Advice from the Experts: Balancing Your Personal and Employer Brands
Shannon Smedstad | HR, Social Media| By
Someone once asked me, “How is it that you’re able to manage your personal brand, as well as your employer brand?” Honestly, up to that point, I guess I hadn’t given it much thought. But, all it took was that one question to get me thinking. Now, I am not one to pontificate on what I do … I still consider myself to be a student of all this branding jazz. Though, I’ll share some of my insights with you later on. First, let’s hear from two people whom I admire in the “employer branding space” and see what they have to say.
KERRY NOONE | AMTRAK | @KERRYNOONE
A self-professed introvert, Kerry Noone is a marketer with more than 20 years of experience, an early adopter of social recruiting tools, a working mom of two and someone who gets it. Before her days at Amtrak, she was at CSC and for years before that, was the voice of Sodexo. Rewind to her Sodexo days, and Kerry told me that she really hadn’t established her own personal brand, and that was, in some ways, a disservice to herself.
Me: What does employment branding mean to you?
KN: It’s all about the candidate experience, and being as honest as you can be about your corporate culture and what someone will experience once they get there. It’s discovering the stories within your company and sharing them to help influence the candidate experience. When you can highlight influencers within your own organization, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Me: How have you been able to stand out from behind your employer’s well known brand?
KN: The things that I talk about in my personal space are things that I am passionate about … I talk about social media and talent acquisition. I have to find the balance, and be authentic both at Amtrak and at Kerry Noone.
Me: What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to find this balance?
KN: Find others who are in a similar role and learn from them. See what they are doing, then take what you learn from them and adapt it to your brand. I’m always learning from other people!
CELINDA APPLEBY | HEWLETT-PACKARD | @CELINDAAPPLEBY
Years ago, Celinda became a recruiter by accident. She was hired as an office manager and three weeks later was promoted to staffing manager. After working in the staffing agency world for a few years and then becoming a mom, she went corporate. For the past three years, she has been at HP — first on the sourcing team and now as the Employer Brand & Digital Media Program Manager for HP’s Americas staffing organization.
Me: How have you been able to manage your brand and your employer’s?
CA: On my personal accounts, I am very human and share more of who I am … I stay professional, but am less guarded. The corporate accounts have a corporate persona. I try to keep everything separate, but occasionally there is some overlap. My name has become more synonymous with the HP brand and I am proud to be associated with HP. I want to be that face to promote the brand.
Me: What are some of the challenges with maintaining your own brand?
CA: I focus so much time on the corporate brand that the personal starts to suffer. It’s hard to balance it all and come up with a way to be present. If you’re not tweeting, people will forget about you … there’s so much noise out there.
Me: What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?
CA: Stay true to yourself, maintain your voice, communicate with others, and use technology or other people to help you find the balance.
FINDING BALANCE TAKES TIME, ENERGY & DEDICATION
Celinda said something during our chat that stood out to me and made me chuckle. She said, “Social media is like a teenage dance … you want to fit in. Then to stay cool, you have to be active.” Oh no! It’s that sort of pressure that makes it difficult to achieve the balance that we’re all trying to find.
For me, I have tried to compartmentalize the branding work that I do for GEICO from the work that I do to build my personal brand. From 9 – 5, I am dedicated to my company and then set aside time in the evenings (after my kids are asleep) to work on my writing or Twitter. I also find time before work hours and during lunch to sprinkle in personal branding time. Over the years, I’ve learned to use technology to my benefit and reach out for support.
What I took away from both conversations was a sense of there’s no perfect way to find balance … you have to be open to learning, try new things and find what works. There’s a judgment call that we make, and we do so with our personal and corporate brands in mind. I’d like to thank Kerry and Celinda, again, for their time, expertise and sharing their stories with me.
If you’d like to learn more about the work we are doing for our companies, check out Amtrak, GEICO and HP! Or connect with anyone of us (or all of us) via Twitter: Celinda, Kerry and Shannon.
What tools are you using to establish your personal brand?
Kathleen Smith says
Thanks for the great article and sharing two awesome ladies. I am fortunate to have them in my personal as well as professional community.
It does take quite a lot of work to build both brands, keep them separate and balanced. It can be an awesome journey as I have found!
Hi Kathleen — Thank you for reading and commenting. I look forward to meeting you, Kerry and Celinda IRL one day! I hear RecruitDC is coming up again in November. It’s penciled in on my calendar. — Shannon
Great discussion, all! As a corporate recruiter, I found this chat very useful — In the end, staying true to yourself, your voice is what makes your message compelling and, at the same time, finding a way to blend that persona with your company brand is paramount to building a connection to the candidate. As I engage in social media, everyday, I’ll take this coaching to augment my recruiting efforts. Special thanks to Celinda for her brilliant analogy of the teen dance…we all want to fit in. Let’s dance!
Hi Anita — Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Recruiters have a great opportunity to build their personal brands while helping to increase the visibility of their companies’ brands. Dance like nobody’s watching! 🙂 — Shannon