James Ellis, Employer Branding @ Roku. Write world-class job descriptions and supercharge your employer branding.A-Players - The top startups' recipes to build teams of top performers
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- 27 Oct 2020
James Ellis is the biggest Employer Branding Nerd on earth (I'm not saying this, Google is!). With great energy and humor, James walks us through the groundwork of employer branding: drafting your company story and hammering it. 86% of people listening to this episode had an epiphany and completely revamped and turbocharged their employer branding. Good for recruiters and C-levels alike! If you're struggling writing your latest job descs, listen to James: he has the answer!
Balance wins games, but teamwork wins championships. Welcome to eight players. But guess what? We'll tell you how to target, hire, retain and train top performers for your team, understand your audience, understand your market, understand what they're doing and understand what they care about.
What surrounds them, what message is already getting can say something that is so different and obvious. It's like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door and it's all color.
That's what you're shooting for. Each one of your candidates or potential candidates are living in a black and white world. And here you are presenting this thing called Technicolor.
I am rubbing shows you at higher suites and we are sourcing automation software that helps companies hire the best talent at me. And for me now, only LinkedIn. You want to keep an eye on this?
OK, so today we're having James Ellis was calling himself an employer branding nerd. Right. Wrote two books about employee running. So welcome, James. Can you tell us more about yourself?
I'm a self-proclaimed employer brand nerd. But honestly, if you just Google employer brand nerd, I show up. If you use quotes, I own the first five pages. If you don't use quotes, I'm like seven of the first 10 responses. So Google says that. I guess it must be true. Yeah, I know. I'm going to play Rim Nerd. I came from the marketing space. I think it was a born marketer of born content marketing more than anything else.
I've done so much marketing in the past and I ended up tripping into this weird world called employer brand and I'm sure we'll talk more deeply about it. But I just am fascinated by employer branding because it is the only place where marketing doesn't have to fight. The more question on marketing, whether it's event marketing or consumer marketing or package marketing or it doesn't really matter. It's all about more. You want more eyeballs and more brand awareness and more sales and more leads and more brands based share of wallet and all that good stuff.
More and more and more and more is inherently good and employer brands the one place where more is not good, in fact, more it's bad. You want quality, quantity. I was having a very interesting conversation with someone who ran a system of cable networks and they're selling commercials. And I said, look, your whole model is based on you can put me in front of X million people, which is great, except when you put an employer brand in front of X million people and a million people apply.
And I have to say thanks, but no thanks to nine hundred and ninety nine thousand. OK, I just pissed off a lot of people. And to you, from a branding standpoint, that's great. But from an employer branding standpoint, that is a nightmare. And so grappling with the concept of quality versus quantity in a real way is the game that employer branders play every day. And that's honestly that's why I love it. That's why I get up and do this every day.
I never looked at it this way. And what changes in reality than this indifference? So many differences.
If you look at it on a very simple level, whether it's you're selling donuts or cereal or fancy exotic cars, you want the most people to buy things from, you know, if you're selling in a fancy exotic car. And I come walking in and you look at my shoes and you look at my shirt, you're like, this guy is no way he's going to afford this Maserati or whatever this thing is. And you're probably right. I cannot afford a major Audi.
One hundred percent right at that. But if I said, oh, I just won the lottery, would you sell me one? At no point would you say no recruiters. On the other hand, who are the salespeople of talent? They are required to say no to people all day long. They say no to so many people. They reject people all day long on a level that would make any consumer packaged good company just blanch. You've got the dollar.
I've got the donut. This is conversation's over. We're done. Take the car. Here's the euro. We're done. There's no question of, hey, when's the last time you ate a crusade or hey, can you send me three references from people who will say you're qualified to eat it? Don't. And hey, I see it's been at least three weeks since you've eaten a crosseyed. Can you talk about that gap in your crisan eating history?
And it just it doesn't work. Now, what's funny about quantity versus quality is, is that it's a moving bar. Right? If you're an entire a product manager. Right.
We're talking to start ups, you're probably going to bring in a product manager and you put out a mediocre job post and you don't put a lot of strategy behind it. You just kind of floated into the world the way you're supposed to do it. And you get some people who apply. Your job then is to say who is the best, not who is the best. As in I want to hire the world's greatest, but to say of the people who applied.
And maybe you ask your recruiters to kind of bang the drum a little bit and saw some people up, you're going to hire the best person who probably applied, whether there all be players or C players or players. If you use strategy to think about how do I tell a story around why you want to work here and give people a reason to engage with it and to treat the concept of hiring someone beyond the obvious stuff. And you say, look, let's talk about let's have a real conversation.
You're going to attract a higher quality person. What happens is what you start to realize is that your job is not to get a thousand people to apply or one hundred people to apply or fifty people apply. You really only want two people to apply the person you hire and the person who is almost good enough to hire. But you had to say no. To just so you feel good about making a choice, that's the game of quality, you're saying how do I level that up, not how do I pick the best?
How do I get the best to show up? Suddenly, employer branding is very much an inbound marketing game. You're attracting people to you, not just banging the drum about. Please, please apply, please. What? I always joke that most recruiters should just put it like a little jar next to their laptops or computers. And every time they post on LinkedIn that says Join us or we are hiring or fantastic opportunity, they should just take a dollar and put it in a jar because they're a bad recruiter and they should know better because these posts don't mean anything, generate any content and nobody cares that you're hiring and nobody cares that you're a great team and no one knows you enough to say, Oh, I want to join you, you're magical and special, whatever.
Just put it because it's best junk content. Don't say that. The game is to say, how do I attract you to something better than what you have? Now let's go to your world, to startups up again. We're going back to product managers. You're hiring someone. Chances are a great product manager is not sitting around their living room going, gosh, why can't I find a job?
They're not bored. They're not trolling LinkedIn job where it's going. I hope I could find a job. I know what they're thinking is, gosh, I've got this great job at Piguet.
It's your Google, your Facebook, your Hubers, your insta cards, whatever, whatever the hot startup in your world is, they've got a job and your job is to poach them, which means you have to offer them something better than what they already have. And if you think putting that in writing and a job posting with a bunch of bullets after, it's going to make that happen. You're a fool. So you can't you just can't you can't rely on the quote unquote, standard tools of recruiting to do the job you wanted to do, which is to hire a great person.
You have to steal them. You have to draw them in from some other place, which means a couple of things have to happen. One, you have to get their attention, not just I'm going to wear a chicken outfit outside their house and kind of bang a drum of attention. Anybody could do that. But I mean, kind of understand how to offer them something they care about. If you're startup, truly is going to save lives. Great.
Lean on your purpose of what your startups are going to do if your startup is going to save a lot of money for people who need to save a lot of money. Great. You can lean on some of that stuff if you're a startup is one of those things where Elon Musk and Johnny Ive have banded together to fund this project. You're going to focus on prestige. You're going to find the thing that is all about what your company is about and push it out to the world to say, look, if you're looking to change the world, join the startup.
If you're looking for the prestige that comes with joining some huge names, join the startup. If you're looking to have direct access over the products we're building that you're not just a cog in a big machine, join us. That means understanding what your talent actually cares about. Because if I go to the Red Cross and say, join me in my hedge fund because you're going to get paid a lot of money, well, they don't care about money as much as saving lives.
That's why they're at the Red Cross.
If you're at Goldman Sachs and say, hey, come join my startup because we're going to go save lives, they're going to look at you like you got three heads. It's like they're not interested in that. They're there to make the cash and good for them. There's nothing wrong with that. It's simply they're motivated by something different. And if you don't understand what you can offer and you don't know how to tell that story about what you offer and how to put it in front of someone who actually values that thing you offer, shut up.
Sit down, you're done. It's not going to work. So that's what employer Branning. In a nutshell, this is about increasing desire amongst target talent, the right talent, the people you care about. And how do you increase desire? You give them something they're not getting where they are right now.
OK, and so back to the product manager working at Google. How would you draft that message, that story? How do you tell that story to that person and how do you reach out to her? How do you engage with her? Because you don't post on LinkedIn, right? Exactly.
That nobody troll's LinkedIn and especially in that space, they're not hanging out there. They might hang out blind, they might hang out in builtin channels. They might hang out at groups for their industry. There's places you can find them. The nice thing about a quote unquote, product manager at Google is that you have a good sense of what their life is like. You have a good sense of what they're making. You have a good sense of what are they working on.
Right. You understand roughly what they're doing. And this is not to denigrate Google in any way, shape or form, because Lord knows, they have all my information. And if they want to make my life hell, they could they could Google for making my life. Thank you for my my emails get sent. Thank you, Google. I appreciate that very much. But if you say, look, you're at Google, you're there to sell ads, you're there to make products that help sell at nothing wrong with that.
Again, I'm all for making money, if that's what you're about. But Google is not changing the world in the same way that it was changing the world twenty years ago. Right. Gmail has been launched. Maps has been launched. News has been launched. The cool stuff is out there. Android's out there now. You're just kind of making things better. So the sense of innovation may not be the same as it was twenty years ago. You might have a sense of their purpose isn't the same as it was twenty years ago.
And Google's had lots of history of, hey, let's sell our technology to China. And, hey, let's you know, there's all sorts of. Any big company has their skeletons in the closet. I'm not picking on Google, everybody, these are publicly available, knowledgeable facts. The reputation of Don't Be Evil isn't quite a bright and shiny as it was 20 years ago. OK, knowing that now you have to do this thing called looking inward.
And this is why an employer brand is a lot more like therapy than anything else is. It's about understanding your own company. What do you offer? What do you reward? What are you doing? What is your purpose? And I don't want to get too muddied into the word purpose and purpose is a deeply value laden word that everybody kind of projects their own B.S. on to. So purpose is kind of a funny one. You've got to really unpack it the same way with culture, but you have to understand who you are.
And I always go back to brass tacks perspective. What do you reward? I'm a big believer that what you reward is who your company really is. If you are rewarding good politics and playing the game and being a little cutthroat but not too cutthroat, that is who you are as a company. That is your culture. That is what you reward. That is what you value. Those are the kinds of your Game of Thrones fans will be great there.
If your purpose, if you're if what you reward is caring about the purpose of your brand. Like I used to work at non-profits for a while. So I understand that there was the sense at non-profits that your pity towards the mission was the most important thing. It didn't matter if you were good at what you did, so long as you were all about the thing you were there to serve. So if you were there to serve the local government, if you were there to serve the local whoever served the most and gave the most, that's what you rewarded.
And I don't mean rewarded by salary. I mean rewarded by this is who gets the kudos. This is who gets the glory. This is who gets the promotion. This is who is up for other bigger jobs, other places.
What do you reward? Do you reward blind obedience to innovation. Create say that. Do you reward collaborative thinking, the person who's willing to give up the spotlight to someone else because that we as better than me great talk about that. If you're all about individual achievement, great talk about that, because and this is the thing that throws everybody as individuals, our brains are goofy. They lie to us a lot. Our brains are liars. I hope we all understand that.
We can appreciate that our brains lie to us on a constant basis. But one of the things our brains lie to us about is that there's this assumption that what we think and feel is probably what most other people think and feel. Now, me, I'm kind of a goofball. I'm kind of all over the place. I'm kind of like my boss used to call it, being like a baby on a plate. It just kind of rolls around and all sorts of different directions.
And I'm getting stuff done. But from the outside, it must look like chaos. And I look at what a project manager does and I go, Oh, God, I'm so glad I don't have a job. And I forget the part where the project manager looks at me and goes, oh, God, think I don't have that job. We think that who we are as who everybody is. And the truth is, if you say we're all about innovation or personal achievement or collaborative thinking, great, there is a segment of your audience who cares about that thing.
Now, your job is not to hire everybody. Your job, especially if you're a startup, is to hire a handful of people. So you don't need every company in the world to know that you're hired. A product manager. You don't need every resume. You have every product manager. In fact, you want fewer resumes. You do not want the product managers from plenty of companies because they won't fit culturally. They don't work in the projects you work on and work at the speed you work at.
They don't have the same culture you have. You want them to reject themselves long before you get the chance to have to wade through their resumes and figure out who's good. You want them to go, oh yeah, that sounds cool, but that's not for me. And the ability to project the story of this is who I am and this is who we're for is so hard to do. Companies are so terrified of telling a story that rejects people, that pushes people away, that repels applications because they're so certain that there's this diamond in the rough that if they repel some people, that diamond in the rough will be the one that got away.
Well, let me tell you right now, if they didn't hear about you and if you didn't repel them, do you think they'd be happy your company once they learn the truth? Of course not. The job is to tell the truth early enough that they go, yet it's not going to be for me. That's cool, right? That's that's great. Good for you. Not for me. And they walk away. So the ability to tell that story, to push yourself, say, understand.
OK, so go back to your original question. How do you reach that product manager at Google will get, you know, who they are, what they are all about, what their days like and what their salary is like, what they're rewarded for. And maybe you say to them, hey, maybe this isn't for you and maybe you can start to put in things like, hey, you know what? And again, not to pick up Google, but Google's a massive company.
I kind of imagine politics are part of the game. And so you can say, look, you've done your time at Google, maybe you're vested, maybe you've gotten kind of the you've got an answer. You're trying to figure out what do I really want to do with my life? And maybe pushing ads to more channels isn't the thing you want to spend your life, do it. Maybe you'd like to insert information about your startup here. That's kind of the spin.
Now, that's a pretty broad message. And I get. I need you to look within to say, who are you really, what is your company all about? What do you really offer besides a salary? Is it work life balance? Is it access to the actual product? Maybe you're a startup with a couple hundred people and you've already got a million customers. Great. That means a product manager is going to have their work seen by a million people almost immediately because it doesn't have the layers of process and layers of due diligence that Google might have to offer that talk about that.
So it's really about saying, look, I know who you are. I know what you want. I know what you're getting right now and where your gaps might be. Let me show you how I can fill those gaps. Let's talk more now. Employer brand can only go so far. And I know I may be the first employer brand person to ever say that out loud, but here we are. Employer brand is not in the same way that the commercial doesn't actually sell the product.
The commercial is there to get you interested in learning more about the product. No one goes, Oh, that's an amazing commercial for VMware. I'm going to buy myself an enterprise software system. Click on Here's my credit card. No, of course not. That's crazy. What it does is make you say, Oh, hi, and thought of it that way. I'm going to go do a whole metric ton of research on what this company is about and what the software can do.
And maybe I'll realize that there's a real opportunity here and maybe I'll go evaluate against a couple of the companies and maybe in about a month I'll be willing to actually talk to somebody at that company. That's the process.
Employer brands kind of the same way. I can't get to the job. Hell, I can't even get to apply. What I can do is frame an idea in your mind, an association between my brand and this thing, this idea, whether it's competitiveness, whether it's being super low drama, whether it's speed, whether it's access, whether it's scale, whatever the hell this thing is, I want to associate my brain with that thing and push little messages to you to remind you that you want that thing and you will go and figure it out.
Now, if I do my job really, really well, you think of it as a journey. I'm four or five steps ahead of you on the path, seeding the path with more information. So you say, oh, that sounds like an interesting startup I've never heard of. I'd like to go learn more. Where do you go? You go to Google, ironically enough, or you go to dinner, you go to are you going to like you say, who do I know who works this company?
Oh, my friend Susan knows someone who works there, maybe helping her to make an introduction for me. And I've already talked to everybody on my staff and they're all advocates. And they all know, look, when you talk about our startup, don't talk about our salaries, talk about the impact, because that's the thing I want you to focus on. So now put the dots together a little bit. I've managed to push a message to you that says our startup is all about access or impact or whatever the hell.
And then you go you go to validate that information. And people who work there are saying, yeah, this company is really great because we're all about access and impact. And you start to go, huh? I guess this company really is all about access and impact. Now, the person then goes, do I care about access and impact? Probably because if I told you we're all about access and impacting you and I'm going to go do some research, chances are that was attractive.
So now I just have to keep reinforcing. But what happens is the candidate at some point decides to do the application dance, and that's when the recruiter steps in and takes more of the process over. They're the ones listening and starting to flesh out that need and flesh out that idea and trying to say, OK, it's access and impact, but also stability. It's also longevity. It's also scale. It's also legacy, whatever the hell it is.
And they start to go, oh, let me help you reframe. Let me help you add more to this idea. So that becomes not just this frame, but an entire picture that you as a candidate can kind of project yourself into to say, I understand how joining this company might change my life for the better. That's really interesting. And then the game's on and that's what you do. So that's what I would do if you really got a tight focus.
And I love the idea of framing the conversation this way of saying had not how do you attract a good product manager? But by saying, look, we think the best product managers and the kind of people we want and the kind of people who would be great fits. Right, Google, let's go get them. That's a much, much, much better question than how do I attract a product manager.
So just kind of remind yourself that, remember, they all have jobs already. They're all out of place. And where they work and where they are finding happiness sort of defines who they are. So you have a good sense of are they fast and agile or are they kind of very staid and methodical or what kind of who are they? Use that to your advantage. Use that to kind of say, are these the kind of people I want to target, but also use that from a how do I reach them and how do I give them the message to identify that gap and fill that gap for them?
So what I like is you start by deciding the story in the story. You want to tell them you want a story that actually read six people. You don't want everybody to agree with a story. You want something very simple, reject some people and then use that in any stage of the hiring process beats awareness. Then when you're engaged with person and then the closer you get to the actual hiring process, then you give more details and more information.
And there's two wrinkles to that. First off, I didn't just make up a story. I again looked inward and said, what is my story? And then, of course, you can apply. Enough to make it as attractive as possible because you don't want to put a turd out there, but at the same time it's still you can't just make something up because the world is pretty smart these days.
And if you can, you put a bullshit line out there, they'll be pretty quick to say that's a lot of crap. I'm not going to do it.
The other part of it is, yes, you are absolutely ceding the entire journey with more of these reinforcing validation messages to make sure that every step of the way, if they go to blind, if they go to Glassdoor, they go to LinkedIn wherever they go, you should be seeing a way to kind of say, look, it's a different wording, it's a different language, it's a different vernacular, but it's still focused on similar ideas. And that's why an EVP or an employer brand position or a brand promise or whatever the hell you want to call it, and every one of those words is completely Laden, is what it's about.
You're saying, look, I'm trying to create a very clear North star, getting everyone to look at it and then understanding since the world is not, in fact, flat, we're all looking at the same star, but from different perspectives. That means our perspective and view of the star is slightly different. That's fine. So if you're going to have a company that's all about agile and speed, everybody's going to talk about agile and speed, including your HRR, including your lawyers, including your admins.
But they're going to talk about agile and speed in a slightly different language. But by doing it and not parroting the same kind of talking points or hash tags over and over again, it makes it more real. And reality is what it's all about, that authentic ness that all that credibility, that's where the value really happens.
And how do you fix outbound reach in this strategy? Do you use it at all?
Oh, yeah, because if a candidate is finding you through a job board, great. You have to make sure in your job posting you are setting that frame. We are agile. We are collaborative, we are whatever the hell it is. Thing you are talking about is nail it to a wall, make it crystal clear the job postings, you probably have a line or two that explains not only your agile, we're agile to the point of blah blah blah and it to a one sentence little story.
Be a marketer for goodness sake. Just mark it up, put it in that job posting, because that what that does is it establishes the frame, a frame that is reinforced throughout the entire journey. If the recruiter is your first touch point, if they're out doing outreach and and sourcing, make sure that you see what their messages are so that you can not just say, hey, if you worked here, you'd be home right now or some other goofy, stupid kind of junky stuff like, no, no, no, no, no, no, let me help you.
Because the truth is, if I was talk about this idea, marketing is insanely easy. All you have to do is put you want some people to show up. You put a sign outside that says free beer and pizza and people show up. Now, of course, when there's no free beer and pizza, they get mad. But your job was just to make them show up. Right? And that's the problem. Recruiters have that mentality of whatever it takes to get them to apply.
Yeah, but if you promise them puppy snuggles every Thursday at your job just to get them to apply and they show up and there's no puppy snuggles, guess what? They're pissed at you and rightfully so. They should be mad. They should be banging that you've been lied to and you've mis set expectations, which exactly right. So as an outreach standpoint, you should make sure that your message shows up that same kind of frame. Again, not the same language, but the same idea.
The same concept shows up in their outreach. The people who respond to that are the people who end up getting hired because the company actually rewards that. You're not saying, look, join here and you'll put a zero at the end of your salary. Well, sure. I want to listen to that. We don't really have that.
We are a jerk. You're an ass. And that's what and that's the problem. Recruiters are so trust me, this is, again, no denigration of recruiters. This is just about their jobs usually are put in a place where just put the button the seat, not about how do you measure the quality of the. But you put in the seat. And so they're gaming a system because they're asked to of how fast can you put that button seat, regardless of are they the right fit?
How long do they stay? Are they the kind of people you would want to promote? And that those metrics really don't show up on most recruiters KPIs. It's all about time to fill the length of empty seat. And how many outreach messages did you put out? That's your kind of major KPIs recruiters, which influences what kind of work they do.
And if we look more into tactics, do you have very actionable advice? So we have the broad strategy defining the story, telling the story at every touchpoint, and then giving more and more details. The very strategic advice that you can give, like don't use Glassdoor or use LinkedIn or don't use email or don't use to email sequences. Very tactical advice.
Yeah. So someone ask me, what does it cost to activate an employer brand? And I said, well, I don't know how much the sidewalk cost because in the end, if I know who you are and I have a sense of where you congregate, why wouldn't I hire someone to write sidewalk chalk messages on the parking lot at Google if I knew my people are Google, I knew that they drove. Hey, maybe I know their moped people or scooter people.
Let's go put the messages over there. I'm going to put my message there. Why? Because it's not about the cost of the commercial. It's about how do I set the frame. That's the magic of the game. That's how you play this now. After that, the validation process is very simple. Everybody goes through that story, goes to Google or we go to LinkedIn, everybody does the same stuff. That's fine. None of those things are very expensive to put and reinforce that frame.
But let's say you don't have any sidewalk chalk. Let's say you have access to email, then emails the right channel. Let's say you have a tool that you're a mobile game maker. Guess what? Put the ad in your mobile game. People who play games, who like games and food games use what? There's no such thing as a great or perfect tactic. I can guarantee you that every tactic thinks it's great, but the tactic is perfect in all cases.
The more you understand who you're trying to reach, the more you understand what you're trying to say to them. That isn't the same old, same old. The less you have to spend, if you know, if you have an amazing call to action, if you have an amazingly crystal clear framework of why someone should work for you again, sidewalk chalk is all it needs, because as soon as someone reads that, they go, oh, I'd never thought of it that way.
And suddenly you've got a fish on a hook and all you got to do is relive it. So don't think about how do I use the tactic until, you know, what's the message and what's the story going to tell the most time should be spent thinking about it. If I understand that my brand position, brand promise is X, how do I tell it and get someone in Y industry or Y role to go, holy crap, I never thought of it like that.
That's the like slap in the face that you want people to react with. How do you do that. And that means sitting by yourself and putting yourself in the shoes of that person saying what do I engaging with every day, what am I seeing every day? What am I being told every day? How do I put something that is so stunningly clear and so obvious and yet somehow different at the same time they stand up and say, why the hell didn't I think about that?
I think about the first time someone you saw Warby Parker and someone said, well, yeah, why am I paying three dollars for a pair of glasses? Why am I doing this? The call, the idea, the concept was so obvious and yet somehow no one had ever heard it. What do you mean? You send me five pairs, I just send them back and try them on. It's in the back. That's amazing.
It's not genius. It's just a good idea. Super well package. That's who you have to be, which is why I think employer brand and marketing should work better together so long as they can kind of figure out that whole more is not better sort of situation because it is the same kind of process. Understand your audience, understand your market, understand what they're doing with understanding what they care about, what surrounds them, what message is already getting and say something that is so different and obvious.
It's like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door and it's all color, that's what you're shooting for. Each one of your candidates or potential candidates are living in a black and white world. And here you are presenting this thing called Technicolor. Make them just go, holy crap. I never thought a job could be like that before. It's doable. Do it. And so that's where you should be spending your time. Now, what you have that you can put that on every single tactic you can afford.
And as much as I don't like to spend money, I also know money is incredibly useful, that sometimes you need to push that message out to a lot of people or you need to kind of find ways of getting them up. I was talking to a recruiter a couple of years ago and they're having problems hiring a director of something. Something's up, but it didn't matter. And we were in Chicago and they said, yeah, we've gotten the OK to go look outside Chicago for this role.
And I said, you know, this is the easiest roll in the world to market. She goes, What do you mean it's been impossible to hire for? I said in the outreach message, say, would you like a free trip to Chicago the second you see it that way, your world just went Technicolor. I do. Yes, I do. And now it's like I said, it's just the hook. It's not to get them to fall in love with a brand.
It's to go learn more. And as the brand kind of was very good at travel and very good at this idea, it was a perfect match. I said, if you don't start with that message, I don't know what you're doing all day. It's like you're carrying this big weight up a hill. You just put it down, go run the easy way. And it's just about understanding who you are, what your company is all about. What are you offering?
How do you package that in a way that's crystal clear and let everybody else do the work? The best brands and every marketer in the world will tell you this is the brand you don't actually have to market. It's the one that markets itself where again, going back to Warby Parker, people see my glasses, they go, where'd you get Warby Parker? OK, great. The fact that they love the product is the reason why they're going to go and investigate more.
Why can't that work for jobs? So here's the one question I don't think recruiters ask or at least think about, and I think they should. And I think employer brand should be pushing them in that direction. In a job, you are offering people a future, right? You're offering them salary. You're offering them stability. You're offering them benefits. You're offering them work life balance. They can go have a family. They can go see their family.
They can go travel occasionally. You're offering them a future. What is the future you're offering this candidate? And we don't frame it in that term. Very often we talk about, oh, here's a salary. You great. So what what am I going to do with that salary? I mean, I know what I'm going to do with it, but what do you think I should do it? Because saying here's a big number and it's cool is nice.
But saying, look, would you like to make the kind of salary where you can take a month off every year?
Oh, what has just happened here? This is. Suddenly, it's a game changing conversation. It's not about what's the size of the salary, but saying, hey, look, we're going to make it so that every month you have a sabbatical and you have enough money to take your family on a trip to kind of go recharge and come back and go hit the ground running. OK, now the details of the salary are immaterial. Now, I understand that this company understands what I care about.
And now let's have a conversation and that's the game. We don't play that game very often.
I have one final question, and this one must be quick. What do you say to companies? So you consult a lot. You said that sentence. I'll keep it because I love it. Employer branding works so good. Marketing Team Schizo's. This is good. What do you say to companies who say we have no story to tell? We're just like any other company. We don't have anything different. People come up every day. They work, they leave at the end of the day.
What do you say to them? What's the advice you give to them to really understand what sets them apart?
There's no such thing as boring people. There's no such thing as boring companies. There are no such thing. I mean, you might think yourself is not particularly sexy. You might not actually know someone who runs the employer brand and a box making company. I swear to God, you can't think of anything more commodities than that. Maybe bottle caps. Maybe this is the thing the people who work there are interesting. Why do they show up? Is this literally the only job they can have?
Well, if that's the case, then you have a captive audience and your employer brand really doesn't matter because these people can work anywhere else. You're fine. What are you talking to me for? But every company has interesting people. They have reasons for doing what they do. Your company has a reason for existing. What is the purpose? What is the change it's trying to make in the universe? What is that thing you want to tell me?
You're making boxes. Great. What you're really doing is trying to help other brands tell their amazing story. You're trying to lower the footprint, the ecological impact footprint of packaging cookies, of packaging Amazon boxes or whatever. You have a reason for what you do. If you think you don't, you just haven't dug deep enough. You need to go to therapy and say, what are we really doing and why are we really doing it? Because every company, especially unsexy ones, could probably have a two X value situation if they just simply dug deeper and say, this is why we're doing it.
The company that says they make boxes and the company says that when they're saving the environment by making better boxes, which one do you think gets invested in? Which one do you think grows faster? Which one do you think is the new customers? Which one do you think it's the new hires? It's all in how you frame. There's a a very old joke about a man walking down the street. He sees two people putting stones, setting them up, and he says, well, what are you doing to the first one that he says, I'm just building a wall?
Because the second one is, what are you doing? I'm making a cathedral. Which one is doing the better job? And it's the same idea as how you frame it, how you set it up, how you perceive it, how you project that to the world, defines who you are and defines your value to them. And I think in your audience, the word value should be like a big old clarion call of, oh, it's about value.
Yeah, it's value of talent value to customers, because we're living in a world where, you know, covid hit and all these CEOs came out of the woodwork and made commercials and they didn't say, hey, here's a coupon. What they said was, we're taking care of our people because our people are important. Employer brand is your brand. And if you don't embrace that now, you're going to get left behind. Crystal clear.
Thanks, James. It's great to have you. Thanks a lot. And this was a great, great episode. Thanks.
Thanks, Robin. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Thanks for listening. That podcast till the end. If you're still with us, it's probably that you enjoy the players pay players is brought to you by myself and higher suites. Well, building a sourcing automation software. And we already helped the companies hire the best science.
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