The Importance Of Honesty In Employer Branding (and How I Learned It)
I once worked for a business that had a culture you’d have to see to believe.
If I had to summarise it in one word, ‘brutal’. Close runners up would be ‘unforgiving’, ‘ruthless’, and ‘cold’.
It was so bad in fact that at the point I started, the attrition rate was over 100%. You get the picture.
Importantly though, they owned it. Senior leaders made no apologies for the culture within the business, and we recruited people for its most brutal realities by being upfront about the good and bad aspects of working for the business.
Which led me to one of the most valuable things I learned there: the real value of authenticity in employer branding.
If you’re not Netflix, why pretend to be?
It’d be great if the world was chock-full of companies with cultures like those of firms like Google and Netflix, but that’s just not realistic. What’s most important is that your employer branding is true to your business.
That means not just being honest about the good stuff, but the negatives too. Whether that’s work-life balance being an area for improvement in your start-up’s small team, or a sales leader’s unforgiving approach to KPIs.
Whatever it is, being open about it won’t just help identify people who’re better suited to that environment but, more importantly, it’ll empower candidates to make an informed decision and either opt themselves in or out based on the information they have.
“But I’m trying to attract people to work for my business, not put them off”
If you’re thinking something along those lines, I do understand. The idea of putting your weaknesses out there when trying to appeal to people seems counterproductive.
I’d argue though that by being open with the realities of working for your business, both good and bad, you’re not risking losing candidates who would’ve wanted to work for you. You’re simply allowing those people to opt themselves out earlier on in the process.
By doing that, you’re not just saving their time and your own. You’re also ensuring that candidates who opt-in are bought into the idea of working for you and would join your team with realistic expectations of what it’ll actually be like.
That’s what your employer brand should be
I feel like there’s a fundamental misunderstanding with employer branding that it should just reflect all of the good things about your business as an employer. Taking that approach is great if all you’re looking to do is attract as many people as possible.
If, on the other hand, you want to find the right people, you should consider giving them a true account of your culture, vision, values, and what you can offer as an employer, and let people make their own decisions.
Think of it as quality vs quantity. I know which I’d rather have.