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Employer Brand Headlines: The "C'est la Vie" Edition (#97)

Employer Brand Headlines: The "C'est la Vie" Edition (#97)
My mission: Help you understand your employer brand better and make it work for you.

In this issue
  • Best practices
  • Playing the long game
  • CX+EX=Profit
  • Overly “legible”
The big idea
Everyone knows that social media videos should be short.
Everyone knows you should post LinkedIn posts between 8-10am.
Everyone knows that you should make the application process shorter and simpler.
Everyone knows that your job postings should have lots of information.
Everyone knows that “thank you for applying” messages should be professional sounding.
Everyone knows, everyone knows, everyone knows…*
These things that “everyone knows” are called “best practices.” They are the things that are “generally true” for the maximum number of people.
They aren’t specific to recruiting. There are best practices around how long a movie should be and how to optimize around a keyword for SEO. There are best practices like “the customer service rep should say your name at least five times on a call” and “salespeople should spend at least three minutes talking about the big name brands who already bought from them.”
But there are major issues following “best practices.”
  1. These things are “best” in the aggregate. That is, they might be best on average. Your mileage WILL vary.
  2. Everyone knows all about these “best” practices, which means everyone is using them. The practice that was meant to set you apart is now the default.
  3. Most people using best practices don’t know why they are best practices. They are followed blindly, even when they are actually counterproductive.
Following best practices says, “I don’t know what I want, so I’ll just do what other companies do.” It is a game of Follow the Leader, which is a game you “win” by losing. All they are doing is giving themselves cover as they abdicate responsibility for choosing.
No one ever got fired for following best practices, but no one ever succeeded that way, either.
Best practices are what you do when you don’t have a plan or a strategy. Best practices are what you choose when you want others to think for you.
Every best practice has plenty of examples where rejecting it was the far better play. In 1998, when every computer had a floppy drive, Apple unveiled the iMac without one. It deviated from computing best practices, but it was in service of a much larger strategy: people were going to move files around on the internet, so embrace that new model. They did it again a few years ago when they got rid of the headphone jack. Apple follows its own strategy, not what best practices dictate.
If you have a really good reason for a long video, do it. Some of my most viral social posts were posted Sunday afternoon, which everyone knows is a “dead zone” on LinkedIn. I can think of plenty of reasons why you’d purposefully complicate and slow down the application process, or write a short job posting.
So stop blindly following best practices. Design a strategy that suits your needs and follow it, not the crowd.
*In my mind, you can sing this part like Tom Waits of Leonard Cohen.
Playing the Long Game in Talent Acquisition!
Zoom or Gloom – What Will the Future of Brand Workshops Look Like?
The 'double helix' of Customer eXp and Employee eXp
Shifting Sands: Turn Uncertainty Into Action or Lose Relevance
A Big Little Idea Called Legibility
26 marketing principles I rely on
Conscious Consumerism (and the lies we tell ourselves to sleep better)
Repairing fractured retail brands
The rise and fall of merit
Quick hits
Tip of the week
Seth Godin talks about how innovation comes not from a completely wild idea out of left field (that rarely works), but by understanding the “genre” we are working in enough to know how to push one idea within the form forward. Example: why are job postings “like that?” The better you understand the form, the better you can find one thing to change that creates innovation. You don’t have to re-invent all the parts, just focus on one and do it well.
Inside the fortune cookie
“You have to be willing to look like an idiot in the short term to look like a genius in the long term.” - Shane Parrish
Thanks, everyone!
Reminder: My books are free and open-source over at
There are now more than 850 links in the link archive. And as always, when you reply to this email I will read your questions and comments. Is there any article I should be commenting on? A book? A podcast? Is there something you what to know? How can I help? Just reply to this email and it comes directly to me.
Cheers and thanks!
-James Ellis (LinkedIn | Twitter | Podcast | Articles)
Where the subject line came from:
Robbie Nevil - C'est La Vie
Robbie Nevil - C'est La Vie
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James Ellis, Employer Brand Nerd

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