brands_on_fireIn a typical day, brands will be mentioned 3.3 billion times around the world.  Your average American will mention a brand name 80 times a week.  To say that we have “brands on the brain” would not be an exaggeration.  Think about it:  we get excited about the brands we associate with.

There’s a sense of pride and even ownership with being connected to something we perceive as “iconic,” whether that be what we wear, where we dine, or how we fly:  rarely do you hear someone say the type of plane they’re flying on or even the class of service… no, they share the brand name.

The same is true for where we work. At the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival earlier this year, I sat in on a session where Robbin Phillips, author of The Passion Conversation and she reiterated something we logically know but are too quick to forget: while we have a strong love affair with brands, that’s not what it’s all about.

Our focus needs to be on evoking passion in people, which doesn’t come from asking people to ‘like’ our Facebook page or sport or logos.  In recruiting, that means we don’t need to have a conversation about jobs.  Rather, we need to spend our time discussing the things that the people that do those jobs get geeked up about:

  • Challenging projects
  • Unforgettable experiences (team members, travel to enviable places, great events)
  • Balance benefits (again, think about the ‘cooler’ benefits and things others would deem enviable)
  • Higher Purpose – what their work translates into, how it serves / makes a difference

By doing this, you’ll not only get the chance to improve the conversations you have with the talent you want to bring on board and keep in your organization; but you’ll also get something greater than that:  you’ll get them talking about the passion you set on fire in them with others.  That has real impact.

McKinsey Global Research reports that half of all purchasing decisions are made from word of mouth conversations.  Again, translated into the world of recruiting means the positive buzz you build around your brand can have serious impact on your conversion rate (because one could argue that choosing to accept an offer is a major purchase). When the conversation is coming from your employees it can have an even bigger impact still:  71% of people place a large focus on referrals.  So, let’s follow this through:

Ignite passion in your employee population by getting them talking about the stuff they geek out over work.  They start talking and sharing it with their friends, families, and others – that buzz builds & referrals are passed on – others want to be part of the excitement and voila!  Your application rate and brand reach starts rocketing in a very positive direction.

How to Make it Happen

Getting your employees (and even candidates) to help set your brand on fire is part functional, part science, and part psychological (emotional).  “The best brands, the brands we love the most, are the ones that never let us forget how it feels to be good people.” Phillips’ says.

GEM Recruiting AI

They turn their brand stories into love stories by highlighting how what they do brings good into the world.  Breaking it down, each job has a hand in bringing that good into reality – from the CEO to the janitor who’s focus on creating a clean and functional workspace allows others to focus on bringing products and services to market.

Every job has purpose; every job is important.

So reframe the way the conversation is typically held so that you can show it.  Throw away the tired job descriptions and share videos with employees talking about what they do, how it connects with their team and other departments internally and the impact it has externally.  Weave the skills and tools necessary to succeed throughout it, peppered in amongst the highlights of how good it felt to overcome challenges and the pride connected with seeing the work finished, the product launched, the achievement of the work they do.   It reframes the conversation from talking about a job description and an empty seat to sharing purpose… making your employees (past, present, and future) the heroes of your story.

crystalAbout the Author:  Crystal Miller is a strategist with AT&T and has nearly a decade of recruitment marketing and digital strategy experience. In addition, she has led both the internal HR function for a regional $350MM business and the largest real estate recruiting practice for the leading single-site search firm in the United States.  Miller has worked with start-ups to Fortune 5 companies to create and execute compelling recruitment marketing & employer branding campaigns.

She has been a reliable expert source on the topics of talent attraction, talent acquisition, talent management, and digital strategy for multiple media outlets including CBS, Hanley-Wood, Mashable, and ABC. As an industry leader, she is recognized for expertise in recruitment, recruitment marketing, social media, social communities, talent pipelining, and digital strategic solutions and speaks globally on the same.

Follow Crystal on Twitter @TheOneCrystal or connect with her on LinkedIn.