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Why your employer brand should repel more than compel candidates—Bryan Adams, an EMBARC recap [Video]

“Your employer brand is not a broadcast of strengths.”

In case you haven’t heard: this October 20th, CareerArc will host the first virtual event in a series of EMBARC® Talent Talks. You can find out more about EMBARC 2021—including what to expect, where it’s located, and how to join—here, but in short: expect a virtual event filled with high-impact, no fluff HR recruiting, employer brand, and talent acquisition content.

And as a sample of what this type of content will look like, here’s an excerpt from Bryan Adams’—author and Ph.Creative CEO & Founder—keynote address at our previous EMBARC. He shared a counterintuitive and revolutionary approach to candidate attraction that may have you rethinking the very concept of employer branding. Watch the full speech above, or keep on reading for the highlights.

Why your employer branding needs to highlight your weaknesses

We all know that employer brand plays a huge role in recruiting. 84% of active job seekers and 89% of passive job seekers consider employer brand and reputation before applying to a job. A strong employer brand can help draw the right candidates straight to your door.

But what if it could also draw the wrong candidates to you? Because when all we do is share the things that are great about our companies—the culture, the diversity initiatives, the remote opportunities—all we do is compel candidates towards us. All candidates, equally. Even the wrong ones.

And what makes a candidate “right” or “wrong” is more than just whether or not they can do the job, or are a pleasure to work with, or are perhaps closet-pyromaniacs suspected of setting their last office on fire. A candidate can tick all the boxes you’re looking for and still be the wrong candidate if they’re not the right fit for your company.

To repel those wrong candidates, you need to embrace your “brand of difficult.”

In Bryan’s words:

“Your employee brand is not a broadcast of strengths, benefits and opportunities. It’s not advertising. It’s a clear two way value exchange of what you demand, what you expect, and what you need from somebody, including the harsh realities that they need to endure in exchange for the strengths, benefits and opportunities.”

“Your brand of difficult is what makes you different”

No company is perfect. The pay might be great, but the work-life balance might be virtually nonexistent. There might be incredible opportunities for growth, but inferior benefits.

To you, those truths might look ugly. They’re things you don’t want to talk about, because you’re scared that they’re dealbreakers. That if you told the world the whole truth about your employer brand, your candidates would run for the trees.

And they will. The wrong candidates. Because if those things are dealbreakers, they’re dealbreakers. There’s nothing you can do about that. The wrong candidate is not going to be a good fit for your brand. Use your employer branding to repel those wrong candidates.

But to the right candidate, your brand is exactly what they’re looking for.

How to position your employer brand weaknesses in a positive light

Bryan says to look to the Marines. Everyone who joins the Marines knows what they’re in for. Hell week. Baptism of fire. That’s an employer brand that repels.

But it compels, too. Because to someone looking for common purpose and a collective fight, the Marines is the place. They don’t hide their brand of difficult. They embrace it to find the right candidate.

So do the same. Maybe your pay isn’t great, but there are incredible opportunities for growth. Maybe it’s really difficult to get promoted, but you get to work for something meaningful and be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Your brand of difficult is a badge of pride

And here’s a bonus: when you embrace your brand of difficult, you don’t just repel the wrong candidates. You also show your current employees that you recognize and appreciate the choice they make to work for you.

That choice is a sacrifice. A sacrifice they willingly make, because to them, your brand is worth it. But when you don’t show that sacrifice, you’re telling your employees that you don’t notice it.

Embrace your brand of difficult. Let it repel the wrong candidates.

For the right ones, and your employees, you’re worth it.

To sum up Bryan’s thesis on employer branding:

“When you acknowledge and appreciate those harsh realities, your employees will reward you with loyalty. They’ll wear it as a badge of honor. […] if you get your employee brand and EVP lined with authenticity, and both sides of the puzzle, that one message will galvanize your internal audience, and polarize your external audience and think about it, that’s exactly what you wanted to do. Once you’ve got that, then you can dial it up. But you want to repel more people away from your organization with your employer brand then you compel towards you.”

And if you’re looking for some real world examples of how to position your brand of difficult to attract the right candidates, click here to view an excerpt from Bryan’s address where he shares exactly that.

What’s next? EMBARC 2021

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There are several ways to participate at the EMBARC HR Innovators Summit:

  • Attend. It’s completely free, so be sure to sign up soon.
  • Participate. Great content is just one component; there’s also lively discussion. You can literally pull up a virtual chair and participate in roundtable discussions, join in on speed networking with other attendees, and book 1:1 consultations to dive into your social recruiting strategy. Participate when and how you please.
  • Sponsor. We have several sponsorship programs and a-la-carte opportunities designed to help you make an impact with our audience of talent acquisition professionals. Please contact us for more details.

We can’t wait to see you at the beach!

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