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If you’re recruiting hard-to-hire candidates (in any industry) and starting to think about employer branding, this is for you:
The employer branding industry is very good at indulging itself.
Employer branding agencies give in-house employer brand leaders the things they know they’ll buy: big drawn-out strategy, overly-generalized PR compliant content, shiny deliverables that can be shown off to employees, and a lot of buzzy, agreeable terminology.
And in their own circles, in-house employer brand leaders like to perpetuate these antiquated ideas and collectively agree that this is how things should be done if you ever want to achieve “employer branding outcomes” (whatever those are).
Meanwhile, the outliers—the pragmatists—are looking for the fastest way to move the most important metrics and drive business outcomes that everyone in their org cares about.
While much of the industry like to feel good about rolling out a company-wide EVP (that employees don’t care about) and building a pretty careers site that showcases their new “brand pillars” (that candidates don’t care about), Heads of Talent and their recruiters are screaming for a demand gen model that actually works.
So for those of you competing day in and day out for competitive talent and looking for a better way, here’s some clarity:
- Employer branding is demand gen. Period.
- New hires is your top-line metric. Everything has to be measured against it.
- By the time EB becomes a priority for you, we’re talking about how to start conversations with candidates that a) don’t know who you are, and/or b) have plenty of other opportunities to choose from.
- These hard-to-hire candidates are largely passive.
- Most passive candidates are reached via outbound messages from your recruiters.
Look at what drives your top of the funnel right now. Make that better. For most of you, that’s making outbound to passive candidates easier, faster, smarter, more candidate-focused.
Whatever it is, you have to start there.
Solve this and everything else opens up.
I realize that this is going to turn some in this industry off. There are strong opinions about doing the opposite of what I’m saying.
But this is what I truly believe leads to short-term and long-term brand marketing success, increased respect for EB as a business unit, and more budget being funneled to supporting initiatives.
Again, pragmatic. But it’s more than that. It’s looking at how companies—especially high-growth startups and niche industry SMBs—recruit + the types of candidates they're trying to hire, and drawing a straight line between the two.
P.S. Not all agencies miss the mark. If you’re looking for an EB agency that takes a truly unique approach, I highly recommend talking with my former colleagues at Job Portraits. Happy to connect you. I’m still close with the team over there.
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