Talent System Series, Part Two: Assessing Your Talent Brand Status

We often think of a company’s logo and color scheme as representing its brand, but brand is much more than aesthetics. It represents people’s impression and thoughts about your company—what is called brand status. A company’s reputation is everything in a highly competitive market. When beginning the process of recruiting and hiring talented workers, ask yourself this: What is my company’s employment reputation in the community from which I’m trying to recruit?

Taking Stock of Employment Brand Status

Try this exercise – think of a few companies, and the impressions that come to mind in reference to the work environment:

  • Walmart – low wages
  • Google – eclectic nerd heaven
  • Any hedge fund – greedy, money rules, workaholic
  • IBM – blue suits, stiff and formal (I know that’s an outdated view, but it’s still what I think of)
  • Amazon – meat grinder
  • Apple Stores – young, hip
  • US Post Office – crabby bureaucrats

So, what is your employment brand today, and what do you want it to be?  When people talk about you, what do you want them to say?  What words should roll off of their tongue effortlessly?  EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, uses a technique called the 3 Uniques™ to describe a company’s position in the market. The basic idea of the three uniques is that the first unique attribute should make you different than 50% of the competition. When you add a second unique it should make you different than 80% of the competition, and when the third unique is added, it should make you different than everyone else.

What if we applied this same concept to our employment brand?  One company might say:

  • Unique #1: We’re employee-owned
  • Unique #2: We have flexible hours that respect work-life balance
  • Unique #3: We believe in promoting from within

A different company might have a very different set of uniques:

  • Unique #1: We hire the best – you’ll be surrounded by A-players
  • Unique #2: We develop future business leaders
  • Unique #3: We pay the best, and expect a lot for it

The Importance of Focus

Like with anything in product marketing, you can’t check all the boxes for all the people. You need to focus your efforts and dollars; a shotgun approach to try and reach everyone will fail because your message becomes fragmented. You need to pick and choose and place your bets. If you’ve chosen your uniques well, they’ll resonate with the kind of people you want. Of course, the uniques need to be real and not just advertising words. The actions inside the company need to work in alignment with the employment brand that you seek to promote. After all, while you can be deliberate about what you want your employment brand to be, in the end, the marketplace will tell you what your brand is.

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Below are a couple of job listings for welders that I recently pulled from Indeed.  Notice the difference in the styles and the employment brand inferred from the listing:

Listing #1:

Summary: The primary role for this position is to operate fabricating machines such as cutoff saws, shears ,and brakes that cut, shape and bend metal sheets and structures to manufacture ______.

Essential Functions

    • Performs a variety of tasks involving strenuous manual labor
    • Utilizes all hand tools and grinders
    • Develops layout and plans sequence of operations
    • Locates and marks bending and cutting lines onto workpiece
    • Positions, aligns, fits and welds together parts
    • Fabricates and assembles sheet metal products

This listing is devoid of anything describing the company and what it is like to be an employee. Applicants could easily conclude that this company views its workers as little more than laborers. Contrast that with another listing that I found after doing some digging:

Listing #2:

For more than 70 years, Acme Products has been satisfying customers’ most demanding requirements with durable, precision plastic products. Our companies create customized equipment solutions for manufacturing plants, laboratories and lead the industry in plastic distribution and tight-tolerance machining.

We are currently hiring for our Apprentice Welder/Fabricator program. Learn how to weld and fabricate plastic components from industry experts. This two-year structured program will set you up for success in a highly specialized field. Earn raises at multiple milestones. The starting wage is $xx.00/hour with an additional .50 increase after 6 months. This is a full-time direct hire position with benefits to start. We offer a very stable working environment with consistent hours – Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

This job listing tells me several important things about the employer.  They are willing to invest in training and development to help build careers, and they value the worker enough to not go through a temp agency.  They consider stability and work-life balance important, and they’re proud of the work they do.

The company with a better employment brand status seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? The key first step to developing a healthy and stable workforce lies in the clarity and consistency of your reputation in your marketplace. The next step is to evaluate the pipeline of people you’re recruiting, which I’ll cover in my next post.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to align your brand status with your business goals and need a boost, drop me a line.

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Rob Tracy

Rob Tracy

I’ve been involved in the manufacturing industry for more than 30 years and I know a thing or two about execution that enables the growth of companies. My advice and consultation come from real-life experience. My handshake is my word.