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What Dating Teaches us About Employer Branding

Things like this…

…make me really sad.

On the one hand, they’re trying really hard…

…on the other hand, they’re not trying at all.

You see, it’s all about intent. The intent here is purely to lure eyeballs. Eyeballs that might just get someone to their “Careers” page, in the hope they’ll apply.

The intent isn’t to make it a great place to work (c’mon, the slide would be fun for like 5 minutes).

A nice gesture is one where thought has been applied to ensure that the receiver is getting something they will really value; something of meaning. The employer branding part then flows from there; it’s not the end in and of itself.

Neil Strauss wrote a best-selling book a while back about dating titled “The Game.” He talks about something called “peacocking” – wearing something outrageous to get attention; female attention in his case.

Right up until the end, “The Game” is a book about trickery and deception. Put on a performance of staged social cues to impress and leave them to regret trusting you later.

But, of course, the moral of the story is this: for something to last, they’re going to have to see the real you. So, be your authentic self as it’s all that you really have.

What we see in this slide is a peacocking attempt. It’s one of those t-shirts with built in neon lights. It’s a sparkly top hat. It’s a spinning bow tie.

But of course as humans, we’re drawn to scarcity (things that are hard to get). We want it to feel like they don’t have to try. They’re chilling by the bar wearing dark, plain colours and having a genuinely good time without causing a scene.

The company pictured above might be a great place to work, but their exhibitionism shows neediness (“look how fun I am!”) when we want them to play it cool.

So, what is good employer branding then?

The seed of good employer branding is in building something of meaning. Something that stands for something. Something that resonates with some people and alienates others because it has an identifiable opinion and a philosophy.

Patagonia believe they can help save the environment. DeepMind believe they can solve complex world problems using AI. WeTransfer believe you should be treated with the same respect online as you are offline.

Some people care a lot about the environment, others less so. Those who do, hear about Patagonia and apply to work there. Those who don’t, work somewhere else.

You don’t need to scream for mass-attention because you and your target are already part of the same community. You’re watching the same band play. You’re regulars at the same yoga class. You’re at the same house party. You actually really suit each other…

Thanks for reading.

This post was inspired by:

Neil Strauss – The Game

Mark Manson – Models

Seth Godin – Purple Cow