3 Tips for Your First 30 Days as an Employer Brand Professional
August 20, 2019 by Lindsey Sanford, Global Employer Brand Manager, Palo Alto Networks
When I was 16, I started my first professional career in political campaigns - of course, it was unpaid, and balanced between my..less professional “careers” of McDonalds and The Limited Too. It started an 8 year stint of political campaigns - ranging from local, to state, to federal campaigns and various degrees of participation. I helped with communications, volunteer management, passing out flyers, to managing full-scale campaigns.
To those who know me, they have probably heard me say that I traded my constituents for candidates - and have never looked back. But it’s deeper than that - I was drawn to an industry that helped people make big decisions. Life changing decisions. World-impact decisions. And when you look at it that way - employer brand and politics just aren’t that different. (Okay, okay, they are, but this is the story I tell myself).
Fast forward after working for a recruitment marketing agency for almost seven years, to a year and a half ago - where I had an offer from an organization to manage (internally, for once) an employer brand program. And you know what was potentially the hardest part about making the transition? Starting over. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life - not because I wasn’t excited about the experience, no, but because of everything I was leaving behind.
It got me to thinking about the first thirty days at Palo Alto Networks - and starting for the first time, or the 7th time, as an Employer Brand Professional. Whether your job is to execute an existing strategy, build a new one, introduce the concept of what the heck employer brand is to begin with, or subtly grow your employer brand strategies through another position, there are a few things I remember about my first thirty days that I was hoping might help someone else in their transition.
In any position related to employer brand, your job becomes easier the more integrated you are to the company. This could be true of any position in any career, but I find it especially true of our employer brand professionals. Our job hinges on our ability to understand the talent within the organization, what draws them to the organization, and how we might convert that information into material to draw future talent to the organization.
This happens in big and small ways. It can happen in something so well developed as a blog, or it can be an onsite event with a cameo appearance by a leader, but it’s our job to understand (and prioritize appropriately) the different events, and content available to us. (Hint - it’ll be a bit overwhelming).
But it means that your first thirty days will be finding people “in the know” with the calendars to boot. Hunt down communications specialists, directors, and managers to understand what content goes out, and when. Find internal and external calendars. Join Employee Networking Groups, or Employee Resource Groups. Connect with your UR team - as they tend to be fairly active in social media to begin with (and have tons of great events). Socialize with Executive Admins. But really, socialize and network with the business lines in which you are tasked with recruiting more talented professionals for.
Employer Branding is still new enough to most organizations that there are recruiters, hiring managers, communications professionals, and tech and non technical professionals that really don’t know what it is we do. There’s an opportunity there - but one that I usually wait after the first thirty days to take. But before I document and build presentation deck after presentation deck customized for the different segments above, the first thing I set out to do is simple: be really useful.
The beauty of employer brand is that our job extends into every facet of an organization - the entire employee lifecycle. That can be intimidating and high pressure (and it is!) but it’s also an immense opportunity to be useful in so many ways - and in that use, you start to become invaluable to those that you most need to network with.
I’ll give you a few examples - on campus, we have newly established Employee Networking Groups. They are building their internal logos and brands, their swag, and their event strategy (for employees and potential talent). Our employer brand team stepped in to help design stickers and logo treatment, help with banner layout and development, and manage their events with sheer manpower.
The second was creating an internal annual calendar - we had a gap in our organization that was filled by several templates of calendars in different formats, robustness, and accuracy. We consolidated, collected, and launched a new annual calendar that communicates events from University Career Fairs, Benefits Enrollment, and more. Really, anything we could get our hands on because while serving a use, we were also gathering intel.
All of this may or may not fit the bill of what you have been tasked to do, but the end result is that providing help to employees throughout the organization makes you a “go to” person for when something needs to get done. And the more you can become that person, the more well networked you can become. And the more well networked you can become, well, see #1.
The last tip for the first thirty days is to never turn down an opportunity (within reason). This advice is tempered with “don’t take on more than you can chew” because it is better to perform high quality work than to be spread too thin on several projects, but (hopefully) you will know your limitations.
This is about integrating yourself with the business, gathering information, and identifying opportunity. When our Talent Acquisition team was revamping the recruitment process in our ATS, I hopped in. When our organization was creating a new process for collecting information to help our ENG’s with onsite events, we stepped in. Because, as I mentioned earlier - Employer Brand is everywhere within your organization - and your organization is ripe with the opportunity to get involved.
Stick your nose in everything - and balance that with providing real, tangible value to those places you sniff. Sniff around recruitment metrics, sniff around recruitment process, sniff around all-hands, employee network groups, company performance, business changes. Sniff as much as you can - because it leads to endless opportunities to get integrated with your organization in an in depth way.
After many years organizing communication efforts for local, federal, and international campaigns, Lindsey gave up her constituents for candidates upon entering the recruitment marketing world. For seven years, she worked at Symphony Talent, assisting Fortune 100 companies with their recruitment marketing content marketing strategy, attracting talent to organizations by encouraging the right fit for both the company and the candidate. She now manages a Global Employer Brand Program for Palo Alto Networks, innovating new ways to reach out to candidates, leveraging regional stories, an improved candidate experience, and pushing the boundaries of how we think about the recruitment and candidate process.
In her allusive “free time” she can be found picking up new hobbies like Girl Scouts leadership, reading all the books, speaking for her cat, and asking her kids for the 100th time to pick up their toys. Follow her on Twitter @LindseySanford