Practical Talent Brand Lessons from Verizon and CH2M HILL

January 27, 2014

This post was written in collaboration with Melody Cheung, Dina MedeirosPam Hoadley

Repeat after me: “I, __________, challenge myself and my team to think like marketers.” predicts that this year recruiting will start to “look more and more like marketing.” Sounds like while the sign on your door says “Talent Acquisition,” putting on your marketing hat – and keeping it there – is the first step in ensuring your company’s talent brand stands out from the crowd. As suggests, the easiest way to creating a talent brand that “sings” is to be “best friends with the VP of marketing.”

As part of the Talent Brand Consultant Team at LinkedIn, we’ve seen many clients’ recruiting and marketing teams working together more closely than ever before. Partnering alongside marketing (and borrowing a few things along the way) has led to their success in building strong talent brands, and ultimately in attracting, hiring and retaining the best talent.

Two companies, Verizon and CH2M HILL, have done exactly this and were kind enough to share some of their biggest lessons. Hopefully their experience could inspire you to think more like a marketer in 2014.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Borrow from Marketing

Verizon’s Talent Acquisition team was challenged with building a unified, global talent brand strategy. When Claudia Healy (Verizon’s VP of Talent Acquisition) first learned of their corporate marketing team’s successful Powerful Answers campaign, she thought, “Wow, this is powerful. Everything we were talking about from an employee perspective was there….why reinvent the wheel?”

The Verizon team knew that whatever they developed needed to complement, not conflict with, their corporate brand. As Claudia explained, “The reality is that every candidate you talk to is a customer or a potential customer, so the connection between marketing and talent brand is critical.”

For the TA team, Powerful Answers became a campaign “about smart people who are focused on making a difference for their customer, their community and the world.” Verizon wanted every current and potential employee, from engineering to sales to HR, to feel they were “part of the team that delivers the customer promise, the powerful answer. The beauty is that the overarching messaging works for every function; no matter who you are, you can connect to it in a personal way.”

Verizon-employer-brand-campaign example

Keep it Authentic: Know Who You Are, and Who You Aren’t

When the Verizon team partnered with Marketing to re-iterate on the Powerful Answers campaign, they recognized authenticity was crucial. They needed to ensure their brand messaging resonated for both existing employees as well as potential candidates: “You can market whatever you want, but if [a candidate] shows up to interview and they see your messaging is not real, you are wasting your own money and time.”

Verizon’s strategy ensures their employee value proposition (EVP) communication is ubiquitous and consistent at every touch point a candidate has with their brand. “When you think about joining a company, you are thinking about your career; you want to have the trust and confidence that [the messaging] is real.”

Make your Brand an Ongoing Conversation

At CH2M HILL, “brand” had historically been a poorly and inconsistently defined concept. Kasey Hurlbutt, CH2M HILL’s Global Brand Manager, tackled this challenge by embarking on what she coined “The Journey of a Thousand Conversations.” In talking with colleagues across the world over coffee, lunch, and the printer about their perspective on CH2M HILL’s “brand”, common themes – and challenges – began to emerge.

As a result, the Marketing team decided to convene a Global Brand Summit that gathered representatives from multiple regions and business groups including Talent Acquisition, Marketing, Sales, Legal, Learning and Development. The goal was to build mindshare, empathy and urgency around some of these shared challenges and collaborate on solutions.


Among other things, the cross-functional group realized that segregating their brand into “Corporate Brand” and “Talent Brand” did more harm than good. It was causing confusion internally and externally, and diluting both Marketing and Talent Acquisition’s business case for brand resources and investment. By shifting away from the longstanding “Marketing vs. Talent” mindset, the teams at CH2M HILL were able to better collaborate to ensure cohesive brand development.

Use Data to Gain Executive Buy-in to Stand Behind Your Brand

For CH2M HILL, it proved to be a challenge to persuade executives to invest in brand and champion brand strategy because it is inherently difficult to tie brand back to ROI.

The Marketing and Talent Acquisition teams at CH2M HILL turned this challenge into an opportunity to recast brand as a “strategic amplifier”. The CH2M HILL Talent team demonstrated how holes in their brand story were contributing to considerable business impact on the top line, bottom line, retention, and recruitment. This data was taken from a brand audit that examined senior management and employee opinions, client preferences and decisions drivers, competitive analyses, and business impact from other B2B firms’ rebrands.

The teams then built a vision for how brand could serve as a unifying and catalytic force to accelerate the organization’s strategic business and talent goals. The CH2M HILL team is currently halfway through their journey to transform their brand. Learn more about how they’re doing it.

As you can see, developing a cohesive and authentic talent brand strategy can be challenging. By recognizing the power of partnering with Marketing, companies like Verizon and CH2M HILL have successfully built and refined their brands to attract and retain top talent.

Are you up for the challenge of thinking like a marketer? Ask your team to put on their marketing hats and leverage some of these best practices to get started. If you want a deeper dive on Talent Brand, download this e-book.

This is the first in a series of posts by the Global Talent Brand Consultant Team at LinkedIn, a team of experts dedicated to helping Talent Acquisition leaders think like marketers.

 Employer Brand Playbook