How to Develop an Authentic Employment Brand

A conversation with TalentNet's Craig Fisher at The Recruiting Conference in Las Vegas

Craig FisherCraig Fisher

The number one search term most job seekers use is 'jobs.' The number one word most talent professionals don't have in their LinkedIn profile is 'jobs'  - they use 'careers' because it sounds better.

In an age of constant connectivity and transparency, your culture is already part of the social media conversation - whether or not you're driving it. That's why it's up to companies to create an employer brand from the inside out, transforming company culture into a competitive advantage for attracting top talent.

In this Big Picture Channel Podcast on Totalpicture Radio, Craig Fisher (@fishdogs) is interviewed by Peter Clayton at The Recruiting Trends Conference. They discuss some of the best tools, tips and platforms for harnessing company culture as part of an authentic, transparent employment brand.

Our podcast reveals high-level strategy and operational tactics designed to Immediately help you and your company:
Understand emerging employer branding best practices
Capture your culture instead of selling it
Know the tools, tips and strategies for engaging internal and external candidates
Leverage Employer Brand and Culture to Improve Candidate Experience

Craig Fisher helps people and businesses leverage social media, mobile, and other new communication tools to get matched with the *right* customers, the *right* talent, and the *right* jobs. He is VP of Ajax Workforce Marketing, the first Linkedin-Certified training company in North America. He works with sales and recruiting teams around the globe to implement social media and mobile strategies for both business and career development.

Craig is the founder of the #TalentNet Live social recruiting conferences. He is a regular speaker at social media, recruiting, and HR events worldwide. Connect with Craig on LinkedIn, Twitter and on his career and branding blog (http://fishdogs.com).

"Interview Transcript"

TotalPicture Radio Transcript: Branding for Culture Craig Fisher

TotalPicture Radio's coverage of the Recruiting Trends Conference and Sourcing Summit in Las Vegas is brought to you by Career Cloud's new social recruiting platform launching this November.

At careercloud.com, employers and recruiters will be able to search social medial profiles across Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and even Facebook all at once. Go to careercloud.com and get on the launch list today.

Hi! This is Peter Clayton with a Big Picture channel podcast here on TotalPicture Radio. We are in Las Vegas at the amazing Caesars Palace Hotel at the Recruiting Trends Conference, and joining me this morning is Craig Fisher who is Vice President of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Craig and our good friend Matt Charney, this morning had a conference workshop on branding for social culture and have a lot of great ideas that we can share with you today.

Craig, welcome to TotalPicture Radio.

Craig: Thank you, Peter. I'm happy to be here.

Peter:: Why don't we start out by you just telling us a little bit about Ajax and what your company does.

Craig: Absolutely. Ajax helps companies instill social literacy into their organization and helps them look better online down to the individual employee. We were the first ever training and strategy company to have been certified by LinkedIn for their LinkedIn Live Program. We actually helped train LinkedIn salespeople all over the country a couple of summers ago. So we're intimately tied to them. They refer a lot of business to us. So we usually start with LinkedIn and we help individuals in each company to self identify better with the brand and align their profiles and their messages with corporate goals and still be human somehow. It makes everyone look more credible online and helps the brand come up higher in search results and all kinds of great things.

Peter:: In our workshop this morning there were recruiters and HR generalists covering automotive, financial services, manufacturing, IT - a broad range of industries where you normally find people at these conferences who all have their unique problems and challenges in dealing with social media.

For instance, financial services often times sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are blocked from their firewalls. How can you work with a company when you go in there and you find that everything gets blocked on their firewalls?

Craig: That's a great question. We actually work with some partners, especially in the financial arena, that have a process to approve content before it's shared with the outside world. There's a few real easy ways to do that so that your employees can engage in social medial, and they can actually use these tools.

The reality is they are anyway, whether it's through their phone, through their laptops, right? They're doing it. But the idea is as a corporation you don't want to bury your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist. You should actually engage your employees to say 'hey, we know you're online. We know you're doing a great job. We know you're a rock star and in fact, we'd love for you to help us share our awesome culture of our company with the outside world and here are the tools to do it if you want to.'

Peter:: My sister media company Jobs In Pods often times... Jobs In Pods is a podcast for companies to help promote their employer branding and also to promote their jobs, and of course in doing so, oftentimes I will speak with the rock stars in their companies and a lot of times I get companies who say, "we don't want to use their names" or "we only want to use their first name because we're terrified of them getting poached." The same thing could be said about the kinds of strategies that you are promoting with Ajax in that you want your rock stars out there and visible on social media and the first question you're going to get from a lot of people in recruiting is they'll get poached.

Craig: Yeah. So they're already getting poached. If you tell me that your company has zero turnover, well then you don't need my help.

The idea is that you really want to engage your workforce, and there's a recent survey that says 60-some percent of job applicants say that they'd rather work at a company that embraces social media access. So clearly it's probably actually higher than that. Not everyone just wants to say I want to play on Facebook all day, but your employees are doing it anyway. They're already out there on social media. If you're an employer worried about your people getting poached so much that you really want to keep them off of social media, well you're not a very good employer.

The other thing is I already know who your rock stars are. As a good recruiter, I'm already contacting them and if they look like easy pickings because they're just updating their résumé every once in awhile versus an employee who looks engaged and interested in the company who might be kind of harder to contact and persuade to leave, well I will take that employee from my company any day of the week.

He's out there supporting the brand. He's got the messaging in his profile that looks consistent and aligned with the company, and he's sharing content on the company's basis on a regular basis and he is all of a sudden no longer low hanging fruit for recruiters because he is an engaged person. And what happens is when you incorporate your workforce into your program like that, they actually do become more engaged.

Peter:: One of the things that you talked about is to this point of if the employee is a rock star and I'm a recruiter I already know who you are. You were mentioning several tools that recruiters use out there, I think Bullhorn has something that's called Radar that goes out and monitors what's going on in social networks and finds those folks who may be tweeting or writing blogs or something that suggests that they may not be as happy with their employer as they had been in the past.

Craig: Yeah. These tools are actually will tell you when people are doing online activities that means they're getting ready to look for a job. So updating their profiles and sending out different tweets and connecting with different people. These tools will say 'hey, this person is about to be looking for a job. This person is updating their profile. This is time to contact this person,' and it's predictive analytics and it's very good.

Peter:: One of the things that you did in the workshop is you brought up your LinkedIn profile which I was fascinated by because one of the things that you suggest doing is changing the title that you use with your profile on a frequent basis. Can you talk about that?

Craig: So if you're going to update your entire profile you might want to turn your status updates off in your settings so you don't spam people in your network with every little update that you do and all the hundreds of edits you might do in that process. But then when you turn those back on and you want to strategically message your entire network add some keywords to the backend of your title.

Your title is HR generalist. That's an internal term. People on the outside world don't understand that necessarily and don't care, but if your title changes to currently hiring Java developers in Cincinnati, okay that's interesting. You've just informed your entire network that you've got a new title but oh wait, you've also informed them that you're hiring Java developers in Cincinnati right now. That's a free job posting basically.

Peter:: Absolutely. What are some of the other techniques that you walked us through with LinkedIn profiles that can help...you know, as most people who are listening to this understand LinkedIn is just phenomenal from a search engine standpoint and from an SEO - from a search engine optimization standpoint and it's really... your LinkedIn profile really needs to be updated and it really needs to have keywords in there and strategically placed keywords that make sure that when someone does a search on you, those are the kinds of things that come up in that Google search, right?

Craig: Right. That's exactly right. So if I am indeed hiring Java developers in Cincinnati and I'm getting my butt kicked by my competitors who are hiring all the Java developers, well possibly my share of voice might be low for those jobs in that market.

What you can do is get several people on your team putting the keywords Java developers jobs Cincinnati in several places in their profile under each of their job descriptions - for instance, in their summary, in their headline right across the top which is heavily weighted, and in their job titles and all of the sudden your entire organization is going to start coming up high for search results when jobseekers go on Google and actually look for Java developer jobs Cincinnati and that's how they do it.

The #1 keyword that jobseekers use in looking for a job online is the word jobs. They actually type that in. The #1 word most talent professionals don't have anywhere in their profile is the word jobs.

Peter:: They use careers.

Craig: That's right.

Peter:: Because it sounds...

Craig: It sounds better.

Peter:: ...better.

Craig: But no one actually does an online search for careers.

Peter:: Right.

Craig: It just doesn't happen that way.

Peter:: One of the participants in our workshop this morning was a woman who works for a company in Schenectady, New York that is hiring engineers. There are a lot of much bigger companies in her marketplace that are also competing for the same talent. So what kinds of things would you do at Ajax to help her get more visible within her community and within specifically the types of engineers that she's looking to hire?

Craig: One universal truth is that most Americans do use social media of some sort and most of them also have mobile phones. So the tools online that are also mobile that people use are places where a lot of diverse different kinds of employees hangout.

The idea is if you can get your internal workforce engaging more online in communities where those folks hangout - developer communities and groups, and things like that, then you become a more familiar face and you turn cold calls into warm calls, and you get more of your network online, more of your internal people online discussing the types of things that are great about working at your company, the type of projects they're working on, customer interactions, things like that, nothing proprietary or that would fall under an NDA, but just use common sense. Then all of a sudden, that's basically free advertising.

You're using your workforce and there are more than one; there are several in your company that can connect with the outside world to build rapport and get noticed out in the Internet.

Peter:: Craig, one of the companies you profiled today is Rackspace. They have a really unique approach to how they use Facebook. Could you share that with us?

Craig: Rackspace is one of the top cloud computing companies in the world. They host more startup websites and presences online than anyone else in the world, and they did a really unique thing. They said we're going to put all nonproprietary employee information on Facebook. We're going to build a place on Facebook where you can all go find information about company events and what's going on. We're going to share some of your insurance signup links and things like that on Facebook with you and this is where you're going to go to get your information from now on.

They didn't promote it to the outside world but all of the 'rackers' is what they call themselves, ended up going to this place and interacting and sharing news and stories about the company and the outside world found out about it. It's a brilliant play, right?

Well, this is our culture. These are our people. Here we are, open to connect, and all of the sudden that company seems more accessible. People can get an inside look at what it's like to work there and self select into or out of that process of applying for a job better.

Peter:: I agree with you. I think that's absolutely brilliant. What did that cost them to initiate?

Craig: Very little.

Peter:: You showed some corporate career sites that you consider to be companies who are doing it right. One of them is Taco Bell. Tell us a little bit about Taco Bell's career site and what they're doing in your mind that really makes them a company that is really reflecting their brand?

Craig: So right on the front page of their career site you get a sense that this is a company that gives back to the community. It's also a company that really value its employees and its product and encourages everyone to sort of chip in to the greater good within the organization. So you get the idea right there that it's fun. You get the idea that we like our food, we like our people. If this is you, you might want to join us and...oh by the way, here are all the programs we have for giving back to our customers the community around us.

Peter:: Part of what we've been talking about is you really get a sense of the companies who are doing this right and really engaging out there on social media, their culture is very evident with all of these programs and efforts that they're putting out there. So again, to your point of self-selecting, you really get a sense of will I fit into this company.

Craig: That's right. So when you can showcase your people more, versus just a brand message, then me as a job candidate looking at you as an employer, I can see your people. They seem accessible. They're talking about the company. I feel like I might either fit well with them or not fit well with them versus a company that I'm just giving an application, I'm not given access to their employees. If I find their employees, well they don't seem really engaged with the brand, that self-selection process becomes more difficult.

So you want to narrow your recruitment funnel to be more efficient. So share your company's culture online and allow candidates to see a little bit on the inside and the human people behind your brand.

Peter:: Another company that you and Matt were impressed with as far as what they've done with their career website is Deloitte. Tell us a little bit about what Deloitte's doing because that's obviously quite different than what a Taco Bell will do as far as what they're trying to attract for talent.

Craig: Deloitte's another company that does a really good job of sort of letting their people do the talking. Deloitte has published statistics over the last couple of years about the incremental...I mean amazing triple digit increases in traffic to their jobs website and careers applications just through social media and versus job boards, for instance.

If you go to their careers page, it's very simple. You can tell exactly what you want to do right away, but it talks directly about our people, of course but then once you get inside, there are all kinds of stories from their people and highlights about their people.

You let your workforce do the talking and all of the sudden, you've become a more engaging brand.

Peter:: We've been focusing mainly in this interview on websites but obviously mobile devices and tablets have become really huge in the whole recruiting sphere and recruiting conference was just a couple of months ago and a whole conference about how to recruit using mobile. A lot of companies now are finding...and UPS is one example of candidates who prefer to apply for their jobs using a mobile device. How is mobile fitting into the kinds of work that you're doing with Ajax and your clients?

Craig: There are a couple of things that every person takes with them when they leave the house - wallet or purse, and phone every time. Probably keys. But one of those key things there is phone. The first thing you look at when you get up in the morning is your phone. The one cool thing that social media does very well is appear on your phone.

So you're checking in places. You're looking at Facebook. You're actually getting a lot of your email through LinkedIn and Facebook. The way we communicate is different now.

Social media is very, very vital and if you are a company that is good at empowering your people to share content online and to appear credible when they've reached out to someone and they come back to look at them and your organization, a mobile device actually enables you to just enhance that experience because you can now communicate with people through Twitter or Foursquare, or Facebook or LinkedIn, and you don't have to call them. It's not invasive but you can go there and support them, like their content, share their stuff. Reply to them and then offer valuable resources yourself and you can do it all from your phone.

Peter:: How important do you think it is for companies to build an application that allows candidates to apply through the mobile device?

Craig: I think it's very important. I think at the very least your career site has to be mobile optimized. If you go to a company's application page and it's mobile optimized then it's very difficult to navigate from a phone, you're going to have a whole lot of people opting out of that process. If you've got an application that is very brief or even one click where it imports information from LinkedIn or from somewhere else, then you are well on your way to being far ahead of the curve and we're getting to that. It's going to happen. But if you're not looking at your career site right now through your phone to see how easy that process is, your candidate experience is probably not very good.

Peter:: One of the websites that you and Matt talked about today that has become very important to many corporations, which surprised me, is Pinterest because I thought Pinterest was all about cats and recipes, but it seems that it's being used far more widely. Tell us about how recruiting is using Pinterest.

Craig: Some companies are doing a really, really good job of showcasing their people and their company culture on places like Pinterest and Instragram and allowing their workforce to share in this and participate. Taco Bell is one of these companies, Pizza Hut, U.S. Army.

If you go to any of their Pinterest pin boards you see in the careers area whole groups of pictures of company events and parties and what's going on at work, and who are our people and these is our recruiting team, and this is our culture and oh by the way also, we're hiring.

This gives content for everyone to share. So we know it's a corporate approved thing that's on there. So any of your employees can now go share that with their networks anytime they want and it's easy to do. It's inexpensive. You've just built a content portal for your entire workforce to share in.

Peter:: I know one of the things that Ajax is doing is using images and graphics to promote jobs rather than writing out job descriptions. Tell us about that and why a visual is better than a written job description?

Craig: We want our information now served up in little beautiful, bright colored bits of data, versus a long drawn out whitepaper. The most common things that are clicked on online are pictures. If you look at a Facebook timeline, the new Facebook layout, it looks terrible if it's just words. It's really built for being visual and graphical. So companies have come to me saying 'our job descriptions are boring. They are just like everyone else's. They're mostly written by marketing and we get the information from a hiring manager and they're just bad. We want to attract Gen Y. How do we make these more appealing?'

First of all, you have to write good stuff, but second of all you can put it together in graphical format. You can make your job description an infographic that could be posted anywhere. Pinned. Put on Facebook. All kinds of cool places. But if you tell me about the company in pictures and charts and graphs and interesting bits of data versus just write it out, you're demonstrating passion versus writing I'm passionate. This is the sort of thing that catches the eye and actually makes you a more interesting employer.

Peter:: Sort of in that same vein you asked the audience today to come up with five words that describes their company best, and then we started going around the room and what were those words - innovative...

Craig: Work/life balance.

Peter:: Work/life balance.

Craig: Family oriented.

Peter:: Everyone is using the same terminology to describe the culture and their company.

Craig: That's right. So the point here is and it's funny, Ajax is the company that optimizes profiles at the LinkedIn conference for LinkedIn. So we pimped about 500 profiles over the last few days at the LinkedIn conference, and we have to ask these questions because we're trying to get people to look at their LinkedIn profiles, their individual LinkedIn profiles more as a marketing document to help attract the prospects they want versus their own résumé. By doing that they write a better résumé for themselves than they ever could by talking about themselves.

So we ask, what are your goals? We want to hire the best talent. Okay.

Who's your target audience? We hire engineers and salespeople. Alright, great.

What is it about your company that you want them to know? We're innovative and we've got family values and work/life balance... it's basically about eight different things.

So you can't compete there. That's not your brand promise. Your brand promise is in your actual people. If you let your workforce help you do the talking that's where you're differentiated because nobody else has your workforce.

Peter:: That's a really interesting perspective. Talk to us a little bit about Twitter and some of the other social platforms that are out there, the Foursquare, and how those all integrate into the kinds of stuff that you guys do with your clients.

Craig: If you're going to empower your employees to help you deliver your brand message somehow to help share your company's culture and why it's a great place to work, you can't just say put this in your profile and you're done, because that's not very social. Social media is just that; it's meant to be interactive. And if you're just posting jobs all day long and never giving anything that your network can use as a resource to share with their network or for their own careers, then your brand promise kind of sucks.

So what you want is to say hey, we're a valuable resource. Everyone in the organization is sharing good content online and by the way, here's what we do every once in awhile and oh by the way, we're hiring for this job every once in awhile. You do that with multiple media and you have to determine first where's your audience. It may not be just on LinkedIn or it may not be just on Facebook. You might need cross platform sharing and development to help sell that brand promise.

Now the idea here though is that you want to connect with individuals. People want to work with people and you can easily do that on places like Twitter very quickly. In fact, if you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn and you're having a hard time doing it, go follow them on Twitter for awhile and support them there, network with them and then come back and say, "Hey! I'm following you on Twitter. You look great. I think this is really fascinating stuff you're doing. I would love to connect with you here on LinkedIn." Your response rate goes way up.

Peter:: Right.

Craig: The other thing is on places like Foursquare, if you can get your workforce, especially if they're spread out across multiple locations, to start checking in with interesting customer stories and pictures of product, you've already, just doing that, lit up brand ambassadors all over the place with check-ins that are also generally tweeted and wow all of a sudden, there's all these positive chatter online about your organization.

Peter:: I don't want my employees spending all their time on these social networks, they have a job to do.

Craig: Yeah, yeah. I agree with you and that's why we know that there are peak times to share things, morning, lunch and evening. That doesn't sound like they're spending all day on social media if you just give them the right message and information about how and when it's appropriate and the training to say here's why you want to share things at these times of day, here's how you get on and off quickly and which platforms to choose and how to do it better.

You don't give them a document that says here's what you shouldn't do online. No one's going to read it. What you do is socialize these concepts and train them on how to do it properly and how not to spend all their time all day because guess what, they're already spending lots of time all day on social media.

If you tell them, hey by the way not only do we want you to help us but wink wink obviously we're watching you. You're kind of saying, alright now look, we know you're doing this but we want to help you do it better and here are the tools to do it.

Peter:: I think the training piece is so critical to this because otherwise they're in a vacuum - what does my company really think about me spending time on Facebook and do they really want me to talk about my job and my work on Facebook. They don't know.

Craig: Most of the time that's exactly right, they don't know and that's why they don't do it. That's why they hide it or they think that it has to be separate from work, and the truth is that's not true. Your best referrals and resources come from people you already know. So if you just say I'm only going to connect with business people over here and only personal people over here, well it doesn't really work that way. We bring life to work and work back home all the time. That's just the way life is now and social media has blurred those lines and made that difference. So you should be in control of what's going on.

Peter:: There are a number of companies out there and I'm sure you've seen this on Facebook who scraped all the jobs off their job boards, started up a Facebook page, locked it down so nobody can comment on it and then they go, yeah we now have a social medial policy and we are now on social media, we have a Facebook page.

Craig: The biggest problem with that is that most of those pages aren't very interactive. There are no people there. They're dormant. Oh, but it's got 4000 people that like it. Okay, well what happens next? Anything? Nothing.

We post jobs. Oh, well how are you helping the people that you're trying to recruit? How are you building a community of people that are really fanatical about your company that really want to work there and interact with you?

The way you have to do that is by letting them know your people, not by locking everything down.

Peter:: One more question for you Craig, and I want to talk a little bit about TalentNet which is another activity that you are very involved in. Tell us a little bit about TalentNet and your conferences and your radio show.

Craig: TalentNet started as the first ever Twitter chat for recruiters and this was a few years ago. The weekly chat on recruiting blogs kind of died when Twitter came about and so we decided we should have a place for everyone to meet on Twitter, and it quickly became a live conference because people said hey, we should have an alternative to the expensive conferences that are on either coast every year because we don't have the budget. (This is like 2008) We don't have to budget to go out to California and spend $1500 going to a conference. We should do our own thing and make it a local or regional and inexpensive thing. So that's what we did.

We've had since then a series of conferences, and we'll have ten these year, that are day long, very tactical, very strategic recruitment training and how to use social media better, employer branding, the works, and with all the same top speakers and more that you would see at any other large conference. We've actually become the jumping off point for a lot of the people who speak on a worldwide basis now which is great. I'm very proud of that.

The other thing is we've ended up with about ten conferences this year alone. We've really grown and expanded, and we're the largest recruiting un-conference in the world. It's pretty cool.

Our next event is at PepsiCo. It's our annual event there on November 2nd and you can get details about all of that at talentnetlive.com. We still do a weekly chat on Tuesdays nights at 6 p.m. and it is complimented by a radio broadcast on Blog Talk Radio, and all those details are there at talentnetlive.com too.

Peter:: Great. Craig, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us today on TotalPicture Radio.

Craig: Peter, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Thanks for tuning in to our podcast with Craig Fisher, Vice President of Ajax Workforce Marketing and founder of Talent Net Live social recruiting conferences. You can connect with Craig on his career and branding blog fishdogs.com. You'll find this interview, along with resource links and a complete transcript of today's podcast on Craig's show page in the Big Picture channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com.

You can connect with TotalPicture Radio on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our free newsletter on totalpicture.com and find our shows on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Thank you so much for tuning in and thanks again to Career Cloud for sponsoring this podcast from the Recruiting Trends Conference 2012 and Sourcing Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. Be sure to check out the cool new social recruiting tools they're building at careercloud.com.

Listen and download this podcast at:
https://www.totalpicture.com/career-podcast-interview-channels/big-picture-interviews/1341-how-to-develop-an-authentic-employment-brand.html

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