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We’re in this Together: EBrandCon 2019 in Review

Reading Time: 7 minutes

A few sessions into EBrand’s 2019 conference, we noticed a pattern. Each time emcee Audra Knight introduced a speaker, she shared something she had in common with him or her. For some this came from similar experiences as parents; with others, such as Amgen’s John Graham, the two shared a love for music (she’s a bassist, he’s a former rapper).

Besides demonstrating a very thoughtful emcee prep, Audra’s introductions taught us something else, too: we have more in common than we think we do.

Attendees represented wide-ranging geographies and industries; companies (and budgets) big and small; veterans and rookies; tried-and-tested strategies and brands eager to start their journey. Despite how different many of us were, what mattered those three days in San Diego was what we shared: a desire to grow in our knowledge of employer branding and ‘move the needle’ within our own organizations.

There was a lot to learn this week, but here were some (of many) actionable takeaways that can make an impact for all employer brands:

1. “Repel the many, compel the few.”

Ph. Creative’s Bryan Adams inspired us with that statement. Other speakers also considered this a must-practice: Employer branding and recruitment marketing efforts don’t serve companies or candidates when tailored to the masses.

Josh Zwieyn from SmashFly drew from commercial marketing to illustrate this point. After Patagonia updated its mission last year to “We’re in business to save our home planet,” they ran their first ever ad, criticizing the Trump Administration for their controversial viewpoints on public land use.

Patagonia is also currently rethinking their corporate custom-vest program, to exclude companies they consider “ecologically damaging” and seeking out those organizations that prioritize the environment (think B-Corps).

Josh’s point is that Patagonia is clearly not marketing to everyone, and in the process they are energizing only those that share their point of view.

Laila Moore, in her session entitled 5 Lessons from Bank of America, emphasized that the amount of applicants is not the goal; attracting the right talent for the role and culture is.

Tracey Parsons of Parsons Strategic Consulting told a personal story that highlighted the danger of candidate experiences that doesn’t match the employee experience: unexpected and rampant turnover. After a simple application process, she arrived at her in person interview to personalized cards and an introduction to a realtor to help with her family’s relocation. As she accepted their offer, she felt wooed and special, and ready to start her adventure. That is, until the employee experience didn’t match up with the candidate experience. Within nine months, Parsons had left the company.

By sharing the reality of your company’s culture, you’ll drive away talent that would never have fit in the first place. That’s a good thing. And, you’ll create loyal fans in the process who will thrive in your environment.

2. “Time to Closure” and other ways to focus on the candidate

Palo Alto Networks’ Lindsey Sanford flipped the time to fill metric on its head. Palo Alto Networks measures “time to closure” for candidates, focusing on their experience ahead of the corporate-focused, one-winner “time to fill” metric.

Our own Lauryn Sargent spoke about giving candidates what they are searching for: cultural insight. Candidates are starving for it, and your content can give them what they’re looking for and speak to them personally. Start with universal culture content and drill down to the specifics of a workplace experience.

Focusing on candidates is critical for content distribution, too. Recruitics’ Josh Gampel walked us through evaluating performance metrics. If your audience is consistently not converting, it’s not their fault! Evaluate how you may be missing the mark, and adjust from there.

3. Lean on Others!

Employer branding is a unique field, with plenty of opportunities to collaborate across your organization… and outside it, too!

During her pre-conference workshop, Rally Recruitment Marketing’s Lori Sylvia asked attendees to brainstorm examples of company information that could be used for employer branding. Then, surprise! We identified the department currently creating that content today. Don’t reinvent the wheel: take on the role of content curator by leveraging work by other departments such as HR (benefits), Marketing (company awards) and Communications (annual reports).

Craig Fisher from Allegis highlighted several useful tools for employer branding practitioners… and even shared a slide that showed the wide universe of content marketing platforms.

The closing vendor partner panel, consisting of Shaker Recruitment Marketing’s Deb Andrychuk, exaqueo’s Adrienne Betenbaugh, and Proactive Talent’s Will Staney, voiced their support for practitioners, too. They urged attendees to lean on the expertise of agencies and vendor partners, even if just for a phone call to pick their brains.  

If we took anything away from EBrand’s 2019 conference, it’s the power of the community driving it. No matter where you are in your employer brand career, this conference serves as a place to learn from and help one another.

See you next year, EBrand! Join EBrand’s sister show, Social Recruiting Strategies conference, in Philadelphia this August!