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This dilemma now jeopardizes the careers of countless HR professionals. The workplace has never been more hostile to people in all professions, crafts and trades, but HR professionals are particularly vulnerable. They work in a field that corporate America defines as “overhead” which is just another term for expendable. When the budget axe swings, therefore, their careers are at the head of the line to the chopping block.
The irony of this situation is that HR professionals actually serve both their employers and their coworkers better when they serve themselves, as well. Caring for their own career’s health improves their ability both to manage talent effectively for the organization and to help employees realize their full potential. Said another way, HR professionals make their best contribution by focusing first on their own well-being at work.
How is that so? Practicing healthy career habits not only makes HR professionals more credible—they walk the talk about successful career self-management—it gives them the tools they need to be effective on-the-job. When HR professionals care for their own careers, they acquire a better understanding of how to help others care for theirs. They gain the knowledge and the experience to provide the best possible counsel to coworkers.
There’s an equally important second benefit to such an approach. Attentive career self-management also enables HR professionals to be ready for and react effectively to sudden changes in their own fortunes. The current economic crisis will eventually be resolved, but the 21st Century world of work will always be a turbulent and challenging environment. Being prepared, therefore, is the only prudent way to protect oneself from career cardiac arrest or what most of us call termination.
Thankfully, there are a number of powerful principles and tools for building a healthy career in our modern workplace. They integrate both the best of what was developed in the last century and the new ideas and technology that have emerged in this century. They empower working men and women to direct their own destinies in the workplace so that they can express and experience their unique talent. All HR professionals have to do is take advantage of them and take charge of their careers.
What does it mean to take charge of your career? The following excerpt explores this idea further. It’s drawn from my new book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System.
Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System begins with a very simple premise: in order to achieve true career security in today’s tough times, we must re-imagine ourselves as “career athletes.” We must see ourselves as a new breed of worker-champion. Our model is not that of the athletes engaged in professional sports, but rather, the athletes who are most like us. Worker-champions are the workplace version of Olympians, at least Olympians as they were originally envisioned. These champions are not amateurs; they are athletic activists.
Such athletes have a number of special attributes:.
Career athletes are also not amateurs; they are career activists. Their attributes are identical to those of athletes engaged in sports:
We can’t become successful career athletes, however, by simply stating our intention to do so. We also can’t rely on serendipity or depend on fate or good fortune, and we certainly can’t look to our employers to make it happen. We won’t transform ourselves into career activists by wishful thinking or by being loyal and dependable and showing up for work every day.
There is only one sure way to establish ourselves as genuine career athletes, and that’s to practice Career Fitness. This concept is based on two lessons all of us have learned about our physical health. From our earliest days as a child, we are taught that:
These responsibilities are nontransferable and nonnegotiable. When we ignore them, we harm ourselves; and when we accept them, we better our lives.
In the 21st Century workplace, the same facts of life apply to our careers, as well:
Career Fitness enables us to become career athletes and face down the bullies among our employers. It gives us a new vision for our work and the fortitude and self-confidence with which to redesign the nature of our employment. It transforms the reality of our workplace experience. It alters the possibility in our lives from simple survival to prosperity and fulfillment.
Career Fitness will restore us—it will give us back what many of us have lost: our belief in the American Dream—but it will not recreate the past. It will not bring back the gold watch or a workplace built on (seemingly stable) career ladders. Instead, Career Fitness enables us to re-set the conditions of our future. It empowers us to end the abusive behavior of bad employers and to reach for the extraordinary occupational goals that each and every one of us are naturally capable of achieving. It liberates us to claim our right to full citizenship in the American workplace as well as in the American polity. Ultimately, Career Fitness gives us the vision and the tools to transform our work into a personal and potent pursuit of Happiness.
How do you translate the concept of Career Fitness into a fit career?
As with physical fitness, you have to condition your career on a regular and repetitive schedule. You have to develop occupational strength, endurance and reach by working on your seven centers of career vitality. I call these loci of activity the Career Fitness “exercises.” They are: These responsibilities are also nontransferable and nonnegotiable. When we ignore them, we harm our standard of living; and when we accept them, we better the quality of our lives.
I. Pump Up Your Cardiovascular System The heart of your career is your occupational expertise, not your knowledge of some employer’s standard operating procedures. Re-imagine yourself as a work-in-progress so that you are always been adding depth and tone to your HR knowledge and skill set and memorializing that enlarged capacity on your resume.
II. Strengthen Your Circulatory System The wider and deeper your network of contacts, the more visible you and your capabilities will be in the workplace. Adding to your network, however, means exactly what the word says—it’s netWORK, not net-get-around-to-it-whenever-it’s-convenient. Make nurturing professional relationships a part of your normal business day.
III. Develop All of Your Muscle Groups The greater your versatility in contributing your expertise at work , the broader the array of situations and assignments in which you can be employed. Develop ancillary skills—for example, the ability to speak a second language or knowledge of key software programs—that will give you more ways to apply your HR capability in the workplace.
IV. Increase Your Flexibility & Range of Motion In the 21st Century world of work, career progress is not always a straight line, nor does it always look as it has in the past or stay the same for very long. Moving from industry-to-industry, from one daily schedule to another or even from one location to another is never easy, but your willingness to adapt will help to keep your career moving forward.
V. Work With Winners Successful organizations and coworkers aid and abet your ability to accomplish your career goals, while less effective organizations and less capable peers diminish it. Working with winners enables you to grow on-the-job, develop useful connections that will last a career and establish yourself as a winner in the world of work.
VI. Stretch Your Soul A healthy career not only serves you, it serves others, as well. A personal commitment to doing some of your best work as good works for your community, your country and/or your planet is the most invigorating form of work/life balance. It regenerates your pride in what you do and your enthusiasm for doing it.
VII. Pace Yourself A fulfilling and rewarding career depends upon your getting the rest and replenishment you need in order to do your best work every day you’re on-the-job. The human body and mind have limits, and those limits cannot be extended by multitasking or even a Blackberry. Instead, you have to discipline yourself and your boss to set aside time to recharge your passion and capacity for work.
Understanding what’s involved in these exercises and then performing them on a regular basis is the foundation of a ”system” for building Career Fitness that everyone—mid-career professionals, executives and managers and those just entering the HR field—can use effectively. It is all laid out in my new book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System. Think of it as a plan for preserving and protecting your future in the HR profession.
We in recruiting have seen this phenomenon occur in our own profession. We use a retronym to describe what we are about in the labor market these days. It’s a war, right? But not just any war; it’s a War for the “Best Talent.” Thanks to the Internet, it’s now necessary to add an adjective to a word that should be sufficient in and of itself.
Talent is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a special often creative or artistic aptitude.” Recruiting people of talent, therefore, is the goal of every organization. Some may do it better than others, but every employer sets out, at least, to attract and hire those who have that special aptitude in the skill areas it needs to accomplish its business operations. They know they need the competitive advantage that talent provides. And, they know that their probability of success declines dramatically with the “untalented.”
Why, then, do recruiters now believe that they have to recruit the “best talent”—the talent whose aptitude is more special than the rest? There are at least three reasons:
The first two of these reasons make sense to me, but third … well, the third is just way off the mark. The best talent may be a retronym, but recruiting it with the Internet is not like using other technology. Take the television, for example. The viewer’s experience is enhanced by simply flipping a switch on their color, flat screen, high definition, surround sound set. As long as they can find the on-off button, they’re good to go. e-Recruiting, on the other hand, requires considerable understanding and skill. The Internet does not enable us to recruit the best talent; that capability is achieved only with a fundamental change in the way recruiting is done—one that is carefully designed to capture the full potential of the technology.
What does that change involve? As a minimum, it must incorporate the following:
Recruiting the best talent may be a retronym—a capability made possible by technology—but it cannot be accomplished by technology alone. Indeed, the War for the Best Talent will only be won by the “best recruiters”—those who most effectively adapt their organizations and operations to capture the full potential of the technology.
What’s behind such lousy performance? The study concludes that two factors cause much of the miscommunication:
Ads that deliver the wrong message.
Sadly, many if not most job postings today deliver the wrong message. In many cases, that message is conveyed by using a print classified or, worse, a position description as the content for the online ad. As a result, these ads have little information, very little appeal or both. When that occurs, the message the job seeker receives is loud and clear: here’s a company that is too lazy, too arrogant or too incompetent to use the online medium to its full advantage. Said another way, here’s a place you don’t want to work.
Job seekers, in general, and the best talent, in particular, expect much more. They know the Internet doesn’t have the space constraints of the printed page, so they want employers to provide job postings that are both informative and compelling. They want ads that answer their questions before they even have a chance to ask them. They want enough detail to be able to evaluate an opportunity carefully and make an informed career decision. And, they want to be wooed. They want an ad with enough selling power to sway them into considering a new position, even when they aren’t looking for one.
Such ads transform the job posting from a print classified ad listed on the Internet to an electronic sales brochure. Ironically, this “alternative advertisement” is more akin to an old fashioned, full page print display ad, but one on steroids and at one-tenth the cost. It not only sells the opening the organization has to fill, but it makes a powerful statement about the organization’s employment brand, as well. Explicitly and subliminally, it transmits the right message: here is a company that understands the importance of hiring the best and brightest and of helping them to succeed in its employ. In short, here’s a place where you do want to work.
Companies that continue to invest in ads beyond the point of diminishing returns.
Print ads grow weary over time, and thus fail to motivate buyers as they once did. Job postings lose their effectiveness in a different way. Although they typically remain visible for 30 days or more and could conceivably suffer the same exposure fatigue, their poor performance is actually driven by their location. In other words, the ads continue to be posted at certain sites even though the quantity and/or quality of their yield is insufficient to meet recruiting requirements. The results aren’t diminishing; they’re diminished. The net effect, however, is the same: the advertiser achieves a sub-par return on its investment.
Why do ads continue to be posted at sites that generate “diminished returns”? There are at least several reasons:
Online recruitment advertising can be extraordinarily effective. In the survey of recruiters that we at WEDDLE’s conducted earlier this year, over half of the respondents said they were filling a quarter or more of their vacancies with candidates sourced from the Internet. That’s proof positive that online ads do work and that online ads with the right message and at the right site work best.
The message was a downer, first and foremost, because the person who sent it was struggling to find a job. It was also depressing, however, because it illustrates how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in recruitment. Thanks to the Internet, we now can reach deeper into the candidate population faster and cheaper than ever before. We can connect with even the passive prospects and “A” level performers who were formerly accessible only via headhunters or by time-intensive networking. We have all of those advantages, and in many organizations, at least, we’re frittering them away. How? By violating something as simple as the Golden Rule.
As any grade school child can tell us, that rule simply urges us to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. So, why are we behaving as if job seekers are persona non grata in our organizations? I’ve heard all of the rationalizations, but frankly, they simply aren’t compelling. Usually they are a version of one of the two following themes: in tough economic times, there are simply too many applicants, and in good economic times, there are simply too many openings for recruiters to communicate with those who would like to work for their employer.
Implicit in this statement is the real reason prospective employers mistreat candidates: their recruiting functions are not staffed to do the work they should. While that’s an unfortunate reality in far too many organizations, it is not a justification for such behavior. Why? Because technology, in general, and such developments as applicant tracking systems and corporate Web-sites, in particular, provide an effective way for us to:
Taking this step is vitally important because the experience a candidate has while interacting with an organization is a key element of its employment brand. The way candidates are treated conveys a subliminal, but powerful message about an employer’s culture and the value it places on people. While those who are desperate for employment will probably apply no matter how shabbily they are treated, the best and brightest will not tolerate impolite or disrespectful behavior, even if it is unintended. They deserve to be treated better, they expect to be treated better, and they will only consider working for employers where they are.
How can you use technology to burnish the experience you provide to candidates? The following steps will get you started:
There are never enough arms and legs in today’s staffing organizations to do everything we know we should in dealing with candidates. That reality, however, does not mean that we don’t have ways to set our employer apart among top prospects. Ironically, one of the most effective strategies is to use technology to implement a practice most of us learned in grade school. Treating candidates as we would like to be treated not only makes you popular on the playground, it also helps make your organization’s employment brand very hard to resist.
Passive job seekers are tough to recruit because they’re human, and most human beings hate to make a change. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what we recruiters are trying to get them to do. In most cases, passive job seekers are employed, so we have to convince them to go from the devil they know (their current employer) to the devil they don’t (our employer). That’s a tough value proposition to sell. Most people don’t like the uncertainty and risk that inevitably attend a change and, not surprisingly, are very reluctant to volunteer for it. In short, they are “anti-candidates.” To be successful in recruiting them, therefore, we must be persuasive enough to overcome their natural reluctance even to consider our employer’s opportunities. We must be able to get them to do what, in the beginning at least, they really don’t want to do. In other words, we have to be as good as the salespeople who ultimately sold my father.
How was my father persuaded to make a purchase? As I recall, he was influenced by three factors. Each was as important as the other, and all three factors had to be addressed or he simply would not be moved to buy. These factors were:
The trust he had.
The best candidates have lots of employers making them offers, so any one offer—no matter how good—is easily lost in the din. The best recruiters, therefore, dampen the noise from the competition first and, then, sell the value proposition of their employer. In effect, they induce candidates to hear selectively, to pay attention to one opportunity while ignoring all others. How are they able to do that? They take specific actions to convince candidates that the organization for which they work cares as much about their making a smart career move as it does about filling an open position. In effect, they earn the trust of the people they want to recruit by creating a win-win situation, one in which both the employer and the prospective employee benefits.
What actions can create such a situation?
The respect he was accorded.
All candidates, but especially top performers and those with rare skills, expect to be treated with dignity throughout the recruiting process. They may be applying for employment, but they are also customers—working men and women who are being asked to “buy” the value proposition of an organization with openings to fill. For most candidates, that means an employer where people really matter, and the best evidence of whether people really matter is the way the organization treats prospective employees. As a consequence, recruiters should create a candidate experience that is consistently polite and respectful. It should acknowledge that candidates aren’t cogs in some supply chain, but cognitive beings who have a choice of organizations for which they will work.
What actions will create such a feeling among candidates?
The enthusiasm he felt.
Employers offer jobs, but candidates “buy” an organization. In other words, they evaluate the quality of an opportunity by assessing both the specifics of an opening and the attributes of the organization in which it is located. Most candidates, however, realize that no organization is perfect. They get excited, therefore, when they interact with recruiters and hiring managers who are enthusiastic about an employer despite its warts. Assuming it is genuine and based on factors that can be identified and articulated (e.g., the quality of a company’s products or services, its commitment to ground-breaking research), the pride that employees feel for their organization is incredibly infectious and predisposes candidates to be equally as generous and positive in their assessment of the organization.
How can this enthusiasm be conveyed to candidates?
Ironically, their own approach to leadership is exacerbating the risk. Without advance notice of staffing requirements, recruiters do not have the time to source prospects from among the passive job seeker population. Without the lead time necessary to build relationships with those prospects, they are often unable to sell them on the value proposition of working for their employer. With a planning cycle only a gnat could love, recruiters have no choice but to limit their candidates to those they can find among active job seekers.
Why does that add to the risk facing corporations today? Because it decreases the range of talent an organization can potentially hire, and it increases the competition for that talent.
Yes, I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic. For many organizations, the problem isn’t finding talent; it’s staying on top of the tsunami of resumes that crashes into corporate e-mailboxes these days. This happy plethora of applicants would seem to belie any limitation on available talent. Unfortunately, however, the resume surplus is not evidence of a robust pool of candidates, but rather, the natural byproduct of the ease with which resumes are now submitted online. Full e-mailboxes mean that your employer is hearing from more of the 16% of the workforce who are actively looking for a job, not that it is reaching the other 84% of the workforce who are not.
What can we recruiters do to mitigate the risk this situation poses for our organizations? How can we cut corners to sourcing the best candidates? Consider the following steps:
Short planning cycles in the corporate headquarters can be a problem for recruiters, but only if we let them. There are ways to get ready today for almost any requirement that may arise tomorrow, and now is the time to get started.
Two members of the Harvard community, Nitin Nohria and Thomas A. Stewart, recently wrote, “The raison d’etre for organizations and their leaders has long been to increase control and predictability.” Said another way, the purpose of those who work in organizations is to reduce or, if possible, eliminate risk. Risk exposes the enterprise to unknown and, therefore, potentially negative consequences, so controlling risk is the one sure way to point an organization toward positive results.
How does that apply to recruiting? In a number of ways, but one of the most important is in our execution of interviews. The purpose of an interview—its reason for being conducted—is not to select a candidate. It is to minimize or eliminate the risk involved in bringing a new employee into an organization. The hiring decision exposes an employer to change—it introduces a worker who is unfamiliar to his coworkers into an environment that is unfamiliar to the worker. If an interview is effective, it will reduce the possibility that such change will be disruptive or harmful to the organization.
That’s why interviews so often focus on “fit.” If we can assure ourselves of a candidate’s good fit with:
And that’s where the problems begin. Technical and other discrete skills can be accurately tested, so a person’s ability to perform a specific job requiring those skills can be reasonably predicted. That’s not the case, however, with “softer” though often more critical skills such as situational analysis, problem-solving, and even time management. These skills are much more difficult to measure, and the results of such an assessment are more open to interpretation. So too is the probability that a person will feel comfortable interacting with a specific work group and boss or a specific organizational culture. It’s a tough call to make unless you’re a trained psychologist, and even then, there can be significant ambiguity (i.e., risk) in individual assessments.
So, what happens? Interviewers probe for information, as best they can, on a candidate’s higher order skills and then concentrate on the factors with which they are most familiar and, therefore, comfortable. They base their assessment on how well the candidate will fit in—with them, the team and/or the organization. In effect, they focus, often unconsciously, on trying to answer two questions:
I call such assessments “dart board interviews.” The interviewer’s chances of selecting the best candidate for their employer are about equal to throwing darts while wearing a blindfold. Even more important, skills and cultural fit are one step removed from what we must actually know, if we are to reduce or eliminate the risk involved in a selection decision. These factors are input variables to performance. They’re important to know, of course, but what we are really trying to determine is the output. How will a potential employee perform on-the-job? If we can answer that question, we are much more in control of the risk a new hire represents to our employer.
How do we acquire the answer? By structuring our interviews to focus on outcomes—what we want the new employee to accomplish within a specific period of time in their new role. The more explicit and detailed we can be about that requirement, the more fine-grained we can make our interview questions and the better we are able to evaluate candidate responses. In other words, a clear statement of performance expectations can actually be two powerful interviewing tools:
The more granular and complete an interviewer’s understanding of the outcome, the better their assessment of the candidate. Indeed, if the outcome an employer desires is clearly described in its online and print advertisements for an opening (as well as in its position description or requisition), the impact will likely occur even before the interview begins. Prospects are much more likely to self-assess critically if it’s clear to them that the organization has a very well defined set of performance expectations.
To achieve such clarity, the employer must address two key elements of an outcome:
The more that outcomes can be quantified (e.g., increase sales by 10%) or determined with a Yes or No answer (e.g., could all calls be handled without assistance), the better they will serve as a basis for interview questions, a baseline for evaluation and a template for performance management once a person is hired. And there’s the rub. The more senior a position, the longer it often takes to achieve measurable outcomes (e.g., it could take a year or more to improve sales significantly) and the more likely it is that at least some outcomes (e.g., improve morale and esprit in the accounting department) simply can’t be measured with standard metrics.
In that case, the organization has at least two options:
1. It can break down the desired outcome into discrete sub-outcomes that, once accomplished, will produce the larger goal. For example, to evaluate an individual’s ability to increase sales by 10%, interviewers could, instead, assess their ability to (a) hire two additional sales agents within four months, (b) devise a way to identify and follow up on key accounts within 6 months and (c) add 2 major new customers within 8 months.
2. It can use one or more surrogates—alternative, but related factors—that will serve to indicate performance. For example, to evaluate a candidate’s ability to improve a unit’s morale, interviewers could probe their ability to (a) reduce attrition or absenteeism and/or (b) raise employee satisfaction scores by a measurable amount.
The key, of course, is always to stay focused on the end you’re trying to achieve. That goal is to minimize the risk any new employee represents to an employer by maximizing your certainty about their ability to get the job done.
The Holy Grail for most recruiters is the “passive job seeker.” This person is normally a high quality candidate who is almost always employed someplace else. And there’s the rub. They aren’t job seekers at all. By definition, so-called passive job seekers aren’t even looking for a job. They are, in most cases, happily employed right where they are. So, will these passive people even consider another opportunity someplace else? Of course they will, but only if it’s presented persuasively. In a sense, they are the classic consumer; they have to be “sold” on an employer’s value proposition. That’s way I call them passive prospects.
How do you write a job posting with enough power to influence a passive prospect?
First, you have to understand what goal you’re trying to accomplish. Unlike with active job seekers, a recruitment ad that targets passive prospects must be able to convince them to change devils: to go from the devil they know—their current employer, boss and commute—to the devil they don’t know—your employer, a new boss, and a different commute. Your job posting, therefore, has to be persuasive enough to sell the reader on doing the one thing humans most hate to do: change.
Second, passive prospects never look for a job; they search for an employment opportunity. That means your posting must do more than simply describe the requirements and responsibilities of a particular opening. If you want it to connect with and influence an employed person who has other employers knocking on their door regularly, you must craft an ad that sells all of the following aspects of your organization’s employment experience:
Unlike the printed page, the Internet provides enough physical space to present such information and more. Indeed, the average commercial job board will permit postings to run as long as 1,400 words—the equivalent of two typed pages—and for passive prospects, you need every syllable. To convince someone to change devils, you must see your posting not as the electronic equivalent of a classified ad, but as an electronic sales brochure. It has to be so informative and so compelling that even the most reluctant consumer will be moved to consider the opening. There are two keys to developing such an ad:
All recruiters are good at verbal selling; they do it every day on the telephone and in interviews. On the Web, however, selling is done with the written word, and many recruiters don’t have as much practice with that medium. For that reason, I’ve developed a template for job postings that arranges the information in the ad to optimize its impact on a passive prospect. The template has five sections described by this acronym: S—ABC—S.
S—Summary The first five lines of a job posting are extremely important. Our research here at WEDDLE’s indicates that if you don’t get these first lines right, the passive person is unlikely to read any further. To be effective, the lines must include the following information in the following order:
ABC—Advantages, Benefits, Capabilities The Advantages section of your posting addresses the responsibilities of a position, but from the WIIFT perspective. It answers all of the key questions a passive prospect is likely to have about an employment opportunity:
The Benefits section of your posting is not boilerplate. It is not information conveyed in legal gibberish or in a long laundry list of HR jargon. Nor is it the same tired, old paragraphs that you insert into every posting. You might be able to get away with that if you’re selling to active job seekers (although I wouldn’t recommend it there either), but if you’re trying to reach reluctant candidates who have other options, you have to create a Benefits section with focused appeal. It must be a tailored presentation that highlights the benefits that are most important to your target demographic.
For example, if you’re trying to reach passive prospects early in their career, you might emphasize tuition reimbursement and work/life balance. If you’re trying to reach seasoned workers with a lot of years in the workplace, you might emphasize child or elder care programs. And, as with any good advertising copy, you must both describe the benefit and its value to the prospect. To put it another way, it’s not a Benefit unless you explain what makes it so.
The Capabilities section deals with the requirements of a position, but again, presents the information from the prospect’s perspective. In other words, it answers the questions:
S—Sign-Off Once you’ve gone to all of the trouble of creating a job posting with enough power to sell a passive prospect, don’t undermine your success with an incomplete or misconceived sign-off. This section of your posting is part “call to action for the prospect” and part “return for you on the time and effort it took to write the posting.” Accordingly, it should include all of the following:
Selling passive prospects isn’t easy. It can be done and efficiently, however, if you transform traditional recruitment ads online into electronic sales brochures. These alternative postings can set your employer apart and strengthen the persuasive power of its message for top talent.
Employment brands (e-brands) are increasingly recognized as the single most important factor influencing the selection of an employer by top talent. A strong e-brand will both attract even the most passive prospects to an organization and predispose them to consider its employment opportunities even when they wouldn’t consider openings anywhere else. Brand management, therefore, is now among the most important tasks for Staffing Departments. It involves the development, promotion and oversight of an organization’s value proposition as an employer.
An e- brand is not an advertising jingle or tag line. Such phrases work with consumer brands because the consumer has, in all likelihood, actually experienced the vendor’s product or service. For example, when GE says it “brings good things to life” in its light bulb advertising, we can appreciate the meaning of the phrase because we have all used a light bulb. The same is not true when GE or any other employer is trying to recruit talent. The vast majority of the “consumers” they target with their e-brand ads will not have had the experience of working for their organization. To be effective, therefore, an e-brand must be complete expression of the attributes that characterize the employer’s workaday experience. It is not a ponderous mission statement, but a window into what it’s like to work in and for an organization.
Which attributes of employment should an organization include in its e-brand? I believe that depends upon three tests. The selected attributes must be:
E-brands are meaningless statements if they are not seen by the “consumers” an employer is trying to reach. Since the best talent are often employed and/or passive in nature, however, these e-brand ads must be visible far beyond the Career area on its Web-site.
Where should an e-brand be advertised? At Web-sites and in any other venues where there is likely to be a high ratio of the top talent an employer is trying to reach. Among the former, these might include:
Among the latter, these might include:
No less important, the e-brand advertising must be durable. Before the advent of the Information Age, advertisers counseled that an ad had to be seen seven times before it would break into the consciousness of a potential consumer. Today’s omnipresent, 24/7 information distribution has only increased the clutter, upping the number of ad repetitions by at least a factor of two. Said another way, an e-brand must be promoted constantly, even when an organization is not hiring.
Like personal reputations, e-brands are fragile creations that can be destroyed in the click of an e-mail. Moreover, an e-brand is not only what you say about your organization’s employment experience, but it’s what others say about it, as well. As a consequence, organizations must continuously monitor outside commentary about their employment value proposition. They can’t, of course, violate the free speech rights of others (including their employees), but they can identify inaccurate, misleading and/or harmful statements and correct or counter them.
How does an organization monitor its e-brand? It should keep an eye on sites:
The goal is not to keep track of everything that’s said about an employer—that’s the job of its Public Relations function—but rather to oversee what’s being said about its attributes and practices as an employer. Critical or false statements can quickly and seriously harm an e-brand. Therefore, uncovering such assertions as soon as they occur and, if appropriate, counteracting them effectively are essential to the maintenance of a strong and attractive e-brand.