March 17, 2021

Employer (Micro) Branding – Why Personalization Matters


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Highlights

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We all know how important it is to have consistency in the message. Showing a unified front demonstrates cohesiveness and organization. 

I’m kidding. That’s all wrong. People don’t join companies because of their image or corporate brand. Your values, mission statement, and employer value proposition never got anyone to say yes.

It’s the people that matter. That’s what gets others on board. Instead of showing how we’re the same, why aren’t we showing how we’re different?

Nate Guggia and James Hornick will discuss how you can hire by letting employees be themselves.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Episode Transcript

This is the body of the transcript.

Welcome to the employer. Content show part of the talent insights series brought to you by hire well, and before you apply, I’m your host James Hornick. Joining me is my co-host from before you apply and I’m behind the stays works.

I didn’t think of a special title to give you this week. Okay. Nate hey.

All right. Today’s today’s segment, employer, micro branding. Why personalization matters. Let me kick this one off and just do a quick intro because I think it also kind of relates to content and whatnot. And then  I’ll let you just reformat and we can kind of go back and forth. what I can say in all honesty that I’ve noticed just in myself in the last two years, it hasn’t been two years since I started doing a lot of content.

Whatnot is I’ve gained a lot of perspectives on things I would not have thought about otherwise. Just because in the process continually doing content creation like you and I do a show every two weeks. And then on the off weeks, I’m doing a show with Jeff Smith and then we’re always kind of like riffing off different ideas, like with our LinkedIn posts and the newsletter that I do and stuff like that.

I wouldn’t be digging deep enough, like in the process of having to create new content, you have to constantly be digging and finding new thoughts, new ideas that if, if that wasn’t driving you, you might never arrive on those points. You know what I mean? Today’s topics actually, one of those things that I think so too, because, and I’ll give you an example, and I really want you to kind of lead the brunt of this discussion because it was your idea in the first place.

and it’s also kind of what you guys were focusing in, but. I said for the longest time, because I believed it and it’s still half true. That companies need to be on the same damn page. Like one of the biggest reasons why interviews go bad is because inconsistency in messaging, meaning one interviewer says one thing, another interviewer says something else, the candidates like these guys don’t know what they’re doing.

Like they’re, you know, left-hand and right-hand on the same page. You know, I don’t know who my boss would be in this role. Like, there’s all kinds of like this disjointedness, that surfaces during interviews and a bunch of different things. So like, I’ve always said, like, you know, you have to have like concise consolidated message.

Now what I realized is that that’s only true for half of it. Like process-related things or structure the organization, things or like things that are clearly top down, but not everything in your messaging is, is going to be universal across the company. And, because I see things on the other side to not to kind of have the Berry or not to kind of jump to one of the conclusions here is there’s a lot of times where companies will, they’ll talk about their, their, I hate saying company culture.

Cause we also kind of dump on why that’s a phrase we should probably get away from. But for lack of a better term company culture, it’s impossible for company culture to be the same across the board. Yeah. Okay. So, and that’s what I, I guess, let me kick it over to you and you can kind of elaborate on this kind of topic and what we mean by micro branding.

Okay. Yeah. this is like, well, first off, this is making me think a little bit about my post today and how I was thinking about this idea of kind of like reverse engineering. Content creation. instead of like creating stuff that, you know, your candidate wants create stuff that is going to help inform your employees to get them aligned.

I think like what you described it’s highly accurate. there’s a lot of inconsistencies and so.  That kind of comes down to like internal communications and process. And this idea of like documenting some of those things for the employees is also going to double as external resources do just straight up things that candidates really want to know, that will help with that alignment and put some like some assets.

In place that can actually live a pretty long time. And we’ll just like, need to be updated periodically as things change. But like that alone, right there is like a two for one situation where you’re going to get people aligned. You’re going to help with like the internal communications piece. And at the same time equip recruiters with like straight up things that are going to help candidates, especially like once they’re in the funnel and like starting to go through the process.

and then, and then if we look at like, Top of the funnel starting the right conversations. you know, with when it comes to employer branding, the employer branding is starting to move at a faster pace, but companies they’re not catching up to it. Right. So what I mean by that is like, Companies are still struggling in some ways to like showcase their organizational culture, let’s say, and put like those pieces in place and get like this career site that represents that in like, you know, things like that.

But at the same time, like I think the industry is moving more and more and more to this like micro branding or in this micro branding direction, because it just helps recruiters have better conversations. Like. Sending out like a general culture piece to a candidate might do. Okay. But sending out something that dives into like the team culture, that that candidate is going to be a part of is going to do a lot more and it’s going to, and I think the reason why is, it’s just, it’s easier to do that too.

It’s easier to get one manager bought into what you’re doing than trying to like get the larger organization to agree on anything it is. and there’s a. There’s this thing like with, like, if you think about it, like, it’s, it comes back to like what is going to help the recruiter and have the right conversation or have a better conversation or have a faster conversation.

It’s like, what is going to do that? And the more granular you can get, before those conversations start to like, To help the candidate, like fully understand what they’re getting themselves into. Maybe they don’t want to be a part of this. Like it’s like the whole attractor repel thing that we’ve talked so much about.

 I think the industry is like moving in that direction. companies need to catch up to that, like more quickly, because like, in, in the conversations that I have a lot of the times with talent leaders who are like, especially ones that are like more at the front lines, they’re just like, Not doing stuff like that is creating more work for our team.

And then like, how do we,  lessen that load and get people to the right conversations as fast as possible? And I think that’s, that’s the direction the whole, the industry is going. Yeah, there’s I, and  this is your space, not mine, but this is kind of one of the issues I’ve had when I look at like a lot of.

Employer brand lists type viewpoints. You know what I mean? Like you’re getting your EVP sorted out and all these very kind of high level things are. It’s why I think a lot of these things aren’t relevant to actual recruiting.  Like I’ve said before, I’ve never seen employer value proposition actually like get anybody hired, you know what I mean?

Yeah. And cause I think that all, if I’m a job seeker, all I really care about is okay, who’s my hire. Who am I going to report to? Who’s who’s my leader. You know what I mean? What’s the team going to work on like that’s stuff that actually matters, you know, not like what your official, company-wide the position on what your culture is and all these other types of things, you know, especially, and you have to realize too, we’re, we’re talking about, we could be talking about a company and 10 people.

We can be cognizant a company. You have 50,000 people, which are two very different things. Yeah. The larger organization is like the more impossible it is to believe there’s any kind of concerted quote unquote company culture. But anyways, I digress. Yeah. I think like the EVP thing, when it comes down to it, it’s an attempt for alignment.

 There’s a lot of ways you can get there. but I think that’s like really what it’s about is like, it’s an attempt for like alignment when the company is kind of gotten lost in a way. yeah, but, you know, I want to, like, I want to go back to like the content piece and, I’ve mentioned this company before as a wonderful example.

I’m gonna mention again, Qualtrics, , Like when you look at the Qualtrics career site, they have these like team specific micro-sites because they really understand that culture is really defined at this like team or function level. sure. There’s like consistent organizational values and things like that.

That kind of align everybody. But, but. Dude engineers operate different than salespeople and they operate different than marketing. And like, it’s really, really important to like to showcase that. And so they do a wonderful job. and I think like, even, even to start with just putting, like, you guys do a good job of this, of like, of like making the content creation part easy, like we’ve, you know, we’ve talked about like creating like simple frameworks that answer like really.

core questions are key things that candidates want to know, and you can just apply that to the team level and you can do it like consistently over and over. It’s not hard. It’s just like, taking this different mindset instead of going like so broad, dialing it down to like personalization, I guess, or like persona based.

Yeah. I think it’s important. And that’s why, what I would. If I was gonna try to relate this back to a recruiter and what they should do and how they should kind of view this. There are certain things that process-related things that are, the things need to be uniform. So, how reviews work, how promotions work, communicating how decisions are made, communicating who’s in charge of what areas like these are things that everybody in that interview process has to be saying the same thing, because people aren’t saying the same thing, then you sound absolutely ridiculous and people think you have no idea you’re talking about, but everything else related to, you know, kind of, as you said, when it comes to you have to be you’re, you should be telling a different story for each group.

Within your organization that you’re working with. So when a job seeker says, why should I join you? Like what’s, what’s cool about your organization? You know, whatever, whatever the question is, if you’re telling a sales candidate the same answer that you’re telling a tech candidate, the same answer that you’re telling an operations candidate, you know, whatever you’re doing it wrong, like there should not be one message to tell there are three different types of people I think is maybe the short way of kind of something that’s all up.

And I’ve always said, I think that recruiters, this is also another case for why we need to get out of the like talent acquisition should not be housed in HR. Hmm. Dotted-line sure. Whatever. But like when times are normal and you’re back in the office like your recruiters should be sitting with and working with the teams that they support.

Because those are the teams that they get to know. Now I realize in certain organizations can be tough because like, it might be an organization where you’re recruiting, you’re supporting a bunch of different functions, but you have to find a way to, to kind of divide your time up and, and kind of get the know, like, these are your real teammates in terms of what you’re trying to achieve, because you need to.

Be able to talk about your dev team and what it’s like to work on that team knowledgeably the same way you would, your marketing team or anything else. And it’s just not to repeat myself again, but those things have to be distinctly different in terms of how you then message it out to potential candidates.

Yeah. Yeah, totally.

That was it. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know if I could jump in with anything smart.  I’m gonna leave it. I right. Go. Did you want to talk about, so kind of related to this and it’s, it’s a different area. We talked about the split in prep, cause we also want to get into personalization a little bit and nurture campaigns and email and whatnot.

Like we’ve, I’ve talked in the past thing maybe the last year or two shows ago. I can’t remember like my challenges with. Tech and process and data and those types of things, but at the same time too, I think that, There’s definitely an opportunity for recruitment to be more intelligent in the way they communicate with people on a more personalized level.

and I think that this kind of ties into the same thing in terms of micro branding. You know what I mean? knowing, segmenting your list of people you’ve been in touch with and your commute, like if you’ve got a pool of not to extend it, you’re gonna hate this one, your talent community, which is.

Calling your email list of town community. Give me a break, how you would go about how you could leverage that. If you think that’s effective, if you know anybody who’s like done a good job of that and seeing good returns from it, I guess I’m curious. let’s see. one of your clients Ferrara. Okay. When I recently they do a really good job of this, I was really impressed.

I just liked the way they think about it. They’re like they put a heavy emphasis on like when, when somebody’s taking care of somebody who doesn’t get hired, like, I don’t know if there’s like a better way for me to say it. yeah. Gets, gets rejected, gets rejected. Yeah. they just do a really good job.

Like it’s like, it is a core. Piece of their process. And it’s like, they’re very intentional about it. And I was like, when I heard that, I was like, Whoa, this is, this is great. Go ahead. I mean, Oh, I need to, I need to hit up my contact there because I need to know more about it’s very rare. I hear anybody say that a company does a great job of letting people turn down and believing in a positive.

So this is interesting. Keep going. Sorry. Via, you know, this is like one of those things where like the idea of a talent community. Let’s just say it like, it’s a really agreeable thing. It sounds like it makes a lot of sense. And maybe in some cases it does. But like building for one, building a community is very, very challenging.

It’s, it’s hard to do. It’s hard to get a group of people who like care enough to pay attention on like a regular basis or at least care enough. Like when you get an email in your inbox or a ping in your Slack channel, that’s really hard. And like, I think the, the idea of talent community is like, really, I’m going to send you an email when we’re hiring.

Yeah. That’s like all it means. And it’s like, that’s not going to do it. It’s going to get a lot of unsubscribes. and I think that, you know, there’s, if you really want, if you want to do it really well, you kind of need a, you need like a head of community, somebody who’s going to like really like build something and continually bring value and like give people a reason to like, want to pay attention.

And then if you can do that long enough and build up enough trust when you are hiring people like really pay attention. so I have two things. So one, I think in order to have a true town community where you are job seekers are just waiting on bated breath to see like, if you’re hiring, like you have to be Google.

Amazon Facebook. Yeah. I mean, you’re one of those companies that people actually write books about how to interview, therefore, right? Like there’s that much interest, you know what I mean? How to get a dev. I know that like how to pass Facebook’s like interview process, you know what I mean? That’s like a thing short of that.

I think that, I guess the second point, I think it’s less about, it’s not a talent acquisition function. It’s just an extension of a thought leadership function, right? So like you need to, in order to do this well, to when you’re going to hire and people are just going to like, get an email and be like, shit.

Yeah. Let’s do it. yeah, like the content has to be from, for example, your VP of engineering who talks about engineering stuff, you know what I mean? it has to be like a domain knowledge quote, unquote. To use a terrible term influencer who is just respected in the community and turning that into an email list or something like that, turning that into like, you know, and it’s where you and I are both kind of doing this right now on sub stack, not to, you know, plug anything we’re kind of doing with our newsletters, but the idea of turning a blog into a newsletter, you know what I mean?

Blogs are really boring. No one checks and reads them anymore, but Hey, if that’s what’s showing up in your inbox every day, but if you can create a. Your talent community should actually be, not be run by recruitment or at least not be penned by recruitment. But if you can have separate, you know, communities set up for your core areas, your COO, your CTO, your, heads of kind of these major departments where they, talk about, you know, leadership and domain knowledge within their field.

And that’s why people check out their newsletter. And that’s what people want to see about. Then in this situation where every once in while you need to hire, there’s just that, Hey, by the way, we’re hiring for a role right now. Boom. I mean, Dave Gerhardt is one of the best examples of this. Yeah. I mean, he is, the greatest talent acquisition tool that pretty his company or the company that he works at has, I mean, All he would have to do.

And like, I ha I haven’t actually seen him do this, but all he would have to do is post we’re hiring for this. Even like, especially if it’s like a very hard to hire, like senior leadership role or something like that. I mean, and you know, it’s right there because he, because , he has such an audience that trusts him.

 I really, really like what you’re saying right now about function leaders. having these like channels. there’s a reason why companies who have like popular engineering blogs, for example, do so well with engineering candidates. because they have a lot of engineers who follow their stuff, who are employed.

who know everything that they’re doing, they think they’re saying some really smart things. And when those opportunities come, they get a lot of qualified inbound. Like I’ve talked to the two, like a number, not a number. That’s an exaggeration. I’ve talked to a couple of these companies, who have that level of audience.

I also, like,  I’ve been thinking so much about these like micro events that I really wish, like some company would just run where they have, Let’s say a head of engineering or VP of sales or something who brings in other like smart people in the industry. And does these like small kind of like fireside chat-style events, you know, where you invite, like maybe you can even close it off.

You invite like 30 people or 50 people or whatever to participate. And it’s just like that leader and somebody else in the industry, just like talking shop about. An aspect of that industry or an aspect of sales or an aspect of engineering or whatever. And like, people are just hearing from smart people.

They can do a Q and a do nothing. It’s not about like, Hey, I’m trying to hire you. It’s just like straight up value add. And if you can do that on it on a consistent basis, like you’ll have so much trust with that audience that like the rest of it kind of takes care of itself. Do you think this is going to be the killer app for how regular people can actually use clubhouse for a purpose?

Maybe, I mean, not to go down another rabbit hole, but it’s like,  as you know, I’m notoriously South on notorious, like cold on clubhouse in general. Although I believe that like super high profile people are gonna make a killing off it. Like Elon Musk did one the other day. Right.  And everyone like line up for that.

But what you’re saying is. Because I love the idea of micro events. This is what everyone, a year ago, this time everyone thought like small events were going to be what made your marketing year. Right? That was like the trendy thing before the pandemic, January 20, 20, everyone was like, you know, we were everywhere.

Our goal is to like, do some like smaller events, a little more intimate. We get to know people, that type of thing, but that all went South. everyone changed their plans and, I guess some people were kind of doing it. Like I haven’t seen a ton of people have success with it, or a ton of people do it.

and an online format, at least not it’s. I mean, some people are, but like, not like not at the level where like everyone was doing these events constantly, that was kind of their main focus, but maybe clubhouse is the app that enables yeah. Maybe. And I think it’s different. It’s different than a podcast.

So like, you know, it’s not like. You’re not what we’re doing right now. Like it’s different. Like this is or zoom webinar. It’s two people talking and people are commenting. It’s not the same. You know what I mean? As what we’re talking about? No, it’s like invite Yeah. It’s like private.  There’s something to that, anyway,  but that, all comes back to like, I mean really, and I know this is hard, a lot of companies and I think maybe some.

Some leaders are just like more inclined to do it naturally. but man, it’s like, there’s no shying away from the fact that if somebody in leadership can build a following, it does wonders for recruiting. Yeah. And tying it back to the initial original topic. Like that is what we ultimately mean by micro branding.

You know, it’s that leader, that tech leader, that marketing there, that whoever. You know, that’s, that’s what your quote unquote culture is for those people who are in that group as opposed to a concerted company culture. Cause I still maintain that. I think the job seekers know that a broader culture is BS like that.

You just kinda know that if you’re hearing the same thing that like the people in the tech group and the people in the sales group and whatever, like they’re all, everything’s kind of the same. Like you just know that’s not real. It doesn’t match any experience you ever had working before?

So why would you advertise yeah. Yourself that way? Yeah. Definitely. Just the time. one or two, I wanted to throw this out there, cause it was something that I planned on. We kind of went in a different direction, which is totally cool. But back to email for one second. Okay. Here’s why I get nervous about any kind of recruitment lead email campaign, like a job seeker.

So we talked about nurture campaigns from our perspective of, you know, a newsletter version of a tech blog being kind of the replacing that, and the job seeking a hiring angle is like an added benefit when those things come up. The reason why I get nervous about the idea of just emailing people, your jobs, and like you have a job email list aside from the fact that I think a lot of people won’t open those after a while to just get tuned out.

I definitely think that a lot of interviews that went South that didn’t go well, people got rejected straight up, or a lot of that negative feedback never gets captured. You know, recruiters in touristy bad at updating notes and their ATS and keeping track of things and anyone who’s ever run a mess.

Every single person, the world’s ever run a mass email campaign once has had something blow up in their face at some point in time. Like it’s you see how bad things can get when you just have the wrong person on that list. And I think that’s why, like, I think with, with anything that’s kind of focused on email-based campaigns, I wouldn’t advise it just because you have to make sure people executing.

It is extremely good at making sure everything’s kind of up to date and whatnot, but that being said original topic. If it’s a thought leadership or cool, I think it’s great. I’m able to do it. Yeah. Me too. I think that that’s the thing that everyone should be doing right now is trying to get their leaders of the organization, bought into the idea that,  I get, when leaders, not everybody wants to be on social media, not everybody wants to write a Twitter.

One that wants to be on Twitter. Not everybody wants to ever be on LinkedIn, whatever. Totally cool. It is a lot of bad things to say about social, but if it’s a closed email list, like I don’t see what, what the harm is. People are subscribing to it. They’re signing up to it. It’s not as public. It’s a little more private.

Yeah. Yeah. how you can even do it yourself if you’re not- instead of  trying to recruit a senior leader to do it, you can do it yourself. Like a person could do it themselves. Yeah. Sub stack. I know it’s right there. I mean, yeah. Talent, rants and sarcasm on sub stack. That’s mine. Anyway, you’re such a plug.

Well, it was funny that I looked over the statistics and some people found it via search, meaning they actually searched talent, rants and sarcasm to find it. No kidding. Yeah. So I found that amusing that made my day like one person, but still at me and my day anyway. Yeah. I think that’s all I got. You got anything else?

 All right. No, this was a good one.  Yeah, I enjoyed it. Everybody. That’s a wrap for the employer content show. If you want to hear more of what Nate and I have to say, you can subscribe to the hirewell channel on YouTube, where we have a playlist of all of our episodes and the talent insights podcast, which is available on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Amazon, and Spotify.

Nate. Thanks. Good. Seeing as always everybody out there we’ll see you soon. Bye-bye.

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