The Employer Brand of Global Telecoms Giant Ericsson

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Lisa Smith-Strother is Sr. Director, Global Employer Brand, Recruitment Marketing, and Diversity TA Head at global telecoms giant Ericsson.

The company is 140 years old and guess what? They’re struggling to stay cool and attractive to millennial tech talent – you may have heard of this challenge before. Have a listen to learn how they work to overcome it.

And be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Who are you and what you do?

I’m the senior director and global head of employer branding and diversity branding at Ericsson. I have the pleasure of setting Ericsson’s global employer brand and recruitment marketing strategy, and driving Ericsson’s strategy across their numerous social and digital careers channels, leading a team that is passionate about marketing, diversity and employer brand.

Ericsson is a global ICT company, with its headquarters in Kista, Sweden. We specialize in networks, cloud, and the internet of things, as well as software.  We operate in over 180 countries, with over 110,000 employees, and we have over two and a half billion subscribers. 40% of the mobile traffic runs on our networks, and we built networks deep in the Amazon, as well as mega cities.

How would you describe the corporate culture of Ericsson?

Our culture is highly collaborative, innovative, and creative. We are also global because it gives you the opportunity to work with colleagues across the globe. It also has great depth and impact because of our nature that supports an entrepreneurial spirit. We value diversity, and have made a commitment that by 2020, 30% of our employees will be women.

What is your employer brand challenge?

As a global ICT company, we’re seeking software engineers, integration engineers, software developers, and solution architects. Ericsson is over 140 years old and often it’s hard to overcome that, I’ll refer to it as stigma, as being a bit old and stodgy and not that flexible and adaptable. It makes it quite difficult at times to attract and recruit millennials and fresh grads. So it’s about how you can adapt your message, how you can continue to position yourself as a company that is incredibly adaptive and innovative and creative so that millennials are really excited to join us. Because we are a cool company, it’s just a matter of trying to convey that when you have a lot of newer companies around, whether they’re big companies or startups that have a certain persona.

How do you address these challenges?

We segment our employer brand messages by talent target, our way of working, the vast projects that we’re working on, as well as the cultural messages, all that would appeal to a vast array of individuals. In addition to that, we make sure that our employees serve as our brand voice. It’s really important to us to showcase our employees, particularly those employees that are in those roles that are key to our strategic direction, but also so that prospective employees or candidates can get that view behind the curtain to reflect what it is like to work at Ericsson or what I often refer to as the softer side.

Our brand promise is that you’ll have the opportunity to quickly contribute to the depth and breadth of our impact, being a global company, but also to be able to work in a very collaborative environment. We try to showcase projects, our culture to the various segments, and adjust our message accordingly based on that audience.

Where do candidates find your messaging?

They would find it on our career site, our anchor of all of our messaging. Our product referred to it as the source of truth because that’s your platform where you can control your message and truly make an effort to protect your brand. We actually have pages to correspond with different work areas or categories, and within that, we have individuals who are speaking about their role and what they do day-to-day, which helps a great deal with revealing that level of information.

In addition to that, you’ll see across social media that we feature our employees in spotlights with testimonials. We also have Instagram takeovers which allows employees in various roles to provide that view of what they’re doing throughout the day, not just what they’re doing at work but also what they’re doing when they wake up in the morning. If they’re going to the gym and, of course, when they’re at work, who they’re working with, what types of projects they’re working on. And then after work, if they’re doing volunteering work or whatever that is so people can see the personal side as well. In addition to that, we do Facebook live sessions, which gives a much more virtual and visual view of what the experience is.

We have a careers blog. So we’re really keen on ensuring that we allow employees that are in those critical roles that are difficult to fill, have numerous platforms to showcase what they do and why Ericsson is a great place to work.

What have been the hard lessons that you’ve learned with employer brand?

Recognizing that Ericsson is a legacy brand and that we’ve been around for a long time – it’s sometimes a challenge to engage and attract millennials. That has been a struggle to identify the right message to convey from an employer brand perspective.

Also some of the particular campaigns that we’ve done. We did a campaign on Twitter to certain TV audiences. We looked at certain TV shows that showcased individuals who were engaging in science, technology and PC-oriented roles. We disrupted the Twitter feed of those TV shows to talk about Ericsson and we talked about individuals and characters in the shows. It performed well, but I think we learned a bit about how we could be doing that differently, relating to the timing, and some of the messaging. We learned that we needed to be more relevant in the types of posts that we were doing for those audiences. Other things that we’ve learned is what channels are most appropriate for your audience, whereas Instagram takeover might work well for other audiences, and within certain geographies, Facebook live will work better in other regions. We did our first Facebook live for karaoke and it was the top performing Facebook live that we’ve ever done. So these are things that we’re learning, the nuances that allow us to really capitalize on people’s sentiment.

What’s your advice to fellow employer brand practitioners?

First and foremost, it’s really important and critical to be flexible and adaptable. Technology is changing so quickly. Even if you look at the internet and the information communication technology field, it’s moving at a rapid pace. Regarding the recruitment marketing, social media is important, but I think you need to be a lot more precise now. Facebook gives you great opportunities to be selective with their audience customization, but programmatic marketing allows you to be significantly more precise in targeting. So programmatic marketing isn’t just for consumers, it’s for recruitment marketing too. My background is more marketing than HR, so I’m a firm believer in that.

I would say you need to have a good handle on your CRM (candidate relationship database). You want to keep your candidates warm, and to regularly engage with them, whether it’s emails on a monthly basis, or a newsletter on a quarterly basis, where it’s not always about jobs. People are more interested in the value-add. Oftentimes we post about how you can improve your health, personal brand, or any type of self-help. If it’s third party, it may not have anything to do with Ericsson, those things are proved to be exceptionally valuable and get quite a few clicks and engagement. I think that it’s important for you to have your pulse on that and to be the deliverer of that news. In addition to that, you need to make sure that you’re integrating all of your systems and certainly master your analytics. There are a number of tools out there now, and you want to make sure that you’re fully utilizing them. I don’t need to mention all of the buzz that Google is generating now with their job search page. So you want to stay on top of that and how you can improve your searching ability.

Then you want to look at AI, chatbots, or augmented reality. Integrating your apps so that when people are coming into your office, you’re basically greeting them and setting them up for an interview where hopefully they can be better prepared.

Connect with Lisa at @lisasmithstroth.


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