There’s really only one reason that you should have any concern over your employment brand and it’s this:
Job at Great Brand = High Self-esteem
Stop for one minute and don’t think like a marketer, but like a normal person. Why does a normal person want to go to work for a great brand? Why would you?
Let me put it another way. Why do you buy and wear brand name clothing? It’s not because it’s, necessarily, better made than any other brand. It’s because it makes you feel good to wear that brand. People look at you and see that you’re wearing that brand. It gives you a boost to your self-esteem.
Now, think about the brands you love. For me, I love Nike. Always have, since I was a kid. I have a lot of Nike stuff in my life. When I see someone that works at Nike, I get excited. I want to know more about how they like it, what its like, etc. I’ve applied to work at Nike early in my career, and got shot down. I know working for Nike would have made me feel good about myself and the company I was working for. I have a belief that others would have been ‘impressed’ I was working for Nike. Whether if it was true or not, that was my perception.
The only true reason your employment brand is important is because of this. People want to work an organization that is a boost to their self-esteem. Even if your brand is neutral in doing that, it’s a negative. They want to work for a brand ‘they’ feel others will be impressed by for a number of varied reasons: it’s cool (Google/Zappos), it’s important (Universities/Government/FBI), they do good stuff (Hospitals/Teachers), they make a ton of money (Berkshire Hathaway), they are innovative (hot new tech firms), they are professional (law firms/banking/professional services), etc.
Your employment brand, for some segment of your hiring population, needs to raise their self-esteem. Find out what it is about you that does that, and you’ll have employment branding figured out.
Tim – I went to work at Amazon because of my experience with the brand as a customer and was highly disappointed by what I experienced as an employee. My experience with employer branding has taught me there are different values people use to evaluate working at a company. 1. Economic (pay and benefits), 2. Significance (wanting to make a difference in your job or as part of a larger organization), 3. Attraction (the cocktail party effect you mention), 4. Development (professional development and mentorship), 5. Social (this is why employee referrals work so well for companies), and 6. Personal (work-life balance, location, etc) All those reasons combined are why I left Amazon and came to work at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Yeah.. it’s not like a candidate at an Altria or Nike can say to the Talent Acquisition person: “I didn’t know you made that …or sourced product in China”.
Tim, how would you advise the HR folks at a place like Altria or Reynolds tobacco about this topic?
People love Altria and Reynolds products. Maybe not you, maybe not me, but their is a huge segment who are strong brand, non-apologetic ambassadors of those companies. People would love to work for those companies. We all have vices. Mine is buying Nike shoes made by 5 year old kids in China. I still want to work for them.
As Talent Acquisition Pros many times you just have to get comfortable with ‘your’ organizations talent pool, and not confuse it with a talent pool that isn’t yours.
Nicely written but I have to disagree (not completely). What about those companies that have a horrible reputation or known for poor leadership. Better yet, those that got hit hard during rough economic times and underwent massive layoffs. Letting that many people go hurts the town they live in. That memory is most certainly thought of when they “hire” again. Great companies who need tech talent but HQ aren’t in a high-tech town they too need help to tell their story. Lastly, I love Tory Burch shoes. BUT I’ve heard on more than one occasion she is quite the “B” to work with. It would take unite the “employment brand” and company story to make me even begin to think about working there.
Great comments. My question back to you – if you love Tory Burch Shoes, and working for Tory Burch Shoes would raise your self-esteem, why would you care if she is a bitch? You got what you wanted – a great brand to work for that you love. We all have to work with people who we might not like – that doesn’t have to ruin the brand.
I also think great brands layoff people and have to fight those up hill battles. Just because you layoff doesn’t make you a bad brand, and while many might have that perception, it won’t be all. GM, arguably, has one of the worst brands in the world based on their bankruptcy during the recession and government bail out. They still have absolutely no issue recruiting great talent, all over the country.
I think the real question is in the definition of how one defines employment branding. How they want to represent their culture not their product. As for my shoe addiction and Tory Burch. I have seen rotten leadership. I’m not one who wants to work for it or be associated with it.
Again, I completely agree that many people want a big name tied to their resume/reputation. However, even with that being said, there is a need to stand out. Be heard, be memorable.