Today we’re honored to have a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article. 

Marketing 101: You need a product that meets the needs of your target customer or audience, then you need to promote it where it will be seen by and sought out by potential customers.

Branding 101: Define what you are about and what space in the market you occupy. Stand for something you believe in. Build such a strong connection with your audience that they take on your brand identity on as their own.

Wait, this is an HR blog, right? It is. Why are these concepts so basic when building a business and customer base, but relatively foreign in the HR world? Human capital is critical to the success of a company, yet basic marketing principles and resources are rarely allocated to our teams. It seems silly. A business cannot succeed without both the right product or service and the right people to deliver that product or service.

I suspect many of you don’t have marketers on your team, but there are some simple steps you can begin to take on your own to differentiate yourself and strengthen your employer brand to attract a better pipeline.

Understand your value proposition. What value can you deliver to prospective candidates? Examples include: location, work/life balance, opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies, top-of-the-market pay or great mentorship and development programs. Ask your current employees what the best part of working for your company is. And market it! Make sure pictures and language on your website highlight your differentiators. Invite employees to write testimonials or post to Glassdoor. But above all, be honest.

Figure out your market and focus your advertising appropriately. Each position has a unique market and needs to be treated as such. For example, we ask our team to review our job descriptions when we’re adding to the team to give us feedback – the oozing-with-personality job descriptions we use for entry level positions just may not appeal to senior level developers or a CFO. When I’m looking for an engineer, I ask our current team where they spend their time browsing and to tell me about the most effective cold call or email they have received and I tweak my recruitment approach accordingly. Finally, when we land a fantastic candidate, we take note of how so we can better focus our efforts next time.

Deliver. You need your public persona to match the candidate (and employee) experience. If you differentiate by the intelligence of your team, candidates expect to talk to smart people. If you pride yourself on corporate values and culture, the interview experience and questions should reflect that. You cannot attract or retain the right people if you aren’t able to deliver on the experience you’ve marketed. Just think – would you go back to a hotel that showed beautiful rooms and an ocean view but delivered an inferior product? Neither will candidates.

No company is perfect in every area, but you can be much more successful if you are able to identify what your strengths are, how you compare to the competition, and your audience, then relay that message in an effective way. How do you stack up? What differentiates your open reqs and opportunities from the competition?

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

As a guy working in a small HR shop, I am subscribed to multiple forums, blogs, and websites. I like having a lot of information at my fingertips, and recently I ran across a great question I thought would be worth sharing.

I would also be interested in what others are doing. We have been monitoring the [Glassdoor] reviews but recently received a less than positive review and are looking for advice on the best way to respond. It seems to me like it’s more of a communications issue from an external perspective, but I would like to know what others are doing.

For those of you who are not familiar, is a site where employees can go to post reviews of the company, share anonymous pay data, etc. Applicants can also share questions asked, what the interview/candidate experience was like, and other details that might be helpful to the public.

The HR professional who presented the question above did it very well. Many companies are completely unaware of the Glassdoor site, and even those that are don’t make a habit of regularly monitoring the discussions around their brand. This is a key area for recruiters and HR professionals to keep tabs on the employer brand, since many of the topics discussed on the site (pay, benefits, recruiting…) all touch the HR profession.

I’ve talked about employer branding previously (Psst–Your Greatness is Showing), and while it’s not on the top of my mind every day, I still think about it often. We’re marketing our organizations every time we choose to respond to candidates in a timely manner (or not).

Many companies talk about their brand without regard for what the rest of the world thinks. And some HR pros even think that they can make up some pretty words to get their point across. Not going to happen. 

Cliff’s Notes on how to manage Glassdoor reviews

If you want to manage your reviews on Glassdoor, start by treating employees and candidates well. Then if anything ends up getting posted on the site, you can respond accordingly with nothing to hide.

Will you sometimes get a nasty review, whether warranted or not? Sure! But then you respond to it publicly, tell your side of the story, and don’t shove your head in the sand and act like it never happened.

We want to be treated like big boys and girls. Let’s act like it! :-)

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on another company that we are competing with. Within five minutes of Google searching, it quickly became obvious that their website is woefully inadequate. Their site is 2-3 static pages of fluff (the majority of which is focused on their CEO’s history and accomplishments). They don’t mention what jobs they have, what their culture is like, or what kind of benefits they offer.

In short, it’s pretty darn crappy for anyone showing up there looking for information, including job searchers.

Let’s compare that with another company I ran across in my research. They aren’t a competitor, but I’m glad, because they look like an amazing company who people would be tripping over themselves to work for. In the screenshot below (click to make the image larger), you can learn some of their cultural norms, their mission, and there’s even a compelling call to action for job seekers at the end.

competitive culture

Here’s the text if you can’t read it:

Our Mission Statement

We play to win; Love to live; Create leaders; Give back; Become legendary

Want to make it your mission? Contact us.

Some of the differences in between these companies are obvious, and others are not, but job seekers are going to have a much better candidate experience at the second company than they would at the first! Step back, think like a job seeker, and take a look at what your website looks like. Is your greatness showing? 

Your HR brand is what you do, not what you say

As part of our rebranding of HR we were asked to come up with a new name for our Human Resources department. Can you guys help me with your suggestions to rename our department?

I don’t want to pick on the person who posted this, so I won’t name them, but I had to laugh when I read it. Call it the Pit of Despair. Call it the Confluence of People and Happiness. It doesn’t really matter as much as what you do. Continue reading

AKA: How to use employment videos for social recruiting

Social recruiting is discussed often, but one of the lesser mentioned facets is video. While many companies know it’s something they should pursue, they don’t know how to be successful. Below you’ll find some ideas to pursue in the area of employer videos. Just a quick word of warning, I’m going to be technical at times, because the subject warrants it. However, I’m happy to help if your organization is looking to make a move into the video arena.

First off, you want your videos to be found when people search Google, right? That’s where search engine optimization comes in. It’s a methodology for getting your videos indexed in a way that makes them easy to find by searchers.

Five tips for Video SEO (search engine optimization)

  1. Make the video something people want to share (more detail on this below).
  2. Don’t dilute your videos by posting on multiple sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, etc.).
  3. Titles, tags, and descriptions are useful when uploading and posting videos online, but backlinks to the videos (with relevant keywords in the anchor text) are more important for search engine rankings.
  4. YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world and the #1 for videos. Use that to your advantage.
  5. If you’re using WordPress as your content distribution platform, create a video sitemap and submit it via Google Webmaster Tools. Every little bit helps!

Now, let’s elaborate on #1 above. That’s usually the first question people have: what do the videos need to be about? Well, there are several ways to go with that, but I like to think of two kinds of people when considering these types of video: customers and potential job candidates. Think about what they would like to know about your company and give it to them!

Five ideas for your employment video content

  1. Interview employees and ask what they do and what they like about the job, dept, or company
  2. Get staff members to discuss the culture and how that affects what they do.
  3. Ask employees to talk about their favorite benefit/perk that you offer.
  4. Film the fun, unique events that make your organization special.
  5. Create content that is outward facing and valuable to your industry. Hint: if you’re providing thought leadership and value at a level that entices competitors to link to you, then you’re on the right track.

This list certainly isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s a great start to generating ideas that would specifically benefit your company.

Thinking about creating some employer branding videos for your company and looking for some help? Feel free to contact me if you’re looking for assistance. 

Corporate bloggingBlogs. They are everywhere, and their numbers are growing by the hour. Lots of companies are being encouraged to blog as a way to market themselves and reach candidates, but it’s a sad fact that most corporate blogs are terrible (84%, in fact). They are filled with press releases and other one-way communications that are not helpful in building a community or encouraging conversation. Let’s remedy that.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long, long time now. While I haven’t had the opportunity (yet) to write a corporate blog, I have been writing this blog for over a year and a half. In the past 15 months, I’ve also been writing my SHRM chapter’s blog as well. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve learned a lot and made enough mistakes to see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s all about authenticity and value

If it reads like a press release, people won’t be interested. Press releases have their own place, but it’s not in a blog. Content from a press release can be used in a blogging context, but it needs to be as a sidebar or commentary item, not the main fare.

So, if you’re not just spouting PR stuff from the blog, what do you talk about? Two of my favorite corporate blogs are by MailChimp and EventBrite. I’m not a full time email manager or event planner, but I still subscribe to both of these blogs and read them religiously. Why? They provide a great mix of customer-focused  “how to” posts, comments on their industry in general, and information about new features (plus how they impact you as a customer). Much of what they post is written to educate readers and encourage conversation.

The main thing: It’s great content that helps every reader, whether they are customers or not.

The root problem

Just like with this huge social media blocking craze we’re seeing these days, companies are hesitant to put their trust in their people. You know, those same people who can go to their homes, the local bar, or a child’s sporting event and talk about the company’s horrible, evil ways in public. But you’re going to block them at work. Doesn’t make sense!

Empower your people to have a real voice and let them make things happen. The more you water down the opinions and strip away the humanity in your corporate blog, the worse off it will be.

Like I said, they can already wreck your company publicly at any time they choose. Giving them a social media platform to share from doesn’t change that fact.

The mechanics

Blogging has a lot of pieces to it, but it’s possible to focus on just a few areas to make sure you are hitting the high points.

  • Writing the right types of posts to get links/comments
  • Interlinking and other SEO tips to get more views
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Building sneeze and squeeze pages
  • And plenty more!

One of the best tools I’ve found to help you learn to cover each of those pieces and integrate them into a powerful blog is the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. If you really want to get your corporate blog going and make it shine, then I highly encourage you to check out the book. I just found out that if you use “november25” as your discount code at checkout, you’ll get 25% off the price, but it’s only good through the end of November. Click here to learn more.

Growing awareness and engagement

In his book Culture Convo, Chris Ferdinandi makes this great point about how to grow awareness and engagement among your audience:

Whether you\’re looking to increase the number of people who read your blog, follow you on Twitter, or are your fans on Facebook, the strategy is always the same.
Have conversations worth listening to.
Being an interesting conversationalist – creating fun posts, photos and videos, sharing interesting news and useful insights – is the only way to have long-term success using social media. It\’s really that simple.
That doesn\’t mean that it\’s always easy. Figuring out what your target audience is interested in can take some time. But there\’s no magic formula to growing your awareness and engagement.
If you\’re a good conversationalist, then your circle of conversation will grow slowly and organically (and exponentially!) over time.

Final thoughts

If your corporate blog sucks (and it looks like about 84% of them do), it doesn’t have to be terminal. Most of the time the situation is not irreparable. Connect with people. Help them. Interact. Learn. And stop shoving press releases down our throats. It’s not working.

Anyone else have a good corporate blog they’d like to plug? Drop it in the comments below.

employers search social media

Despite the scary “end of the world” talk out there from legal types about how using social media will land your company in a lawsuit, 70% of employers are still searching for candidate information on social networking sites, and approximately one-third search every single time. I’ve talked before about how social media use varies between employers and candidates. Does this mean that the gap is closing? Are more companies trying to research and engage job seekers through social channels? Let’s hope so.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is your organization using social tools to reach out to candidates? If so, how?

And if you’re interested in getting started doing this with your own organization, there’s a great tool to help you get moving. Click here to find out more about Culture Convo and see how it can help you to use social media for your employer branding efforts.

Photo courtesy of the Jobvite Social Recruiting Report.