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Creating advocates. 🔬 EBH#162: Time and Time Again
Can you really create advocacy, or are we looking at the problem the wrong way?
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The Big Idea
If it hasn’t happened already, you’re going to be in a meeting where someone asks you about your plans to create advocacy.
Your instinct in that moment might be to spring into action.
Instead of sketching out plans to encourage people to rate the company or write testimonials or even ask them to record their own videos, think about what you’re trying to achieve.
When someone asks you to ‘create advocates,’ they are looking for a measurable outcome, something they can point to and say, “yes, we’ve done something good, next.” It’s like someone trying to help the environment by creating an electric car, but one that is so big that it actually is worse for the environment than many gas cars: Someone checked the box called, “electric car,” but completely missed the underlying purpose.
I’ll cut to the chase: you can’t create advocates, because that’s not what advocates are.
Advocates are not corporate mouthpieces with extra credibility.
Advocates are not shills to promote an agenda.
Advocates are not tasks to be completed.
Trying to repackage the concept of advocacy into easy-to-manufacture outcomes seems like a quick fix, but it doesn’t bring real results.
You cannot create advocates. Advocates must enroll themselves.
Enrollment is a magical word because it is something people choose to do. It is not something you can do to someone. They have to want to be advocates, and you can provide the conduit.
I don’t want to get into the weeds on why I think the term “talent strategy” is effectively a complete misnomer. I’ve never actually seen a talent strategy that met the most basic qualifications of a strategy.
But if we’re going to talk about talent strategy, one of the most important aspects of strategy is that it is designed for tomorrow, not today.
Well, too much of our thinking is based on how things are today. I mean, how many of your companies fired huge swaths of recruiters at the beginning of the pandemic only to be forced to hire new ones at a 20% premium a few months? Did they assume they were done with hiring forever?
Look at your ATS. How often do you ask for a fax number? Or a “home phone?” How many of your headcount plans take into account that in many countries, population is declining? If you were honest with yourself, wouldn’t you agree that your entire recruiting tech stack is based on attracting as many applications as possible without much thought given to who you actually want to hire?
We’re in a world where ads don’t work but influencers do, but most companies have a recruitment marketing function and not a talent influencer/advocacy function (and most don’t even have advocacy rules).
Your talent is going to BE your productivity, so what makes for a productive employee? Great, but why isn’t your answer to that question on your career site as a Header 2?
The contract between employer and employee is changing, something that is FRONT AND CENTER in your candidates’ mind, but are you talking about it?
If you want to get serious about strategy, you better start to take the obvious trends serious. Here’s a great starting point: Re-Thinking Strategy.
Quick Programming Note
I’m teaming up with Clinch for an 8-part webinar series, where I talk to employer brand and talent acquisition pros about what’s new in tech hiring. The first one is next week with Equinix’s Jessica Rose. Register here!
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-James Ellis (LinkedIn)
Where the subject line came from:
The Smithereens - Time and Time Again
The Smithereens were destined to be “almost were’s.” Started in middle-of-nowhere New Jersey in the early-80’s, they are possibly the greatest example of power pop garage rock. And while they had some nice minor hits, they just weren’t ever going to any more than 80’s alt-rockers who were way more appreciated by other musicians than the general rock population. This track from their first album wasn’t a hit (The closest was “Behind the wall of sleep” which is a bit darker), but I love the rollicking Roy Orbison lick that underpins the whole thing. Take note of the “just go man, go!” guitar outro that kicks in at 2:20. It’s a lot of fun.
If you are enjoying the music, congratulations, you’re old! Just for you, I made a Spotify playlist of all the subject line 80’s songs I’ve referenced over the last year and a half. You don’t even need hairspray to enjoy it: