. At one extreme are the folks who think about standardization of messages, fonts, color palettes and repeatability. At the other end of the spectrum are the players who think that it’s closer to a job by job story.
Jennifer McClure, widely known for her work in Employment Branding, tells great stories about the importance of having a standard script in the Recruiting operation. In a recent conversation, she told me of her experience with a company that had no concept of Employment Brand when she arrived on the scene. By teaching the Recruiting team to operate with standardized repeatable modules about culture and the company environment, she was able to focus the message of the entire organization. The result was better managed expectations from recruiters and candidates both.
The inside of every company is different from its outside. The inherent paradox is that the two, while intrinsically related, bear little or no resemblance to each other. The Brand is packaging, positioning and narrative for the outside of the company. The Employment Brand does the same for the inside. One is heads, the other tails.
The more you look at the question, the more you wonder why there isn’t a broadly accepted development path. The HR world is so full of best practices and development patterns that you’d be tempted to believe that the same would happen in employment branding. Certainly, there are lots of different models of complexity and approach.
While there is some movement around the employment brand community to define a maturity model, there is nothing currently available that helps companies navigate the full spectrum of choice. And, that doesn’t address the amazing potential emerging as Big Data helps us understand additional layers of the employment market conversation.
At the low end of the continuum, companies standardize their stories and strive to make pay, benefits and work environments consistent and competitive. At the far end, labor supply is managed with a clear understanding about the market realities for this job in this city. The whole equation gets very interesting when you try to apply it to complex organizations. The discipline varies with scale.
There is much to be done in the development of a solid Employment Branding framework. Stay tuned.