Three tips for branding your agency’s “workplace experience” in authentic terms

There’s little doubt that agency recruiting has become far more complex and challenging over the last year. Internal hiring restrictions and increased inter-agency competition for talent—among other factors—have complicated this increasingly essential component of agency management. So today it’s become all the more critical to:

  • one, frame an accurate and compelling Employer Value Proposition (EVP) for your agency, and
  • two, bring this EVP forward consistently and prominently at every “touch point” with potential recruits – in your print and online materials, in your social media outreach, and in your event activities.

When I say this I don’t mean incessantly trotting out an itemized “logical” statement of the points of value that your team members get out of working at your agency [although formulating this framework is a highly useful background step]. What I do mean is making certain that you convey what it’s like to work at your agency in a style that engages the immediate attention of potential recruits, and speaks to them in familiar and comfortable ways.

One way you can do this is by stressing the appealing aspects of concrete, on-the-job reality at your agency. I’m suggesting three approaches that will help you inject a dose of authenticity and immediacy into how you portray your EVP or employer brand. The good news is that all these approaches are “media-agnostic”, i.e., they can be implemented in print, video, online, social media, and event-oriented form. The (maybe) not-so-good news is that they require some creative effort and production elbow grease.

Portray agency workplaces realistically and visually. Serious candidates want to get an authentic feel for working with you. So don’t hesitate to make liberal use of photos of your workplace environments. That’s not to say you shouldn’t consciously set up these shots in ways that underscore the variety of work settings and the attractive attributes of your EVP; just don’t let them look too staged and cheesy. Include people at work (and not lined up like the yearbook shot of your high school chess club). If, like many agency websites, you stick to a sterile verbal presentation, without realistic visuals, you’re missing an opportunity to engage candidates in an authentic and direct way, free of off-putting, if subtle, pretensions of authority. If this purely verbal web approach is agency-mandated, you should consider using other media to capture the real-world spirit of your workplace environments.       

Let representative team members make your case for you.  Don’t forget that candidates respond at a deeper, more personal level when they see and hear people like themselves describing their jobs, their working experiences, and the underlying cultures of their agencies. Personalized visual and video testimonials, sidebars, blurbs, case studies and so on add more real-world zing to the underlying attributes of your EVP.  Paragraphs of factual but unevocative prose about mission, teamwork, work-life balance, variety of assignments, and prospects for advancement just can’t carry this off as well.  Again, if agency Web standards make these resonant first-person approaches difficult, consider social media and YouTube as your creative platforms for this tonal outreach.

Don’t presume that an authentic portrayal precludes inspiration and emotion. Agencies attempting to depict their respective EVPs in recruiting engagement media frequently stray into one of two less effective habits: they either attempt to convey the higher values of their mission and the dedicated spirit of their agency teams in purely verbal terms, or they restrict their visual/video employee testimonials to facts alone, with no emotional or inspirational coloration. The former approach can veer into the forced and stilted; the latter into the sterile, stiff, and formulaic. The most engaging solution: let your visuals subtly convey higher values and your employees speak directly from the heart. It will pay off in recruit response.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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