Does the image that you portray to your customers, clients or consumers match the image that you portray to potential employees? The answer to this question could be critical to your recruiting success.
As a recruiter, I learned early on that a company’s brand or even its marketplace reputation may be entirely different than its image as an employer. I must admit that I learned this the hard way.
I was excited to finally get my foot in the door to conduct a search for a large toy company; one that was making innovative strides in the industry resulting in a strong track record of growth. The trade journals glowed with praise. Parenting magazines gave rave reviews. Recruiting for this winning company would be fun!
Admittedly, this was before I began doing culture studies as part of a search, but in talking with internal contacts, I came away with what seemed a pretty good handle on the environment. Yes, there had been some growing pains. And yes, the Founder/CEO was a bit of a mad scientist type who sometimes ranted. So, I would adjust the candidate criteria to include being relatively thick-skinned -- not unusual in a fast-paced, rapidly growing environment. I even came up with a great spin on how to talk about the brilliant, yet eccentric, genius who ran the company.
So, I hit the pavement (in a manner of speaking) in search of candidates and was taken aback by the adamant resistance met. The toy industry is a small world; everyone I spoke with must have had a college roommate, a coworker, or someone in their network that had worked for this company, coming away with a horror story. The CEO's outbursts, it was revealed, occurred frequently and were brutal. While senior management bore the brunt of this, the trickle-down effect created an environment that was painfully demoralizing.
Did I complete the search? Yes. On the verge of resigning from the assignment based on my discoveries, I remembered someone who desperately wanted to relocate to the same city as my client to be near her fiancé. I also remembered her to be thoroughly thick-skinned with an amazing sense of humor. I was completely honest with her and she thought the trade-offs would be worthwhile in the end. She stayed with the company for two years.
The company culture did not constitute the employer brand even though the culture contributed to this. The company's employer brand was the set of perceptions, among other things, that influenced people's interest (or lack thereof) in working for the company and their willingness to stay. I could have had a very lucrative client given the turnover at this particular company.
In some industries or settings this would filter into the radar of other stakeholders and impact the company's external relationships. For instance, as a recruiter, I refuse to work with this company and, as a consumer, I will not buy its products.
Now that I’ve given an example of a poor employer brand, next time, I want to talk about a more positive one. Then, in future posts, I’ll share on actually developing a positive employer brand.
If you run a company, you have control over your company’s employer brand. If you have a significant executive role in an organization, you can go a long way in contributing to that brand.
You actually have more influence over your employer brand than you do over your marketplace brand.