Why Discrimination and Disruption is Key to a Successful Talent Brand

May 8, 2014

Companies are increasing their spend in employer branding, but I’ve got to be honest… sometimes it’s hard to differentiate one company’s message from another’s. The reason being is that many companies fall into that trap of generic talent brand messaging.

A month ago, the above video poking fun at ‘generic brand messaging’ went viral with over a million YouTube views and counting. The truth is that many companies are at risk of using the same clichés when it comes to their talent brand.

So how can companies avoid this trap and get out of their comfort zone? According to research by CEB, employers should focus on more influential messaging and better segmentation.

Influence is key.

Professionals have access to more information about companies as a place to work than ever before, and they find it increasingly hard to find what is unique about each employer. It seems every employer says they are a great place to work. And it seems every employer has their share of detractors posting unfavourable comments about them. Your official marketing needs to be more than appealing; it needs to cut through the noise with influential messages that disrupt peoples’ understanding of you as an employer.

One employer who did a good job of this is an Australian professional services company Aurecon. They shifted focus from work-life balance to “flexibility” - just as valuable to employees but much more realistic and critically differentiated from what others were saying. Their target talent responded well to this honest, realistic and clear message – working hard is expected, but you can manage your own time – a highly attractive prospect.

Segmentation is becoming increasingly important.

CEB’s survey uncovered that organizations are under increasing pressure to attract new types of talent, and employment brands are struggling to keep up. But where is this pressure coming from? CEB identified the following drivers:

  1. Companies becoming increasingly global and therefore having to attract talent from different markets.
  2. The need to attract new skill sets. Almost every company requires IT/ digital expertise these days, but if you’re a bank or healthcare business, then you’re not traditionally associated with this area and it can be tricky to get talent through the door.
  3. Attracting young and dynamic talent. Just because your company historically has a strong talent brand, doesn’t necessarily mean that millennials know who you are or what you stand for.

I experienced lack of talent brand segmentation first hand. A few years ago, in my pre-LinkedIn life, I was contacted by a big and ‘sought after’ brand about a job opportunity. Already in a job and pretty satisfied, I was certainly a passive candidate at the time, but the company and opportunity intrigued me.

However, when I researched the company to understand what it would be like for me to work there, I could find little to no relevant information. There were two problems here:

  1. The organization had approached me about a digital marketing role, not an area they are known for. What would it even be like to work in this division at the company? How could I as an employee add value?
  2. I was living and working in the US at the time and this British firm had contacted me about a role in their New York office. What would it be like to work for this British brand there?

With these questions unanswered, my interest waned and I never moved forward with this opportunity. From an employer’s perspective, I was a ‘lost lead.’ I had been curious, but there was no targeted messaging to keep me engaged.

Undoubtedly there is growing pressure to keep recruitment costs down and ‘lost leads’ can hurt this. To avoid this pitfall, LinkedIn and CEB can offer some insights.

On Tuesday May 13th we’ll be co-hosting a webinar with CEB during which they’ll share their findings on how companies can get greater returns from their increasing employment branding investments by moving from branding for appeal, to branding for influence. This free webinar will really help employers up-level their talent marketing. Register here. Hope to see you there.

Employer Brand Playbook