The Best Thing To Do When You’re New To Employment Branding

In June, I made a rather big decision to leave my then employer. After 11 years on a human resources team, I joined a new firm, new industry and new department. My role: Director of Employment Branding. My goal: to increase global awareness of the careers brand in order to attract top talent. So, how can you be an expert in branding your organization, when you’re the new kid on the block? Don’t you have to be ingrained within the corporate culture to really get it, brand it and sell it?

How do you  jump into employment branding when your tenure at your organization is limited?

Every Conversation Is a Learning Opportunity

Finally, companies are taking employment branding seriously. I recall seeing more job openings, dedicated to the employer brand profession, in 2014 than in years passed. I’m going to assume, therefore, that I’m not alone in trying to navigate a new company whilst building a employment brand strategy. For everyone who’s taken a leap of faith and found a new challenge, I share with you this …

The single most valuable action that I’ve taken, to best prepare me for my new position, has been to talk to people.

The conversations that I’ve had–from our Chief Administrative Office to the analyst who just graduated this past spring–have been incredibly beneficial for mapping out a plan and crafting targeted messaging. To think that you can just waltz from one company to the next, and simply plug-in and play is rather shortsighted. Certainly you’ll bring your experience and insight, but employment branding isn’t a cookie cutter strategy.

People Want to Share Their Stories

When you’re new, people want to share their stories. Let them. You can learn more just by listening than you ever thought possible. Over the past four months, I’ve had so many awesome conversations with people from all over the world, in places I had never even dialed before, like London, Sydney and Gurgaon. Every single discussion (i.e., qualitative analysis) was an opportunity for me to learn about the firm and look for common threads.

This week, I’ll travel to another office location and hope to have even more conversations. My two favorite questions to ask are:

  1. Why did you choose to work here?
  2. Why do you stay?

What’s great about these questions is that most people don’t get asked them and you’ve just caught them a wee bit off guard. The art of surprise can then lead to real, honest answers. These honest answers can then become the essence of your employment brand messaging. They can become woven into your content marketing strategy.

Whether your new to employment branding or doing it for the first time all over again, like me, the worst thing you can do is keep to yourself. Use your company’s social collaboration tools. Grab a beverage after work. Pick up the phone. Challenge yourself to have conversations that matter.

Earlier this year, John Leech, Senior Director for Recruitment Marketing and Branding at Comcast, talked about his “journey of a 1,000 coffees” at a conference that I attended. I aspire to have a similar journey.

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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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