Employment Branding with a Twist of Old School Rap

Employment Branding with a Twist of Old School Rap


I like old school rap and I cannot lie. You other HR pros cannot deny … that you like it, too, and were slightly intrigued by this blog post title. What on earth could old school rap and employment branding have in common? It might be a stretch, but here are some ways that the music I listened to in high school and college may be influencing the work that I do today.

Let’s throw it back …

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years. – LL Cool J

Sodexo, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, GE, Marriott and Amtrak. These companies have been around for years (more than 100 in some cases), yet employment branding has given them the ability to seem fresh and new, all over again. Through social media and the digital revolution, long established organizations are able to stand out, share their history and today’s stories, and continue to attract a new crop of employees.

This is how we do it. – Montell Jordan

In it’s simplest form, employment branding showcases how you do what you do, and the people that make it all happen. As employer brand strategists, we want to make our organizations stand out in order to attract candidates from key talent segments. What makes your company different from the competition? What makes your business more appealing than the start up down the street?

Does your company do it like nobody else does? Shine a light on that.

Stop, collaborate and listen. – Vanilla Ice

In the employment branding space , there are public faces in this niche space who serve as visible brand fans. We put the spotlight on our organizations via blog posts, LinkedIn publisher, Facebook, podcasts, and more. From my experience, I would not be able to accomplish one fifth of what I share, if it were not for the teams of people working behind the scenes. I am constantly amazed and eternally grateful for the people that work with me.

When creating brand assets, it’s important that brand leads, managers, and directors hone their collaboration skills. By motivating people to achieve common goals, and listening to feedback from line partners, creative experts, and key stakeholders, brands can build momentum and also activate their internal teams to share the messages.

With my mind on my money and my money on my mind. – Snoop Dogg

Across many companies and recruiting teams, employment branding is still a relatively new focus and not a function that is highly funded. Many of the employment branding pros that I know have accomplished a lot with relatively small budgets and limited resources. If you have budget, you’ll spend time thinking about the best ways to allocate it. If you don’t have a bucket of money, you’ll spend your time thinking about how to do more with less (and how to build the business case to receive future funding).

You’ve gotta fight for your right to party. – Beastie Boys

Within highly regulated industries or ultra-conservative organizations, it may be hard to get executive buy-in for why your company should jump into social media. Many of those companies may already be late to the party and missing opportunities to attract, inform, and engage with job seekers.

One of the best ways to gain buy-in is through research, conducting a competitor analysis, and proposing a phased approach to building your employer brand presence. Whenever I am pitching a new campaign or technology, I think about whether it’s low cost / high cost, low effort / high effort, and low reward / high reward. This approach has helped me many times in gaining support.

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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