Dell’s Approach to International Employer Branding

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Competing for talent is not what it used to be for Dell, it’s now far, far more competitive for a company that used to be the be-all and end-all of computing technology.

Having said that, Dell is still among the world’s best tech companies. We catch up with Dalhia Rodriguez, the Employment Brand and Social Media Lead at Dell, to understand what strategies are put into place to attract and retain the best talent to maintain the company’s high standards.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

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Tell our listeners who you are and what it’s like to work at Dell!

I’m Dell’s employment brand lead for the Americas, based out of Panama. I do have the fun task of positioning Dell as an employer of choice via social media, and I am also responsible for global innovation within my team. So any new idea to attract candidates or to raise brand awareness via social media is within my scope.

What I would say about our culture it’s that it’s really flexible. Flexibility is a key aspect of Dell’s business strategy that allows us to compete for the best talent, and in fact, it’s actually part of Dell’s Legacy of Good Plan, which actually encourages team members to enroll in flexible work programs. So for me, as a mom, it’s actually huge because not only do I get to manage when, where, and how I deliver results, but it also allows me to spend more time with my family, which is critical for me. And actually when we ask our employees what makes them stay at Dell, that is usually the top response, it’s the flexibility that Dell provides to them.

My whole team is actually working remotely, so our team is globally dispersed. We are allowed to work from home, and in other instances like right now, I’m working remotely from a café. It’s not necessarily only at home, but wherever there is Wi-Fi, you can basically work from there as long as you’re delivering results, and I think Dell is really good at that.

I think that the other thing that I would highlight is the inclusiveness, I would say that because of the big presence of our ERGs [employee resource groups], we actually have 14 ERGs around the world related to faith, ethnicity, gender, and even sustainability. ERG is an acronym that we use a lot within Dell. In Panama, we have, if I’m not mistaken, five. I’m a proud ally of the local pride chapter here in Panama. Whoop, whoop, I had to say that. And I’ve witnessed people come out because of the safe environment Dell cultivates, not only for its employees but for the LGBT community here.

We also pride ourselves being entrepreneurial. I would say there’s a strong sense of empowerment amongst team members where we’re expected to contribute our ideas in a fast pace and ever-changing environment, as you know, in tech everything moves really, really fast. Change is constant at Dell, and you have to be highly adaptable. So you’re given the freedom to take a calculated risk and make decisions in our own area expertise, which helps us to be nimble.

Dell used to be really cool in the 80’s, what’s the competition like now?

We went from a direct model to a service solutions company. I feel that with that acquisition, it has positioned us a bit sexier with our candidates. Because of that integration, we increased some, I think 110,000 employees to 140,000. One of the challenges also is the scalability. Because of that increase that we’ve experienced, we now have over 10,000 job openings, but we’re still expected to be nimble, efficient, and dynamic. I think that the acquisition definitely positioned us for the upcoming talent however, it does present that challenge of scalability of attraction not only in the U.S. but all over the world, and that’s where employment branding is critical for us.

I think employment branding does help set us apart in key markets. I think another challenge would be that the measurement of the employment branding. When we did the integration there are always conversations, “Hey, you know, what just might happen to employment branding? Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen,”. We’ve been so good and showing our stakeholders the ROI of our branding efforts that our team actually increased by another headcount because we stop the value-add employment brings to the organization, so that’s always a good thing. We didn’t cut back on headcount, we increased. So that’s great.

But what I wanted to emphasize is that sometimes in companies, they don’t find the headcount or the budget to increase the headcount in employment branding and leaders thought that because of the integration we didn’t need an additional headcount and because we were able to show that ROI of our employment branding efforts, we were able to get that additional headcount as opposed to any other organization that might have needed the headcount. A lot of companies do not find that budget sometimes they have one person running the whole global employment branding. And we’re lucky enough to have leads in each region, so that helps us to increase the visibility of our brand in key markets.

Where do you find the best people?

  1. Internal hires
  2. Referrals
  3. Direct sourcing
  4. Careers website

We definitely leverage our careers website for candidates. It definitely helps increase the visibility of our brand directly and indirectly. For example, we’re fanatical with our call to actions. We make sure that we’re consistently driving traffic to our careers website with most of our content. In addition to that, we’ve seen that campaigns such as the Heroes Among Us campaign where we highlight a veteran from Dell on a monthly basis, help spread the word that we’re hiring veterans and indicators that have shown that proof of success is the number of unique visitors we get on our military page after we post content related to veterans. We’ve seen that the careers website helps build the brand awareness and also helps increase the applied clicks to our careers website.

Tell us why it’s important to get brand ambassadors engaged with the employer brand?

  • Builds Trust with Candidates: Candidates are getting savvier and trust employees more than they do your corporate-led sites so the more you allow your brand advocates to LIVE the brand, give them a platform where they can communicate externally their day to day experience as an employee, the more insights you’re giving candidates about the company culture which ultimately helps them make a decision on whether or not they want to apply to your company.
  • Competitive Advantage: The emotional attachment and sense of pride employees feel when working for an organization is hard to replicate.  If you feel you have a strong brand, encourage employees who are truly engaged to share their day to day experience on Instagram/Twitter with a hashtag, this will help create an authentic and sustainable Brand Ambassador culture that will help bring awareness within your market while positioning your company as an employer of choice.
  • Referrals: Referrals are a valuable source of hire for Dell and the more engaged employees are with the brand, the more likely they will refer their friends and families to the company. A Talent Board research report stated that candidates no longer want to go directly to the source to discover information about the company and the job but instead, they want to hear from existing employees and peers so the more visible your Brand Ambassadors are, the more available they are to answer questions from those that might be interested to join your company.

What’s the EVP of Dell?

We actually have a tagline that says ‘You thrive, We thrive’, and that helps summarize what we promise our employees. It touches upon what I was saying before about the work cultures. We do promise our employees a diverse and inclusive work environment, a place where we provide opportunities to grow. The other is an environment where we develop our employees both personally and professionally, for instance, I just came back from a development program specifically for women. And not only did I learn some things about myself, but I got information and tips that I’ll be able to use throughout my career and I’m totally grateful for that. That is another point that they do emphasize on is developing you personally and professionally. And they do recognize employees that show an entrepreneurial spirit. They provide a collaborative environment as well as a flexible environment where our employees can pick and choose where, when, and how they work best.

How do you communicate and activate this EVP?

Like I said we have that motto that says, ‘You thrive, we thrive’. We think that Dell is just as strong as its people, and as long as we stay true to our EVP, we feel that our employees will feel valued and challenged, and as a result, we’ll put our customers and each other first. I think that’s a good slogan to help summarize the EVP. But I think most importantly is that we have our leadership buy-ins. SWe created culture-code videos and infographics and used them both internally and externally to help explain our EVP, and our leaders are really good at talking about the EVP and they make sure that their employees are aware of it and make sure that internally and externally our communications and actions are aligned with it. For example, our global content strategy is aligned to our EVP, and that’s just one example of many.

Will we see Michael Dell, speaking about the EVP?

Yeah. He would probably be talking a lot about our culture-code and what we value most as a company. You won’t hear him say, “Hey, our EVP…,” like, the key word here is culture-code, a lot of our leaders use that as a way explain to our employees what we value as a company and what we want to provide to you as our employees.

The culture-code is basically a way for us to visually show the EVP. It’s basically a term that we have to describe our EVP. It shows, you know, what kind of culture we have within Dell that we’ve cultivated within Dell through our EVP. And so in order to visually show that, we do create the videos, we do create the infographics, and we integrate culture-code. And those are the little keywords, there are no subtle words that we hope resonate with our employees, and I’ve actually seen employees talk, “How is that aligned to our culture-code?”  People are constantly trying to align what they’re doing to the culture-code. And, you know, they even ask the leaders and they hold them accountable.

How do you localize your employer brand content?

That’s something we’re really proud of in Latin America, yes. I would have to say if I can just simply it because there are so many things involved in localizing a content strategy, but I would say, identify local resources and train them on your brand guidelines and content strategy. In my case, we have interns assigned to our key markets in Latin America, and it has helped tremendously to have the interns because of the interns in Latin America, we have them for at least a year, a year and a half, unlike North America, the interns are only for three months.

We’ve leveraged the interns in Latin America. I would also say create quality content in the local language that authentically showcases the company’s EVP. The EVP, I would say, globally is the same, obviously, but there’s still, you know, certain nuances, but are involved in the local markets. We make sure that we create local content in the local language and we’ve seen that we higher engagement when we do that. I would say, also to consistently deliver content three to four times a week via geo-targeting functions by using platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to build that audience, identify local brand ambassadors to engage and amplify content, that’s key, and to our local content strategy is our brand ambassadors, and then obviously making sure you measure and consistently communicate results and lessons learned to stakeholders.

What are your top three tips for employer brand managers?

  1. I think the candidates can see through the disingenuous content, so being as authentic as possible and true to the EVP, I think is key. I feel that employment branding is all about them, it’s reflecting what they do on a daily basis, and stock photography just doesn’t do it for us.
  2. And I think that the second thing I would say is to be clear with your employment brand team, what your team objectives are, so not just to post, just to post. And making sure that they know what you’re measuring, and make sure that this is aligned with your stakeholders’ goals by constantly communicating the ROI of your branding efforts as much as you can.
  3. Then I would say lastly is focusing on audience growth instead of engagement is a big mistake because we used to do that when we first started. Focusing on creating quality content to increase your community engagement is key because this is where the tangible results come from. Everything else to me is smoke in mirrors. Initially we spent some budget on increasing our audience, and we started increasing our audience so that we were able to show our stakeholders, “Hey, we were able to grow by 50% in the first quarter,” right. And then, it started getting stale, and we started getting questioned, “Okay. So that’s great, but how does that impact the applications?” When we started getting those questions as far as, you know, how does employment branding affect the application because, at the end of the day, that’s what the stakeholders care about is how many people were you able to attract on social media? So once we started getting those questions, we started changing our approach. Really driving engagement is key for us.

How do you measure ROI on employer branding?

We measure both tangible and intangible results. We primarily measure the results of our campaigns to help meet a talent objective by calculating the number of applicants we get via social media, and we actually use the Avature CRM. We measure the reach and engagement of our campaigns, if we get a high engagement on our campaigns, we take that as a way to let us know that both employees internally and our external audience is resonating with the campaign. Then the unique visitors we drive to our pages by measuring page views and applied clicks. We do measure that. When we post pieces of content around veterans, we see the number of page views and applied clicks go up on our veterans page, but when I click the call to action to every one of our posts, like say in Latin America, we’re consistent with those call to actions, we see that we experience in an increase in page views and applied clicks, so those are three things I would say we measure. It’s the number of applicants, the written engagement, and unique visitors we drive the result of the call to actions we use in each piece of content that we create.

What’s next for Dell’s employer brand?

Like I said, using more of the local approach will become increasingly important to build the brand awareness and increase the number of applications because ultimately that’s what the stakeholders care about. We are duplicating that approach in Europe, and hopefully, we will duplicate that in India which is one of our biggest audiences in social, I think that would make sense. The other point would be the scalability with video content. Creating more in-house videos instead of hiring vendors to create the videos I would say is the future for Dell because we’ve seen the success we’ve gotten in the past year and a half, I would say two years, we’ve created homemade videos because we didn’t have the budget.

We partnered with our business leaders and our brand ambassadors and we actually taught them about our brand guidelines and when they create the videos, it totally captures the essence of the work culture. And in the result, it has gotten higher engagement than our flagship videos created by vendors. We are now replicating that approach in our other regions, and we’re basically empowering our leaders to do the same. Not only are we saving time and on a budget, but the collaboration with the local teams helps build excitement around the brand, which in turn create the high engagement. In fact, our videos have done so well and are so popular that we get approached by leaders and employees requesting to come out on the videos.

Connect with Dalhia on LinkedIn and check out Careers at Dell on Facebook.


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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