It was an innocent and seemingly nominal change: The day before I came on board as Head of Global Employment Brand at LinkedIn, I asked to switch my title.  Let’s replace “Employment “with “Talent”.   I didn’t think of it as a big deal – the HR team here is called the Talent Team, my boss is Head of Global Talent Acquisition, so why not be Head of Global Talent Brand?  I didn’t realize that this small change in wording would come to symbolize such a significant shift in perspective.

From one to many

Until recently, employment branding referred to a company’s positioning and messaging about what it’s like to work there.  But social media has changed this landscape.  A company can no longer position, message and be done with it, because it’s no longer a one-way message.  It isn’t even a two-way conversation.  It’s an all-out marketplace of interactions, where recruiters, employees, customers and prospects are all listening to one other.  The company no longer holds the megaphone; the company is one among many participants.  The online social world has taken the brand from the hands of the Employer and put it in the hands of the Talent, both current and potential.

From what to who and how

If a friend asked you to describe your employer, what would you say?  You could approach it from a functional perspective, and describe the what: your compensation and benefits package, your workspace, your commute.  This would all be accurate, but we can safely agree that it falls a bit flat.  And short.

What really differentiates your experience as an employee?  Rather than (or in addition to) what, it’s who it is with, and how you fit in: how you get along with your boss, how you interact with your teammates, how they treat you and each other.  And also: how the company’s leadership inspires you, which of your talents and strengths are most valued, your personal potential to excel given the environment.  Those are the insights that get your friend interested – that’s where they perk up and start asking questions.

Again, until relatively recently, the latter has been hard for employment marketers to hook into – how do you relay the culture of a company in an authentic way?  The answer is via the social lens: videos, blogs, real-time updates.  These are the tools that can showcase who and how; these are the building blocks of a talent brand.

From employment to talent brand

Despite the fact that my title change was rather accidental, it has been accompanied by a very conscious focus on the specific branding of LinkedIn’s talent.  Of course, we are just beginning the journey here, and many challenges and decision points lie ahead.  But we are confident in the direction in which our boots are pointed.  Focusing on talent brand – a multi-faceted conversation that addresses the questions of who our employees are, and how they fit in with each other – is not an accidental strategy.

Visit our best practices page for fresh insights and ideas on how to build a strong employer – or rather, talent – brand.