If there's one thing I've learned about employment branding in reality, it's that an employment brand alone really won't get you anywhere.
You might have your ad agency put together a fancy ad that resembles the key points of your employment brand and has imagery that encompasses the culture of your company. But even that only gets you so far.
There comes a point in a candidate's experience of your employment brand's message that they either buy into and believe your company's vision and that you're actually executing it, or they realize that an ad agency cleverly put together a "pile of BS" that's too good to be true.
A lot of employment brands tend to end up with the latter, falling flat on their face, damaging the company's brand and only pushing people away.
You could spend six months to a year talking to every employee in your company, analyzing every aspect of your culture, and discovering what makes your employment value proposition so unique in your market -- but all of this really doesn't matter unless you make it come to life in a way that we, as people, can grasp and buy into.
Once you have them there, everything else, every perk and medical plan, are simply justification for their belief that they belong with you.
So how do you do it? How do you make people believe? It's easy: stop acting like it's the '80s, build an online campaign, and act human again.
Recruit people, not resumes
Recruitment wasn't revolutionized by Craigslist -- all we did was bring the '80s online; print classifieds all over again. Boring, detached and certainly never the home of great employment brands.
This isn't the 1900s or the Industrial Revolution either; you're not recruiting people because they have good hands, feet, an able body and will work well in your corporate machine.
You're recruiting people who have minds, emotions, families and a very specific set of desires. So why not treat them that way when conveying your employment brand? Talk to them like people and let them meet other people who share in your vision.
Use the resource that's right in front of you
And yes, you guessed it, the only way to talk to them like people is to use people in your content strategy. This means getting your top performers to give genuine testimonials on camera, pouring out their story of how they came to love your vision and how they are both intellectually and financially satisfied by your EVP.
And while video will connect them with faces and stories that speak to them on a personal level, it's really only the beginning of bringing your employment brand to life. After all, actually getting to meet those people is what brings you into 2009.
Invite them to engage in the conversations your employees (or should we just say "your people") are having about your company to learn more about those people and what the company's up to.
Open a window into your company
From there you have to consistently provide more by opening a window into your company through blogs from employees or tweets and Facebook posts that resemble every aspect of your employment brand, from its tone and voice all the way down to the minute points that are focused on. Same goes for recruiters interacting with potential candidates on these networks as well.
Your employment brand can still be complex and well-researched, but it can't be presented by a marketing department, an ad agency or a classifieds posting. Your employment brand IS your employees, your people, their minds and what makes them tick.
Anyone who thinks a blog written by an ad agency for your careers site is going to be effective might as well throw in the towel now.
Social networking can be a driver of authenticity
And don't underestimate a tool like Facebook, as once you've started a fanbase that contains both your current employees and potential candidates, you have the opportunity to generate testimonials from your employees (who are real people who have favorite movies, pictures with family, etc.), all of which will be seen by those candidates.
Where once your employment brand was a static ad, it can now be dynamic and trustworthy. It can take the form of 100 responses from employees to a Facebook status update asking who submitted "Caught You Carings" that week and why. Your employees are both brand and employment brand ambassadors wherever they go, so why not direct them?
Bring it all to life
My point here is simple: the tools are all there, your employment brand is hopefully already developed, so why not actually bring it to life? Sure, you can keep your print ad running (keep newspapers alive a little longer), but supplement it with real people online.
As I think we're going to find out in the next five years, a company's employment brand will be ever-evolving and will be defined by an online collaboration between employers and their employees.
I'm starting to see more and more internal campaigns
involving Flip cams sent out to various offices and being sent back to headquarters to create a mashup that ultimately resembles your employees in their most creative, raw form -- as people.
This kind of content is what ultimately defines your employment brand, and it's that collaboration that when made public makes a print ad or a Craigslist posting look like cavemen work.
And as that collaboration in defining branding starts to take shape, companies leveraging those tools will see their employment brand not only strengthen, but be more honest and truthful, ultimately making it all the more easier for a potential candidate to buy into and believe your company's mission, vision and culture.
is how you make people believe.