When they develop their “employment brand,” many organizations devote most of their attention to messaging. Content and images on a company’s careers website are focused on communicating values. This extends from tag line pitches like Amazon’s “Come build the future with us” to explanations of a management credo. Ford Motor Company, for example, lets users know that “we strive to put people first and create a culture that’s focused on doing the right thing.”

Whether you want to “Work Where You Love to Shop” at Macy’s or intend to “bring your best self” to a career at DuPont, the first outreach in the employment pipeline is often engaging and polished. Job candidates, after all, are a type of customer, so this approach comes as no surprise.

What Awaits After the “Apply Now” Click

The problem? Once you get past that Careers home page, the candidate experience reverts to a look and feel that is virtually the same for company after company. Moreover, it hasn’t evolved much for a decade or more. Users often go through a predictable sequence of actions: search a database, create an account on a standard ATS platform, enter one’s unique resume data. Then wait. Updates are limited or absent altogether. Relatedly, customized feedback is rarely offered, and rejected applicants therefore have no takeaways from the experience.

The employment brand, promoted in front of the passive talent pool, effectively starts and stops at the pre-application phase. Once one clicks an “Apply Now” button, the ideals used to attract candidates like innovation, diversity, and excellence are no longer reflected in their experience. 

Communication Never Stops

Business leaders must reflect on what is being transmitted “between the lines.” In other words, what values, priorities, and corporate culture are your hiring practices communicating to recipients, even in the absence of overt messaging about any of the above? The candidate experience you provide talks to your talent pool and beyond, from start to finish. If you carefully cultivate your brand in recruitment but don’t carry that through the candidate and employee experience, you’re leaving that brand more than half exposed and therefore vulnerable.

Putting Values into Practice

Let’s take a look at how an organization can extend its employment brand from the first to the last points of the hiring process. The key is to both talk the talk and walk the walk, or as students are sometimes encouraged: show, don’t tell. Today’s candidate experience should be an illustration of organizational culture put into practice. For example, a company that professes to value employee input can demonstrate this by offering an application platform in which progress is candidate-driven. An applicant can answer screening questions, schedule their own interviews, and complete assessments on their time frame. Those desiring a deeper dive into the organization can access content to educate themselves about the open position, learn about other job roles, and investigate products and services. Giving candidates control means that the corporate culture of empowering employees begins pre-hire. By not waiting until the first day on the job to communicate and act upon values, a company’s ability to hire for culture fit is enhanced and onboarding can be fortified with a “running start.”  

“Diversity” with More Meaning

Here’s another example. Company career websites often mention a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Some cite this in brief, while others provide extensive multimedia content about diversity practices. But how can that same organization bring that commitment to diversity to the candidate experience beyond words and images? One answer is with tools that encourage the candidate to learn more about themselves, including insights into how they think, their best environments for learning and working, their strengths, and areas where growth and change are needed.

This communicates an important ethic that diversity extends beyond demographic categories and encompasses different personalities and ways of being. Moreover, this facilitates the “inclusion” side of “diversity and inclusion,” to ensure that co-workers are compatible, that there’s a good match between task, setting, and the individual, and that all individuals, regardless of their personality composition, are given the opportunity to thrive.

Breathing New Life into Old Methods

The hiring process has for too long relied on an analog, twentieth-century approach: resumes and one-size-fits-all interviews. Instead, hiring managers can now lead with approaches that put the individual candidate at the center. Throughout this transformation, quick methods of data capture will be vital, to enable increasing customization -- whether one is adding personality insights, performance samples, accommodations to access a neurodiverse talent pool, or other ways of developing a holistic understanding of an applicant. As companies incorporate this functionality, they integrate people management with corporate values in ways that are not only meaningful and lasting, they are integrated across the employment lifecycle from passive prospect to upper-level management. Overall, an organization’s value pillars should extend past words on a website; they must be fundamental to the employee experience from beginning to end.


Dan Sines, CEO of Traitify is a Star Wars & Superhero Fan, adventurer, aspiring Renaissance Man, and Inventor/Visionary. Dan’s background is in the creative side of the industry and brings his love of design and innovation to working with customers to integrate personality into their applications. In his free time, Dan can be found in the dojo where he is a black belt and practitioner of Ninjutsu and Gojuryu, as well as a self-proclaimed geek and lover of sci-fi and super heroes. 

Catch Dan at Talent Acquisition Week this January 29th in San Francisco, where he'll be sharing how to Get More Out of Your Diversity Strategy.