Your Career Site Is Simply the Paper (or Kindle) to Your Employer Brand Story

Redoing your career site does not mean you have an employer brand strategy.

I’ve even heard some of my follow HR peeps wonder why their career site makeover did not yield the talent attraction results they had envisioned. Let me explain why …

A brand is what you stand for as an organization. It is more than a tagline or glossy stock images. It’s the synthesis and creative expression of your employee value proposition, the employee/candidate experience, your values, market reputation, and more. As famously stated by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO Amazon, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

A career site may communicate some of this information, but the heavy lifting around self-discovery, your current, and aspirational culture, and critical future talent populations should begin long before you move into the dreamy world of parallax scrolling.

An employer brand is founded on your employee value proposition. It is hard to redraft a career site or even build an employer brand strategy without first understanding who you are and the “why” around your organization. Move right into a career site relaunch and you have missed this foundational principle of brand strategy that starts with your EVP. First understand who you are and own it, before you amplify it to the world through all channels including your career site.

A career site is a communication channel to activate and mature an employer brand. If you are blinging out your career site, that is awesome and a great idea, but don’t confuse it with the practice of carving out a multi-faceted employer brand strategy. Within that strategy will be components of brand building with a career site playing an important role. However, it starts with who you are, who are you becoming, what you stand for, and your brand’s character.

A brand can stand alone. Long before the digital age, companies had employer brands. Perhaps the branding practice and term itself were less mature than they are today but there were organizations to which you gravitated because of the employee experience and others you ran from. It’s what talent said about the organization “when they were not in the room.”

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A brand creates a pull strategy. A brand is not a one-time experience. The very nature of a brand is to help foster a pull strategy where no matter what stage in the recruitment funnel a candidate is in, they benefit from interacting with the talent brand. It tells a story and plants a seed. That seed grows into action when the time is right for the candidate to return for their opportunity to join the journey.

A brand unites. A strong employer brand brings existing employees together with a shared mission and message to rally around.

A brand is what you stand for. It’s your organizational identity related to the employee experience. It is not a logo, colors, or an image. It’s not animation, responsive design, nor typography. Some of those components may be used to help share your story and convey the energy authentic to the employee experience, but a revamped career site does not equal building a distinct, compelling, and comprehensive talent brand strategy.

A career site is the paper and binding to your book, the kindle to your digital download. A talent brand is your story, your narrative, the creative representation what you are all about as an organization and where you are going. It’s the plot.


7 Comments on “Your Career Site Is Simply the Paper (or Kindle) to Your Employer Brand Story

  1. Thanks, Alyssa. If a company has the extra resources to devote to having its Marketing/Corp Com/Mark Com coming up with reasons why current and potential employees should be glad to work there- go for it, but don’t take the money away from Recruiting’s budget. I’m a recruiter and I quickly and affordably put quality butts in chairs,

    1. Hi Keith, Thanks for sharing. If you can quickly and affordably get quality talent in seats, you rock and your strategy seems to be working for you. Many companies aren’t so lucky. They are looking to be very strategic and planful around their dollars. It doesn’t mean redirecting all funds to branding efforts, but undergoing a brand strategy process is as much an exercise in employee engagement and self-discovery for the company as it is a talent attraction tool. If you don’t know your “why”, are unclear on market positioning or essentially who you really are as a company, why would people want to join. Recruitment is a lot like dating. You need to know yourself before you can find a life partner. Many companies are investing more in branding (59% are investing more this year over last – LinkedIn). This is often supplemental to the operational recruitment budget, as the goal is next year and onward, there is more of a pull strategy, thus talent finding their way to you vs chasing. This investment comes back both immediately and over time as the brand matures, the company unites around the shared mission, and talent begins to seek you out based on brand. Awesome job on find quality talent in such a tight market and thanks again for commenting ? Let’s connect on LinkedIn

      1. You’re very welcome, Alyssa. I find much of the discussion about “mission” and “engagement” to be counterproductive.
        A company’s mission:
        1) Explicit- make/keep as much money as possible.
        2) Implicit- maintain as much power/control as possible.

        Employee Engagement:
        Treat them like responsible, autonomous, mature adults who you value and appreciate. Build their trust my sharing the rewards and the sacrifices.

        Neither YOU” (you, your position, your company) are “special” and ” are entitled to anyone or anything that is. However, it may make sense to invest in this since it is much more cost effective to try and convince others (and maybe yourself) that you “YOU” ARE better than “YOU” really are and there are large numbers of people naive, ignorant, or desperate enough to actually believe what they see on a corporate website without independent, objective verification.

        On the other hand, IMHO it would be much more cost effective and proactive to:
        1) Accept the reality of “non-specialness” and instead of trying to do as the picture at the top picture shows and passively trying to attract people to “YOU”
        2) Develop an active, well-planned, -supported, and -compensated employee referral program
        3) Directly source the people “YOU” want.

        I agree that recruiting is very much like dating, but I think we differ on the kind of “date” wanted:
        As a candidate, I don’t want to gradually get to know and develop a relationship with a company and its people- I want a job NOW! As a recruiter, I don’t to gradually get to know and develop a relationship with a (potential) candidate who may/may not be interested in my company’s position in 3, 6, or 12 months, I want someone we can hire NOW!

        Back to the dating analogy:
        I believe that most of us (either as candidates or as recruiters) don’t want to use OK Cupid or Match, we’d rather use Tinder (or Grinder, as the case may be), i.e., we’re not looking for a delightful romance leading to a LTR, we’re looking for a quick “hook up.” While there some companies (such as your clients) and candidates who have the luxury/foresight of being able to strategically plan, that isn’t the world in which most of us either job hunt or recruit.

        I look forward to connecting with you on LinkedIn.


        Keith Halperin

  2. I agree – the careers site is important, but it’s just a cog in the wheel that is employer branding! It can push potential candidates to continue the application if it’s user-friendly and full of employee testimonials and cool office photos. However, they won’t be going to your careers site if you aren’t promoting your job openings elsewhere. This doesn’t always have to cost money (see: Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing Beth ? Branding is a marathon that creates a pull strategy. It’s a key component of an overall talent attraction strategy (as well as your cultural strategy). It is not just about where and how you post, but also devising a way to reach those at the very top of the funnel. Your linked article has some great ideas around that. At the awareness stage, it’s about building “know, like, and trust” so that when they get active, they come to you vs you always having to chase talent. Let’s connect on LinkedIn.

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