Brand Blindness: When Companies Don’t Engage Customers or Employees

“I do not want to post it now because I will have over a thousand resumes before the end of the day. I normally post them as I leave for the day and deal with it tomorrow.

That was a statement one of our recruiters told me after coming out of a meeting during my tenure at Martha Stewart Living. I thought of that this week when I read the story about Yahoo now getting more than 12,000 resumes a week.

That is such an important metric about branding. I had someone contact me after I left Martha Stewart and wanted to pay me as a consultant to help her get an interview. She felt that if she got in the door, she would be able to sell herself.

I politely declined. She was so enthralled with the brand that I had to spend some time walking her back from the throes of brand blindness.

Brand perception and working within a brand are two different things. Potential candidates, however, buy a slice of the brand and assume that working someplace that is a “brand” will equate to their perception of the brand. Since my career was based in New York City, and I had a strong Rolodex, [pre-LinkedIn], I was always being approached by people who wanted intros to HR folks so they could get that interview with their favorite brand.

Clamoring to get in the door

Are they using every method available to get into your doors? Being a fan of a brand is OK, and companies should cultivate their “fan base” as much as possible. This is why I like Facebook and LinkedIn’s approach to companies, because it allows people to follow the companies that they are most interested in.

However, sometimes our companies do not put forth much effort to engage. We simply post a page on Linkedin or Facebook and then check that off the social media to-do list.

There was a time that would have worked, but no more. Some companies have become like celebrities in that they have large followings. I had an attorney friend that was adamant about posting her work to industry journals [magazines] and did not see a need to move from that channel when the company wanted content to be posted on their various social media fan pages. By the way, this was also the person that told me they did not text people because of fear of carpel tunnel syndrome.

Sometimes you get into conversations with people and you realize that it is simply hopeless, so you move on. That was one of those conversations.

The buzz behind Marissa Mayer over at Yahoo has been excellent, even given the flap over the “work from home” issue. Highly visible, quotable, and being a female CEO in technology also helps, but she took a silent brand and made it exciting. She made it “the” hot company in an industry of hot companies.

Thanks to social media, candidate evangelism and referrals have flipped the company branding/recruiting model on its head. Your potential hires are looking for information from you on social media, and through their peers and network connections, to assist in evaluating as they choose a company (and hopefully, YOUR company) while making their career decisions.

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Potential customer or hire: They’re both the same

The old model of a potential new hire waiting for you to post a position and then pouncing on it is one directional. Prospective employees (or customers) make their way through a number of different states of awareness about your brand: Initial Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Commitment, and hopefully, an Interview or a Customer interaction. So based on that model, they should all be treated the same whether  a customer or a potential new hire.

In today’s search for talent, companies must deliver a compelling and differentiated candidate experience if they are to survive and thrive. Indeed, most companies understand they need to actively engage their customers to build loyalty, deepen relationships, and gain access to insights that inspire future actions. The same should be said for your prospective employees

Companies today have doubled their efforts to engage their customers, wanting to keep the ones they have, and hopefully, bring in new ones. However, let’s look at a new model where the same type of focus you put into gaining and maintaining these new customers is the same that you use to engage not only your potential new employees, but the ones that are already in the fold.

What would you do?

Would you not respond to a customer inquiry in a reasonable amount of time? Would you not return calls if a customer called? Would you not use every cost-cutting measure possible  to deal with your customers? Would you send a customer a curt form letter to say you are not interested in them? The list goes on and on.

All these (and more) are just a sliver of the ways that we treat our employees and potential employees.

You never want your story to read, “Thousands trying to get in while thousands are trying to get out.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


2 Comments on “Brand Blindness: When Companies Don’t Engage Customers or Employees

  1. Totally relate to this. Also worked for a company with a “fun” reputation that was anything but. Huge misalignment between public perception and backstage reality. Candidates owe it to themselves to do as much due diligence as possible.

  2. That is why it is vitally important to check out corporate reputation via as well as LinkedIn profiles of Peer group etc.

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