Do You Have an Internal Employer Brand?

 

Last week, I took a trip out to Seattle to spend some time working, exploring, and learning about the city. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit Amazon.com, one of the many corporate campuses that are located in the area. I had never explored a “campus” in the past but I’ve always been extremely eager to get a first-hand experience after reading the many articles that are out about it. Needless to say- I was impressed. But I wasn’t just impressed by the immensity of the campus, I was blown away by the branding located around the campus which had me thinking about the whole “employer branding” thing. I know HR is struggling to implement a strong brand to attract external candidates, but what about their internal brand?

One of HR’s main functions is to recruit and attract quality talent to their organization but it’s also about retaining the talent that is currently there. What are we doing to keep our employees engaged and loyal to our organizations? Competitive compensation isn’t going to be the only option to keep an employee from walking. Maybe you aren’t an enormous organization like Amazon.com, Google, or Linkedin who are notorious for having awesome internal brands, campuses, and culture, but there are ways to adopt some of these things to fit with your organization:

  • What vibe does your workspace give off?: One of the most notable things I think of when it comes to campuses like these are the different workspace options that are available. Yes- I said OPTIONS. Their offices are not set up with jail-like cubical rows with the occasional office or conference room here or there. They have open spaces, co-working options, lounge areas, and unique personalities. Perhaps you don’t have the space or budget to create these areas but there are plenty of ways to create an open environment that seems welcoming and non-restrictive.
  • What internal recruitment marketing do you have in place?: As I was riding an elevator in one of the Amazon buildings, I noticed a vibrant poster marketing one of their departments that currently was recruiting for Software Engineers. One side of the poster showed a man sitting at a computer with the saying, “This is what it looks like to work on my team.” The other side showed an imaginative, creative, and fun scene surrounding the man at the computer with the saying, “This is what it FEELS like to work on my team.” Below both posters had the team manager’s contact information that you could rip off and take with you. I absolutely loved it. Amazon is huge so having marketing options like that could really make it easy to recruit for internal candidates that didn’t know about your team. Makes sense for a company that’s as large as that, right? Here’s the kicker- even employees in small organizations admit that they aren’t aware that specific jobs exist or they don’t know about internal job openings within the organization. This can be a huge issue, especially since many employees leave their company because they feel like they have no internal mobility options. That situation might not be true and their perception of this might just be due to lack of information.
  • Are you too scared to adapt?: I understand the phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” And that phrase is a perfectly reasonable one. If your company is functioning fine, there is no reason to fix it but what about offering more options? Compensation isn’t the only thing that can retain your employees, sometimes other options can be the deciding factor: telecommuting; flex work; tuition reimbursement; on-going training; co-working; employee engagement initiatives; and so on. Your competitors are coming out with really cool options to provide to their employees. Don’t let them beat you out because you were too scared to adapt to the changing world of work.
  • Is it a place of hierarchy or community?: There most definitely needs to be order within an organization but top down communication doesn’t really work as well as it did in the past. Your employees want their voice to be heard, they want to make suggestions, they want to contribute, and they want to build relationships. I’ve worked in an organization where the President and Directors are extremely open to two-way communication. They make it very easy to hold conversations, even to the point where interns aren’t scared to make suggestions or hold a casual conversation with someone higher up. It has created a great sense of community within the organization which has helped it be more progressive than other companies who haven’t adopted this.

Your employer brand isn’t just about convincing external candidates that your company is a great place to work, but it’s also about making sure your current employees also love working there to the point where no other company or job offer seems more attractive.

Pairing Formal with Informal Learning

Let’s face it- everyone learns and retains things differently. We learned about this fact during our school years and it still holds true in our professional careers. Some people learn at a faster rate than others. Some gain more from classroom teaching than hands-on training. The point is, one size does not fit all when it comes to learning and development and it would be wise for organizations to recognize this fact to ensure their training initiatives are more effective.

First off, get your formal learning in check. With technology advancing our ability to have more options to be trained, it’s important to remember that formal learning doesn’t have to require people to be trapped in a four walled room. Break down those walls and incorporate new ways to do formal training that goes beyond traditional classroom training. Personally, sitting through 8 hours of classroom lectures did not always help my understanding or retention (not to mention, my attention span). Break up the lectures with some additional learning opportunities. Maybe have your training classes go out in the field or interact/collaborate with people who already do this role within the organization. Let them see formal learning be put into action.

Secondly, it is important to remember that informal learning is necessary, too. Like stated earlier, people all have different learning styles so forcing them to only learn in a handful of ways might limit what they gain out of the experience. Breaking up your formal learning can only go so far so it’s up to you to encourage and empower employees to take initiative for their development. Give them suggestions on what they can do for their independent learning efforts. Let them interact with people in the industry so they can see how to put these trainings to good use. Allow them to join webinars or go to professional social networking groups. The learning world is their oyster.

I will tell you that I personally gained a lot from my informal learning. I often feel like the social media HR groups I’ve participated in (such as the Twitter chat, #Tchat) or the networking calls I had with people I’ve connected with have helped me gain so much more than majority of the training I’ve formally had from employers or schooling. Even researching topics and information to write the posts on my blog have helped me learn an extraordinary amount. I made it a point to ensure I was still learning even when in between jobs so once an employer took a chance on me, I could bring something extra to the table. Even after being employed, I still make the effort to regularly include informal training to accent the formal training I get from my employer. Some of my informal training has even sparked new ideas that will help us offer more to our clients and prospects. It’s even helped our internal team work more effectively.

As an employer, what are you doing to add more to your teaching and training? Have you ever considered informal learning as being a valuable option?

More Links:

Igniting Social Learning #Tchat Preview

Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

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Making the Most Out of a Networking Event

Last year, my fiancé decided to go back to school to pursue his passion and obtain a degree in Software Development Engineering. Although he is learning a great deal from classes and independent learning, unfortunately he doesn’t know many people in this field and sometimes lacks the network he needs to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. Last month, I discovered that there was a CODEshow occurring in our local area of Charleston, SC. After days of convincing him that it was important for him to attend, he finally agreed that it would be in his best interest to learn from the individuals in this industry. To make the most of this learning and networking event, I utilized my inner HR skills and prepped him the best way I knew how.

The things I taught him this past week can be relevant in almost all networking events. Here were some useful tips I shared with him:

  • Make sure your professional social media is up to date: a couple nights before the event, I took the time to update his Linkedin and Twitter profiles. I ensured that: his pictures matched across social media channels; that his pictures were professionalish; his work title/experience was up to date; that his skills were accurate; and that there were links to connect his social media channels together so individuals knew they had the right person.
  • Do a little research: The night before, he and I researched things involving the Codeshow. We read articles, researched what people were saying on social media, and so on. He was able to locate a few people who stated they were attending and sent them a quick message about connecting at the show.
  • Live-streaming at the event: sometimes it’s a little hard to multi-task. I get it- trust me- but you’d be surprised by how much easier it makes it for you to have warm networking leads. A trend I’ve noticed was live tweeting from events in which participants would quote presenters, take pictures, and provide feedback. This would be a live stream and would include a hashtag specific to the event/conference. Live streaming allows you to see who is at the event and creates an easy opening for virtual conversation that can lead to in-person conversation during breaks.
  • Connecting after the event: make sure you get business cards or contact information from the individuals who presented or who you spoke to. Be sure to reach out to them through professional sites like Linkedin and include a personal note in the invite to remind them of how you two know each other. This is a great way to stay connected and build relationships post-event.

My fiancé was beaming when he came home that night, completely buzzing from all the amazing things he learned from the presenters. He had some great conversations with people in the industry that not only sparked his passion more, but confirmed that his decision to change career paths was the right one. He seemed to have a natural talent for understanding the art of software engineering. What’s more, he was able to build relationships with other engineers in the local area so he could totally geek out with people that understand and love the languages. He had great success with the steps that I taught him and appreciated the fact that I helped him make the most out of this situation. And yes, I did gloat about it for a bit.

Make the most of your networking events/conferences and try the steps above. Even introverts can find this to be an easy way to break the ice and build relationships.

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The Benefits of Video Interviewing

Photo Source: Wowzer

Recently, I have come across the company, Wowzer, which specializes in video screening and interviewing. Being a remote recruiter, I was extremely interested in learning more during their recent webinar that took place this January. At first, I assumed it was generally going to tell me about the features of their service but I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that video interviewing can go beyond screening candidates. In addition to this benefit, it can also be utilized for employer branding.

Some interesting take-aways from this webinar:

  • Video recruiting can cut down time: recruiters are overwhelmed with resumes and often need to take time to call these candidates before they determine if they meet the basic requirements. Video interviews with predetermined questions can allow candidates to pre-record their answers and help recruiters cut down phone screen time.
  • Video recruiting can cut down costs: instead of flying out potential employees and paying for hotel rooms, video recruiting can help employers get a better feel for candidates before determining if they can make it to the final interview stage. Essentially, it can even cut out the need to fly out candidates for a face-to-face.
  • It can help everyone be on the same page: having a recorded interview can allow hiring managers, HR, and recruiters to all review the same thing. This can cut down biased opinions, help reduce missed information, and document things accurately. This way, everyone can make more informed decisions based off of the SAME interview, rather than reviewing notes from those who interviewed the candidate. It can help make the interview process fairer for candidates.
  • Candidates can be stronger interviewers: sometimes resumes and phone interviews don’t present candidates the best way possible. Some candidates are superstars during face to face interviews. Video interviewing can help even out the playing field and give these candidates the option to put their best foot forward.
  • It can help brand your company: video doesn’t need to just be used for candidate screening. Companies can pre-record videos or even do live interviews of their company, the culture, and so on. This can help create transparency of the organization, allow companies to personalize their employer brand, and help build engagement efforts to attract candidates.

I’ve always heard of video interviewing but never realized how much more it had evolved over the years. The benefits seem to be increasing by the day and as technology allows recruiters and HR professionals to be more mobile/remote, this can be a fantastic option for them to do their job effectively while cutting down time and costs.

More Links:

Wowzer

Video Tips to Attract and Identify Talent

Video Interviewing Research Report by Sarah White & Associates

Leaders: Find the Connection

Today’s post might be a little more about opinion than it is facts- and that’s completely fine with me because sometimes we need a little thought provoking blog post to get us all thinking. As I thought about some of the best and worst leaders I’ve dealt with over the years, I considered some of the qualities I appreciated in the leaders I truly felt strongly for. There are a few people in my life that had made me believe in them and their goals. Call me a skeptic- but this is something that’s hard to accomplish with me. And I’m sure many of you have dealt with the ups and downs caused by the economy, so there are probably plenty of you out there that are feeling the same way. So what qualities of a leader made you not have your doubts about them?

For me, it’s all about a leader that can take the time to find the connection. In my crazy and idealistic mind, I truly believe that everyone has something to relate to with someone else. Tiny things or “Hey! We’re practically twins!” things are what can really help build a relationship between others. Sometimes, leaders almost seem unattainable because of their status or how busy their schedules are that many of us never really get to know our leaders for who they are and they don’t get to know us, either. So how can we put our faith in our leaders if we feel like we’re following blindly? Will this person lead us over a cliff? And how can leaders expect to gain the allegiance of their followers if they don’t even know what their followers value?

Ok, I get it- leaders are busy but that’s no excuse for them not to make a periodic presence to help build a connection. Whether you are running a 2 person start up or a Fortune sized company, you need to make the effort. Relate to people, find the connection, and make them feel like “my leader really gets me.” I don’t care if it’s every day, once a month, or once a quarter- you need to make that effort. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the changes in the workforce have weakened loyalty among employers/employees. If the loyalty and devotion isn’t there, then how can you expect to get the best out of your workforce? Are they 100% in or are they 50% in and 50% securing other options if things go sour?

The best leaders are the ones that get involved. They’re not always the singer on the stage in front of their loving fans. They’re the ones that dive into the crowd and get in the middle of all the action. They take it all in, listen, and emerge themselves in the bigger picture.

Leaders- isn’t it time we did this together?

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Build your Network Before You Need It

During typical Twitter banter this week, a message from Susan Avello really stuck with me: build your network before you need it. It was simple but an effective statement that inspired today’s blog. Whether you are a job seeker, employed, generating leads, or building partnerships- it’s important to proactively build your network. Life and business change fast, you need to always be one step ahead.

Why should you spend time and effort building your network? Simple:

  • It puts you on the map: it allows people to get to know you and consider you for job openings or as an option to do business with you. Warm leads made easy.
  • It’s a quick resource: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get some insight quickly because of the fact that I networked with people beforehand. And this resource was even more useful than simply researching online, because I was able to get answers to specific questions I had.
  • You’ll be prepared for instability in your career: lay-offs, downsizing, termination, or glass ceilings are all situations that we’ll potentially run into in our lives. Networking can help you keep a pulse on what companies are hiring, who to contact about specific jobs, and allow recruiters to locate you for their pipeline.
  • Build relationships and credibility: building relationships with people can allow them to see that your experience and skills are credible. Impressing them in this way and staying in the front of their mind can allow them to recommend and refer you with confidence rather than someone else.

There are so many great uses to networking. Yes, it takes time and effort and at times it can be a little overwhelming. But the truth of the matter is, the benefits will help you and help save time in the long run. It’s best to build this up ASAP rather than scrambling later when you need it.

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Taking Initiative for Your Professional Future

Being involved with Gen Y, and seeing how the economy has affected career growth and mobility for recent grads and early careerists; I can’t help but notice some of the pain points they regularly voice. One of the biggest gripes they express is the lack of room for internal mobility. Along with this, many of these individuals also feel as if though there are no opportunities for them to learn, train, shadow, or develop in a way to prove to management that they are worthy for more responsibility in their current role or that they are worthy of promotion. But for those who feel this way, it’s important to realize that just because management hasn’t presented these opportunities doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Sometimes, you need to take initiative to develop your own professional skills and opportunities.

When I’ve mentioned this to individuals, I’ve had many people respond, “Why would I put in all this time and effort if I’m not getting compensated for it? Most of the time it goes unnoticed so what’s the point?” Regardless if those things seem to initially be true, you must remember to take a step back and see the big picture. Taking initiative doesn’t just help you potentially get a raise or promotion, it helps you grow.

Each new project, task, or innovative idea you allow yourself to be a part of will give you so much and will only help you get better and better. You will gain new skills, learn how to overcome challenges more effectively, and really get an idea of what you are passionate about and good at.

Most importantly, the things you do can be a tangible part of your experience. Maybe you’ve done something relatable outside of work on a side project or hobby, but it was hard to prove to your employers that you had the experience. Taking this initiative can give you the experience in a work setting so you can put it on your resume, help build up your portfolio, and have a witness (your employer) be able to prove what you’ve done and refer you.

So, before you claim that doing something a little extra isn’t worth it, think about what you gain in the long run. You are giving yourself the ability to be attractive talent for your current or future employer. That’s the best kind of investment.

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