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Employment Branding > Talent Acquisition

Know Who You Aren’t: A Lesson In Employment Branding Done Right

Can you remember the last time you heard the phrase “You’ve got mail”? (And NOT counting all the times it’s followed the question “What movie is the Oxygen network going to be playing this Friday night?”)  Feels like a while, huh?

Well, prepare for a blast from the past, because the company that used to be America Online is suddenly a hot commodity again…or at least it is among job seekers…

In the past year, AOL has successfully recruited employees from high-profile companies like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, The New York Times and Time Warner, prompting AdAge’s Michael Learmonth to ask, “Why does everyone want to work at AOL all of a sudden?” in a recent article for the online magazine.

You can’t blame the guy for asking: Nothing against AOL, but it’s been roughly a decade since the company’s heyday as the “goliath of Internet service providers.”  So how is it suddenly an employer of choice among what is surely a highly sought-after talent demographic?  Well, it’s simple, really: Basically, AOL is a lesson in employment branding done right.

By understanding the specific talent demographic its brand appeals to, AOL gets one of the most crucial elements of employment branding right: It knows what it stands for – as well as what it doesn’t stand for – as an employer.

“Employment branding is about knowing who you are as an employer, but just as importantly, it’s about knowing who you aren’t,” says employment branding expert Mary Delaney, President of CareerBuilder’s human capital consulting company, Personified.

In AOL’s case, the company knows it’s no Google…nor is it trying to be.  Sure, Google enjoys a reputation as a top company to work for, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for every single worker ever.  Understanding this, AOL seems to be using its smaller position in the industry as its employee value proposition: By marketing itself as a place where employees will be challenged to expand their knowledge and help rebuild what was once an industry giant, AOL is appealing to a candidate base that is hungry for career, professional development and training opportunities, factors that a recent employment branding study found to be among the top reasons employees chose their employers.

Similarly, if you look at the list of the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For in America, you’ll notice how these employers sell their brands as ones that can meet employees’ intangible needs – such as motivation, empowerment, trust and recognition.

The takeaway here? All too often, companies try to sell themselves as something they are not – effectively making promises they can’t fulfill – when, in fact, they should be embracing what differentiates them from other companies and focusing on what they do offer.

As AOL demonstrates, companies need to look at what is unique about their culture – and what demographic is attracted to that – rather than waste their time trying to appeal to a group of candidates that would fit better elsewhere.

Thoughts?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
6 comments
ann marie
ann marie

This article is so true. You have to know who you are and what you aren't to decipher the kind of person you're organization needs for the long-term. Its beginning this process that I'd love to gather some feedback regarding. If you're beginning this journey of employment brand, where do you begin when redeveloping your value proposition? I'd love any feedback or thoughts you might have on this topic.

Thanks!
Ann Marie

ann marie
ann marie

This article is so true. You have to know who you are and what you aren't to decipher the kind of person you're organization needs for the long-term. Its beginning this process that I'd love to gather some feedback regarding. If you're beginning this journey of employment brand, where do you begin when redeveloping your value proposition? I'd love any feedback or thoughts you might have on this topic.

Thanks!
Ann Marie

ann marie
ann marie

This article is so true. You have to know who you are and what you aren't to decipher the kind of person you're organization needs for the long-term. Its beginning this process that I'd love to gather some feedback regarding. If you're beginning this journey of employment brand, where do you begin when redeveloping your value proposition? I'd love any feedback or thoughts you might have on this topic. Thanks! Ann Marie

Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz

Thanks for the feedback, Ann Marie!

We always tell people that the most important part of beginning your employment branding efforts is, "Do your research." That is, gather as much information from employees and job seekers about how they perceive you.

For current employees, it's about finding out what keeps them coming to work each day. Do they like working for you? Why or why not? What could you be doing better to engage them? You can get this sort of information through employee evaluation surveys.

For potential employees, it's about finding out what compels them to apply for jobs at your company (or detracts them from doing so), and what they look for in employers.

Only when you know how you're currently being perceived can you say, "Okay, this is where we are...now where do we want to be?" And from there, you can begin to re-create your brand message.

I'll be sure to address this further in an upcoming post - and look out for our soon-to-be-released eBook on employment branding (which will be free for download). In the meantime, feel free to ask us more questions!

Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz

Thanks for the feedback, Ann Marie!

We always tell people that the most important part of beginning your employment branding efforts is, "Do your research." That is, gather as much information from employees and job seekers about how they perceive you.

For current employees, it's about finding out what keeps them coming to work each day. Do they like working for you? Why or why not? What could you be doing better to engage them? You can get this sort of information through employee evaluation surveys.

For potential employees, it's about finding out what compels them to apply for jobs at your company (or detracts them from doing so), and what they look for in employers.

Only when you know how you're currently being perceived can you say, "Okay, this is where we are...now where do we want to be?" And from there, you can begin to re-create your brand message.

I'll be sure to address this further in an upcoming post - and look out for our soon-to-be-released eBook on employment branding (which will be free for download). In the meantime, feel free to ask us more questions!

Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz

Thanks for the feedback, Ann Marie! We always tell people that the most important part of beginning your employment branding efforts is, "Do your research." That is, gather as much information from employees and job seekers about how they perceive you. For current employees, it's about finding out what keeps them coming to work each day. Do they like working for you? Why or why not? What could you be doing better to engage them? You can get this sort of information through employee evaluation surveys. For potential employees, it's about finding out what compels them to apply for jobs at your company (or detracts them from doing so), and what they look for in employers. Only when you know how you're currently being perceived can you say, "Okay, this is where we are...now where do we want to be?" And from there, you can begin to re-create your brand message. I'll be sure to address this further in an upcoming post - and look out for our soon-to-be-released eBook on employment branding (which will be free for download). In the meantime, feel free to ask us more questions!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] with demanding affiliates all over again. (The tactic is not unlike what I posted last week about how AOL was leveraging its status as a “non-Google” to attract former Google [...]

  2. [...] we discussed AOL’s success in employment branding, and why you need to know who you are — and who you aren’t — as an [...]

  3. [...] screens are essential!” but it also seemed to confirm what NL already knew: It’s more than okay to not be Google. “Considering that every other candidate had heard about us prior to even applying…we are doing [...]

  4. [...] who you are as an employer, but just as importantly, it’s about knowing who you aren’t,” employment branding expert Mary Delaney has said. Building a strong employment brand isn’t about trying to be Google or Apple; it’s about [...]

  5. … [Trackback]

    [...] Read More: thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2010/04/08/know-who-you-arent-a-lesson-in-employment-branding-done-right/ [...]

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    [...] Find More Informations here: thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2010/04/08/know-who-you-arent-a-lesson-in-employment-branding-done-right/ [...]

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