Understanding Talent Branding is a Career Management Imperative

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Aug 12

There is a lot of discussion of your personal or professional brand to corporations. There’s not a lot of discussion about what sort of “talent brand” companies have with their potential employees.

Yet, this talent brand exists for every company, just as your personal brand exists whether you think you have one or not. You do and so do companies.

But what constitutes a “talent brand?” What does a company need to do in order to attract and engage talent that meets their talent brand? And what questions should you be asking in interviews to determine a company’s talent brand?

HCI Research did some extensive surveying to determine how talent branding by companies can improve employee retention and increase employee engagement. For our purposes, it also tells us the types of questions to be asking in interviews with the initial position in the company or subsequent positions once inside the company. I was fortunate to receive a copy of the search results.

Talent branding definition

HCI defines talent branding as what “differentiates an organization as a good (or not so good) place to work for both potential and current employees.”

You can see how closely that tracts with most definitions of personal branding.

Top two talent attractions for a talent brand

Not surprisingly, the two top elements to an organization’s talent brand were:

  1. Compensation
  2. Work/life balance (a term I despise…Scot)

The work/life balance wasn’t really balance. Instead, it reflected treating people as if they were really adults. When asked about the work/life balance, the top open ended responses were:

…In response to open-ended questions on the elements of talent branding, the opinions of what constituted excellent work/life balance included such things as:

  1. “Truly care about current employees.”
  2. “Keep the promises made while recruiting, after a person is
    hired. Be known to genuinely care about employees.”
  3. “The ability to be flexible on a weekly basis due to changing
    circumstances.”
  4. “Family-oriented”

As in…treat me like an adult…

There was one other factor in identifying with the talent brand: “has a vision (for its talent brand) that differentiates it from competitors.”

The three critical factors in workers wanting to join an organization and remain with the firm

I was surprised by the focus on process:

We discovered that, regardless of the size of an organization or the type of industry in which it is involved, there are common features to those organizations whose talent brand results in workers wanting to join and remain with a firm. These critical factors can be summarized as:

  • Creating processes that onboard workers for fast socialization
    and time to productivity
  • Creating processes that support workers in their jobs and
    during transitions
  • Creating processes that engage workers with their organization
    in ways that make them their organizations’ best recruiters.

Onboarding is the first impression

Doing onboarding well, through a variety of statistical comparisons, quickly cemented the talent brand of the company and showed that the company cared about getting the employee up and working quickly.

What are the critical aspects to onboarding?

there are many important elements to an effective process—but the three that stand out are:

  • Providing the necessary tools (computers, emails, etc.) for
    new hires to start their jobs
  • A well-defined, professional, and easily understood process
  • Active engagement by the new hire’s manager in the process.

Getting matched with a “buddy” to show the person how the department operates and a “socialization process” being in place were also close behind.

All of these processes demonstrate to the employee that they matter.

Indeed, the study shows the onboarding process as one of the most important in establishing a talent brand – and talent retention:

The results are clear: Helping new workers integrate into an
organization is the single most important factor linking an
organization’s talent brand and talent retention.

Personal and Professional Transitions

Once inside an organization, the employee views support from the company for personal and professional transitions as vital.

To put it another way, organizations should be able to create a positive talent brand, in part, by implementing worker-friendly processes to deal with major work/life transitions.

Yet, even though companies have a strong talent brand, a significant number fail to provide the right support, especially in the professional transition areas.

Conclusions for the Cubicle Warrior

Critical to our success in our career management process is to find the companies with the right culture that supports our work in a way that matches our strengths. This is how we can effectively apply our job skills to get to accomplishments.

This study opens a window in how companies (and departments within companies) portray themselves to employees. The success factors in employee engagement once attracted by the “talent brand” of the company are the onboarding and personal/professional transition process.

These two processes help establish if a company (or manager within a company) is really running the place right with the knowledge worker in mind. As Cubicle Warriors in an interview process, we need to ask questions about the onboarding process to see if it reflects the best practices shown here. Plus, we need to ask about how transitions are handled by the management team.

The answers you get to these questions will help you evaluate if this is the right place for your talents to maximize your career.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.