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In today’s talent acquisition landscape, people have more choices than ever for their next career opportunity. It’s not enough to simply have open jobs because, let’s face it, everyone has great open jobs. And in reality, many are going either unnoticed or unfilled. In July 2016, the economy set a new all-time record of 5.9 million unfilled job openings—the highest since The Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting surveys of open jobs in 2000.   


At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we recognized the need to stand out in a sea of competitors offering similar job opportunities. But how do we attract and engage candidates when other job descriptions sound just like ours? On the surface, many roles look the same – so why should a candidate choose us? We knew we needed to build and cultivate an authentic employer brand that clearly articulates why candidates should consider a career at Thermo Fisher; a brand that can’t help but be noticed.

I admit that getting started with this transformative and pivotal initiative at Thermo Fisher Scientific wasn’t a walk in the park – we struggle with brand awareness outside of the scientific community. (I spoke candidly about this during SmashFly’s Talent of Tomorrow virtual event.) I knew we needed to build an authentic employer brand that people want to engage with. A brand and purpose that current employees get excited about and want to share and advocate for. A brand that sets us apart from competitors, both in and outside our industry.

My number one focus was to create an employer brand that stood out from our competitors and positioned us as a desirable place to work. We wanted to communicate Thermo Fisher’s purpose, so that we could then hire people whose personal purpose aligned with ours. So, how did we get there? With these four fundamental steps.


Step 1: Ask, “What do you want to be known for?”

Thermo Fisher’s mission is “to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.” This mission, is a critical part of our culture. It provides insight into the work we do at Thermo Fisher as a company, but does not articulate the employment experience. We were looking for something that would speak to the people who would be our future teammates and next hires. So, we decided to dig deeper into what working at Thermo Fisher really meant for our employees.

We needed a fresh and real employer value proposition (EVP). We took a research-based approach to this task and began collecting data. We interviewed leadership, held cross-functional culture workshops, ran focus groups and distributed surveys to employees. At the core of these efforts, we wanted to define what it’s really like to work at Thermo Fisher directly from the people who do the work.

From the myriad responses, data and workshops, our team found key trends that determined our EVP: “Realize your best, personally and professionally.” This concept proved to be a guidepost and theme for us as we moved forward with developing our employer brand and creating key messages. The core positioning encapsulates the Thermo Fisher Scientific employment experience, one that enables our employees to reach their  professional best through continuous challenge and expansive opportunity, as well as their personal best, achieved through alignment with our company values and contributions to society made possible by our mission.


Step 2: Transform your EVP into a tangible employer brand

Playing off our EVP, we  created a campaign around our own employees realizing their full potential, both professionally and personally. Thermo Fisher Scientific has a story-telling culture with one mission: enabling our customers make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. For people who fit with the culture and the environment, the organization and its many arms and interests provides the opportunity to be a part of inspiring stories of community, care, innovation, opportunity, exploration, and excitement.

We feature the personal moments of realization of the mission by aligning the key pillars of the EVP that drive these stories. One is the story of Joe Beery, CIO at Thermo Fisher. Joe’s twins suffered from mysterious medical ailments for most of their young lives. After years of doctors’ visits and tests, their lives were forever changed for the better when the twins got their genomes sequenced, uncovering a serotonin deficiency. This new information allowed doctors to better understand the children’s condition and begin to treat them properly. Joe credits the work Thermo Fisher is doing with saving his children’s lives. His passion is now helping other families of children with rare diseases, and his work at Thermo Fisher allows him to directly live that purpose every day by developing lifesaving technologies even further.

Sharing Joe’s and other employees’ stories has been key in building an employer brand that is original and speaks to people, not just “candidates.” Instead of saying, “We do important work here,” we use real-life, emotional stories to show the impact we’re making.

The “What Story Will You Tell?” campaign manifested into a library of 40 stories that we continue to utilize in numerous channels, from quotes on our career site to targeted nurture emails.


Step 3: Activate and socialize your employer brand

An employer brand is a living, breathing, constantly-evolving entity. You’re never really done growing it. Sure, it felt great to have a collection of 40 employee stories, but what comes after that content is created? 

It’s time to share that message and get your employer brand in front of people in the way they want to consume it, meaning morphing it into different messages across different channels for different stages in people’s career search. First, we shared each video across social media channels, a natural medium for communicating with people in an informal, 1:1 way.

We also feature these stories on our career site, in both text and video formats. We wanted to be sure that when someone lands on our site, they see more than a list of open jobs and qualifications. Of course, that information is available, but more importantly, people see other real people living their purpose at work. This type of connection is what fuels interest in the company, leads to interest in the job, then drives action to apply.

We also take ownership of external channels by sharing these stories across our LinkedIn company page and Glassdoor profile. With Glassdoor, we’ve segmented our content by audience to make sure the right messages are getting in front of the right people. In doing this, we’ve become the second most-viewed employer in our space.

Internally, we offer brand training to ensure that recruiters and hiring managers can effectively use these stories in conversations with candidates. We’ve also socialized the brand with the leadership team so that they understand their role in building and promoting our employer brand.


Step 4: Keep creating and sharing

As this initiative has grown, the reach of this campaign went global, with more and more employees across the country and world wanting to get involved. That is an employer brand: when people believe in it enough to actively raise their hand to do more, to advocate, to share, to participate, to believe.

Our talent is our differentiator, and these stories showcase that talent as our biggest asset, speaking to the culture of innovation and growth we’ve built at Thermo Fisher.

As we move forward, we hope to further align our employer brand with our sourcing efforts so we can continue to contribute to the success and growth of the business. To do this, our talent acquisition leaders are launching a new global Talent Attraction Capability. As this alignment grows, we hope to increase our candidate pipeline and quality of candidates, as well as improve the candidate experience.

When it comes to building an employer brand, think authentic, emotional, purposeful. Highlight the things that are core to your company culture. If you can align your company’s purpose with the purpose of your candidates, you’ll find yourself with hires who are truly passionate about – and want to stay for – the work you do.

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