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Happy New Year From All of US Here in Brandeland

Happy, Healthy, and Fun New Year

Decoding the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

Jobvite has just released its sixth annual Social Recruiting Survey, polling 1600 recruiters and HR professionals on their social media efforts.

The results continue a trend that I’ve been following for years: Social is a major part of any organization’s hiring efforts. In 2008, 78% of recruiters were using social media. In 2011, it was 89%. This year, it’s 94%. Even more telling, 73% of respondents planned to increase their social recruiting spend in 2013 – compared to the 39% who planned to increase their spend on job boards.

LinkedIn was the most popular social network in many categories, from searching for candidates (96% of companies), contacting candidates (94%), and posting jobs (91%). Only about half of respondents posted jobs on Facebook, and a little less than that posted jobs on Twitter.

Just what you’d expect, right? But there’s more to these numbers than meets the eye.

From the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

From the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

First, the cracks in job boards’ dominance, already mentioned above, become more apparent deeper in the survey. Respondents said that 42% of their applicants are sourced through job boards…but only 14% of hires come that way.

Compare that to applications through referrals and company career sites, which make up 39% of submissions, but 61% of hires. This is a much better ratio, especially since 43% of these employees stay for at least three years, while only 14% of job-board hires do. It looks like job boards are generating lots of applicants who don’t get hired – or don’t stay if they do.

Another interesting discovery is that recruiters use LinkedIn differently from other social networks. LinkedIn was good for assessing a candidate’s professional experience and “specific hard skills.” But Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and others were better at determining a candidate’s cultural fit. Which is more important? How would Southwest Airlines respond, whose co-founder Herb Kelleher coined the phrase, “Hire for attitude, train for skill“?

What I found most revealing were the questions that related to the financial value of social recruiting. 43% of companies spend less than $12,000 a year on social recruiting. But 65% believe that its value is greater than $20,000 a year. And 20% place its value at more than $90,000 a year!

From the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

From the 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey

I understand the budgetary restraints placed on HR departments, but these numbers show that even a small investment can generate tremendous savings, especially combined with higher quality of candidates (according to 49% of recruiters) and less time to hire (33%) that social recruiting produces.

Are you one of the 6% of companies not yet using social in your talent acquisition strategy? Or one of the 73% that plans to increase their social recruiting budget? Brandemix can help. Download our free Social Media Strategy Guide for Talent Acquisition. If you’re ready for the next step, visit our website for more info.

The Harlem Shake Does Not A Culture Make

It’s almost impossible to believe that an internet sensation combining
some of my favorite topics — workplace culture, internet trends, viral videos — could manage to turn me off but yes, it’s happened.

The explosion of Harlem Shake memes has put me on a rant as I wonder: Is it really good for your company’s brand? 
You say it makes your employee culture seem fun? I’m sure it was fun for the people in it and the hours it took to prep and shoot, but next week will it look as stale as your holiday party pictures from 2011?

You say the video differentiates you in the marketplace? Considering you’re doing almost exactly the same thing as Dr. Pepper, Puma, Intel, Rackspace and dozens of other companies, probably not. At this point, there are probably more companies that haven’t made these
videos than those that have. In my mind, your brand may be a follower instead of a leader.

Yes, your employees seem to be having fun, but if I’m an applicant, Ijust want a job. I have a degree, valuable skills, and a creative mind. I care about pay, flexibility, benefits, and work-life balance. I care about integrity and ethics and social responsibility. I care about travel and conferences and taking my dog to work. I want to see videos that speak to the things I think are important from the people you think are important.

If you think like me, I have great news. Today marks the start of TED2013 conference. More than 70 speakers from 14 cities and six continents will be delving into world issues, personal identity, spirituality, and music. It’s virtually guaranteed that these activists (like Bono), thought leaders, economists, and politicians will not be dancing. I encourage you to watch riveting talks by remarkable people and hear ideas worth spreading.If you don’t think like me, here’s a site dedicated to the more than 60 advertising agencies agencies doing the Harlem Shake. 

Non-Profit Branding. Yes there is a difference.

My company has been working with several non-profits lately, and I’m constantly asked how branding in that space is different from “regular” branding. There are similarities, but also some important differences. Here’s what nonprofits need to know about branding, based on my experience and research.

We start with “free.”
We understand that non-profits don’t have the marketing budgets of corporations so we start by leveraging every existing asset. Rather than creating new social media channels, how can we enhance the channels you’re already on? How can we repurpose your photos and videos? What are some past concepts or campaigns that could be revived with a compelling new angle? My fantastic staff and I have a knack for finding creative ways around limited budgets. For example, we’ve taken a stack of photos and turned them into a beautiful, moving slide show.

Talk to both the head and the heart.
Unlike other brands, nonprofits aren’t selling a product or service; you’re selling a cause or a belief or a goal, which can sometimes be hard to define or quantify.This requires creating an emotional bond to donors, employees, and the people (or animals!) you serve. It is important to research that bond, deconstruct it, and examine it from every angle – and articulate it as your brand. As an example, see the World Wildlife Fund, which pairs its logical mission, “To conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth” with an emotional image, the giant panda.
Stay true to yourself
As Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone point out in their recent study, non-profits run the risk of violating their own ethics or identity when they brand to a wide audience. They give the example of Acumen, which presents photos of proud, dignified individuals instead of pitiful images of poverty “which “dehumanize the very people Acumenis trying to help. I discourage branding from vanity, or because you just want a new logo. Branding is about the heart and soul of your organization and can’tbe taken on and off like a shirt.

Tell a story
Storytelling was the #1 topic at SXSW and it works for nonprofits as well. A strong brand is supported by good stories which allow people to connect to your mission. Brandemix helps nonprofits find those stories, whether they’re about important milestones in your history, the life and deeds of your founder, or the success stories of the people you’ve helped. For example, the Sierra Club offers a blog called Explore, which features “stories of personal encounters with the natural world.” This turns large, complex issues, like hydraulic natural gasfracturing, into personal stories of triumph, wonder, and survival.
Non-profit branding is a specialty. Call Brandemix if you’re looking for a specialist. 

Happy 2012

What Do You Think of Your Company’s Website?

What Do You Think of your Company’s Websiteonline survey

11 Employer branding best practices to focus on in 2011

Readers: The BRANDEblog came across this excellent article by Brett Minchington, and found it so insightful and rich in content, we have reprinted it in it’s entirety, including the tree. Of course we had to change the s in organization. ; )

Thanks Brett


I’ve compiled a list below I wanted to share with you. The list includes 11 areas for leaders to focus their employer branding efforts on in 2011 based on some of the workforce changes we have encountered this year by the introduction of new technologies, global economic instability and the requirements of a modern workforce – one that is agile, adaptable and responsive to a constantly changing and highly competitive landscape.

It’s great to see many more companies appointing employer brand leaders in 2010 to drive their organisation’s employer brand strategy. I expect this trend to continue in 2011.

It is only with this focus will we see the continued evolution of the employer brand concept and employment offerings which on the whole, works towards achieving a much better match of the needs of employees with those of business.

Here is my top 11

1) Establish a real-time career development for employees

Today real-time career development can be facilitated with some imagination, technology devices, innovation and focus.

Each morning when I wake up, I grab an expresso, my Ipad and find a quiet spot whether it be on the couch (winter) or on an outside table (summer!) and spend an hour on my own personal and career development. This usually involves:

  • Checking facebook, twitter and linkedin status updates, making comments and responding to overnight messages
  • Using the apps previously downloaded from publications such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, etc I scan the world’s leading newspapers to find out  what’s been happening in the world whilst I’ve been asleep!
  • Read an article each from the latest editions of The Economist and Harvard Business Review
  • Scan google alerts for key words I track such as employer branding, employment branding, talent management, employee engagement, etc
  • Read apps  from websites such as,,, etc to update on social media and technology trends

and once a month I visit the world’s leading consulting firm’s websites to download and read their latest research and statistics.

So, in early 2011 take an hour to speak with your employees and assist them to develop a real-time career development plan. This may include coaching them to develop a plan that tracks their career development interests, current job function responsibilities and personal development interests (if it’s just work related people will switch off, many employees want a blended life so if you mix it up a little you will keep it interesting). Don’t complain too much about the $600 it will cost you for their iPad, you’ll get a ROI many times over.

2) Have that meeting with HR, Marketing, Communications and IT!

It’s no longer efficient or effective to develop and implement an employer brand strategy solely with HR resources and budget. Your employer brand is interconnected with your corporate and consumer brand and the total portfolio needs to be considered if you really want to build an adaptable and agile employer brand. Think about how your organisation would react if faced with the situation BP found itself in when one of its wells starting leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Is the level of communication and connectedness between those managing your corporate, consumer and employer brand high enough to react quickly and effectively to structural changes (e.g. announcement of company layoffs), market changes (e.g. the GFC) or in times of crisis (e.g. social media sabbotage)?

In 2011 schedule a two hour meeting with leaders from HR, Marketing, Communications and IT and have a discussion around these agenda items – it will start the conversation and provide for some good discussion on where to go next. Some of the questions that may be useful include:

  • How will a stronger employer brand support our business strategy e.g. mergers and acquisitions, growth, consolidation?
  • What are the main factors currently driving our employer brand?
  • What kind of organisational culture do we have? How consistent is it across geographical and divisional boundaries?
  • What are the most consistently attractive and compelling organisational attributes for both current employees and potential employees?
  • What behaviours are felt to be most characteristic of our organisation? What are the moments of truth when our organisation is at its best (and worse?)
  • What is the most useful way of segmenting the employee population in terms of cultural characteristics and distinctive needs?
  • What are the most effective channels of employee communication, both top/down and bottom/up?
  • Which positions are most critical to our success and what are we currently doing/need to do to attract, engage and retain this talent?
  • What levels of resources are we prepared to invest in our employer brand strategy?
  • What timeframe will we be working towards to define and develop our employer brand strategy?

3) Assess your employer branding performance against best practice

Take this quick assessment to see how your employer branding initiatives measure up against best practice companies. Answer yes of no to each question and then total your score out of 20.

  1. We have developed an employer brand strategy
  2. We have developed a social media strategy
  3. We have at least two of the following working closely on our employer brand strategy – HR/Marketing/Communications/IT
  4. Alignment to brand values is part of our performance management system
  5. We have an active coaching and mentoring program in place to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities
  6. We have defined our employer brand metrics
  7. We have conducted research to determine the perception current employees have about our company
  8. We have conducted research to determine the perceptions prospective employees have about our company
  9. We monitor what people are saying about our brand online
  10. We have identified the leadership competencies we aspire employees at all levels to have
  11. We have created a database of talented employees who we would like to hire when the time is right
  12. We have a dedicated careers section on our corporate website
  13. Managers have access to a leadership development program
  14. We have defined our employer value propositions (EVPs)
  15. We have reviewed our EVP’s in light of the Global Financial Crisis
  16. We have an active employee referral program which we promote to staff and external stakeholders
  17. We conduct an employee engagement, satisfaction and/or climate survey at least once per year
  18. We participate in an external annual best employers and/or employer of choice survey
  19. Each staff member has a documented career development plan that is reviewed at least annually
  20. We use an IT system to automate our recruitment process and rank candidates against weighted criteria

How did you rate?

0-5 We are in the very early stages

6-12 We have made a start

13-17 We just need some fine tuning

18-20 We are up there with the best

4) Review and update your employer value proposition (EVP) communication assets

When was the last time you review your EVP communication assets, how long ago were they developed? Make it a project to review all your internal and external EVP communication tools and ask the following questions:

  • Does our employer value proposition clearly reflect the current employment experience?
  • How inspiring is our welcome pack for new hires? How does it differentiate our employment offering?
  • Can we deliver on what we are promising in our recruitment communication efforts?
  • How effective is our social media strategy – are we engaging with our communities or are we merely broadcasting about our products and services?
  • If I was looking for a job how inspired would I be by what our company is communicating and how consistent is the messaging
  • How well do our communication assets flow from text – images – audio – video?
  • How authentic is our messaging?
  • How do we feel about the tone, style and imagery we are using in our communications?

Based on the outcomes of your review schedule a project in 2011 to update your communication assets across key offline and online touchpoints.

5) Learn from best practice employer brand companies

Study and learn from companies who are leading the way in employer branding including Google, IBM, Starbucks, Sodexo, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Deloitte, McKinsey, etc there are many but these are some good companies to observe and learn from – for starters!. Don’t just study companies in your own industry – you’ll find companies outside your industry a great source of innovation for employer branding best practice. Companies in the oil and gas industry companies such as Chevron, Schlumberger and Shell are good companies to follow as are the major players in the banking and finance industry such as Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs.  They all invest in employer branding!

Companies to watch in 2011 include Research in Motion (RIM), UnitedHealth Group and Adidas. Each company’s employer branding programs are headed up by world leading employer brand practitioners Kat Drum (RIM), Health Polivka (United Health Group) and Steve Fogarty (Adidas). I can assure you if you have the right type of leader in charge of your employer brand strategy you will go far!

6) Assess the employee lifecycle

click on image below to enlarge employee lifecycle map

Have your business unit leaders assess the employee lifecycle in their function to assess how well it adds value to an inspiring employment experience and one that adds, not distracts from engagement and retention efforts?

Employees at your company will transition through different stages of the employee’s lifecycle depending on factors such as age, education, experience, living arrangements, marital status, etc. It is important to understand how important these ‘moments of truths’ are to employees and to realise which ones if not handled well, can be deal breakers and result in employees seeking another place to work whilst being unconsciously unproductive in their current role. It is important to make adjustments based on observation and feedback from employees.

7) Develop social media capabilities and appoint some social media Rockstars to engage with your community real-time

If you haven’t already started, 2011 is the year to train employees in how to use and leverage social media to support branding efforts. Global food service group, Sodexo have experienced a significant rise global brand awareness over the past two years through their ability to develop a social media sharing culture within their organisation. It won’t happen just because your company has a facebook page or twitter profile, employees need to be trained across the company to ensure your initiatives are aligned with your brand strategy. To identify your social media Rockstars you may need to conduct some influencer studies to determine where your most connected, active and influential social media participants in your organisation are. I like to follow Kerry Noone from Sodexo.

8) Write a book!

Write a book about your employment practices and use it as an EVP communications tool for all stakeholders. In 2008 I was inspired by a book I read about the mentoring practices at Essar, a multinational conglomerate corporation in the sectors of steel, energy, power, communications, shipping ports and logistics as well as construction headquartered at Mumbai, India. Over a 12 month period the HR Manager had compiled a book on the company’s mentoring practices and included insights from leaders and employees across the organisation. Whilst the publication took a while to write, it will provide a lifetime of value for Essar. It has also been an excellent tool to build internal engagement as employees were involved in the development of the product and distribution of it on its release. So find a topic, write about it and share it with stakeholders!

9) Connect your employees on the inside!

How often do we see the ‘wheel being re-invented inside organisations because there is no way to track what has been developed previously and if it has, it’s usually outdated or too hard to find. IBM have had some great success in this area by establishing an internal social networking tool, ‘Beehive’ which has allowed employees across the world to make new connections, share knowledge and capabilities and to advance their career. Connected employees will lead to higher levels of communication and trust between employees across the enterprise and is becoming more important in today’s increasingly dispersed workforces.

10) Leaders – slow down! and coach, mentor and share your knowledge and experiences with middle managers to enrich your talent pipelines, increase trust and developed capabilities

Too many of today’s leaders are too busy to spend quality time coaching and mentoring or even just communicating with team members due to shorter deadlines, increasing workloads and longer working hours.

Before they know it, they’re burnt out, fail to take holidays and disconnect from the very people who can assist them, their staff. This leads to higher levels of disengagement which is an all too common output in organizations around the world today.  For the first time in a decade, research from the Hewitt Global Engagement database shows the percentage of organizations with decreasing engagement now exceeds the percentage with increasing engagement. This is a disturbing statistic!

11) Build employer brand awareness, knowledge, skills and capabilities

Most of time employees don’t buy into your vision to develop and implement an employer brand strategy because they lack the skills and capabilities to do so. Employer branding is an emerging field in many economies so take the time to build awareness, knowledge, skill and capabilities within your organization.

Google Cools. Not Cool.

Image courtesy of WSJ Online

As readers of the BRANDEblog might remember, almost exactly two years ago I started worrying about Google. Though the employer brand was hot from desirability POV, the stock was tanking, free food was history and their new CFO was a Six Sigma black belt.

Now the stock is almost double what it was, and last week Eric Schmidt announced raises AND bonuses all around for it’s 23,000 employees.

But what’s behind the seemingly good news is the hidden truth—from a talent perspective, Google isn’t cool.

This from CNN: “ it probably isn’t enough to keep Google’s brightest and most entrepreneurial employees from eyeing the lucrative stock options that await them at riskier startups.”

This from the WSJ: “Google Inc. is fighting off Facebook Inc. and other fast-growing Internet firms that are poaching its staff, a reversal for a company that has long been one of Silicon Valley’s hottest job destinations. “

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are hot- a.k.a. not public, and talented techies want challenge- a.k.a pre- IPO stock.

Google has become the stable choice for Silicon Valley hotshots. And that stability has a whopping price tag.

According to last week’s Tech Crunch “We’ve confirmed today that a staff engineer at Google being heavily romanced by Facebook was offered a jaw dropping $3.5 million in restricted stock by Google (this means Google is handing over stock worth $3.5 million based on its value today, and that stock will vest over time). He quite wisely accepted Google’s counter offer. Facebook lost this one.”

From a distance, I watch and wonder about the durability of Google’s employer brand- maybe it’s time to re-build the brand architecture.

Somewhere Bill Gates must be laughing.