A Guide to Meaningful Employer Branding Content

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

What content pulls on the heartstrings and really moves people? This week we chat with Will Staney, founder and CEO Proactive Talent all about creating engaging content for employer branding.

Have a listen to our chat below, keep reading for a summary and don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Tell us about Proactive Talent.

Proactive Talent Strategies, we are a modern talent acquisition consulting company. We help companies organize and optimize their recruiting and employer brand strategies.

We do everything from on-demand recruiting where we go into companies, whether they’re startups and they’re building a recruiting team for the first time, or they’re large companies and are trying to modernize and optimize what they’re doing as far as process, team, and technology. One of our most popular services is employer branding, this is where we have helped companies like GoDaddy, GE, and Motel 6 evolve and tell their story.

What is your take on employer brand?

I decided to start my own company, because what I realized with employer branding, recruiting, and innovation, is that the technology is moving pretty rapidly and a lot of companies are having a hard time catching up.

The employer brand is something that is an essential part of not only hiring great talent, but humanizing and telling the story of your company to anybody that is external and internal. That could be telling your story to your own employees for employee engagement, or telling your story to candidates to attract them in. Telling your customers and future hires, who the people are behind the product.

Without a solid strategy around employer brand that aligns to what your consumer brand is, that speaks to both your current employees and engages them, I think attracting top talent for your company is a lot harder. It costs more. Employer brand is just essential and it’s really becoming an industry and a profession of its own.

I started an organization for employer branding professionals with Brian Chaney, who is the head of employer branding at Indeed. It’s called TalentBrand.org and we’ve got a few hundred employer brand leaders together, helping push that industry forward in that profession and sharing best practices.

What is your approach to employer branding content in recruitment?

It’s all about content. It’s what feeds the engine. It’s the fuel. Without great content, it’s harder for candidates to really select in or out of your hiring process. It’s harder to attract top talent in your company, and engage your current workforce. Without content, you can’t tell your story.

It takes a mix of content as well. It needs video and pictures to really give a transparent look at your company content, really good, authentic content is essential. But it’s not always easy to do.

What is a step-by-step guide to achieve success in employer branding?

Tip 1:  Is developing your content strategy. This is being very intentional about what kind of content is going to resonate with our audience. That includes building out talent personas, and doing some research, talking to your current employees. Where do they go to get their news? What are their interests? What bands do they listen to? All these interests help you to develop the kind of content, and the persona that does well at your organization. You can then take that data, and other data like, what kind of roles are we hiring for? What are our high priority hiring initiatives right now?  You take all that and you start to build your content strategy that helps fuel those initiatives. Employer brand and recruiting marketing strategies should tie into the actual business initiatives at your company. You align talent acquisition to the true strategic mission and objectives of your company, and you get proactive about it. You start to notice that talent acquisition and employer branding starts getting more of a seat at the table because the business starts to understand. With content, you take this and then you start to build out an editorial calendar.

Tip 2: Is to engage and build excitement. Your content should be something that is helping to elicit an emotional response, both internally with your own employees where it gives them that warm feeling of pride when they watch that cool employee highlight video, or someone externally learns something new about the company. When you can change perceptions or really engage and pull people’s heart strings around the mission of your company, that is when you win. And so,

Tip 3: Is providing accessible content and an experience. In other words, look at the different channels where you’re posting certain content. Some content works well in other channels and not in others. For example blogs. People read maybe 28% of the words in a blog post. So you have to make sure that the content is very concise and that they can pull your key points in six seconds. Then you want to make your content really consumable. So maybe that’s a video. Or maybe, you want to do a quick Facebook Live, or Periscope, or Twitter Video of a live, real event that’s happening. That makes it really accessible and you’re giving people an experience like they’re right there watching it.

Tip 4: Make it visual. People remember images six times easier than text. So whenever you can add really great, humanizing photos or videos in the blogs that you’re talking about. Visuals are really powerful for helping to elicit that emotional response, and to really give people an inside look.

Tip 5: Is leveraging employee-generated content. The great thing is you have all these employees, especially if you’re a bigger company and you have a lot of different offices. If you’re an employer brand person, or a recruiter who’s tasked with doing employer branding, you can’t be everywhere at once. So you’ve got to build an army of ambassadors, an army of employer brand agents that are out there capturing some content for you, and sending it in to you.

This does two things. It allows you to get a variety of real content from real people, and your content starts looking like the other content that your friends see in their social feeds. It blends in, it doesn’t look like marketing, it looks authentic. The other is that it empowers employees to be a part of telling what your employer brand and what their experience is. Employees love it. They like seeing the content they created being featured on a major corporate account, it’s really exciting for them. So leveraging employee-generated content is awesome. Have fun with it, create campaigns, and competitions. When I was at SAP, we did this big selfie competition to really promote our new Instagram page when we launched it for life at SAP. And it was a huge hit.

We did the same thing with our client GoDaddy where they did a #GoDaddylife. And now, there’s hundreds of awesome employee photos about what they love about working there, all over Instagram.

Tip 6: Is measuring your results. When it comes to employer branding, tracking your engagement rate is really important. What percentage of your audience that’s following you on social, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, are actually engaging with your content? That tells you how good and how engaging your content is. Are your employees engaging with that content? Are they liking it? A main goal of employer branding is to increase awareness of you as an employer. Total number of reach is good at measuring this. What’s the number of people who have been exposed to our employer brand on a monthly, quarterly, annual basis? Overall shares is a really good metric to look at the quality of your content. If it was so good that they shared it with their whole network, then that’s awesome.

When it comes to the effectiveness of good employer branding and your organization, looking at things like retention rate is a really good indicator of the strength of your employer brand and your culture, that people are engaged, staying longer, and they’re enjoying the experience. That can be a really strong correlation.

If the amount of applicants go down, but the quality of each applicant is getting better, that’s a good indication that you’re doing a great job of employer branding, that’s giving them enough information that they can really self-select in or out of your process.

Do you have examples of content that emotionally engaged with people?

You’ve probably seen some of the employer brand videos by our client GE. They did one that went out on the Oscars. This is just a good example of a company whose corporate marketing and employer branding teams are coming together to help change the perception of them not only as a company, but change perceptions as an employer.

They did a video that was like imagine a world where female engineers and scientists were treated like movie stars. What if they were on the cover of the magazines and they were the ones that you see in the news. It really pulled the heart strings when they announced they were committed to hiring 20,000 women in STEM by 2020.


There’s going to be a whole series coming out in a couple months that we did for GE Digital, where it’s just real employees in a documentary style, talking about their experience, what they do, and how the products that they’re building has real world effect.

I interviewed for a video, at GE Digital, an engineer who grew up in Haiti. And he was in high school when those massive tsunami and earthquakes happened. It was devastating. And after that happened, he was really interested in STEM and engineering, and he made a commitment to himself that he was going to go out there and try to use and build software that would help predict these disasters better in the future. Now he’s an engineer at GE Digital, building the IoT mobile platform that allows people in these third-world countries that have little access to electricity or internet to have better predictability of natural disasters. It was amazing. I cried interviewing this kid because he’s telling me “I’m here and I built this.” And he won this huge innovation award. And he got to go home to his parents and say, “I went and I built something that will make life better for my family and friends in Haiti.”

I thought “Wow. I want to work here.” I want to be a part of something like that. It’s just amazing. Those are the type of stories that are real, and they exist in your company if you go out and ask the right questions. Pulling at the heart strings is totally doable. Every human being has a great story.

What are some of the pitfalls to avoid with content and employer brand?

When companies stick to the facts too much. Employers can get so caught up with, “We have 50 offices in 170 countries.” or “We were founded in 1989. We raised $200 million in capital.” Candidates actually don’t care about that.

Some of it may give them the idea of “You got some funding. You’ll be around for a while.” That’s good, but it doesn’t tell the story. It certainly doesn’t paint the picture of an inclusive, fun workplace. Avoid sticking to hard numbers, and instead tell your story. Make it values, mission and people driven as to why your company does what you do.

The second pitfall I see a lot is when companies are being inauthentic, it’s really easy to tell. When you talk about what it’s like to work at your company like a cheesy marketing campaign, rather than real human stories and using more plain talk. When you have that Facebook update that says, “We believe in having an inclusive workplace. Apply now.”

No. Say, “Amanda came to our company two years ago, and this is what inspires her every day to do what she does.” Make it people focused, make it authentic, make it real. Those are my two pitfalls that I see all the time. And stay away from stock photography on career pages.

Could you expand more on measuring ROI?

The way to tell if it’s paying off is you have to determine what’s important to your company when it comes to measuring employer brand? Talk to the executives at your company. Talk to your head of talent acquisition. What do they want to know about the employer brand, then start to take the metrics that align and will show progress in those areas.

It will be different for every company. For our client GoDaddy, brand awareness of their product wasn’t a big deal. They’d been spending on marketing for many years, people know GoDaddy. However they didn’t know who they were as an employer so we built metrics around that to show how is the employer brand specifically growing? For that, we looked at reach on social, and traffic to the career site. If you have a goal like, “we want to increase employee engagement and engage employees in our employer brand more”. Then I would take a regular look at your retention numbers, and also the data from your employee engagement surveys that you’re doing quarterly or annually. It really depends on what your company values or what are the gaps from an employer brand standpoint? And then, really build and measure ROI based on those objectives. I think just measuring things for the sake of measuring doesn’t help anybody.

What companies are getting employer branding right?

I mentioned GE, but I just think GE, and every one of these companies I will mention, are doing something particularly differently. GE are doing that main campaign that is changing perceptions, and they’re doing a good job of getting people to the door. They still have more to go once they’re at the door. How do we make apply process better? How do we start telling individual employee stories? They’re still probably one of the best companies at doing that. But their ability to take their consumer marketing initiatives and their employer brand and mold those worlds together is really setting a wonderful example for the world when it comes to employer branding. It put’s employer branding on the main stage. When have you ever seen an employer brand ad during the Super Bowl, or the Oscars? That’s pretty amazing.

VMware, they’re one of the examples of employer branding from a multi-channel strategy. VMware were doing some of the stuff that you see people calling innovative today, five years ago. Before Facebook livestream, they were doing livestream videos with hiring managers and allowing candidates to ask questions right there. They were making it possible for you to search their jobs on Facebook. They were molding their community, their developer community evangelism and their employer brand a long time ago. They’re an example of a very mature employer brand that still continues to reinvent and evolve itself over time.

And SAP, they’re doing a good job of changing perceptions globally as an employer. They’re also a really good example of a true global employer brand strategy. I think they’re a good example of always pushing the envelope. They’re winning awards for these really funny comics they’re doing that highlights the experience of working at SAP.


Probably one of the newer employer brand channels and strategies that I’ve been seeing blossom is actually a vendor in the recruiting space. Indeed and the team that’s been built over the last year by Brian Chaney at Indeed, is doing a really great job of setting an example for the recruiting industry of, how to do global employer branding. It’s staffed well, and their content is great. They’re just doing a fantastic job with it.

What is the next big thing in employer branding?

I don’t like to predict the future, but I think one of the next big things we’ll see are more automation of some of the administrative stuff that comes with running any marketing an employer brand campaign. You will see things like chat box on a career site that answers questions about the company culture, and tells you about the benefits. That will allow marketers in our space, employer brand, and branding folks to really focus on better content and telling great stories.

I also think more live-focused social platforms. If you look at this trend with Facebook Live, Snapchat, this younger generation and how they use social is actually a lot different than even my generation used it. It’s way more transparent, it’s raw, it’s unedited, it’s real, it’s live. I think you will start seeing employer brand channel leveraging that stuff more. They’re just really starting to play with it.

Lastly, when it comes to mixed reality and virtual reality technologies, I think that stuff will be built into your phone. I think you will be able to give candidates a completely immersive experience of what it’s like to walk the halls at your organization. You can already do it. You can buy a $150 VR camera, that 360 camera that plugs into your phone. Facebook now just launched one. And you can walk and give somebody a tour of your office, and then share that with candidates, and they don’t even have to come in for the interview. They’ve already seen the place. That’s truly visually showing somebody what it’s like to work at a company, VR literally puts you there. So I think that will be something that affects even more than employer branding. I think it will affect how people communicate and experience our realities in a digital way for years to come.

Follow Will on Twitter @willstaney, and remember to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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