Adventures in employer branding: Part 2. SHOW, don’t TELL

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In part 1 of this series we talked about the danger of over selling.  But what if you don’t sell at all? 

Employees are attracted to organisations that match their own values. And so an effective employer brand will showcase your organisation’s values.  That way you’ll find applicants who’s values match your own and who, hopefully, will go on to be happy, fulfilled, employees. 

So how do you tell people about your values?  Why do so many organisations end up employing people who don’t fit their values and who perpetuate a bad culture?

The answer is that, believe it or not, people can see bullshit a mile off.  You can tell someone that your values are a, b and c but if you do x, y and z then x, y and z are your values.  Think about it, if someone tells you they are honest, and then they lie to you, what do you know their values are?  Just because they scribe “I am honest” into a little metal plaque doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t.

And the same is true of your values.  Most organisations SHOW different values to the ones they TELL applicants they have.

Take an example; you are applying for a role with a company that says they value innovation and cutting out bureaucracy.  You like these values.  You apply for a role online and they present you with a 1980’s style application form.  They ask you to manually write your address. Why?  Are they going to send you a letter?  Probably not. What they are SHOWING you is that they don’t value innovation because they are using a form that is a direct translation from an old paper form decades before and they are SHOWING you that bureaucracy rules over customer centric thinking. 

Take other examples; you TELL applicants you value service and excellence, your interviewers turn up unprepared and 5 minutes late for an interview.

You TELL people that you value respect, transparency and communication.  Your HR team don’t reply to any unsuccessful applicants and give minimal, vague interview feedback.

You TELL applicants that you value fun. There isn’t a single smile inducing element in your entire recruitment process.

The problem with all of the above is that all the people with the values you TELL them you value will go somewhere else.  You’ll end up having to hire the people with the values you SHOW.  And you know what?  Sure as eggs are eggs, that’s what your company values will become. 

Customer centric thinking, when applied to the employer brand experience allows you to control the values you are SHOWING applicants are important to you.  Treat your recruitment process – every touch point, every form, every word – as an exercise in making your values ooze. If applicants, who have never been told or seen your values, cant recite the exact words scribed on the plaques in reception just from going through your recruitment process then its failing. 

The cost of a mishire is immense. An organisations lifeblood is its people. Your people are your organization’s greatest asset.  We all know these (very true) clichés.  So spend some time, some money and some genuine innovation to present and SHOW a recruitment brand and a recruitment process that truly reflects who you are.

To paraphrase Maggie Thatcher, being a company with a strong set of values is like being a lady. If you have to TELL people you are, you aren’t. 

So this brings about some interesting questions:

  1. What if your true culture is what you are trying to change? How do you match your employer brand with your aspirational culture without creating a disillusioned workforce?
  2. How do you use the powerful marketing tools at your disposal but tailor them for employer branding?

Follow us on Linkedin to get the rest of this series or click ‘subscribe’ on this page.  Go on, you know you want to, it’ll be worth it honest. 

And why not check out part 1 in the series here.