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Monday, September 22, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Market Your Employer Brand Using SEO

Are you a small or medium sized business that is growing and needs to bring in more talent? Or, is the talent you have not working out and you need to replace it with better talent? You've recruited and recruited, but you just aren't getting the quality or quantity of applicants that you had hoped for and you can't figure out why.

While we can talk about recruiting strategy in another post, there's also good chance that you don't have enough online employer brand presence. Did you know that job seekers are 80% less likely to apply for a job with a company that doesn't have a large internet presence?

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you fix this quickly with a few tweaks to your website. Even someone who knows nothing about SEO can make these tips work for them!

The Most Important Thing You Can Do: Generate Link Juice (also called linkbacks)

Get your company name mentioned in as many places as possible and make sure that those places link back to your website. Link Juice is the most important, and also the most time consuming, piece of advice that I can give you for SEO. The more linkbacks you have to your website, the higher your ranking on search engines will be. Want to know how many linkbacks your website currently has? Go to Google and type in link: followed by your URL (example: If Google tells you that search did not match any documents, then no one is linking to you. If results appear, then all of those web pages have linked to you at least once.

So, how can you generate more linkbacks?

  • Start a social media campaign. YouTube is the best social media platform to self-generate link juice. This is mighty convenient, since job seekers are 80% more likely to apply if a job description includes videoPinterest is another good source for self-generated link juice. Facebook, not so much.
  • Find online forums and bulletin boards related to your business and post in them. Answer people's questions in a general way and then say something like "for more information, visit my site at". (Note: Read the forum's policy. If they have a "no-follow" policy then search engine will not count those links when ranking your site).
  • Ask every one you know to link back to your website.

What Else You Can Do (In Order of Importance)

  1. Update the titles of your pages to include key words and phrases that job seekers or your customers might be searching for. For example: The title of your Contact Me page should not be Contact Me. Instead it should be Contact Your Name or Name of Your Company | Geographic Location | Phone Number. My contact page says Contact Robin Brodrick | Talent Counseling | Greater Boston | 617-372-4305.
  2. Add in or optimize your website's keywords. There should be a section for this in your Content Management System (CMS). Enter in 20-40 keywords or phrases that jobseekers and customers might be searching for. Separate each word or phrase with a comma. You do not need a space after the comma. Make sure to include common misspellings, your geographic area, etc.
  3. Update your website's description. This is the blurb of text that appears below your website's name in search engine results. There should also be a spot for this in your CMS, whether it be WordPress, Joomla, or something else. The description must be 156 characters or less. It should contain keywords and phrases in the form of a sentence and should also entice people to click on the link. For example, you may want to describe what the business does and then say, "Click here for a free consultation" to entice them to click on your link.
  4. Have meaningful and engaging content. I wish that this was the primary thing you could do to increase your search engine rank, but that's just not the case in the world of SEO. That doesn't mean it's not important. Your content is what will keep people coming back to your website. It's also what will entice job seekers to click the Apply button. You should include why your company is a great place to work, the job description (don't forget to include a video to increase the chance that a job seeker will apply by 80%), and a summary of your benefits.
Now you know the five most important aspects of SEO. Implementing these changes will benefit you in two ways. First you will start seeing more job applicant because you will have a larger presence on the web and will be marketing your employer brand. The second benefit is that this will have the nice side effect of your website being easier for potential customers to find, too.

What should you do if you need more information, or need specific advice for your situation? Seek the help of an SEO subject matter expert (SME). I can personally recommend Ben Vivante (, who teaches a great SEO class at BCAE.

Have you used SEO to market your employer brand? Was it easy? Did you find that it increased the quality and quantity of applicants? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments section!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Social Media Recruitment is a Fallacy

There is no such thing as successful recruiting via social media. This is why so many companies think that they get a poor return on investment (ROI) when their talent acquisition team uses social media to advertise jobs.

There is such a thing as using social media to successfully brand your company and grow your pool of talent organically.

So, how can talent acquisition teams successfully use social media to source and build their pipeline? First, management has to recognize that growing the company's employer brand via social media is a long term game, especially if the company is in a niche market. It's an arena where you get what you give. 

It's also important to recognize that everything you think you know is probably wrong. For example, what do you think the most popular website is for job seekers right now? LinkedIn, right? Wrong. (Sorry, LinkedIn). According to Jobvite's 2014 Job Seeker Survey, it's Facebook.

Some suggestions for growing your talent pool by growing your company's employer brand on social media platforms:

If you are leveraging LinkedIn
  • Join groups that your talent will most likely be using. Participate in those groups. Ask questions and see who gives you answers (and then, of course, research those people and go from there). Engage the users. Also, answer the questions of others. 
  • Social media networks respond positively to people and companies who reach out, instead of just trying to advertise themselves. Publish long-form posts that will appeal to your pool of talent (how to do that successfully is a topic for a different post). Look at who comments and likes your articles. Connect with them. Now you have expanded your network and can source directly from that group or get referrals from them.
  • Don't forget to respond to or to like the comments that people make in response to your posts - remember, social media success is dependent on your level of engagement!
  • Make sure that you have an active and complete company page on LinkedIn.

If you are leveraging Twitter
  • Research the hashtags that are most frequently used by your talent pool or that have to do with the geographic location where you want to find talent. Now you have two choices: use those hashtags in your tweets, or find the people who use those hashtags and do further research to see if they are the fit that you are looking for (or might know someone who is). 
  • Don't just tweet out links to your job openings. No one will follow you. In fact, you might lose followers if that is all you tweet. Tweet interesting articles. Retweet other people's tweets from your industry. 
  • Use Bitly to make your long links short so that you can say more within your 140 character limit. Bitly also lets you track clicks on your links and see what source they came from. 
  • Lastly, and counter-intuitively, don't follow everyone who follows you. You want to have more people following you than people who you follow - it just makes you look better. It will also reduce the noise in your Twitter feed. Follow those people and companies who might tweet something relevant to you.

If you are leveraging Facebook
  • Create a careers page. You can create a separate careers page, or make it a sub-page of the company page. I recommend the latter, so that you can use the main page to engage readers.
  • The best applicants come from referrals. Referrals usually come from friends and family. Guess which social network has the highest concentration of friends and family, according to Mashable and every other industry resource out there? Make sure that your whole company participates in sharing company news and jobs. Their friends and family will like the careers page and the company's network of active and passive candidates will expand as this goes on and on.
  • Create quizzes, contests, and engaging content to engage your audience.
  • Post employee experiences.

If you are leveraging Google+
  • Boolean search, baby. You can boolean search the profiles of the 540 million active monthly users, which is something you can't do on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Build and keep track of your pipeline with Google+ circles and communities. You can also use this to tailor your communications to different groups of talent.
  • eMail prospective talent, even if they haven't listed their email address on their profile!
  • Create a Google+ company page.
  • Host a Google+ hangout. Connect your company's top influencers with your followers via awesome video conference tools!
Still not generating the talent pool that you were hoping for? Get inspired! Be creative! Create a referral contest and offer an awesome reward, like cold hard cash. For example, challenge the social media community to refer qualified candidates to an opening that you're having a hard time filling. Whoever submits the refers the applicant who gets hired will be awarded $2,000.

Have you had successes or failures recruiting on social media? Is there a trick you wish you'd known from the beginning? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below so that we can learn from each other!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Darth Vader vs. Yoda: Which Type of Mentor Will Boost Your Career to the Next Level?

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

This frequent truth is one reason that so many of us aspire to increase the size of our network. It's also part of the reason that many people who are starting out in their career are looking for a mentor.

There seem to be two schools of thought about mentorship. The first is that your mentor will spoonfeed you the knowledge, experiences, and professional contacts necessary to move you up the career ladder and that this will be done in a way that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The second is that the best mentors have a tough love approach.

So, which type of mentor is better? I'd like to tell you a story. Several years ago I was determined to make a career change from Marketing and Business Development to Human Resources. I had the transferrable skills to go into recruiting, so that's what I set my sights on. I spent months applying for recruiting jobs online. I had a few interviews. Nothing panned out. Then I got a call from Sean Quimby, whom I had interviewed with a few weeks earlier, and who had called me in person to inform me that GL Advisor had decided to hire a recruiter who had vastly more experience. This time, Sean was calling to tell me that the budget had increased and that, if I was still available, he would like me to join the team.

At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was to have landed this particular job with these two individuals. Sean had been the VP of HR at Zipcar when the company went public and the Director of two HR functions at Equinox. And the person that had beaten me out for the first recruiting opening? That was Jamie Palmer, who has an astonishing amount of full-service recruiting knowledge and experience.

GL Advisor had never had an HR division before, and I had never recruited before. Needless to say, there was a large learning curve on both sides. Every day I felt like I was faking it, until one day I didn't. A few months later, GL Advisor dissolved the HR department. (It had never been their intention to keep it. We were all brought on as independent contractors who would stay only until their short-term needs had been met). I began interviewing for Talent Acquisition positions right away. The interviewers kept asking me the same question: How did I know so much when I had only been doing this for a few months. My answer? I had two great mentors.

When I was working with Sean and Jamie I thought that I was just adapting to my new role. It was only in retrospect that I realized that they had both taken me under their wings and were teaching me everything they knew - even if it wasn't related to the task I was assigned at that very moment. They involved me in projects and assignments that were way out of my league. They expected me to be able to keep up and add value. I think that I lived up to their expectations, although I know that I made some mistakes along the way.

Sean and Jamie did mentor me through fear. But the fear didn't come from tough love; the fear came from being scared of disappointing them. They were my Yodas. They saw the awesomeness inside of me and helped me learn how to harness it. They taught me lessons that I didn't know I needed to learn.

The truth is that mentors come in many different forms. Sometimes you won't even realize that someone was your mentor until your life moves in a direction that takes you away from them. I still speak of Sean and Jamie with fondness in my interviews and in other parts of my life. They didn't just mentor me in Human Resources or in Talent Acquisition. They mentored me about life, about the benefits of risk propensity, about seeing the true potential in others, and about the kind of person I want to be. 

I hope that one day I can pay it forward.

It's not what you know or who you know. It's what you learn from who you know. It's also how you choose to implement that knowledge. The best mentors will get you nowhere if you don't take any action.

Have you had a mentor (or do you currently have one)? I'd love to hear about your experience and about their mentorship style in the comments section!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Your Drug Testing Policy Decreasing Employee Morale & Productivity?

I once worked for a retail corporation that drug tested all of their store employees and candidates, but did not drug test executive or corporate office employees and candidates. One day, I happened to have a few minutes alone with the head of the HR department. I took the opportunity to ask why this was. He looked me in the eye and said, "Because if we drug test our executive candidates then we won't have any executives!" And he was serious.

Does your drug test policy treat all of your employees the same? It should. After all, what does it say about your company if the cashiers can pass a drug test but the directors and VPs can't?

Of course, there's always the question of whether or not companies should be drug testing at all. According to Quest Diagnostics and SHRM, drug testing improves employee morale and productivity while decreasing attrition and absenteeism. But according to the Houston Chronicle, the DOL, and ACLU, drug testing decreases employee morale because employees view it as an authoritarian action by the employer and find the process itself to be demeaning.

Which side of the issue do you take? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to Avert Corporate Scandal by Leveraging Talent Acquisition

Corporate scandals have been sadly rampant over the last 15 years. In 2001 and 2002 alone: AOL inflated sales figures and exaggerated revenue by as much as $49 million in 2002 to secure its purchase of Time Warner. Arthur Andersen was convicted of shredding documents containing information about the Enron audit in 2001. Enron falsified its levels of profits and debts and also bribed government officials in other countries in order to win international contracts in 2001. Halliburton booked $100 million in construction costs before clients had agreed to the cost in 2001. Tyco’s former CEO was indicted for tax evasion in 2002. Xerox falsified five years of accounting, which resulted in showing an additional $1.5 billion of non-existent income. I won't even get into the more recent banking and loan scandals that caused the housing bubble to burst.

The impact of these publicized ethical lapses is diverse. First, employees who already struggle to uphold ethical standards may be inclined to try and copy-cat others. On the other hand, the attention paid to the harsh punishments and devastating effects of ethical breaches may encourage employees who are on the fence to choose the more honorable path. Most importantly, when corporate ethical lapses are publicized, it allows other companies the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. For example, Enron had a well-written ethics policy, but did not have a corporate culture that promoted ethical behavior. By analyzing the factors that contributed to the ethical lapses, companies can take a proactive approach to encouraging employees to act ethically. Incorporating ethics into company culture and creating incentive programs that reward ethical behavior are just two examples.

So, how can the recruitment team be a resource that help an organization avoid the fate of the companies mentioned in the opening paragraph? Recruiters are the gatekeepers of company culture. They should be viewed as essential to the current and future success of the company. Recruiters can only gain an in-depth knowledge of the company’s future goals by participating in planning meetings with senior management. When recruiters understand the future needs of the organization, they can hire candidates who will perform well and fit in with or enhance the corporate culture. Recruiters who are participants in strategic planning sessions can support and expedite the execution of managements’ business strategy and contribute to increasing company profits. Additionally, recruiters who understand the company’s future plans can hire not only for the company’s current needs, but also for the company’s future needs.

Neuborne, E. (2003). Incentive ethics under fire. Potentials, 36(3), 5.
Patsuris, P. (2002, August 26). The Corporate Scandal Sheet. Retrieved from
Phillips, J., & Gully, S. (2012). Strategic staffing (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Fine Line Between Standing Out & Being Creepy (Interview Series #5)

This post concludes my interview series. The previous posts in this series have provided tips that will help you stand out and beat your competition. For example, you can ask the interviewer insightful questions that no other candidates have asked or be able to think on your feet to answer tricky interview questions better than other interviewees.

You should definitely put your own spin on these tips so that they are a reflection of your true self. But keep in mind that there is a fine line between standing out and being creepy (or all out inappropriate for the situation).

For example, you could follow up after your interview by sending an astonishingly well written thank you email. Now you stand out. Or you could follow up by mailing each interviewer a handmade thank you card with the interviewer's face on the front of the card. Now you're creepy - now matter how well written your thank you note is.

Think before you act. Always make sure that your actions are appropriate for the situation. Always act professionally no matter how casual the interviewer seems.

What have you done in an interview situation that you thought would make you stand out but in hindsight you realize was creepy? When I was in my early 20's I once went in person, uninvited, to follow up on the status of my candidacy. Creepy!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Be Ready to Answer Any Interview Question (Interview Series #4)

The internet is full of posts that tell you what questions you can expect to be asked in an interview. Some of these posts even tell you the "best" way to answer all of these questions. Can you memorize 100 interview questions and their corresponding recommended answers? I can't. Also, I don't see the point in stealing someone else's answers when you should be letting the interviewer get to know you by proving your answers to their questions. This strategy will help differentiate you from the ten other candidates who all said that their biggest weakness is public speaking or taking on too many tasks at once.

Sure, some companies might ask you oddball questions like "What three things would you bring with you if you were stranded on an island?". I never minded those questions. There's no wrong answer as long as you can explain your reasoning. I would bring a mechanical engineer, a zippo lighter full of lighter fluid, and drinking water.

The questions that always made me nervous are the typical questions such as "What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?" I always used to give the recommended answers: "My biggest strength is that I am both a strong individual contributor and team player. My biggest weakness is that I sometimes overcommit myself".

Years later I entered the world of Talent Acquisition and realized the error of my ways. Everyone else was giving those same answers. Everyone except the people who got hired. Those candidates had real answers. They also took the time to explain what steps they were taking to strengthen their weakness and maintain their strength. If you follow this formula, your answers to interview questions will likely change over time. Right now my answer is that my biggest strength is my ability to set priorities and manage them. To maintain this strength I read a lot about priority assessment methods, utilize the Eisenhower Matrix priority setting system, and use apps or software to make sure that I meet deadlines. My biggest weakness is that I interrupt people. I was raised in a family where this was the norm and this horrible habit was only pointed out to me recently. To improve this weakness I have joined Toastmasters. Contrary to popular belief, Toastmasters doesn't just help you with your public speaking skills - it also helps you improve your active listening skills.

In fact, joining Toastmasters is the best way to prepare yourself to be able to answer any interview question, even the tough ones. Instead of trying to memorize hundreds of interview questions and answers, you will learn how to prep, be a good audience for your interviewer, deliver your responses concisely and with confidence, and think on your feet.

Attend a few meetings as a guest. The worst case scenario is that you disagree with me. The best case scenario is that you join and learn to implement a slew of communication, listening, and evaluation skills that are lying dormant inside you, just waiting to be tapped into. I'm a member in District 31 - feel free to say "hi" when you visit!