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Employer Brand Headlines: The "Mary's Prayer" Edition (#87)

Employer Brand Headlines: The "Mary's Prayer" Edition (#87)
My mission: Help you understand your employer brand better and make it work for you.

In this issue
  • The ‘ugly baby’ problem
  • The UX of candidate rejection
  • Strategy breakthroughs
  • Killing bad projects
The big idea
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t leap a chasm in two jumps. While a lot of different people seem to get credited for the saying, it means: you can’t making something big happen by taking baby steps.
I applaud the bold sensibility within, but I wonder, is employer branding really a chasm to leap, or is it something else?
So many (maybe too many) companies, when they decide to "get into” employer brand, go all in. They hire a consultant. They hire an agency. They carve out a small mountain of budget. They prepare for a work plan of 6-12 months from selection of a support person to the final “unveiling” of “the brand.” Maybe there’s some sort of formal project announcement. Maybe the senior leadership is told to offer its time to the consultants to answer questions and offer insight. All in service of jumping forward and discovering a company’s own brand.
By all accounts, (not to mention budget) “building and launching the brand” becomes a big deal to get to the “answer.”
This thinking leads to all sorts of issues. First, if you have to hire someone outside the company to define what makes your company different, what is the principle around which such decisions are made? Is it all about creative? Qualitative research? Charisma and rapport built during interviews? Flashy presentations? Promises of awards?
When you define you define your employer brand project as a massive project, you are demanding a massive change. You are setting your company up to suddenly be “better” in ways big and small (but always poorly defined). It’s like promising an “amazing brand makeover and you won’t believe how this company turns out!”
That kind of thinking has a big flaw at its core: In order to justify the “big makeover,” you are starting with the assumption that the brand was pretty ugly to begin with. In fact, the project may even be a stealth “this is how we tell leadership that things are broken” project, to bring in an outsider to say the things staff is too scared to say out loud.
That sure feels like a project destined for failure to me. Is that what you think your employer brand is supposed to do?
Launching your employer brand project as a means to tell the boss that “your baby is ugly” isn’t an employer brand project. It’s an intervention by another name. 
What if, instead of building up the “power” of an employer brand, we shrunk it down? What if we saw the brand project not as a chasm to be lept, but as a long, slow journey resulting in a complex transformation that sticks.
The social media marketer (or drug dealer) doesn’t ask you to spend an hour of your day scrolling. They start by showing you a little something, maybe an alert, maybe a friend. They occasionally nudge you that stuff is happening without you. They let you know when someone talks about you. It isn’t long before you’re glued to your phone. But if we said, “Install this app and spend all your time looking at it while you feel bad!” it’s destined to fail.
You don’t have to build in “this is all the ways your baby is ugly” steps into your employer brand initiative. What if you started by just figuring out what’s positive and different about your company? What if you started from that basecamp and got the company hooked on the immediate and initial positive benefits of establishing a brand position? What if, over time, you fine-tuned those ideas, added new ones that didn’t feel so new? What if, instead of trying to leap to the “answer,” you embrace the journey towards a better answer?
Headlines!
How we have improved the Candidate Rejection Experience at Intel using UX
tom peters and seth godin 2021
Your Brand Is a Work in Progress
Virtual Candidate Experience with Data
The Fundamentals Of Breakthrough Brand Strategy
EB Masterclass - Featuring Thomson Reuters' Director of Global Employer Branding - Blu Ivy Group Employer Branding Agency and Employee Engagement Consultancy
Research: How to Get Better at Killing Bad Projects
Why People Really Quit Their Jobs
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Quick hits
Tip of the week
I was interviewing someone this week (I make all the EB videos at the ol’ day job) and I asked what their superpower was. Her answer floored me. “At any given time, I know what balls can get dropped.” This is the unstated core of prioritization: it’s not just about what comes first, it’s very much about what’s okay to NOT do. EB-ers lovelovelove to take on too many things (guilty!), so knowing which things can get dropped at any given moment is indeed a superpower.
Inside the fortune cookie
“Creativity is the last legal unfair advantage we can take to run over the competition.” - Dave Trott
One last thing
I’m going to be facilitating a section of The Talent Brand Summit in April. If you want a big discount on your ticket, use the code “imwithjames.”
Thanks, everyone!
Don’t forget to check out the 700+ 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:
Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer
Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer
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James Ellis, Employer Brand Nerd

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