Building on Brand to Attract Top Employees

By John Zappe

Mar. 3, 2006

Google is hardly a brand in search of recognition. The company reportedly gets thousands of résumés a month, but that didn’t stop it from taking out a full-page help-wanted ad in The New York Times on Halloween. The “scary smart” ad, as it has come to be known, is only one of the dozens of ways that Google brands itself as a great place to work.

    Anastasia Pucci, president and founding partner of search firm Carlyle & Conlan, knows firsthand the power of the Google brand, as well as one of its most popular lures for candidates: Google lets its professional staff members devote 20 percent of their workweek to whatever projects interest them. “We talk to a lot of people, and every one of them has heard of Google and the 20 percent time. We have a hard time competing for the younger tech people because of that,” says Pucci, whose firm is based at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

    As the war for talent intensifies, companies are looking for every edge they can get, and branding yourself as a great place to work is a strategy that makes a difference.

    “It isn’t about buying Super Bowl ads,” says Elliot Clark, COO of Kenexa, a recruitment software vendor and talent acquisition and management firm. “It isn’t that you have to have everyone know your brand. It’s that your targets have to know you.”

    It starts with such simple things as responding to applicants who submit résumés. Developing a dialogue with those who show promise, even if a job for them isn’t available now, Clark says, makes a big difference in whether they choose you or your competitor when a position opens up. Call it customer relationship management for job applicants. “The quality of the relationship management has to be planned and executed well,” he adds.

“It isn’t that you have to have everyone know your brand. It’s that your targets have to know you.”
–Elliot Clark, COO of Kenexa

    But surprisingly, there are companies that don’t even acknowledge the résumé, let alone keep the candidate informed about where he or she stands, says Gerry Cris­pin, recruitment consultant and co-founder of CareerXroads.

    Even with 11,500 employees, insurer UnumProvident is barely known outside its headquarters city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a few other locations where it has satellite offices. That creates a challenge for recruiters, says Tim O’Connor, senior staffing research specialist.

    Lately, the company has begun experimenting with radio and news­paper ads to drive traffic to its career site. “That’s where people can find out about us,” O’Connor explains. “We’ve made the career site really informative. The idea is to give them a sense of what a great place this is to work.”

    One look at UnumProvident online, and you know it’s not your typical corporate career site. There’s extensive information about the company’s three major corporate centers that includes the climate, cultural activities and ambience. You can meet some of the people who work for UnumProvident and see and hear them talk about their jobs.

    Even without advertising blitzes, there are ways a company can build a brand and identify talent. Jim Williams, vice president of human resources for Dublin, Ohio-based Commercial Vehicle Group, says the company began a mentoring program six years ago with area colleges.

    “They (engineering students) get to see what a manufacturing en­vironment is like, and we get to involve students who get a feel for us,” Williams says. “We’re able to show them that manufacturing is very different from what they might have thought.”

Workforce Management, February 27, 2006, p. 31Subscribe Now!

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