Talking Employer Branding with Lars Schmidt, Employer Brand Strategist at Hootsuite

In preparation for HR Tech World 2015, we spoke to Lars Schmidt, Employer Brand Strategist at Hootsuite, about the importance of employer branding and how the discipline is changing the recruitment market.

Meet Lars Schmidt @HRTECHWORLD in Paris on the 27th/28th of October. Get your 2FOR1 ticket now. Use code: "2FOR1MP".

HRMS World: Can you give us the lowdown on what it means to be an Employer Brand Strategist?

LS: An Employer Brand Strategist is typically someone who will work with an organization to help them find new ways to develop and convey their employer brand. The specific responsibilities can vary broadly depending on what stage of Employer Brand adoption the company is in, so the actual work ranges from building a case for Employer Branding (inception stage) to finding new emerging platforms to share employee stories, and everywhere in between.

HRMS World: For the less enlightened among us, could you explain how employer branding is contributing to the evolution of recruitment and HR as a whole?

LS: The field of Employer Branding has really evolved over the past several years. The conversation has shifted from “why” to “how”, and that means most corporate recruiting teams are now expanding their skill sets and capabilities in order to help their organizations develop a compelling and authentic employer brand narrative. This shift is connecting HR more closely to other areas of the business, particularly Marketing and Communications.

HRMS World: How have applications like Glassdoor changed the landscape for employer branding?

LS: Platforms like Glassdoor, and really the ubiquity of social media as a whole, have given applicants a voice like never before. If your candidate experience is poor, or your recruiting team is misrepresenting the organization, people will know – and it will make your recruiting much more difficult.

You need to be proactive about optimizing candidate touch points and ensuring all members of the hiring team are treating candidates professionally.

You can’t hide any more. Particularly with candidate experience, sites like Glassdoor make it very important for recruiting organizations to continually assess and optimize their application process. You need to be proactive about optimizing candidate touch points and ensuring all members of the hiring team are treating candidates professionally. You also need to make sure how you position your Employer Brand is aligned with the realities of working for your company. Glassdoor makes it easy to poke holes in an inauthentic employer brand veneer that’s not real.

HRMS World: In this changing landscape, what is the number one mistake you see employers making when developing an employer brand?

LS: The biggest mistake I see is companies trying to present a culture that’s disconnected with the reality of working at the organization. They’re selling a promise, but it’s not authentic and employees (and eventually prospects) will see that. It may help you get people in the door, but you won’t retain talent if you’re not presenting a genuine view of the employee experience.

HRMS World: In a recent post on LinkedIn, you discuss the rapid development of recruiting and the challenges this presents to HR. What advice do you give to employers HR professionals who are struggling to keep up?

HR is hard. The demands on most HR Leaders are both broad and deep, which makes it difficult to keep pace with the changes happening all around them. It’s increasingly important for HR practitioners to prioritize their own education, and really work that into their weekly flow. Try to step outside your functional area to better understand the full employee lifecycle and business.

It’s increasingly important for HR practitioners to prioritize their own education

The good news is there is no shortage of resources for recruiters to do this. There are lots of ways HR practitioners can keep learning - attend conferences, setup RSS feeds to key blogs and resources, create Twitter lists of people doing innovative work in the recruiting space, and network with your peers.

HRMS World: In this post you also discuss the idea of “killing your unicorns”, as brutal as that may sound, you were in fact referring to the hyperbole that accompanies recruitment trends and the importance of scepticism when it comes to these “unicorn statements”. How do you go about assessing the credibility of these HR trends and the potential impact they may have on your clients and the discipline as a whole?

LS: We’re all at different stages of adoption in the evolution of recruiting. Sure, some companies are already embracing algorithmic hiring, even more companies have no strategy to mine and engage their own ATS applicant pools. It’s important we continue pushing for innovation in recruiting, but we also have to be realistic about where the majority of our peers are today and work to narrow that gap.

HRMS World: With that advice in mind, what area of recruitment strategy do you think is seeing the most genuine and influential development of ideas and technology?

LS: I think we’re starting to see some interesting evolution in the ATS space, with companies like Greenhouse and Lever gaining market share. These new platforms have modern UI and navigation that provide a much better user experience, and is a welcome departure from most legacy Enterprise ATS platforms that feel like a time capsule when you interact with them.

We’re also starting to see a long overdue shift on how some companies are approaching job descriptions. We have a long way to go there, but tools like Canva and Piktochart are democratizing design and allowing recruiters to build more visual-rich representations of jobs.

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Tom Feltham

About the author…

Tom Feltham is the Editor and Content Guru at HRMS World. In between updating our HRMS software guides and managing our expert contributors, Tom keeps tabs on the HR technology market and occasionally puts his thoughts on paper.

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Tom Feltham