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Perception and Reality: Lessons from HR Breakfast 2019


August 16, 2019 By Conor Armor


Uncubed’s most recent iteration of the HR Breakfast series brought some 50 recruiters and HR professionals together over (you guessed it) breakfast, with a loose topic in mind: challenges and solutions in the world of employer branding. But before long, the unofficial theme of the morning emerged: issues of employer brand perception.

Though attendees represented companies ranging from Fortune 500 behemoths to growth stage startups, many found themselves wrestling with the same question: how can you overcome surface-level perception of your employer brand, and get desirable candidates to take a deeper look at what working for your company actually entails?

Take the Museum of Ice Cream, for example. MOIC’s bright, playful brand has helped to catapult it to the top of many San Francisco visitors’ to-do list — but Senior Director of People Emma Leeds Guidarelli acknowledged that the company’s lighthearted consumer-facing image may obscure how compelling the work behind the scenes can be.

“Potential candidates often see us as being a place of sprinkle pools, unicorns and rainbows. In reality we have a very hard working, diligent, thoughtful and creative culture. Our fun image does a lot to bring visitors to our locations, but often doesn’t bring serious, senior-level candidates to our open positions,” explained Guidarelli.

Guidarelli shares her thoughts on the Museum of Ice Cream’s employer brand.

Conversely, EmblemHealth Employee Experience and Culture Lead Jarrod Harden pointed to his company’s industry — and the perception of that industry — as a potential roadblock when it comes to grabbing candidates’ attention.

“Being a not for profit health insurance company, we’re not exactly the first place people think of when plotting an exciting career path. But we are actively working to change that,” said Harden. “One of our enterprise wide goals is “innovate for the future” so we want disruptive thinkers from inside and outside of healthcare to join and help us achieve that.”

Harden chimes in on employer perception.

Harden pointed to Goldman Sachs as a company that’s done an outstanding job of transcending their surface-level reputation to tell a more meaningful employer brand story.

“When I think of Goldman Sachs, I think of … frankly, money. My mind then drifts to their logo, perhaps people in suits, securities, etc – but not warmth, caring, or diversity. Then you take a peek at their careers site and one of the first things they showcase are “Possibilities Stories.” How inspirational is that? Their blog contains these full color pictures and videos that showcase the heart of their company – the people. There’s an authenticity that written words alone could not convey,” said Harden.

“And it is consistent throughout their careers site. The full expanse of their efforts is astounding. From supporting women businesses around the world to their pop culture fair that happened at 15 offices, that alone would be notable. What I had not seen before and did not expect from a place like Goldman was how they highlighted an employee’s journey as a trans person and the support they received from the company and their colleagues. It added such an authentic feeling of care (and trailblazing) that I’m just so impressed with.”

Though MOIC’s Guidarelli is managing an employer brand that couldn’t be much more different in nature than that of Goldman Sachs or EmblemHealth, her team is still tasked with overcoming similar challenges of perception.

“We know that in order to address this challenge we need to find ways to show world the exciting business challenges that we are working on, so that they see the other side to this glittery coin,” said Guidarelli. “We’re working on the cutting edge of experiential design, with some of the most talented designers and operators in the world. We show a really pristine image to our audience, and we are learning that showing some of what happens inside of the unicorn sausage factory can be helpful and enticing to candidates.”

Breakfast: eaten. Discussion: still going.

So how can employer branding most effectively open the doors to that unicorn sausage factory? Stash Invest Director of Talent Acquisition Tom Gerrity pointed to the power of employer branding video, noting that Stash’s recent video campaign starting paying dividends immediately.

“It’s still very early since we released the video, but early feedback has been fantastic. One candidate who recently signed the offer letter said: First of all, that video is amazing!” said Gerrity. “The sooner you start creating video content the better off you will be in the long run at attracting talent. Candidates reading employee reviews on Glassdoor is no longer going to cut it in this face paced and hyper competitive market.”

We tend to agree with Gerrity — employer branding video done right can transform the way candidates view your company. Take a look at this rundown of some of the best employer branding video we’ve seen for inspiration, if you’re so inclined.

And keep your eyes peeled for the next HR Breakfast. We’re confident the conversation will be just as compelling next time around.


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