The Law of Expansion 🪴🌳 EBH
The best work gets done beyond the funnel
Alex M H Smith is quickly becoming one of my favorite strategists, primarily because he makes it so comprehensible. So clear.
For example, in this article, he gets into how to tell the difference between a strategy and a tactic. Now, most people get into the semiotics of what is a strategy, or they whip out the old chestnut of how strategy is derived from Greek or some such.
Instead, Alex comes at it as a practitioner: What are the things strategies have in common? How do they differ from tactics?
Take a look at this:
All by itself, this idea does SO MUCH to explain the difference between strategy and tactics, the approach, the outcomes, the value, all of it.
In the rest of the article, he uses these goals to help him build a better strategy.
As a fan and proponent of bringing strategy to more conversations about TA and EB, Alex is a must-read newsletter.
🪴 Worthwhile time sinks:
Planning on driving from Austin to Houston slowly? Here’s an AMAZING 3.5-hour (!) conversation between music producer Rick Rubin and British advertising/behavioral science expert Rory Sutherland on… everything.
🪴 Someone needs to update this 3-year-old guide to what buzzwords in job posts mean. »
🪴 Does ANYONE feel secure in their job? I wonder if that impacts employee experience. »
🪴 You should be using data to make creative decisions, provided you remember that all data comes from the same place: the past. »
🪴 Less “clickbait prediction” and more “if you just follow the trends, this seems like a likely way the industry will evolve” from Kevin Wheeler. »
🪴 Will Jeffreys picks out some very smart employer branding expressions in this month’s Working It Out newsletter. »
🪴 My friend Georgiana Ghiciuc interviewed a bunch of EB pros for her new book. Consider buying it even though I’m in it. »
“If you’re interested in me reviewing your employer brand, reply with the word, Breakdown.”
Law 15 - The Law of Expansion
I’ll admit it. I shoulder some of the burden for getting TA to think of hiring as a kind of funnel.
Ten years ago, “the funnel” was almost a mystical idea in recruiting, bringing order to chaos, turning the irrational and complex series of clicks and thinking of a prospect into a candidate and a new hire. It turned the myriad of paths people took to learn about you and apply and turned them into straight-forward ideas you could wrap your arms around.
There’s a saying that’s often credited to statistician George Box: “All models are wrong, but some models are useful.” And in an industry that was expanding almost exponentially as the internet offered new channels and opportunities to engage people, where every day felt more chaotic than the last, the funnel was a very useful tool.
But the tool was designed to simplify and streamline, allowing us the chance to approach recruiting from an “internet mentality” instead of a “classified ads and phone calls” one.
In the ten years since I stood on a stage talking about the funnel, recruiting and talent acquisition have matured. The funnel, once a tool to allow us to manage the chaos, is now a kind of trap. It limits our thinking, telling us that the only people we need to consider are those looking for jobs and the only action we care about is getting a candidate to apply.
Employer brand is the answer to the question, “What’s beyond the funnel?”
The funnel usually starts the moment a candidate takes some kind of action that tells you that they are looking. They visit a career site. They click an ad. They start searching job boards. They engage with your posts on social media.
All of TA is focused on the moments between that and the acceptance or onboarding. Sourcers think about what kind of message it will take to get someone outside the funnel to enter it, but really, TA is the process of converting interest into intent and action.
And in a world where the company with the open role holds all the cards, having the job is enough. You’re probably too young to remember, but there was a time when simply posting “Help wanted” was enough to get a pipeline of candidates.
Not so anymore.
Companies that succeed are those who think beyond the funnel. They aren’t waiting for people to get interested, they are working to create interest. They are sending messages to people who likely won’t look for a new job for months, or even years. They are looking beyond the funnel to create their own demand.
Great talent doesn’t “search for jobs.” They have a list of companies they already know something about and have an affinity for. A pre-established consideration set of companies they’d want to work for. For great talent, by the time they are thinking about looking for a new gig, it’s too late.
Employer brand asks, “How do I get on that list?” “What would someone like that want to know that would make them interested in us enough to learn more?” and “Where should that information live so that it gets in front of them?”
Remember that 90-95% of people you would want to hire are not in-market. They are not ready to read job postings or have a “casual chat” about their place in your organization. The tools at recruiters’ disposal are not useful here. They are focused on getting the 5-10% of candidates in-market to convert and apply.
Employer branding thinks above the funnel and can reach that 90-95%.
But it also thinks below the funnel, well past the offer acceptance or even day one. They think about what makes for a great long-term hire. A person who sticks around, gets promoted, and creates something of value inside the company.
If your company hires 100 people, 50 will be gone in 18 months. Why did some stay and some leave? What stories should you be telling to shift hiring to the people who are more likely to stay? How can you set expectations at the beginning of their job search journey that will change how they see their job for the first year and beyond?
And how do you leverage the people who stick around? How do you get them to become advocates for the company?
When you are thinking about what value your employer brand can bring to the company, think about how you can expand the funnel.
Right now, your company is looking to cut costs. Especially in the TA/recruiting space.
But you know that continued investment in TA is that: an investment, one that pays off.
Employer branding can help you do exactly that.
And for the next two weeks, you’ll never be able to build a brand for less.
Don’t think of $3,500 to build a brand as “more expensive than a webinar” or “about as much as going to a conference.”
Think of it as “half the price of a LinkedIn Recruiting seat.” Or “a tenth the cost to get someone to build my brand for us.”
If you want to show leadership that TA isn’t just some add-on to the company, but a strategic function that dictates how and when the company can grow, you need to take this class.
***This Newsletter Contains No ChatGPT***