Guy Kawasaki’s Blunt Advice to Recruiters (3 Tough Talent Brand Questions)

January 28, 2015

Guy Kawasaki is one of LinkedIn’s top Influencers with 1.4M followers - and counting. He is also the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. As a successful serial entrepreneur who’s built many teams, it’s safe to say from a leadership point of view, Guy understands the importance of hiring the right talent into your organization.

Recruiters who need greater executive buy-in…this one’s for you!

If you’re having trouble getting your executive team to embrace the need for employment branding to attract top talent, especially with social media, you may want to share Guy’s perspective below.

QUESTION 1:  Do you agree that companies should build an employment brand (EB) as a way to attract and retain top talent? If so, can you provide examples from your own experience as a business owner on how EB helped your company succeed in getting the best employees? What measurable difference did that have on your success?

“I’ve never heard of the concept of an employment brand until you asked me this question. It is an interesting concept. Positively used, it means that a company has understood that a “customer” is a potential employees, and that’s a good thing. Negatively used, it means that a company is putting "lipstick on a pig” and is trying to make itself more attractive to potential employees than the underlying reality of the company. So, my answer depends on which way the company is using the concept. I’m an optimist, so I assume that employment branding is a good thing in the war for talent.”

QUESTION 2: As someone who has been at the forefront of social media, you make great points about it being used poorly by businesses. Can you give some examples of ways companies could use social media to properly attract and engage top talent? Have you seen any recent examples of this you could point to?

“Continuing on with my dislike of lipstick on pigs, social media should be an accurate reflection of the underlying goodness of a company—in terms of product quality, support, working conditions, etc. If this is the reality and social media reflects this reality, then there’s no reason to have social media make “special” efforts to attract and engage top talent. Social media, in this case, simply provides a window into the soul of the company, and external parties will pick up the goodness (or lack of goodness) without any special effort.”

QUESTION 3: Canva, which specializes in graphic design, is your latest start-up venture. Visuals are a big part of all marketing efforts these days. EB is no exception. How could a company use Canva services to build EB materials that would attract top talent?

“Adding visuals to social-media posts, in my experience, doubles the amount of engagement. Every social media post should have a graphic or video to break through the noise. Canva is a fast, free, and easy way to create customized graphics to place a company in the best, most engaging light.”

TAKEAWAY: Can your company’s talent brand answer the following?

I think Guy reinforces three key questions every company with significant hiring goals should be asking itself right now. They are:

  1. Are we being accurate and compelling in our effort to educate candidates on what it’s like to work for our company?
  2. Do we have the right content (i.e. articles, visuals, and videos) to improve candidate engagement with our talent brand online?
  3. Are there any aspects of working for our company that are undesirable and could hurt us in an effort to attract the best talent? Especially, if the conditions were made public on social media channels (i.e. Glassdoor, Twitter), where candidates may be researching our talent brand?

If the company you’re recruiting for can’t respond to the above with confidence, it’s time to educated your executive team on the shift that’s occurring. Job seekers have the upper hand now – read this LinkedIn article to see why it’s going to get really difficult to hire top talent. It’s the employer’s turn to start impressing candidates with their talent brands – or suffer the consequences!


J.T. O’Donnell is a Top 20 LinkedIn Influencer and CEO of, a site that helps employers of all shapes and sizes tell accurate and compelling stories to recruit better candidates for their companies. You can learn more here >>

*Image by Official Le Web photos

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