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An Employee Testimonial is Not a Story: Employee Story Checklist

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We like positive sentiments like “We’re like a family” or even “I love it here!” We are happy for the person who feels that way. But, these blanket statements alone do not serve the candidates searching for real insight into your culture. An employee testimonial is not a story. 

Compelling employee stories are the key to creating the best recruitment marketing and employer branding content. Ten years of interviewing employees have helped us hone our craft. Today, we can uncover a compelling employee story from any team member, in any industry and job category, that will communicate real workplace culture to candidates.

A key to our ability to do so is a deep understanding of what a story is and the elements that go into crafting a compelling one. We’ve created an employee story checklist that you can reference as you create your own content to ensure your employee stories are in fact stories, not testimonials.

Your Employee Story Checklist

A compelling employee story has six key elements. While you can still have a strong story while only checking three or four of these boxes, the very best employee stories will incorporate all six elements:

  • Specific. Something happened.
  • Realistic. The story paints a realistic picture of your workplace.
  • Personal. The story is relatable and true, allowing candidates to walk in the storyteller’s shoes.
  • Inspires Action. Candidates want to opt in or out after hearing this story.
  • Your Company is a Character. Something your organization did (a benefit, policy, culture element) made this story possible.
  • Connects to Culture Concepts. The story provides insight into your organization and helps candidates understand what it would be like to work there.

Let’s try it out!

This video from Intel features an early career professional talking about her experience at the company. But: is she actually telling a story?

Yes, and here’s why.

The story is specific.

LaToya shares that this was her very first job out of school. And on her third day of work ever, she attended an event put on by the Network of Intel African Ancestry ERG. At this event, she had the opportunity to meet some of her Intel colleagues, many of which became friends that she keeps in touch with today. She eventually became a member of that ERG.

There are a lot of specific details in this story that make it relatable and memorable.

Candidates get a realistic picture of the workplace.

If an employee story is a cultural outlier — meaning, the storyteller’s experience isn’t the norm in that workplace — it’s not an effective piece of employer brand content because it does not set realistic candidate expectations. The best employee stories reflect the reality of the workplace.

LaToya’s story paints a picture of Intel that is welcoming and makes it easy for new team members to network and build relationships. Being part of a larger campaign, LaToya’s is just one of many stories that speak to the inclusive and welcoming environment at Intel.

The stories are personal.

Although it moves fast to keep attention, LaToya shares several personal aspects of her personal and professional life in this story. Many candidates can relate to the feeling of starting your very first job out of school and wondering how you will build a network. And as a Black woman, LaToya’s story speaks to her experience building community through the Network for Intel African Ancestry.

The company is a character.

Other members of the Network for Intel African Ancestry aren’t featured, but their welcoming environment is clearly seen. By investing in employee resource groups, Intel plays a behind-the-scenes role in making LaToya’s story possible.

Intel’s culture is brought to life.

“Build a Network for Life” is defined for candidates and promoted to them. Their welcoming culture is a competitive advantage. But instead of vaguely touting the concept, they make it real for candidates through stories like LaToya’s.

Checklist complete! Yes, LaToya’s story is in fact a story, not an employee testimonial.

Want to capture stories that communicate your company’s unique culture?

Never forget: an employee testimonial is not a story. At Stories Inc., we specialize in capturing the compelling stories from employees that resonate. Then, we deliver to our clients content libraries full of engaging visual and written stories, optimized per channel. Want to get started? Send us a note, or book a 15 minute call right on our calendar.

Contact us to discuss how stories can communicate your culture.