I had the great fortune of sitting down recently with Shaunda Zilich, who is the Global Employment Brand Leader at GE. GE has been the name on everybody’s lips lately, for their amazing series of “Owen” videos that have turned the traditionally industrial brand on its head. With nary a work boot in sight, the young, passionate, and tech-oriented Owen is completely jazzed about his work at GE, helping to develop the software and technologies that will help hospitals, research facilities, and the energy sector (among others) change how they work.These videos are a great example of how marketing and talent acquisition can join up to create the kind of employer branding that gets the right candidates beating a path to your door, and Shaunda agrees that it’s an exciting “perfect storm” that’s currently taking place in the industry.“With traditional marketing, we’re trying to sell a product or solution. With employer branding, we’re selling an experience. People have a lot more information at their fingertips now, and will research you. It’s not like before, when you would walk into a store and just buy the first thing you saw. Everybody shops around now for their products and they’re doing the same thing for potential employers. So that transparency is needed, and so are those stories that tell people what it’s really like to work for you.”A big focus, Shaunda says, is for companies to stop and ask themselves why they are doing what they do, and to make sure that the “why” is communicated effectively to potential candidates.
“Ernst & Young has their employer branding sitting in Marketing, and they treat talent acquisition as a customer, which is a really cool concept. They had a triathlete (Gwen Jorgensen), an EY employee, and even in her Olympic interviews, she was talking about her experience at EY and how they encouraged her, and that’s huge!” While GE has had Olympic athletes, that same storytelling did not happen, which is something that could be used as a learning experience.So, where will employer branding evolve in the next five years? Shaunda’s making a bold prediction (and a steak dinner rests on this): Because of increased data and the increased ability to precisely tailor content to each website visitor, the “search” function will go by the wayside. She says this laughingly, but does state that because of the huge amount of information that people are swamped with, companies do need to tailor their content and make sure that they are offering experiences to their talent, not just reams of information. She says that a good way to do this is for HR to just step back, pretend they have a blank canvas, and with the help of Marketing, get creative with their recruitment instead of just trying to re-work existing processes.
GE is definitely making other companies, large and small, think about their employer branding and how they can get their own stories out there. In five years, we will likely see this become the normal way of doing things (and we’ll also likely see me collecting on that steak dinner).