It’s not enough to think of your company brand. Or your product brand. Or, actually, your employer brand. Think about it: being an employer implies having employees. But much of what we really have these days — partially influenced by Millennial values — is talent, who act less like employees and more like consumers. There’s a whole spectrum of talent out there, and many consider jobs as a pick and choose and change cycle — steps on a career ladder as opposed to the career in itself. That means your brand has to be seen from the outside, by the talent: it’s your talent brand that matters.
What’s fascinating is that, according to a number of my colleagues, including human capital consultant Joan Graci (the CEO and President of APA Solutions), the working population cares not a whit about product brand. Graci notes that under 30% of the working population says they’re concerned with the product brand of their employer. Instead, they factor in the talent brand: the three-dimensional nature of the place in which they work: the who, what and where.
Four Dimensions To This Brand
To those three dimensions, I’d add a fourth: the tone of the takeaway. What I mean by that is an intangible sense of atmosphere and mission that drives tangible engagement. It’s part why, and it’s part how, and it’s more than that as well. It’s the X-factor, though I’d assert that we certainly have ways to measure it. But that’s for another post: what we’re going to learn in talent management as a field is that there are far more ways to measure engagement than we imagined, and some fascinating examples we can all draw from.
Talent brand has an enormous impact on how your company is perceived, from the broadest end of the talent funnel — pre-candidate, to existing employees. But talent brand is not a passive amalgam, to be allowed to organically grow. Please. It’s too valuable for that. Even in 2012, LindedIn’s “Employer Brand Playbook” noted that a strong talent brand reduces cost-per-hire by up to 50%, and can reduce turnover rates by 28%. And four years ago is ancient history in the digital timeline.
Keep organic in your kitchen if you’d like, but talent branding is about actively pushing, monitoring, shaping, building, and maintaining. It has nothing to do with sitting back and allowing anyone to form a miasma of impressions. To put it bluntly: if you don’t tend to your talent brand, you’re going to lose out. Because while you’re looking the other way, and you’re not controlling your message, your main competitor is spearheading a serious talent branding campaign. And guess where the talent’s going to look?
Two interesting convergences here. One is that there’s a new understanding about the process of recruitment and engagement —that in fact, recruitment and engagement are actually a cycle that creates invaluable ambassadors that can, in turn, drive successive waves of recruitment, and so on — and this feeds directly into the need to make sure your talent brand is dovetailed into your employer and product brands across all platforms.
The other is that along with a refreshing appreciation for the marketing of a talent brand to its audience is the critical role of the C-suite. I’ve long discussed the need to get the C-suite on board for HR, and this seems to be a fulcrum. Harvard Business Review found that CEOS are getting in on the talent brand effort for a variety of reasons — some good, some possibly not as good (a lack of faith in HR’s ability to get it done, which, well, I’ll leave that one alone for now). But they found that 60% of CEOS surveyed believed that the responsibility of shaping talent brand lay with the C-suite. Finally, we’ve got top-level executives who get the strategic importance of being involved with managing talent.
Which, frankly, makes me very happy.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.