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January 8, 2016

Employer Branding to Candidate Engagement: What’s Your Killer App for Recruiting?

glass office building

Employer Branding to Candidate Engagement: What’s Your Killer App for Recruiting?

We recently brought together 30+ human resources and talent management professionals from Silicon Valley for a candid conversation regarding how to create an authentic employer brand and candidate experience without burning through the HR budget.

Kicking off the event was Stacy Zapar, founder of Tenfold and employee engagement and recruiting veteran, who set up the global employer branding, social recruiting and sourcing initiatives for TripAdvisor and Zappos.

Stacy’s lively session provided an inside look at how culture trumps cash when it comes to employer branding. If you’re not sold on the importance of employer branding, consider these points from her presentation:

  • 83 percent of talent leaders agree employer brand has a significant impact on the ability to hire great talent according to LinkedIn research.
  • Employer branding is like casting a net. If people love you, they’ll come to you instead of you fishing for them.
  • Having a strong employer brand is not just for talent attraction; it also helps you close the deal with better pre-qualified candidates.

Killer Content is Key

Although it starts with creating a genuinely great company culture, the power of the employer brand lies in sharing it in an authentic way. According to Stacy, it isn’t realistic to invite everyone in for a constant stream of open houses—although events are a solid recruitment tactic, it’s going to be content, especially video, that does the heavy lifting. The most effective employer brand content is created by employees, not by the corporate communications and HR teams.

Stacy quoted digital correspondent and social strategist Sarah Evans, “Great content makes people want to share, care or swear.”

To make a splash with your employer brand content, Stacy recommends these content types:

Employer Branding Chart

So what does that look like in practice? A few of the examples Zapar shared include:

“Employer branding tells a story,” noted Zapar. “Candidates would rather hear what life at your company is like from your employees. Authentic content that employees create about life at the company is more effective than formal images.”

Are you afraid that some of that authentic day-in-the-life content might scare off some candidates? “Don’t be, because if it’s doing its job, it should scare them off,” according to Stacy. “A sophisticated employer brand not only attracts people, it detracts people,” she said. “If you share content that ultimately turns some people away – good job! That’s actually a positive.” She went on to explain that not every candidate will ultimately be a good fit for your culture, and it’s better for them to self-select out before you spend time and resources recruiting them.

Stacy also touched on the importance of responding to all Glassdoor postings. “Take the time to respond to all interview feedback – positive and negative. Encourage your employees to post on Glassdoor so you obtain a representative range of feedback,” she said.

Blue Jeans, Minted, and MobileIron HR Leaders on Employer Brand & Candidate Engagement

Norwest’s own Kris Snodgrass brought a panel of people leaders from Norwest portfolio companies on stage to join Stacy. Tasha Liniger from Blue Jeans Network, Mala Singh from Minted, and Jared Lucas from MobileIron answered questions from the audience and shared best practices regarding deploying their own employer brands.

So how does a compelling employer brand genuinely reflect your company culture?

Mala Singh discussed the importance of beautiful images as part of the Minted brand. “Every employee who feels good about working at Minted is going to want to share their images,” she noted.  The evidence is on Instagram and Twitter under the employee hashtag #WorkingAtMinted.  While the hashtag was initially developed by the HR team, the content is 100-percent employee-generated and completely moderated by employees.

Additionally, Mala emphasized the importance of candidate engagement. While employer branding starts online, candidate engagement experience picks up the moment a candidate walks through the door for an interview.  At Minted they know candidates may have hours of interviews ahead of them, so when candidates arrive they receive a welcome basket with a hand-written personalized note, drinks, and snacks along with their interview schedule.  After a candidate accepts an offer, he or she receives a goodie bag filled with Minted products plus a Minted gift certificate along with the offer letter.  This not only reinforces company culture and brand, but also lets prospective hires interact with the site and the products before they even start working at the company.

Minted Welcome Packet

At video collaboration start-up Blue Jeans Network, the team infuses the Blue Jeans product in the company’s employer branding initiatives from the beginning. “Video is our culture,” said Tasha Liniger. Before the interview process, the functional teams create a personal video message to show candidates what it would look like working in their group. This not only showcases the Blue Jeans product, but also provides a glimpse into the team dynamic.

At MobileIron, the company’s employer brand blog, “Why I Work at MobileIron” gives prospective candidates a feel for the company culture and reveals the motivations of why employees joined the company. Recognized as a winner of Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards as one of the “Top 50 Best Places to Work in 2015,” Jared Lucas is serious about candidate experience. “We’ve been using Net Promoter Score for six years,” he said. “It’s really powerful.” Not only do they leverage great content, they also actively encourage employees to think of themselves as recruiters. He shared that they source their best tech candidates through employee referrals. “Referrals are like gold,” he said.

Ready to put your employer branding plan into action? For insights into what other employers are doing in the employee branding world, Stacy recommends visiting the Employer Branding Forum on Facebook. Norwest also has several helpful resources available to its portfolio company entrepreneurs, including a white paper on Net Promoter Score. Lastly, we would love to see your employer branding best practices in the comments, or in reply to @NorwestVP on Twitter.