Who thinks employer branding sucks? Hung Lee does. He says employer branding is broken and candidate experience is crap. As the founder of Workshape and a prolific recruitment pundit, I'm willing to hear him out.
Why is employer branding bulls**t?
"I think, to a large extent, the investment that we put into employer branding misses the point. And while it's one of those things where I value the sentiment - and I totally understand companies being very committed to presenting the right image - it still doesn't generate great candidate experience on the other side, if you think about it. You know, you get lots of companies spending a lot of money building their so-called employer brand, but the fundamental mechanics of how a person experiences that brand, as a candidate, hasn't changed, and that's still quite a negative and frustrating experience for the vast majority of people.
I would say that if you look at the mindset of what a candidate is, typically, I think someone who's susceptible, if you like, to employer branding tactics, is what we would call someone who's an active job seeker. People who are normally going about their day, typically, are not going to be dazzled enough by whatever a company does to abandon their day and start taking an interest in a particular corporate business. The people who might be interested are going to be those individuals that are already engaging in job seeking activities, and I would argue, potentially, they would do that with less discernment than people might currently assume."
How can we fix employer branding?
"My biggest problem with employer branding is that it's at the front end of what is the standard recruiting funnel. If you look at most, whatever companies do, however innovative it is, ultimately, the call to action is, "Oh, apply for this job." And once that person applies to that job, you know what? Straight away, you're dropping a recruitment form on him or her, and that is literally a very processed and reductive activity which I think most people don't welcome. Now, I think you can get away with it when you've got an audience that's highly interested in job discovery.
If you're looking at people that are, if you like, have high demand for their skills - let's say in my industry, software engineers would be one example, but there are others. We typically don't want to ever put them through a funnel-like experience. That in itself is the negative part of job discovery or job search. That's why people resist it - I mean, the last time you or I went through a recruitment funnel, I guarantee you we did not walk away from that thinking, "That was an awesome experience." And we'd probably not welcome the opportunity to enter another funnel of that type."
What company does employer branding right?
"I like Toggl. Check out their careers site, perfect. What they've done is simply say, "Hey, listen, here are the general jobs that we typically hire for," and anybody can just look at it and sign up and give their test a go. And it's kind of a close to real world examination of the sort of work that you do. So, for instance, if you're going for a marketing role or you came across this product, you liked it and thought, "You know what? I reckon I'd give marketing at Toggl a shot," you simply look at the website, do the marketing test, it takes you 25 minutes, and then you get a call. How easy is that? At no stage are we being asked to submit anything, I'm totally in control of the timing of it. No one's saying, "Hey, book this time out." Toggl really understands user experience. They've got a great product and they've applied that to their recruitment process."