2 min read

Most Companies Should Ignore the Employer Branding Industry

The employer branding industry propagates blanket strategies (most of which are outdated and/or pointless) as if they’re applicable to all candidate personas across all types and stages of companies.

40-second read

For most companies, Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing are the same things. So let’s calm down with the terminology battle and focus on tactics and outcomes.

These terms are just codeword for: How do we get the right talent to a) know about us, and b) want to talk to us?

When we're talking about passive, high-demand candidates—which every high-growth startup is after—the top of the funnel is simple:

Ungated information that allows your candidates to check the necessary boxes and either opt-in or opt-out of a call with a recruiter or hiring manager.

That information is very straightforward. This isn’t complicated stuff. And it can be packaged up and distributed in many creative ways.

Yet, the employer branding industry propagates blanket strategies (most of which are outdated and/or pointless) as if they’re applicable to all candidate personas across all types and stages of companies.

As a result, companies believe that in order to build an employer brand, they need things like an EVP and a fancy careers site and programmatic ad tech—none of which matter (or even apply) to candidates who are already well-employed and flooded with recruiters continually hitting them up about new opportunities.

If the goal is for your recruiter the start a conversation with the right person, and that person is already employed, the game is just different. All these candidates want is real talk and information, consumed on their own terms. They don’t have time for the soft stuff.

Here’s my advice to anyone who’s leading employer branding at a high-growth startup: Ignore the employer branding industry. It will only confuse you.

It’s an industry designed to help mature enterprise companies market themselves to high-volume candidates who are searching job boards and applying through careers sites. Aka, the exact opposite of your target market.

Instead, think practical:

  • Focus your efforts on marketing the micro-cultures within your company: engineering, sales, marketing, etc.
  • Build each as their own micro brand. Let them tell their own stories.
  • Design all of your content to be used as highly informative outbound assets.
  • Go all-in on transparency: Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and just give them all the details upfront. Then, use conversations as relationship-building tools.

James Hornick and I have done a lot of research on what candidates want. And my own company conducts ongoing UX research with this candidate market as well.

Our findings all back this up.

Hope this helps.

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