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We’re all asked to do more with less these days. In fact, when I started my recruitment marketing journey at GE, I was charged with telling the GE story and marketing GE employee experiences, using a budget of – wait for it – zero.

Seriously. ZERO.

Being tasked with accomplishing more with less forced me to think creatively, challenge myself and get hyper-resourceful. From that experience, I learned that anything is possible if you have the right goals, a strong commitment and a clear action plan.

At Transform (#TransformRM), the first conference ever held exclusively for recruitment marketers, I shared several ideas our community could put into action immediately – for zero dollars. SmashFly asked me to share my “action item buckets” with you in this post. If you’d like to hear about these and other ideas in more detail, you can watch my Transform session right here!

 

Your first bucket is social media.

On zero budget, social media is obvious because for the most part – it’s still free. Yes, there are paid advertising options popping up almost daily, but for our purposes, we’re sticking to organic growth – and that is still free. Assuming you already own the tools for this bucket (a clear employer brand story and a device you can publish from) the strategy has endless opportunity.

The bones of every good social media strategy include expanding reach and sharing compelling content. At GE, we started our social media strategy by tackling reach first. We studied up on the right hashtags and user handles that could support each marketing plan goal, so a specific example could be expanding campus recruiting. We took a look at the campuses where we actively recruit through events, made a list of hashtags and handles that made sense for us to use in our content and then piggybacked on hashtags and twitter handles.

What does that mean? It means we entered targeted conversations using specific mentions of handles and hashtags so we could get seen by the right audience. Here’s an example of how we got in front of students at Purdue:

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Social media is all about sharing what is valuable to the people who follow you. 100% of the time, @lifeatpurdue retweeted us because the specific event or content we tweeted could benefit their followers.

What did this do for GE? It dramatically expanded our reach. Thanks to Purdue’s retweets, we could speak directly to the 74,700 students who we needed to hear about this event.

The second pivotal piece of our social strategy is sharing consistently compelling content. Back to that zero-budget thing – this is where I had to get creative, and where I believe most recruitment marketers and talent acquisition teams have to get creative. It’s too easy to assume job descriptions equal compelling content. They don’t. The key to staying valuable and interesting on social is to avoid making Twitter or Facebook a glorified job board. 

We follow a 90/10 rule: 90% of what we publish is relatable stories about the employee experience. These stories were curated from marketing, industry publications and our own employees. We simply turned their stories into shareable sound bites like tweets and Facebook posts. Just 10% is specific job opportunities. You can learn more about where I found content I didn’t have to create myself here.

 

Your next bucket is building employee advocates and brand ambassadors.

Don’t look now, but your Glassdoor rating is showing.

We live in a “word of mouth” world where 92% of consumers are going to “ask the internet” before they make a decision on anything (and millennials lead this trend). In fact, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Index: We live in echo chambers, and now trust our peers (defined as a person like yourself) as much as we trust an academic or technical expert. What’s more, we trust our peers WAY MORE than we trust businesses and CEOs.

So how does that translate into your brand-led, recruitment marketing action plan?

Harness the most trustworthy marketing asset you have (your employees) and help them amplify what they love about working for your company. At GE we did this with a simple approach: We coached employees on how to tell the GE story through the lens of their own experiences.

We started with brand ambassador training: hour-long workshops for recruiters, where we covered “how to brand myself in GE online,” rewriting LinkedIn profiles and contributing to Glassdoor. Shortly after, we tackled tips for writing hiring manager profiles, because you know every potential candidate is looking up who’s interviewing them. The strategy had a “trickle up effect;” before we knew it, our executives were making certain their direct teams got in on the training as well.

We’ve now trained thousands of GE employees to be brand ambassadors, and I’m happy to report that even in places like GE China (where LinkedIn’s still catching on), more than 75% of GE employees now have a LinkedIn profile that represents what GE’s core purpose, mission and values. Encouraging employees to brand themselves in GE online has contributed to a 50,000 profile increase in one year, and to date, we have over 230,000 employees sharing GE stories on LinkedIn. You can hear more about the specific parts of our training here.

I spent a lot of time at Transform talking about how to tell the “why” behind the job. I wholeheartedly believe it’s the key to a sound employer brand and how companies will hire the best people ahead of their competition in the future. After we helped our employees master LinkedIn, we used their stories to inform something equally critical – GE’s job descriptions. We had them tell us the “why GE,” and we used their words to describe the role to candidates.

For example, we had a healthcare employee who said, “I’m a GE healthcare technical writer.” She could’ve simply stopped there, but instead, she added: “I write the manuals that give doctors and nurses the assurance that they’re running the machines correctly for the golden hour after a baby is born. I write the manuals that give parents the assurance that the person they love the most is getting the best healthcare possible.”

That’s powerful brand and job marketing, and when it comes from employees who believe in the “why,” it’s free.

 

Your third bucket is building a content machine.

I mentioned how important compelling content is. Well, to keep it compelling you have to constantly find it (and you can’t create everything yourself!). I did that by tapping into other parts of the business and creating what I call my employment brand council. I invited one person from every business, every region that we’re doing a lot of recruiting in, every affinity network and every leadership program in GE. All in all, I recruited 40 contributors. Five are dedicated employment brand resources, and the rest either have a part of the their job tied to employment branding, simply feel passionate about contributing, or actually use this as a way to build their skillset inside talent acquisition.

I asked them to share stories about what they’re doing and how they are making a difference, both personally and professionally. We set it up so that each one of these contributors can share content right to the GE career social channels, including our blog and all of our online channels. From volunteer work to career training, they share the stories that others inside of GE are proud to amplify within their personal networks. (Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter to see the kind of stories I share daily.)  

The benefit? It’s an efficient way to share the diverse content that represents the breadth and depth of our company, from the personal voices of our people. For the contributors (my council!), it requires maybe an hour of their time every month – and it saves me untold amounts of time per week that I would spend finding, creating and posting content otherwise.

Transform was an amazing event – and the first time I spoke on stage sharing the GE story to a group of cutting-edge recruitment marketers. I walked away energized about the future of Recruitment Marketing – and I got the sense that everyone else felt it too. I met incredible people who are just as crazy to dive head first into recruitment marketing in order to redefine how both brands and their employees truly find their “why.” Over three days in Boston, and now, through our connections on social, we’re sharing ideas that will move our discipline forward. We are the marketing arm of talent acquisition that gets to connect the right talent with the right companies. To connect a person’s “why” to a company’s “why.”  What is better than that?

Until next year’s Transform, I hope you’ll stop waiting for the perfect time (and budget) and just take these ideas and run with them. Finally, I wouldn’t be a great GE employee if a didn’t end with a Thomas Edison quote, right?

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try.”

So let’s DO THIS!!! See you at the next Transform? (I hope so!)

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