Personal branding in recruitment

Why your staff are your most powerful recruiting tool
(and you should be encouraging them to build their personal brand)

This week I saw a post about audience acquisition that made me stop and think.

“It took Watford football club 10 years to get 170k YouTube subscribers, yet Watford football club goalkeeper Ben Foster took only 1 year to get 1M YouTube subscribers”! (The exclamation mark is mine, and wholly appropriate, given the eye widening stats.)

Think about the resources at the disposal of the club, compared to those of 1 player. An entire business, compared with 1 person. A marketing department, with budget, compared with a single player, funded by his own wages.

In many ways this this is a perfect analogy for old media Vs new (though, lets face it, social media is hardly ‘new’. Facebook as we know it today: 2005. YouTube: 2005) It’s less to do with resource, and more to do with ability to engage an audience with hyper focused and personalized content, building out an engaging and valued personal brand.

What is ‘brand?’ (… and why does this matter for recruitment?)

Professor Nader Tavassoli of London Business School delivers a MOOC, Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand and Behaviour. “The aim of the course is to change the conception of brands as being an organisation’s visual identity (e.g., logo) and image (customers’ brand associations) to an experience along “moments-that-matter” along the customer journey and, therefore, delivered by people across the entire organisation. Brands are thus not only an external promise to customers, but a means of executing business strategy via internal brand-led behaviour and culture change.”

What’s this got to do with recruitment?

Professor Tavassoli highlights that, and I’m paraphrasing here; ‘Strong brand = more desirable place to work = talent attraction = pay less (for top talent), get more (high quality business outcomes).’

Investing in your businesses brand has its place, however it also faces some serious challenges. In a world where Google reviews from Joe Public are more trusted and valued than content from a business or brand, and Glassdoor is much the same for businesses, we can now begin to see why your company’s version of Ben Foster can be recruitment gold.

Personal brand – star power – works on a totally ‘other world’ level when compared to official organisational brand communications. Think business bloggers, who work for an organisation, and have their own, personal, brand. Regular publishers on LinkedIn. Email newsletters sharing insights and introducing curated thoughts and ideas aligned with the personal brand of the host. Podcasts with thought leaders, sharing insights and ideas. In the world outside of your business sector, think of this as a form of popular culture ‘celebrity endorsement’. And before you tell me, “This won’t /can’t work in my sector….” If it can work in the dry ‘business optimisation’ world of organisations like Capita and Accenture then it can definitely work for you.

Now think of the competitive advantage this can provide an organisation, in the chase for internal customers (staff). Not just visibility, but deep, referred, credibility. When we talk audience (target candidates for an open vacancy) your employee with that strong personal brand has an audience that self-selects or ‘opts in’. We’re not chasing here, and, as a result, we’re not measuring top of the funnel metrics like open rate and click through rate. We’re talking frequent engagement with content, as a repeat customer. In a sales world these are hot prospects.

Competition for talent is fierce. Candidates interview companies. What sets you apart from competitors in, and beyond, your space? Who is your organisations’ Ben Foster? Are you harnessing their star power to attract new talent? If not, why not?

Share with your network!