Employers, Tell Me About Yourself

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As employers, we expect each candidate who walks through our doors to put their game face on. We sit back and prepare to be dazzled with a career story that perfectly aligns with the job description of a role we’re looking to fill. We want to be wooed. Enchanted. Romanced. We need to hear how Joe has strategically enhanced his career by the job transitions he has made and why Sally thinks she deserves a spot on our team. That’s not all – we also want to see the proof – numbers, testimonials, and work samples all tied up in a neat, red bow. But are we prepared to reciprocate?

Credit: columbus.gov
Credit: columbus.gov

At a recent speaking event, I asked the audience members, all of whom were representing amazing companies, if they knew what a talent brand was. Not one person raised their hand, yet another example of The Employer Double Standard. Every company has a story to tell, but most organizations leave it up to team members to interpret and deliver it in the best way they see fit. To the General Manager, the tale might be a war story, to the Sales Manager a horror story, and to the HR Manager a love story – an experience that can leave a job seeker with the same uncertain feeling as a Quentin Tarantino film.

“Tell me about yourself.” It’s not a curve-ball question, yet so many hiring authorities haven’t come to terms with the undeniable fact that job seekers (especially passive ones) are vetting companies just as ferociously as they’re being vetted. There is still an arrogance on the part of the employer that they hold the upper hand on the war for talent. But the truth is they aren’t telling a cohesive story that easily connects with talented professionals.

Candidates get eliminated because their narratives aren’t compelling enough. But employers aren’t representing their companies with the same finesse it demands from its talent. We had a client who’s Sales Manager’s LinkedIn tagline read “Sales Manger” (no, that’s not a typo folks.) We weren’t sure if this guy headed a successful sales division or was looking to sell Jesus’ crib on eBay. In today’s job market where quality people have options, the companies are the ones getting the boot. So how can we reel in good talent?

Storytelling in the Workplace

Get your facts straight.

Tell the same story over and over to all levels of the organization, from new hires to tenured executives. Explain how you want your story communicated both internally and externally. It’s also more powerful if the story happens to be true. Make sure the company narrative is something every person shares and feels apart of.

Establish behavioral norms.

Storytelling in the workplace starts with a solid foundation built on a mission, vision, and core values. The CEO of Zillow requires his team to recite the core values before beginning each meeting. Leaders must live by those values, embracing them so employees have examples after which to model their behavior. Only then can behavior be streamlined across an organization. Storytelling becomes a natural extension of a company’s mission, vision, and core values.

Build your talent brand.

Everyone in the organization is a brand ambassador. Create easily accessible tools and appropriate forums for employees to tell their stories, such as a user-friendly website, active social media channels, and a robust Glassdoor profile. Great workplaces engage employees by providing the tools for positive story-telling. Why? Employees are the most trusted influencer in conveying the truth about a company and its operations, which makes them more powerful than senior leadership in terms of communicating information that builds trust about employer brands. Use them.

Encourage a response to your story.

Show prospective candidates why you’re company is a great place to work. And don’t support a “build it and leave it” approach to your business social media pages. It’s unfair for an organization to scrutinize a candidate for an inappropriate photo on Facebook when it hasn’t shared a post in 2 years. Instead, create an open dialogue and use images that resonate to make them feel something – an article celebrating your employees volunteering at a local park or a photo of your staff enjoying happy hour on a Friday together. Paint a picture of a community job seekers can imagine themselves becoming apart of.

How does your talent brand measure up? Apply for our APA Talent Brand Audit to find out what talent thinks, feels and shares about your company as a place to work.

APA-Home-Page-CTA-Buttons-eBook-300x300Looking to reboot your human capital strategy and boost your talent brand?

Check out Joan’s new eBook for a live example of how it’s done.


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