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Employer Brand Headlines: The "Running Up That Hill" Edition (#85)

Employer Brand Headlines: The "Running Up That Hill" Edition (#85)
My mission: Help you understand your employer brand better and make it work for you.

In this issue
  • Who are you talking to?
  • The case for transformation
  • Is employee engagement bulls#!t?
  • Intranets! Remember them?
The big idea
Here’s a quick math problem: How many people will your business hire in 2021? What is your average number of applicants per requisition? Great. Multiply them together. What number did you get?
If you’re at a pretty big company and you factor in anticipated turnover and regretted attrition (oh, the euphemisms!), you might need to hire 5,000 people. If you generally get 100 applicants per requisition, that means you need to get 500,000 people to apply. Your target audience is half a million people.
When you think of that number, it probably feels pretty big, right? And when you think of that number, do you think of… a Wyoming of people? 500,000 is such a big number, it feels like… everyone.
But “everyone” is 7.8 billion people, which, is a looooong way from 500,000 people. Sure, standing in the middle of them, 500,000 people feels like everyone. But you’d need another 15,000 Wyomings to include “everyone.”
So, maybe not everyone.
Here’s why I bring this up. When you get to work today, do the math and figure out what your “big” number is. This time, instead of multiplying the number of hires with the average applicants, maybe just multiply it with the average number of interviews per requisition.
You don’t actually want “everyone” to apply, so stop trying to talk to “everyone.”
Even in that big company, you’re talking about 20,000 people, not half a million. That’s not so bad. You can get your head around 20,000 people. At any given time 20,000 people are enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University. You can get more people at a county fair or good-sized art fair.
Can you think of some things that all 20,000 people have in common? Is it a kind of motivation? Is it a way of working? Is it something they care about? Is it an approach to problem-solving or a mission?
Got it? Congrats. You now have the best foundation for your recruiting messages.
When you think that your messages need to reach and resonate with “everyone,” your messages will suck. They will flop. You know what everyone has in common? Nothing. They can’t even agree that the world is round.
Building messaging for “everyone” is trying to please everyone, and that’s not actually possible. When you think about having such a large audience to reach, you trick yourself into believing that your job can only speak the most boring platitudes. Suddenly, your employer branding messages are really “employer blanding” messages and you sound like every other company.
This explains why even smart recruiters and employer branders post “We’re hiring!” and “Join us!” messages on LinkedIn: because they think that’s the only thing that will appeal to “everyone.”
But what if you freed yourself from having to say something that pleased everyone? What if you focus on the 200, 2,000, or 20,000 you’d actually like to talk to (i.e. people you’d actually want to interview and hire), and suddenly your message can be direct, clear, authentic, meaningful, and effective.
Do you think shampoo marketers think about me when they craft their messages? Of course not. They focus on people who have hair, i.e. customers they care about.
Good marketing messages have the feel of an inside joke. The intention is to make some people feel like insiders and others feel like outsiders. It should tell people who won’t be good value adds that they won’t be happy here. It should tell people who will be value adds that they have found their new home.
So stop being a slave to “everyone.” Know who you want to talk to and focus only on them.
Headlines!
Building a Business Case for Talent Acquisition Transformation
Place future-related items on the right
Finding My Leadership Voice
The Top 7 Reasons Traditional Intranets Fail to Engage Employees
Employee Engagement is Bull$#!T
One Proven Method For Growing Brands
2021 Hiring Trends Report: Building on Crisis, Focusing on the Future
TA Pro Responds to All 272 Applicants
Quick hits
Tip of the week
It’s easy (oh so easy) to wrapped up in what we’re doing. Most of our stakeholders and clients don’t… get it. So have you built about an employer brand brief? For every requested project or deliverable, start with a brief: what are you doing, why are you doing it, what the resources are, what is expected from others to succeed, what the outcome/value is, etc. Fill one out and hand it to people you are planning on working with so that everyone “gets it” and understands that this isn’t some busy work they neither understand or value.
Inside the fortune cookie
“[N]othing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations.“ - Anna Quindlen
One last thing
Clubhouse update! this week, I am booked at the usual time, so I’m pushing to 10 am on Tuesday, where we can talk about focusing your messages to be more powerful.
And I’m going to be facilitating a section of The Talent Brand Summit in April. I’m not doing a lot of speaking this year, and I’m really excited to hear from people like Kerry Noone, Lisa Smith-Strother, and Michael Mager. Ping me if you want a discount on the tickets.
Thanks, everyone!
We just published our 700th (!) link from the newsletter in our 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:
Kate Bush -  RUNNING UP THAT HILL  (HQ)
Kate Bush - RUNNING UP THAT HILL (HQ)
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James Ellis, Employer Brand Nerd

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