Employer Branding

How Fortune 500 Employers Attract the Best Talent

The good folks at WilsonHCG have recently released their 2017 report looking at the world’s greatest employment brands. We had a chat with John Wilson to find out more.

Have a listen to our chat below, keep reading for a summary and don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

What are some of the top findings for this year’s report?

We found that for a 3rd year in a row we had three companies that just have consistently done a fantastic job, we’ve had their report evolve a little bit as times have changed and drivers have changed, companies like General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs have remained at the top of the list. We’ve seen a change from our team with the increased transparency companies are having about what it’s like to work in the organization. We look at the top 10-15 companies and we start seeing these absolute consistent behaviours within many of these companies. It’s not all the tech brands that everybody thinks, “Oh, I’m sure Google is number one and Facebook is number two.” It isn’t the case. There’s a lot of these 100-year-old companies like the General Electric or P&G that’s mixed in with your tech company like a Salesforce and Cisco.

What is going on with job boards?

Job boards are still a very typical source for people to learn about companies and to understand what is out there within an organization. We are seeing job boards become less of a point total when we calculate the entire score than we have had in the past. Many of the organizations that I’ve mentioned are doing a very good job, and what is unique that any company can do is when you’re posting a job for a position, the description of an organization is very different if you are working as a software engineer versus working as an executive assistant or a sales person. The experience you feel inside that organization is different, and therefore when describing the company, some of the companies that do the best jobs are the ones that are having descriptions that are indicative of the world and the experience somebody will actually have.

What trends are you seeing around career sites?

The career sites have been the piece where we’ve seen the most growth, where companies are now back to that individualized voice. For a position, many companies are making videos, what a day in a life is, or even videos of the manager who you’ll be reporting to. Those just give a candidate a different experience. Second is, we’re seeing quite a bit more of constant communication with candidates. That feeling that every candidate has felt at some point where they’re lost in some cloud and no one’s ever gonna see their resume, but having the ability to communicate right on career sites with a recruiter or with someone who can give you answers is something that we’ve seen organizations do. We’ve seen some of the health care companies do a fantastic job with that communication.

What about company accolades?

Companies don’t brag enough about them from an employment brand standpoint. They do when they’re trying to sell you their service, but they don’t necessarily have what it’s like to work there or what they’ve done in the community or from a charitable standpoint, or as it relates to diversity and inclusion. The companies that have scored really well there for us were Goldman Sachs, GE, AT&T, Target, Salesforce.

One of the most impactful in employment branding pieces I’ve ever seen was nine years ago was when I picked up a New York Times, and Goldman Sachs had taken a two-page ad, and they had people from all different parts of the world, all different walks of life, background, ages, ethnicities, and told a quick four-sentence story about each one of them in the middle of a New York Times. You could see how important diversity and inclusion was to them, and it was impactful to me until this day.

What can you see happening in recruitment marketing?

Some of the companies that made our lists were probably some of the best consumer marketers. Johnson & Johnson and Visa and General Motors, AT&T are very good consumer marketers that have really understood how to translate that from a candidate perspective. That’s the thing with Twitter and Facebook, how they’re watched, and really how they’re trying to position the opportunity in the organization by telling different stories to different folks.

What’s going on with candidate experience?

I sometimes ask senior executives that don’t understand the importance of candidate experience “Would you be in this boardroom today if the first company you applied for and interviewed with kept talking to you even though you didn’t get the job?” It spurs a lot of thoughts because especially when you are a large consumer brand having, a good candidate experience is critical because it really truly affects your bottom line. You have to continue the conversation with the people that are your potential clients for your consumer brand, and also the ones that are your future employees who maybe aren’t the right person for today, but they could be right person in a year or two. And if that person has a bad candidate experience, they are not going to let themselves be the right person for a role at your organization if it hasn’t been a good experience.

How do you score the companies and award the winners?

There’s a really robust research team that spends all year going through this and looking at the different categories to validate not only what our categories are, but the validation of how an organization is performing. It evolves. We get quite a few downloads of the report, and then we have companies that have been listed, or the ones that are wondering why they’re not. The communication that goes back and forth really starts to enhance what is important to the companies that are out there positioning their brand, and then having to talk with candidates, hiring managers in the overall market to make sure that we have the right criteria for the following year.

And the overall winner was…. For the first year, we had a tie which was between Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

Mass Mutual had a significant jump in rankings. We’ve seen 3M do very well, Salesforce jumped pretty high this year. Striker have just done a great job of committing and seeing their brands move. Also, Delta Air Lines have done very well and McKesson, Oracle. I was looking at Cisco’s employment brand, and I was really impressed with what I saw on their site.

What’s best practice across top employers?

The authenticity through the employee’s voice, their marketing, and through reviews. They’re not hiding the things that aren’t great. They’re saying this is our challenge and this is how we’re getting over them. A couple of years ago I met a head of talent and he said, “I don’t understand why we’re placed in so badly,” and they weren’t. They were 40 or 45. It really was that there wasn’t enough voice of the employee, it felt like marketing drove it, versus truly what the company is. They’ve made a huge leap, and a lot of it was that there was authenticity from their workforce.

What do you think we’ll see in the 2018 report?

There’s going to be more focus on regional rather than global. We see companies like GE, and their technology is very innovative and reminds you of a tech company versus the manufacturing side. So we’re seeing role specific and region specific branding that is giving the most success for organizations, but it does continue to evolve. I think we will start seeing more from a freelancer gig employment brand. Uber is a good example of how they’ve really branded to the freelancer and gig community.

Follow John on Twitter @wilsonceo, and remember to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.