The second Glassdoor Employer Branding Summit gathered 200 attendees in San Francisco 2015 and over 7,000 live stream attendees from countries around the world on September 25, 2015. Lars Schmidt played the role of Summit MC for our stellar lineup of speakers and panelists, while Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett hosted the live stream, providing commentary and interviewing speakers.
In-person attendees enjoyed a bubbling atmosphere at San Francisco’s Omni Hotel as they walked down the green carpet at the entrance and were offered mimosas before our 8 a.m. start.
The day was filled with thought-provoking insights and compelling data points that left attendees with the inspiration and motivation to activate and improve employer branding efforts at their own companies. Whether you attended online, in-person or plan to catch some of the replay videos (coming soon!) here’s a summary of highlights from each session:
Robert Hohman, CEO, Glassdoor
Our CEO kicked off his presentation by mentioning the Edelman Trust Barometer’s data on trusted sources of information – nearly one in three stated that employees are the most trusted source of information about a company’s operations. Because trust is earned by authenticity, transparency is critical to success in today’s business environment. Consumers—who are also employees—are used to getting information about everything online. Therefore, your power as a business lies in your ability to empower your customers with the information they need to make decisions. Information transparency is critical to relationships with employees, candidates, investors and vendors, and Glassdoor’s growth to 30 million unique users per month is evidence of this demand for transparency.
Spencer Rascoff, CEO, Zillow
Known as a “social CEO,” Zillow’s leader embodies transparency with an active social presence. Rascoff spoke about empowerment as part of the DNA of Zillow – starting with its mission to empower home buyers and renters with information for their home search. Company meetings start with a group recitation of the mission statement, and the Zillow core values are embedded into day-to-day operations.
Zillow also emphasizes customer personas to foster a common language, which shortcuts conversations between teams by aligning focus around how a particular initiative would benefit the customer. The transparent culture at Zillow is demonstrated in Rascoff’s honesty. He chooses not to engage in corporate double-speak by saying one thing publicly and another internally, and he frequently demonstrates gratitude by publicly thanking employees on Twitter. We should all be inspired by this CEO’s willingness to “own it”—one of the Zillow’s stated core values.''
Jennifer Johnston, Head of Global Employer Branding at Salesforce
How does a company hire 5,000 people in one year? Jennifer Johnston’s presentation “An Ecosystem Approach to Close More Passive Talent” answered that question by outlining a sales-driven process that stemmed naturally from Salesforce’s strength: empowering people to close the sale—or in this case, make the hire. In the first step, targeted lead generation, Salesforce used data to understand the current labor market and determine the qualities of top performers. Analysis showed that it took only eight referral leads to make a hire versus 154 outside leads, so they emphasized the referral program internally and created a referral app for employees.
Another important factor in reaching the goal was to create an amazing candidate experience. By providing training in competencies-based interviewing as well as an employer value proposition certification, Salesforce ensured that both recruiters and hiring managers could articulate a consistent and compelling message to candidates. They also created a customized email journey for candidates, and extended the email journey to new hires. The new hire email program has been highly successful, with a 90% open rate. One of the key success metrics for the recruiting program is referral rate, and by helping employees feel at home during their first year, Salesforce ensures it will maintain or grow its 50% referral rate. This presentation was perfect evidence that applying sales and marketing practices to recruiting can deliver phenomenal results.
Christopher Hannegan, EVP Employee Engagement, Edelman
Hannegan shared highlights from the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global survey that tracks trust in sources of information about companies. This year’s study found that a company technical expert (67%) was the most trusted internal source of information, followed by “a regular employee,” (49%) and the CEO (43%). When the expert and employee voices are more trusted than the CEOs, companies have an opportunity to amplify both voices. Therefore, it’s important to clearly label technical experts as well as empower employees in appropriate ways.
Jennifer Newbill, Sr. Manager, Global Talent, Dell
Dell was one of the first companies to encourage employees to participate in social media and provide social media training for those who wanted to build a personal brand while building the Dell brand. Yet the company wasn’t engaging candidates with their signature customer-service attitude during the interview process. When a disgruntled candidate said he never would buy Dell products again and went on to take a job in procurement for a billion-dollar company, Dell realized it needed to treat candidates like customers.
The company published its “commitment to candidates” and eventually leveraged Glassdoor. What was at first a push with senior management became a pull, with executives actively discussing Glassdoor reviews and depending on them for monitoring employee sentiment, particularly enlightening when the company when private in 2013. Of adopting Glassdoor, she said, “There is no rollout.” In other words, it’s an ongoing effort with no end—and constantly changing. She said that every company should have a philosophy and approach to reviews that’s consistent with its culture—and that processes for responding to reviews and monitoring feedback themes will vary by necessity.
Carolyn Eiseman, Director of Employer Brand, Enterprise Holdings
Eismenan described how Enterprise emphasizes “show don’t tell” in its approach to employer branding—which is particularly important when attracting smart, motivated millennials into its management training program. Just saying you promote from within isn’t enough—Enterprise includes a ticker on its website of promotions to date for the year. The company also approaches social media with a “show” mentality—using Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to show pictures of employees in positive situations on the job and at company events. Enterprise recognizes that when an employee cares enough to share, it builds positive associations for the brand within that person’s social network, whether the post goes viral or not. The examples Eiseman provided demonstrate a willingness to harness the media channels used naturally by its employees to strengthen its brand with a specific demographic.
JT O’Donnell, Founder & CEO, CAREEREALISM
O’Donnell opened her presentation with survey results that pointed to job seekers’ difficulties in finding information about company culture and how to contact recruiters. A full 100% of job seekers expect to find a dedicated careers page, and 64% expect to find at least a basic Glassdoor profile. Empowering recruiters to create profiles and potentially include them in job posts gives candidates a real-world point of contact that humanizes the recruiting process.
Stacy Zapar, Principal & Founder, Tenfold Consulting, Employment Strategist, Greenhouse
“Sourcing is like fishing; recruiter branding is like casting a net...” was the apt analogy Zapar used to open her presentation. A slide showing a girl underwater casting a butterfly net into a school of fish represented how some people might still feel about employer branding—they simply don’t know what they’re doing. Data shows that strong employer brands lower cost per hire, reduce employee turnover, and even make candidates more willing to accept lower salaries, so the time to get serious about it is now. Zapar emphasized the importance of telling a story of what its really like to work there, without the slick music and pictures of a CEO behind a mahogany desk.
Employer branding content should help candidates answer the question, “Can I see myself working here?” Zapar outlined the steps for getting a solid employer branding process off the ground: research, understand employees, social listening, identify core values/deliver and EVP (employee value proposition), establish goals, social training, build an employer brand roadmap, and take inventory. She then outlined a content creation program that includes social media hashtags, blog content and Glassdoor strategy.
Richard Mosley, VP Strategy, Universum
Mosley, a former anthropologist, uses his skills to help companies connect with their talent in a human way. His analysis of employer branding messages showed a lack of differentiation in creative messaging. He showed examples of five companies that used “a world of opportunity” as a headline, four companies that depicted diversity by showing two men and two women of different races, and four companies that claimed innovation is in their DNA. To stand out, he suggested that employers create consistent visual experiences across all media, position their brands in one of eight common areas, and create signature experiences.
The Transparent Organization: 30 Tips in 30 Minutes
The day’s final presentation was an action-packed half hour with tips from three presenters. Here are a few highlights:
Rob Reid, CEO, Intacct Corporation
10 Leadership Strategies for the Transparent Organization. #3, Shared Accountability. Put mutually agreed upon goals in writing. When everyone can see each other’s objectives, it creates empathy and prevents misunderstandings.
Celinda Appleby, Head of Global Recruitment Branding, Oracle
The Transparent Organization: 10 Employer Branding Tips. #7, Get Over Yourself. Don’t be a brand narcissist. Share content from other providers, don’t just talk about yourself by only sharing press releases and other company news.
Alison Hadden, Head of Brand Strategy, Glassdoor
The Transparent Organization: 10 Stats and Stories from the Field. #7, Financial Impact of Employer Branding. A multi-year financial analysis showed companies with high employee ratings financially outperformed the S&P 500 by 122%. If you’re having trouble convincing management to get serious about employer branding and/or using Glassdoor, be sure to watch this presentation to get the data points you need to make a solid case for creating a strong employer brand.