Candidate Experience Employee Storytelling

Expert Q&A: How to Capture Remote Employee Stories

Profile photo of Natasha Makovora
Written by Natasha Makovora

To attract talent now, we need to tell different, more authentic employee stories that are organically created and less heavily produced. Learn more about executing on this new content approach from talent acquisition leaders at Alation and experts at The Muse.

Expert Q&A: How to Capture Remote Employee Stories
5 (100%) 1 vote

2020 has completely disrupted the way we attract, retain and engage talent. Plus with more and more organizations extending their remote work measures into 2021, or choosing to operate as a digital-first company, these changes are likely to stay. This shift has major implications for our Recruitment Marketing strategies and how we capture content like employee stories. To effectively attract talent in this new reality, we need to tell different, more authentic employee stories that are organically created and less heavily produced.

To learn more about how to execute on this new content approach, we chatted with talent acquisition leaders at Alation and experts at The Muse. Alation, a company in the data analytics space, partnered with The Muse to update and capture new employer brand stories through an organic video strategy. Here are their tips, based on our conversation:

Meet the experts

Katy McClellan, Executive Producer, The Muse

Katy McClellan

Katy is an Executive Producer at The Muse, a go-to destination for the next gen workforce to research companies and careers. The Muse attracts more than 75 million visitors per year looking for insights on how to “win at work,” through professional advancement and skill-building materials, alongside job hunt information. Employers can use The Muse as a platform to attract and hire talent by providing an authentic look into their company culture, workplace and values through employee storytelling.

Joy Suttles Wolken, VP, People & Culture, Alation

Joy Suttles Wolken

Joy runs the People & Culture team at Alation, where she focuses on employee experience programs and learning and development opportunities. Joy also partners with the executive team on expansion strategies, performance management approaches and employee relations for the entire company around the globe.

Ed Avila, Director, Talent Acquisition, Alation

Ed Avila

As Director of Talent Acquisition at Alation, Edward oversees all hiring activities for Alation — from intern to executive level roles. Edward and his team also manage all employer brand initiatives, and drives diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts for the company.

Lori: Thanks everyone for joining me! I first want to ask, what type of Recruitment Marketing content is working for employers right now?

Katy: Authentic content. I know we’re hearing this word a lot lately, but candidates don’t want to feel like they’re being sold something or that it’s a PR ploy — they want to know if they will genuinely fit in with your company culture. Since many of us are now working from home, candidates want to get an authentic look at what people’s home setups are and they don’t want to see anything that’s overly produced.

Some organizations have cut back on the amount of employee stories and company culture content they are putting out, but I actually argue that you can’t go quiet now — it adds to the sense of uncertainty. People want to know how your company is growing, innovating and supporting your employees. You have to be willing to tell candidates what you’re doing under these circumstances and be open about what your challenges are.

Trends in EB Storytelling

These are current trends in employer brand storytelling post-pandemic.


Rally: What employee storytelling themes matter now?

Katy: We did a survey in September about what people want to see right now when it comes to remote video content. And the storytelling themes that emerged are actually not so different from what we were producing before. Respondents indicated they want to see the following:

  • Recruitment content — for example, if you’re hiring for a marketing role, they want to see what it’s like to work on the marketing team
  • Career development opportunities — people still want to know that even during the pandemic they can grow
  • Your existing and new benefits — are you offering extended sick days or increased wellness benefits?
  • Virtual employee experience content — how are you keeping your company’s culture alive while remote?
  • Your remote hiring process — what can candidates expect and how will they connect with your team during this time?
  • Diversity and inclusion — how has your company reacted to the increased call for more diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?
  • How your company has pivoted — candidates are increasingly seeking out security and stability in their next career; they want to know how your company is positioned to continue to survive despite the current economic downturn

Our customer data is also showing that candidates really want to see remote video content right now. It’s a great way to package up your employee stories, so don’t shy away from it!

Rally: We’ve been getting a lot of questions about DEI content. One thing a lot of practitioners want to know is how do they pick which employees to showcase when they may not have the most diverse workplace today?

Katy: Like I said previously, it’s about honesty and authenticity. So tell people your true intentions! If you’re just starting on your DEI journey, it’s okay to tell people that and share what your goals are. Candidates are very forgiving, but they won’t be if you lie about diversity or your efforts.

Rally: That’s a great way to think about it. Honesty and authenticity will always win out. So now that we’ve talked about what stories are working, and what candidates are looking for, I want to turn it over to the Alation team. How did you put together your employee story strategy this year?

Ed: First, we looked at the strategic plans for the organization to understand hiring needs and determine which teams have plans to expand and grow fastest. Then, we aimed to identify people on those teams to spotlight. These are people who have been at the organization for awhile and are really engaged and in some cases have acted as informal ambassadors before.

A lot of the employees we selected are usually a part of our hiring process, so they already know how to “sell” the company — they understand our employee value proposition. But when we initially reached out to the teams, we still made it clear what the purpose of the videos were and the overall expectations.

Next, we identified questions we thought candidates would typically ask or what they would be interested in learning about working at Alation. We partnered with The Muse on this, and they have an excellent list of questions that they already know work and elicit compelling responses from employees.

Rally: That’s actually a great segue into my next question — what are the best types of questions to ask to capture great employee stories?

Getting the Employer Brand Story

Using open-ended questions and technology that your employees are familiar with will help you capture great stories.

Katy: You want to ask questions that are open ended and can get the most thoughtful responses out of people. Think about what questions would get the widest variety of answers. For example “what do the company values mean to you?” will get a number of different responses, because it’s personal for each person.

Rally: That makes complete sense. And what about when the stories are focused on telling leadership stories. Can you tell me how your approach differed here?

Joy: Absolutely! We really want to create an “aha” moment for candidates — we want them to visit our website and have clarity before they hit “apply.” We want them to hear directly from our team so they can decide “yes this is the right place for me” or “no this doesn’t seem like a great fit.” Either way, we want them to understand what our company is all about.

We determined that leadership stories are a great opportunity to weave our values into our Recruitment Marketing content. Our co-founders have so much passion for what we do at Alation, and it really shines through when they talk about the company journey and vision. So this is the angle we focus on when spotlighting our leadership team vs. other employees!

Capturing Leadership Stories

Capturing leadership stories can provide an important perspective on how a company is responding to global issues and the future of the company that employees may not be able to offer insight into.

Rally: That’s great! Usually candidates find employees more credible, but I think with everything going on right now, candidates are really looking to an organization’s leadership to see how they’re responding.

To wrap this up, what are your top tips for the Rally Recruitment Marketing community as they shift to creating remote employee stories?

Katy: Let me share a few insights here!

  1. If you have to execute on a lot of videos, the quickest way is to get a set of questions and ask them to everybody.
  2. For the best engagement, your videos should be 1-1.5 minutes — the shorter the better if you’re sharing across platforms, but generally under 3 minutes.
  3. Prepare how-to guidelines and best practices for your employees, like how to set up their video shot or what talking points to think about.
  4. Add music where possible. With remote video there’s very little we can control with regards to the production value. Music is very powerful and can completely change the tone of the video.
  5. Keep your content fresh by filming more than you need! You can always edit down what you need now, and then you’ll also have back-up content to use in different ways later.

Rally: Thank you so much everyone for the insights that you’ve brought to the Rally community today around capturing remote employee stories!

To learn more about how employer branding storytelling has changed and to identify new strategies you can use to capture remote stories, watch our on-demand webinar The Future of Employer Brand Storytelling.

Expert Q&A: How to Capture Remote Employee Stories
5 (100%) 1 vote

About the Author

Profile photo of Natasha Makovora

Natasha Makovora

Natasha Makovora is a Rally Content Contributor and Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing Specialist at The Employer Brand Shop.

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