While not all teams may be in growth mode at the moment, given the current public health crisis and economic uncertainty, there are sunnier days ahead. As such, investing in an employer brand (EB) function to nurture candidates and drive brand awareness could be a strong value add now more than ever before.
In addition to that, some of you may be on teams that are urgently recruiting for frontline and essential workers. If that’s the case for you, your team might be thinking about making your first EB hire or expanding your EB team ASAP.
At the end of the day though, whether you fall in either of these camps, I hope my experience of building out an EB team from the ground up at Appian is helpful to hear about.
Growing a team from the ground up
Building a brand-new function, especially one that is still seemingly novel in the Talent Acquisition world, at first was a little overwhelming (in the best way possible). Employer brand teams can look different in every organization. I’ve heard of teams of 20+ people made up of multiple recruitment marketers, graphic designers, videographers, and copywriters globally.
And then there was me, a team of one, on a mission to expand.
What role is most critical to add first? What about second? Is recruiting experience essential?
These were some of the questions running through my mind. Thankfully, there were (and are) supportive leaders who are paving the way for EB practitioners, such as Bryan Chaney, who quickly shared guidance with me upon my reach out.
After some diligent research, and thoughtful consideration of what was needed to set us up for immediate and long-term success, I was ready to bring on board a Recruitment Marketing Strategist and an Employer Brand Content Specialist. Here’s how I did it:
1. Map out the current workload
From what I’ve found, being a jack of all trades tends to be a commonality amongst EB and Recruitment Marketing professionals. “I wear a lot of hats,” is what I’ve both said and heard in group settings around others in the space. Thus, be meticulous when mapping out all of the projects you’re working on.
I suggest you track any and all of the things you touch throughout the workday for a week or two. You’d be surprised at how quickly those tasks (both planned and unexpected) will tally up. Did that Instagram story really take all day?! Yes, yes it did! Write that down and all of the minutes prior that it took you to design each individual slide.
Doing this will help paint a comprehensive picture of the tasks that may be getting the most attention (areas that come easy or don’t require as much) and the areas that may be needing some more TLC (areas that don’t come as easy or require more steps).
2. Identify gaps and areas for strategic growth
While the days of teaching myself Adobe Premiere and trying to learn the intricacies of Google Analytics were entertaining, I was quick to acknowledge that I am by no means a videographer, graphic designer or analytics expert. I needed specialized talent to join the team to make big waves. Here’s what was decided after the first exercise of mapping out the current workload.
Recruitment Marketing Strategist: Having been in this role prior, I knew right away that I wanted someone to join that would raise the bar 10 feet higher (if not more) than where it was set. I was seeking an experienced marketer; someone who was passionate about branding and storytelling and who would bring a refreshing view on the power of analytics that had been lacking.
Employer Brand Content Specialist: In the initial mapping, this second role was ideated as a Social Media Specialist. At the time, our content was created by our internal Creative Department, until one quarter they got exceedingly busy and were unable to aid with any employer brand content for several months.
This was the moment when I realized the importance of having a true creative on the team. Managing our social channels was something that could be taught, but creative aptitude in videography and graphic design? Totally out of my ballpark. Thus, the role morphed into a Content Specialist that would also be responsible for managing our social channels (e.g., Instagram, YouTube, Facebook) that they’re building content for.
This was it! This would be our “EB Squad” – as we now call ourselves. And now my squad can up the bar and produce visual content like the below without having to rely on help from Creative Marketing:
You can also read more about building an employer branding strategy and why you need one here.
3. Present the value
Now that you’ve mapped out the initiatives you’ve been focused on, and the additional support that would be needed to drive greater impact, it’s time to pull in some data. When you sit down with your internal stakeholders to justify the expansion of your function, you need to come prepared to tell a compelling story about the value those initiatives brought to the business and how those values will increase with the additional support you’ve identified.
If you’re looking for a great place to start, Chris Fitzner on my team shared a free template of the KPI dashboard he uses to track Recruitment Marketing efforts for us. Pull your own data and plug it into the template and use this as the starting point for your expansion conversations with leadership!
At the end of the day, building a team from scratch – and particularly making the pitch for new team members – can be pretty scary. But if you do your homework and arm yourself with the insights you need to drive the conversation, then your job will be a whole lot easier.
I hope my perspective on how I built out the team at Appian is helpful to hear about. If you’re thinking about expansion yourself, and have any questions after reading this, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I look forward to hearing from you!