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The Law of Relationships 🌊🌧️☂️ EBH
It's all about who you know and who knows you.
Who wants to go to a recruiting conference?
Let me put it this way: who wants to sit in a hotel ballroom for two days and listen to (mostly) commercials for vendors or someone’s promotion? That’s what so many conferences have become: listening to someone in a situation only vaguely related to yours talking about how they made smart decisions you can’t make to purchase tools you can only afford in your dreams to make a big splash and get recognition from their boss. It’s like we took all the least useful parts of SHRM’s conference and put it in a smaller venue.
At most conferences, the best you can hope for is to sit next to someone interesting who rolls their eyes at the same things you do. That’s a big investment to make a professional contact.
We are witnessing a complete rebirth of what the “TA conference” should be. Unleash has become a lavish extravaganza, like ComicCon but with fewer costumes. Recfest this week is going to be an outdoor festival for all things recruiting. Not to mention how virtual conferences like TA Day and CandEs are really coming into their own.
There are few things as stale at the typical conference, and as we stop showing up (too expensive, seeing the same speakers over and over again, decreasing cost/value ratios), I am thrilled to see one of the means by which we learn to begin to reinvent itself.
If you’re at Recfest and you see this face:
Say hello! I’m bringing stacks of stickers and shirts to hand out to anyone who asks. Or maybe just say hello because you like the newsletter. Or the employer brand breakdown videos. Or just because.
I’m running the Disrupt stage on day two of the event with the one and only Audra Knight. The whole day will be employer brand-focused, so be sure to stop in!
🔺 Number of applications per hire (in the aggregate) »
🌊 Strong brands need to be Distinctive, Attractive, Realistic, and Consistent. »
🌊 Strategy doesn’t have to be complicated (podcast) »
🌊 One minor change that made a major difference in people’s work experience. »
🌊 Turning setbacks into triumphs. »
🌊 Hot streaks in your career don’t happen by accident. »
🌊 Do small brands have an advantage over larger ones? »
🌊 “8 steps to build your employer brand” is a little over-simplified, but I am always thrilled to see “classic” branding take our work more seriously. »
🌊 “Employer Brand Is For Everyone.” My presentation at this year’s Global TA Day is all about rebuking the three misconceptions holding TA back from taking advantage of their brand. »
If you’re interested in training your entire TA team to use their employer brand,
just reply to this email with the word, “Team.”
Law 16 - The Law of Relationships
This list of laws was written in a very specific order. We start with some of the foundational ideas that help us understand what branding is (strategy, focus, perception, etc). Then we push past to the laws that help us see branding in the light of hiring and talent strategy (desire, quality, fit, clarity, etc). Then we establish the laws that define the means of success (subjectivity, localization, options, etc).
Now we reach what I think of as “outcome” laws. These are the second-order effect laws that are only true because the previous laws are true.
The first of these outcome laws is the Law of Relationships.
There is a myth in modern work that great work happens via technology. That email would allow us to communicate fluidly across continents at speed, but what it really led to was the development of complete bodies of information to be trapped in other peoples’ archived folders. That Slack would turn the text revolution on its head to create easily searchable async conversations going back to the foundation of the company, but what it did was turn our phones against us, creating low levels of PTSD in hearing that specific chime that a new message had arrived (to the point where years after being in a Slack org, the chime played on a Slack commercial immediately made me remember how much I disliked a specific boss),
Technology is great, but when you peel away the sales pitches and obvious salivation for a successful exit, it exists to create and support relationships. Tech may tell you that it is “making information transfer more fluid and more speedy, but it exists to make relationships work.
Because at work, assuming you aren’t working a factory floor, relationships matter. Relationships are how complex and interesting work gets done.
If a job can be codified into clearly described steps and processes, someone has already figured out how to automate it with software, program a robot to do it, or shipped the work to the country with the lowest salaries. Everything else requires relationships.
But employer branding all too often focuses on tech. And tools. Or events (which is really just a tool in a physical space). They want to talk about how many people they reached instead of if they were worth reaching. They want to show off the creative instead of asking who is using it.
The Law of Relationships is here to remind us that the outputs, the tactics, the creative are all well and good, but the best employer branding happens because you build relationships.
Without relationships with recruiters, they won’t listen to your advice and take advantage of your resources. And you won’t get the front-line feedback you need.
Without relationships with staff, your advocacy plan won’t get out of the gate, and your branding will need to rely on costly marketing channels. And you won’t hear about interesting work being done in the company.
Without relationships with hiring managers, they will see your work as “more boxes to tick” as they hire instead of as extra resources they can use to hire better. And you won’t have a network of people who will talk about how valuable your work is, or in-roads to staff whose stories you need to tell.
Without relationships with leadership, you won’t have anyone who can support you as you make strange requests that further the brand (when all of HR and Legal freak their geek out because you’re suggesting that giving rejected candidates actual useful interview feedback, you need a leader in your corner who can at least explain the value when you aren’t in the room… because you’re almost never in the room when the real conversation happens).
Relationships are the fuel, not only of your work but of your career. There are three ways an employer brander makes an impact.
First, by building great tactics. Branders start with a skill. Maybe they write well. Maybe they are ace social media managers. Maybe they can make videos. Maybe they can craft job postings. Whatever. The goal is to get good at one’s craft, and maybe even add on others. But mastering your craft only gets you to the “how to write the perfect tweet” stage. It doesn’t ask the question, “Why are we tweeting?”
Second is in managing strategy. That’s how you answer the “why are we tweeting?” question. Along with the “Would this be better as a video or an internal comms channel campaign?” Strategy is how to maximize the resources you have to create the biggest impact. But it isn’t as concerned with how to aggregate more resources.
Third is political. This is where you ask, “How can I get other teams to give me more resources so we can level up our work?” Then strategic assumes good results lead to more budget, but politics assumes resources already exist, it’s just a matter of finding who would pay for what you can deliver.
As you progress up the ladder, you will use less tactical skill in favor of strategic skill, followed by seeing how you make an impact by playing the political game. As you move up, relationships matter more and more. In fact, relationships are how you move from one rung of the ladder to the next.
For companies who think they can’t afford employer branding strategy (too small, unsexy industry, no consumer presence), let’s talk. In fifteen minutes, I can help you see if employer branding can help you hire faster and better. And the best part is that there’s no risk: I primarily get paid on results.
***This Newsletter Contains No ChatGPT***