#180 How building your Magnetic Employer Brand is like dating – part 1

Blog header #180 How building your Magnetic Employer Brand is like dating - part 1  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Employer Brand, as a consistent communication process such as building the Magnetic Employer Brand, is like dating in the pursuit of finding The One.

That’s right.

In the competitive talent acquisition market, the art of attracting and retaining the right candidates can resemble the world of dating. 

Both require a strategic approach to creating lasting impressions and deep connections. You don’t necessarily need to have your dating strategy on a PowerPoint, but ask any serial dater, and you’ll find out they have their style and ways of running and orchestrating the dating process.

Those of you who have been listening to this podcast longer are familiar with The Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️, which I designed to use persuasive communication, storytelling, and behavioural science in employer branding to convince and convert your relevant talents into committed employees.

This methodology exemplifies how organisations can attract or retain talent in a way that mirrors the steps of forming a romantic relationship—from the first meeting to making a long-term commitment.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not bringing romantic relationships to the workplace, even if I am married to my colleague. I’m simply using dating and finding your life’s partner as a comparable example of framing what building the Magnetic Employer Brand looks like.

In this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, I’m doing something off the script and comparing dating to employer branding in the modern way I have designed.

Because I’m going more in-depth into a more difficult topic, I decided to split this into two episodes, with the other one out next week as episode 181.

I know this can sound a but controversial, but trust me, as you listen to this and next week’s episode you will find the logic.

And if you are like many of our clients, you’ll laugh because what I explain to you is so true and makes so much sense. And if anything, this image of dating in employer branding will stick to your mind and you’ll remember it forever!

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The Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️

An image visualising the Candidate Journey of the Information Era designed by Susanna Rantanen and one of the core frameworks in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️.

The Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️  pinpoints the phases from meeting the first time to courting, dating, getting engaged and finally committing to each other contractually.

This journey can take weeks, months, or even years and is individual for each member of your talent audience.

What makes it a journey of the information era is the winning sustainable attention step preceding the actual journey. Once you have won sustainable attention, those people in your target audience are ready to step on the actual journey. 

What is specific to the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ is how to win sustainable attention, keyword being sustainable. You can not keep up with enough campaigns to create sustainable attention, and it quickly becomes very labor-intensive and expensive. 

The phases of the candidate journey go from awareness to affinity and from affinity to conversion.

I like to explain the awareness and affinity phases as phases where you give and your audience receives, while the conversion point is your payday. That is when all your employer branding efforts return value for your side. 

Often, I see employer branding campaigns that are more recruitment campaigns than employer branding at all or campaigns that do not continue to the actual candidate journey, and the conversion deliverables never get picked.

With this method, all phases are addressed and made sure the payoffs come at the end of the journey from relevant talents.

As you know, we use content, conversations, and social media to invite your target audience on this journey with your organisation. Content and social media marketing are currently the only ways for organisations to commit to a systematic, reasonably priced, regular employer branding process with their target audience. 

When your employer branding communication process is based on this method, you have a pretty much foolproof system for growing your organic talent audience, building trust and relations with them, and confidently leading them to conversion points, creating value for your business and organisation. 

You are able to connect and add elements such as recruitment campaigns, events, employee ambassador programs, and career fairs to this systematic approach, tying everything together nicely and coherently.

Now, let’s talk about how this journey connects with dating. 

The Art of the First Conversation: Attraction in Employer Branding

Consider a scenario where you meet someone at a social event. You wouldn’t immediately delve into a marriage proposal or share your deepest secrets with a stranger.

Similarly, the first step in building an employer brand isn’t about bombarding potential future candidates and employees with job listings or benefits. 

Also, you don’t want to be that jerk at a party who approaches everyone hoping to go home with someone at the end of the party, talking endlessly about themselves and bragging about their achievements in totally false beliefs that behaviour like that is inviting, when we all know how off-putting that is.

No one wants to be the desperate last attempt of the evening. No one wants to talk to a stranger who is only interested in themselves and their gains.

I find it inconceivable how common it is in marketing to act like that. What this looks like in marketing is that we only show up when we need something from our audience, be it candidates for our recruitment process or customers to buy our products. The rest of the time, we are silent.

We only pop out like mushrooms in the rain when we need something, and our message is totally promotional, bragging about how great our product or workplace is and how amazing we are.

That works equally well on strangers as it would if you were approached by a jerk like that at a bar just before closing time.

But this is easy to change! It all starts with changing your perception of what building an employer brand is.

“Employer branding is not a recruitment campaign. It is not a campaign of any sort. It is the invitation to a continuous conversation that builds trust, demand, excitement and affinity and leads to conviction, conversion and an exchange of value.”

Susanna Rantanen

Okay, let’s talk about the art of the first conversation.

I want to remind you that we are talking about content and social media marketing, not having to schedule one-to-ones with total strangers! 

Three employer brand content pillars to differentiate types of conversations on this journey

In the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️, we use three content pillars to differentiate the different types of conversations, such as messages and content, used in this journey.

This unique methodology eases winning sustainable attention with science-based approaches such as persuasive communication techniques, storytelling, and behavioural science in marketing.

Don’t worry; you don’t need to know what these are and how to use them until you are ready to learn. This method engraves all the important basics for you, and just following the method takes you a long way.

When this [winning sustainable attention] is switched on in the background, it kicks on as the candidate journey’s invitation phase. 

In comparison to dating, this is how your mama raised you to treat and speak to others, how your manners, respect for others and caring for your reputation drive your behaviour.

“In comparison to dating, this is how your mama raised you to treat and speak to others, how your manners, respect for others and caring for your reputation drive your behaviour.”

Susanna Rantanen

This is where you switch on your desire to appear as the charismatic, respectful darling of a party and workplace.

Now, you have switched to sustainable attention mode. You then integrate – to your best knowledge, as this is a learning process for you, too- these science-based communication skills into all the content and communication you do externally and internally to your talent audience. Unless you work with us and get us as your coaches, collaborators and work buddies, and then we teach you how to do this and make sure you know how to keep this mode switched on.

And no, this is not an overnighter, not a one-night stand in dating language. Think about this as an employer brand communication process that you start to execute consistently, and you select your order of priority for integrating this method internally and externally into your talent communication and marketing strategy over time.

So, you have my permission to plan your approach, decide what you focus on this year or this half-year, and what comes after that, or once you are ready to take on more. 

So, the art of those first conversations is to make sure those are about the person you approach, never about you, unless they ask. 

horizontal opt-in image to download building the modern employer brand ebook written by Susanna Rantanen

Talent is the Hero in the Magnetic Employer Brand

In the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️, talent is the hero.

Do you remember this central role reversal in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ that is unique to our method in the entire employer branding domain worldwide?

The art of those first conversations is about sparking initial interest through engaging and relevant messages or content. It doesn’t have to be a blog post, video, or social media post.

In fact, it might simply be your comment to a target audience member’s LinkedIn post or even a comment to a target audience member’s comment on a mutual connection’s LinkedIn post! 

These initial interest -messages and conversations are specific with intent but general in depth until the other side is ready to take the conversation to the next level.

First conversations in the Magnetic Employer Brand are like small talk at a cocktail party

Think about those light conversations with strangers at a cocktail party, bar or dinner party. We are talking about intentional small talk to see if you have mutual interests and to leave a good impression of yourself. 

In employer branding, intentional small talk translates to conversations, social media comments, and either your own content or repurposed or curated content chosen to be shared with your target audience based on mutual interests.

These can be 100% value-add, such as sharing a thought-provoking article on the latest industry trends or sharing views, experiences, or curated news on a topic that translates your organisation’s values and beliefs.

What is important here is that you are not asking for anything, and you are not talking about your company. You are simply setting the stage with important topics to see whether the other party picks them up and you have something mutual to discuss. 

I know you are now thinking this sounds really difficult and time-consuming! Trust me, this behaviour can be turned into content, so it does not mean that you now have to spend time on LinkedIn talking individually to everyone. 

I’m simply comparing this phase to dating or meeting someone for the first time and how this part of employer branding needs to match with the intent of becoming remembered afterwards, being greeted with warmth the next time you happen to meet and raising that curiosity to google or find the person on social media afterwards.

“I’m simply comparing this phase to dating or meeting someone for the first time and how this part of employer branding needs to match the intent of becoming remembered afterwards, being greeted with warmth the next time you happen to meet and raising that curiosity to google or find the person on social media afterwards.”

Susanna Rantanen

The emotion needs to match even though the actions may differ.

With this, I believe you understand how wrong it would be to make this first conversation a sales pitch such as a recruitment advert with many requirements from the candidate, not much to add, what you are willing to give back, and terms and conditions apply how you decide.

One of the most difficult aspects of building a relevant marketing audience is finding the people you want in it. 

You know the pain if you work in talent acquisition or have recently looked for new career opportunities. “Where are all these people or employers and jobs? When do I need to contact them the most?!”

These initial interactions that win you sustainable attention and help get these people on the candidate journey with your organisation are crucial for setting the tone and establishing a foundation of interest and curiosity, enticing your relevant talents to want to learn more about who you are as an organisation – over time.

Building Employer Brand Awareness: Cultivating a Deeper Connection

Next, you want to start offering more talking points to cultivate that possible deeper connection with people in your target audience.

After attracting the attention of relevant talents, the next step mirrors progressing past the first date in dating. 

It’s about nurturing the initial spark into a deeper, more meaningful exchange. 

In employer branding, this is where you begin to share more about your organisation’s mission, values, and culture. 

Remember that you’re not selling your vacancies at all. For the best impact, recruitment marketing must be separate from employer branding.

By the way, if you don’t have resources for keeping employer branding separated, we have a program called Instant Employer Brand Accelerator™️ I designed for in-house talent acquisition who work in organisations where proper employer branding is not possible or where employer branding is so far away in the organisation that it doesn’t create much value for recruitment.

Revamp copy & recruitment marketing process 12-week coaching program for Instant Employer Brand Accelerator™️ program with Susanna Rantanen

In this 12-week online program, you get to revamp your recruitment marketing process with our proprietary I.E.B.A methodology and start accelerating your employer brand each recruitment process by recruitment process. This is the easiest way to get resources for employer branding because this program directly helps hiring managers, and they are more likely to allocate from their own budgets and resources when they know it all goes directly towards their own success.

Building employer brand awareness is like getting to know each other better

In employer branding, this step is where you begin to grow more awareness about what your brand represents.

However, the focus is on something other than what we call functional benefits, such as pay, benefits, career opportunities, vacancies, and other superficial information. 

Just like in dating, you and the other person want to know whether you are aligned with your values, beliefs, wishes and plans for the future.

“Just like in dating, you and the other person want to know whether you are aligned with your values, beliefs, wishes and plans for the future.”

Susanna Rantanen

Your content and conversations create awareness about your organisation’s purpose, mission, values, and culture and the deeper meaning of work in this organisation. 

Here, you’re inviting potential future employees to understand what makes your company truly unique.

This phase might involve content that showcases employee testimonials and experiences on values, purpose, mission, intent, community involvement, or innovative projects that reflect the company’s values.

Much like discovering shared interests with a date, this content helps candidates see the mutual benefits of a potential relationship with your company.

Again, what is unique to the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ is how this phase acts as a magnet, pulling people in who connect with your organisation’s core, personality, and values.

I like to refer to this as the self-selection stage.

Your employer brand communication, content, messages, and conversations based on this method become magnets, pulling in people who can relate and find common ground with what your organisation represents.

The awareness phase is where you consistently grow your audience. We call them your organic audience because they follow you based on these mutual grounds, shared beliefs and interests, not because you have a vacancy and they need a job.

Not all these people will be your ideal employees as in true love today, tomorrow or in the future, but they are a relevant match and worth building relationships with.

Growing Employer Brand Affinity: Establishing Trust and Loyalty

Have you ever interviewed someone who you knew almost instantly to be golden and someone so well matching with your organisation that you were scared they would turn you down? 

When you hired these people, they turned out to be even more than you imagined. 

They became your most trusted and committed employees, taking on greater responsibility, leadership positions, and roles at the organisation’s core. They were people whose departure was or would be a massive loss to the organisation.

As we approach the affinity phase, this is where you start to recognise the potential for a deeper commitment, as in true love in dating terms. This is where those special people start to show up or become recognised by your larger organic audience.

As mutual understanding deepens in a romantic relationship, partners trust and value each other more significantly. 

This obviously does not happen overnight. You are likely to have to date someone for a longer period of time before your relationship deepens into this depth.

In building the Magnetic Employer Brand [according to our methodology], once you have built awareness and nurtured your target audience’s interest with relevant content – for long enough – some people in your organic audience are naturally pulled into the affinity phase.

You don’t need to do anything about it. Your content does the work.

Things you can do to speed up the affinity phase

You can, however, speed this up by being intentional with chosen people in your organic audience that you find likely to enter the affinity zone.

Speeding up happens through personal contacts such as simply direct message chats, tagging them to posts you believe to be valuable for them, connecting them with mutual people, or simply starting to comment on their posts so that they start to pay more attention to you. 

This can be done directly from the company profile, but then you must always state the name of who is the person having these chats. 

A hiring manager could be the one, or if you are a recruiter and most likely to eventually make the move to start talking about job opportunities with them, you might want to be the one who starts to nurture relationships with these people.

This is where engagement becomes more interactive. 

Often, you see these people initiating more personal contact with your organisation.

They regularly comment on your employer branding and recruitment posts, connect with you and other people from your organisation on social media, reshare your content with their audiences and speak positively about your organisation.

You may invite these prospects to webinars, to participate in live Q & A sessions, invite them to your company after-work events to get to know your people better or simply engage directly with them on social media platforms.

This stage is critical for building a community around your employer brand, making prospects feel like they’re already a part of the team. They might start advocating for your brand, sharing your content, or participating in discussions, like someone proudly introducing their partner to friends and family.

Not all your future employees need to be your special talents and forever partners. Relevance is enough for a wonderful employment relationship and commitment for at least some time. And even those relationships can flourish into true love one day.

Okay, let’s break this convo here and continue next week with the one remaining, super important phase of conversions to business and organisational value and a bonus phase I like to call Beyond Conversions, during which the focus is on nurturing long-term relationships internally and externally with your relevant and especially ideal target talents.

That’s all for this week, my dear audience!

Suppose you got excited about this logic, topic and the Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️ and want to understand more about the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ on a basic level. In that case, I wrote a few pages on an eBook you can download for free here.

Come back next week for part two of this topic!

Thanks for tuning in, moi moi!

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