Get More Done: Employer Branding Blueprint with Sean Bestor

Do you know how to make your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace?

It’s time to step into the world of employer branding and learn how to nail the hiring process, improve your employer value proposition, and create a company culture that does the work for you.

Employer Brand Manager Sean Bestor takes us through how to make recruitment less transactional, why internal communications can make all the difference, and what trust has to do with it.

Tune in (or read below) to start forming your employer branding blueprint. 

Listen to Episode 6:


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In the episode “Employer Branding Blueprint,” we discuss:

  • How telling stories that matter keeps people at your company and attracts top talent
  • Why internal communications are vital to employer branding 
  • How employer branding relates to marketing: selling the company vs. selling the product
  • Why automating hiring and content creation were the first steps for employer branding at Whole Foods
  • How to avoid being a bottleneck: free up things that stop people from executing, set expectations ahead of time, and don’t agree to unrealistic timelines
  • The importance of trust to honest and productive feedback
  • Why you shouldn’t rely on benefits to attract candidates
  • The impact of reliable data for pulling out the rights stories in employer branding
  • Strategies for hiring managers: the two things that recruiters struggle with most and how to overcome them
  • Sean’s top productivity tip and what Mondays have to do with it
  • What’s next for Sean: building employer branding at Article from the ground up

Favorite quotes

“The easiest way that I've ever summed up employer brand is it's really just telling the story of what it's like to work at a company. That's the biggest goal of it. And I keep it broad because a lot of times people will tack on at the end of that to get people in the door. Hire better talent faster, but really an employer brand is more comprehensive.”
- Sean Bestor
“So for storytelling, for building up a great website, for getting yourself out there on LinkedIn, for getting these placements in and these awards or whatever it may be, that goes into the brand, you know? That's going to take a longer time. You can't just flip a switch and then the brand is on and it's perfect. That's not going to happen. It takes months. Sometimes it takes years.”
- Sean Bestor
“Brand is the thing that brings in the candidates who aren't looking and then it hooks the ones that are. And that's the biggest piece of it where, you know, without a brand you're essentially just relying on benefits. You're relying on your pay and all that stuff. And it's tough because it's a really tough market out there.”
- Sean Bestor
“If you've ever been a hiring manager, if you're listening on this podcast and you hire and you get that survey after you've hired somebody that says, ‘Hey, how did we do? What was good? What wasn't so good?’ Give us feedback. Please take that as quick as you can because it is so hard to get feedback and feedback is the thing that's going to help recruiters out the most.”
- Sean Bestor

Meet today’s guest, Sean Bestor

Sean Bestor is an experienced marketing leader with 10+ years of experience in almost every

Podcast Quotes Episode 6

channel of growth marketing. He has built award-winning blogs, and revenue-generating email funnels, and now focuses on building employer brand teams. 

Sean loves going from 0-100 and creating things from scratch. As the former Global Head of Employer Branding at Whole Foods Market, Sean built processes that scale, cross-functional partnerships that last, and a strong employer brand team that delivers at the highest level. Now he is combining his passion for employer branding and furniture building at Article.

Productivity resources to explore

 “Employer Branding Blueprint” full transcript

Ben (00:00):

This is Get More Done. I'm your host, Ben Dlugiewicz. Each episode, we will be sitting down with guests from around the world and have them talk through how they manage their days, use automation, build systems to scale, or help their teams be more productive. On today's episode, I caught up with Sean Bestor, a growth marketer that has built award-winning blogs, revenue-generating email funnels, and now building employer brand teams. We talk about how leadership built on principles can help teams stay productive and we dig into the world of employer brand and its importance with attracting the best in the industry. Enjoy.

Ben (00:52):

And welcome back to Get More Done, the podcast about all things productivity and problem-solving. Our guest today is Sean Bestor, the former Head of Global Employer Brand at Whole Foods. And now heading up employer brand at Article. Welcome to the podcast, Sean.

Sean (01:05):

Thank you. Good to see you again, my man. Been a while, but yeah, excited to talk about some employer branding and how to get some marketing stuff done.

Ben (01:13):

That's awesome. Great to have you. Typically, when we start these things, we start with an ice breaker to break up the nerves a little bit. So on that note, what was your first job?

Sean (01:23):

Oh, man. So my first job, I'll go like the more informal ones. So we moved from Texas to Minnesota. Inherit our family's campground up in Minnesota. And so I was the glorified grounds crew mower guy at the very ripe age of like sixth grade, seventh grade. So it was mowing acre after acre, after acre. Picking up countless sticks, emptying out garbages, emptying out fire pits. I'm sure dad was really happy to have a kid to do all that stuff. So yeah, that was a very brutal first job. And this was before, by the way, there were any iPods or there were any, there was no audible, there was no Spotify. There was no nothing. You either had your cassette player playing Backstreet Boys, or you were just listening to the wind my man. And that's all you could do when you were mowing. So that was, yeah, that was the first.

Ben (02:18):

Haha. I doubt you got paid for that.

Sean (02:22):

I mean, I got paid a little bit. You know, like you could go to, shout out Shopko if anyone knows what that is. Small town stuff. Yeah. I could go there and maybe get some baseball cards and stuff, but yeah, not so much.

Ben (02:35):

For the audience that may not know. Can you sum up what employer brand is?

Sean (02:40):

Yeah. You know, what's really interesting about employer brand, four and a half years ago, this was something that nobody talked about. I remember when I came from Sumo, so that was a company that I was at before. And had a guy named Ray Malouf who headed up TA over, talent acquisition, over at Walmart. He came over to Whole Foods to lead it up and he was selling me on this thing called employer brand. I was like, "Nah, man. What's this all about, it's HR?" "Well, it's split into HR and marketing, but here it was in HR at Whole Foods." And I was like, "You know, I'm a SaaS marketer. I'm a growth marketer. I do content. I'm in SaaS companies, MarTech, all that stuff. It's pretty clearly defined." But the more I looked at it, I was kind of like, man, this is a really interesting space because there weren't a lot of companies that were doing it really well.

Sean (03:31):

It was, you had your FANG companies. You had Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google. And they were for sure doing it. It was kind of like a rich getting richer type of thing. But really no one else was doing it. It was mostly, folks in HR, recruiters who were kind of like, "Hey, you know, social, can you post a couple of things on LinkedIn?" Or it was someone in marketing who was, you know, super slammed doing other things and would kind of do it on the side. And, you know, there was just so much room for this particular employer brand space for a growth marketer or someone who's a full-stack marketer to come in and just wreck things. So, you know, I looked at it and I was like, this is something that's really cool. And for me, I mean the easiest way that I've ever summed up employer brand is it's really just telling the story of what it's like to work at a company. That's the biggest goal of it. And I keep it broad because a lot of times people will tack on at the end of that to get people in the door. Hire better talent faster, but really an employer brand is more comprehensive. 

Podcast Quotes Episode 6 (1)

Sean (04:30):

Yes, it's to help, you know, tell the story of your company and try and get really high-quality talent in the door faster. So then you're not, you know, sitting there and spending 120 days trying to hire someone, but really there's the other side of it too. The internal comms side of it, where you're really telling the story of what it's like to work there and really reinforcing things that keep people there. So then you can retain talent. You know, employer brand is very often thought of like a top of funnel, talent acquisition kind of thing, but really the best places that are running good employer brand programs, they also partner with internal comms.

Sean (05:05):

So then you can tell these stories to, you know, increase retention and increase productivity and all this stuff. Because you know, you're telling the stories that matter and that keeps people at your company. So, you know, really it's the same toolkit as any full-stack marketer or early startup marketing hire. You do pretty much the same stuff. It's just, you know, instead of doing retail or product side, you're doing people stuff. So, you know, your lifetime value is more like a retention number now. And instead of influencer marketing, you're spending money to get people within the company to tell their stories. So a lot of the stuff maps really the same. It's just the biggest difference is you're not necessarily selling a product, you're just selling a company.

Ben (05:50):

Right, right. I guess I didn't even think of it more on the retention side being at a place where you want to be and getting that feedback loop. And maybe these folks could even be an evangelist and share things with their networks. Talk about building up the program at Whole Foods. How were you all leveraging automation to do this being on a small team? I assume you had to wear a ton of hats. What were you doing to streamline those processes?

Sean (06:15):

Yeah. A lot of times, so with the brand aspect of it, that's the thing that you ended up having to build up for. So there's a lot that you have to do with the brand book, figuring out what your key messaging points are, building that actual employer value proposition, which is something that a lot of people are talking about right now, and really trying to figure out. Building up the EVP and then from there, you know, once you build that base, you can really start digging into different channels. So, you know, if it's scaling up your website, which a lot of people's recruiting or career websites are just one page and then it goes back to the job descriptions. Yeah. So it's building that up to give a better candidate experience and a more segmented one as well.

Sean (06:56):

You can do that. You can start building out social. You can start building out paid if it makes sense. You can start going into a blog. The blog stuff is the only thing that's maybe a little bit different than a SaaS company. Cause generally you do that first, but for careers marketing or an employer brand, you wouldn't do that. But for automation, there's a couple of things that start to stand out and it really does, it honestly depends on what the size of your company is. So a smaller thing that pretty much anybody can do, whenever you're collecting content, you know, what we would do is we would do a lot of top of funnel messaging just saying, "Hey, if you ever want to tell your story, if you're having trouble hiring, if you want to do any of these things, just email"

Sean (07:39):

That's what we would use at Whole Foods. It doesn't work externally. So if you try and email that, you're going to get it out. So I wouldn't recommend it, but we would do that. And then we would have a series of automated, we would have an automated email that would come out, where you could go to a link and you could set up a time to just talk. And then we would figure out what you're going to write about. That part would be manual. And then after that, we would have a series of text messages that would just remind people like, "Hey, here's when this stuff is due." And just kind of keep them on track. And, when we started implementing that flow or that level of automation, it made it a lot easier just to get content from everybody.

Sean (08:14):

So that's something that everybody can do from there. There were a bunch of other automation type of things that we would do that were maybe more specific to larger companies. For us, we had, we implemented assessments. So, you know, when you're hiring for all these different stores, it's tough to figure out who you should be contacting or who should move on. Or you'd spend all these times or all this time, emailing people and setting up interviews and all this stuff. So we set up assessments for a lot of our level one positions in the stores where they would go through the assessment. They would take their test. The score would come back and then if they were a green or a yellow candidate, they could bypass the interview process. And then essentially just take one last interview and just straight up get hired. So it freed up so much time for our recruiters, for our store team and all this different stuff. That was one of the bigger automations that we helped set up. But yeah, I mean, there are different things that you can start to scale up, but the one that helped us out the most, I think, early on was that content collection piece. Especially as you're trying to collect from just a ton of different people across an entire company. That is probably the piece that saved us a ton of time.

Ben (09:27):

Absolutely and chase people for their soundbites and get the little bits. On the other side with streamlining the hiring process, talk a little bit about how that need presented itself.

Sean (09:37):

Oh yeah. You just, I mean, it's just an efficiency thing. That's kind of the nice thing about, you know, people ask about growth marketing or they ask about employer brand or whatever it may be. A lot of it just comes down to the core principles of being able to just read data and interpret it correctly and just make sure that it's clean data. So for us, we went through a process of cleaning up our data, making sure our inputs were good of, how many people were coming in the door? How many people did we need? How long was it taking to get to a first interview? Second interview? Third interview? How many people were we losing out of the funnel that entire time? And then just figuring out better ways to get people from like, "Hey, we have a huge drop-off from 0.1 to 0.2 in this process."

Sean (10:18):

How can we fix that? Cause that seems to be the biggest hole that affects downstream the most. So we just looked at that and we saw like, okay, we need to do something. And that ended up being assessments. So implementing that helped bypass all of those other things and then get them right to essentially being hired quicker, which helps the candidate experience too. Not just the recruiters, you know, who have to spend all this time going through all these different resumes. It frees them up for sure. But then it also gives a better candidate experience because you're getting people in the door faster, which is the entire goal.

Ben (10:50):

Yeah, absolutely. You touched on this briefly. On these core principles. I've heard you talk about how you run your team and bring folks on with that understanding. One you mentioned is not being a bottleneck. How do you help your team be more productive?

Sean (11:03):

Yeah. I, it's funny because I just, I'm only laughing because I remember back when I was an individual contributor and starting out and just how frustrating it would be to have all of your work go up somewhere, and then it would just die for weeks at a time. And you're like, where did it go? I thought this was a priority. What happened? And now it sucks so bad. So I know one of the things that I drilled into the team is we are definitely never going to be the bottleneck. No matter if we're at the beginning of the process or if we're towards the end of the process, we're not going to be the bottleneck. So there's a couple of things that I for sure did. One of the easiest things that you can do, when you're managing, is just freeing up things that stop people from executing.

Sean (11:44):

So whether it's needless meetings or it's just being bogged down and reporting. Or, you know, doing stuff like expense reports and all these different things. I just kind of act as that, you know, that shield of like, all right, I'll do this stuff. I'll kind of take the beating. You guys go execute. So that helps out for sure. I think setting expectations ahead of time is a huge thing. If you can align right away, whether it's, you know, good where it's like, yeah, we can totally do this. We'll do it. By this time, we'll check in here. That's great. But the flip side of, if someone's, you know, I think that you've run into this before and probably you guys listening too, where someone throws out a ridiculous timeline and you're just like, oh my God. When you feel pressured, because it's maybe someone higher up or whatever it may be, you kind of go like, yeah, sure.

Sean (12:34):

But I've always empowered the team to just say like, "Hey, if that's not realistic, we need to talk about it right then." Even if it's an uncomfortable conversation, because, if you just agree and suddenly you're behind, that's on us. So setting expectations ahead of time. I think prioritizing the weeks on a Monday morning is a great thing to do as well. So we would have these Monday morning huddles that are 30 to 45 minutes. And what we would do is we talk about our goals from last week. So to keep ourselves accountable, did we hit all of them? And if we didn't, why didn't we hit them and how are we going to prioritize them this week? And then we would plan out our week on that Monday, based on our quarterly goals and then, you know, breaking it down into that micro. That's sort of like weekly goals. We would just put those on. So then again, it's that loop where we can check in the next Monday to see if things are going. And then from there, I just let them go. I step in when they need help. But otherwise, you know, if we're, if they're owning their goals and they're defining that stuff, then I don't really need to step in unless they need that help. Those are probably the biggest things that I've done to help them be more productive.

Ben (13:43):

On that same vein there. What other core principles did you see that were super successful as you were building up that team?

Sean (13:51):

Oh man, I, you know, there's a couple I have. And by the way, if anybody wants these, just hit me up on LinkedIn. I'll message you the sheet that I use. It's not a big deal. But the, I think the biggest thing was that whole trust piece, honestly. Trust is maybe the most important aspect. So what I tell people when they come in onto my team, is I say, you know, when you come in, I've hired you and I know that you're going to do the job really well, and you're going to have best intentions when you come in. So I know that you're going to be acting in the best interest of the company. So I trust you 100%. I've got your back. I'm going to show it. I've got you on this, but conversely, you don't have to trust me a 100% coming in.

Sean (14:38):

I have to earn that trust from you. So I've felt that you know, that principle of being able to build trust and earn that trust is huge because, you know, I don't know if you've ever been in teams where there's not that trust. And you work on something and then somebody gives feedback and you might take it really poorly. Cause you know that there might be some malice there or the other way around where it's just, you don't feel comfortable giving true actual feedback and then you get a lower quality product. I think that those are really big. And, you know, for building that trust, it has to come from actions actually empowering people. So, you know, what I tell my team or what I would tell my team is when you go into a meeting, you don't have to have me there every single time. Or I don't have to be the representative for employer brand on all these different meetings.

Sean (15:31):

If you get Donica or you get Allie or whoever it may be, then they're going to be the voice of employer brand, and whatever they say in that meeting, we're going to roll with it. They don't, they're just going to tell me what was going on, I'll align with them. And then we roll with it from there. But yeah, I think that, and assuming positive intent, just knowing that even if somebody messes up, they were doing it in the best interest of the company and they were doing it to the best of their abilities. And they just kind of, you know, had a slip, whatever may happen. I think it helps you as you go into situations to be able to build that trust because you just, you're not coming in from a place of anger or hurt. You just know that there was positive intent and you just gotta find whatever the middle ground is. So I think that that's probably the bigger piece that I've tried to instill in the team.

Ben (16:18):

With trust especially, do you think that this is a benchmark for, or the foundation for, a high-performing team?

Sean (16:24):

Yeah, I, it was funny if it was a benchmark, I was like, what's the KPI?

Ben (16:28):

How do we measure this metric?

Sean (16:30):

How do we quantitate? Yeah, I think it's the benchmark. It's a bedrock of everything. You know, you talk about trust. I mean, that's everything. You can't, when you think of - and good God, I hate saying this because there's just so much content that talks about this, but Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The triangle. Yeah, that's the bedrock. Nothing else you do out of there, like being the bottleneck or don't be the bottleneck or communicate on time or whatever it may be. You can't have any of that without the trust piece. So that's, I mean, that's number one. That's step one.

Ben (17:04):

We briefly touched on metrics or quantifiable numbers from an employer brand perspective. Since you cross so many departments, how would you collect the data to show that you are making an impact?

Sean (17:15):

Yeah, there's a couple of different things. So one of the best things I ever, I was reading this piece. I'm not going to put anybody on blast, but I was reading this piece and it was about, what metrics do you measure in an employer brand? It was one of those roundup pieces where you get a bunch of people, so then you can share it out. And it just gets a bunch of reach. But one person had, I think it was like 60 different metrics they look at. And I was like, "Oh my God, if you're looking at 50 or 60 different metrics, how are you having one consistent, clear path into what you're trying to do?" Because it's kind of like, it's almost like day trading. If you're looking at every different, small health metric and weighing them the exact same, man, you just, you're getting pulled everywhere.

Sean (17:57):

So one of the really nice things about a company that I was at prior is that we would have what was called the one goal. And the one goal is really important because no matter what you're doing in marketing, as long as you can quantify it up into, or even not even if it's quantifiable. But if it's something that you know is going to help, whatever that one goal is, then that is something that's worthwhile. So for us, with employer brand, our one goal that I chose was time to fill. So time to fill being the amount of time it takes from the rec to be open to closed with a quality candidate. Now there are some variables that can get bogged down in this, whether a hiring manager is out on vacation, or if a candidate is just kind of tough to get ahold of. There's those kinds of variables.

Sean (18:46):

But as you do this more and more, it starts to normalize out, with more positions that you do. But I chose that stat because with employer brand it's really hard at times to be able to marry sort of like the brand stuff that you're doing. That really top of funnel, tough to quantify stuff versus the direct response, which is very easy to put in, like here's my cost per application. Here's how much I spent. We put it in and we got this many applicants. Very, very easy to track. So it's always been hard to marry those two. And I think time to fill has been really nice because theoretically, if you are doing really good top of funnel work, if you're doing the brand work where, you know, you're doing great stuff on social. Your website's bringing people in, you're telling good stories, you're getting into communities, you're doing sort of that non-tangible stuff or non-measurable stuff.

Sean (19:35):

If you're doing that, then theoretically you should have higher quality passive candidates coming through the door. You should have more people who aren't necessarily looking for a job starting to look, and those are going to be the high-quality candidates that we're looking for. But then you have the direct response stuff where it's like, you know, dark posts on social or you're doing paid spots on Indeed or wherever it may be. When you're doing that, that's easy to see because you can say this is our cost per application. This is how many people we need to bring in at this cost per application to get through the entire funnel to get hired. So essentially, by putting both of those together in a time to fill, what you're doing is you're saying that I'm empowering the recruiters with sort of that brand work to bring quality people in. Same with the direct response stuff and that we're getting higher quality candidates in the door.

Sean (20:27):

So then hiring managers can hire a lot quicker because there's higher quality candidates coming in. So with all that going in, you should be able to drive time to fill down a couple of days, right? Depending on whatever department it is. So I've always done that as our one goal. Now we have other health metrics. You heard me kind of touch on them where it's like, if we're doing direct response stuff, we always look at cost per application. Or cost per qualified lead. Very much the same as like, you know, if you're doing any retail market or if you're doing any product marketing or if you're doing any lead generation for the sales team, it's the same thing. You're trying to figure out what that number is. So then, you know, you can work backward in your funnel of like, okay, if it's tech, we know we need more candidates coming through, cause it's going to be tough to drive them in through the maybe, the interview process or the assessment piece. So we need to drive more in. If we know it's at $89 cost per application, if we're supplementing or we're driving all of it, we need to drive X amounts and then we need an X amount of money to actually fill this rec. So, there's health metrics like that and everything that you do, but I've always found that the one goal, in setting that one goal really helps you be more focused with everything you try to do and how you're helping the business.

Ben (21:44):

I think with having so many that you're tracking, there's not a way to know that this lever impacted a specific goal. It could be dropping something else. Great to have a focus on one goal when we are talking about employer brand and reaching top talent, how important is that brand or that brand image with securing, you know, it is a crowded marketplace with folks looking for work. How do you stand apart when you are a brand?

Sean (22:10):

It's really hard and brand is really, really important. And that's the tough part because it's like, you can sometimes get caught in the trap of direct response where it's, oh, I know how much I'm spending. I know how much that's driving and then they just want to pump money in there. But you always had a local maximum or you over-saturated the market or whatever. It may be paid. We'll always kind of flame out, but the brand will always live on. And so it's, you know, it's tough. And I always use this analogy for, this is me kind of being like a guru in this one spot is when I'm going to do it. But I really like this analogy because it's helped me out a ton when I've talked to hiring managers, try and get the brand side of things.

Sean (22:49):

I've always used this analogy of gas versus wood when we're talking about hiring. So direct response is that gas. Like when you're trying to build a fire, you can pour a ton of gas on that firelight. Imagine you're going to get a fire right away. But if it's literally just a bunch of paper and you're just pouring gas the entire time, you're going to run out of gas and that fire's just going to be gone and you have to just keep buying gas. So that's the direct response piece, but I've always tried to describe brand and content as the wood piece. So for storytelling, for building up a great website, for getting yourself out there on LinkedIn, for getting these placements in and these awards or whatever it may be, that goes into the brand, you know? That's going to take a longer time. You can't just flip a switch and then the brand is on and it's perfect. That's not going to happen. It takes months. Sometimes it takes years.

Work environment

Sean (23:45):

Especially if you're like when I was at Whole Foods Market building up the tech side of things, you don't necessarily think of high-tech stuff in a grocery store. So that takes a while to build that up. You can't just do direct response to that gas. You have to use wood, you have to build the fire. You have to take a little bit of time for it. So, I've always tried to explain it that way, where it's, you know, building up the brand. It's going to take more time. But when you have a fire made of wood, it's going to burn longer. You're going to get that fire going for a much longer time than if you're just pouring gas on it.

Sean (24:18):

So, you know, for me brand is the thing that brings in the candidates who aren't looking and then it hooks the ones that are. And that's the biggest piece of it where, you know, without a brand you're essentially just relying on benefits. You're relying on your pay and all that stuff. And it's tough because it's a really tough market out there. It's really, really crowded. And people are really upping their benefit games. So when you have a strong brand, people really believe in whatever you're talking about. Whether it's the culture, whether it's the type of work you're doing, you know, all of those different things that play into the brand. Sometimes they'll look past maybe less great benefits or not as top of market pay or those benefits or incentives. And they'll sometimes look past that because they know that they're coming to a really cool place because you've done a good job with your brand.

Employer Branding

Sean (25:08):

But when you don't have a good brand, they just go right past that. And then they're looking, they're zeroing in on, how much am I getting paid? What are the health benefits? Are there catered lunches? Am I getting, what's the bonus stuff look like? They start looking at that stuff and if you're not top of market, then you're just going to get passed by. So for me brand is very, very important because it helps keep people. It's more sustainable. It takes longer to build up, but it's more sustainable and it helps you get those higher-quality candidates.

Ben (25:39):

You mentioned culture because I was going to ask that brand is external and culture is more of that retention piece. So on the culture side, is that something that you and your team were trying to bolster and we're coming up with ideas for? Or was it a top-level thing saying now we are going to do this this way?

Sean (25:57):

Kind of. I mean, the brand is sort of that culture piece, like you are talking about that, the culture. When you are building up that brand, I think the biggest thing that I've tried to tell people that are getting into employer brand, or trying to build employer brand or whatever it may be, is that you shouldn't think of somebody, an employer brand or recruiting or whatever it may be, as the gatekeeper for all of the culture and the brand and everything like that. It shouldn't be this one person is just telling all of the stories. The best way I've always described it is someone in employer brand is more like the fire hose to the fire hydrant. You have everybody in your company. That is what makes up the culture and all of the stories that they tell. All the experiences they have, all the work that they're doing, they have all of these stories and that's what makes up the company.

Sean (26:47):

So then it's your job and employer brand to take those stories and focus them and tell them in the right ways in the right channels. That'll bring in the best candidates. So, you know, for me for that culture piece, I've always just tried to find the best stories and then just tell them where I can. Now for the internal side, like that retention piece, we do work with the, you'll usually work with an internal communications team. If your employer brand team isn't in HR, generally they will be on the communications team or somewhere else in marketing. So you'll be working with the internal comms team. But in that aspect, yeah, it's just really, you'll look at some of the metrics that you have internally. If you take any culture scores or if you're taking any half-year, full-year sort of feedback mechanisms that you have, you'll take a look and see where are we scoring really well, so we can pull stories from there.

Sean (27:39):

And then where are we not scoring really well? And how can we number one, address that? But then number two, message that out and show like, "Hey, we're addressing this." And then also what we're doing is, here's people who are really benefiting from this already. So just to show that that is already happening. So you'll work with your internal comms team a little bit in that aspect from that retention side, for sure. But really again, that's another one of those things where it's not on the employer brand team to determine what that is. It's stats again, or it's just data and where you're, you know, polling your employees and you're seeing what's working well, what's not working so well and you're listening. And then you're just, you're amplifying the good, or you're trying to address the not-so-good. And then tell those stories as well.

Ben (28:24):

With the working with the recruiters and the HR department, and you owning that candidate experience, what is something you have seen that recruiters struggle with the most?

Sean (28:33):

Recruiters right now? Number one are in such high need because everybody's hiring right now. It is, I know we see it around LinkedIn. It's a great resignation, whatever, whatever. I, well, I guess I am, I have left Whole Foods and I'm at an Article now. So it's like, yes, that is true. People are leaving companies right now. And, you know, there's so many recs open. I remember I looked at our Whole Foods site. Usually, we sit between 1,800 to 2,500 open jobs at any given time. Before I left, we were at like 6,000 open jobs. There are so many openings everywhere right now. So recruiters are just swamped. So really the two things that I see that recruiters struggle with the most are time. So, you know, with productivity and as we talk about productivity, they really have to be focused and they really have to, you know, they have to automate as much as they can. But then also they just have to be very diligent in their time management, because as you start to lose your time, it really is tough to do a lot of, you know, the outreach stuff or passive candidate sourcing.

Sean (29:38):

You start to go into the shell of like, "I'm just going to take whoever's applying to these recs and we just got to get them moving. Cause I'm hosting 50 recs. Like I have a 50 rec workload right now and I can't do all this stuff." So time is really one of them. And then I think another thing I see is feedback. So, you know, if you've ever been a hiring manager, if you're listening on this podcast and you hire and you get that survey after you've hired somebody that says, "Hey, how did we do? What was good? What wasn't so good?" Give us feedback. Please take that as quick as you can because it is so hard to get feedback and feedback is the thing that's going to help recruiters out the most. Because a lot of times you don't know like, okay, did we, or even when you're in the moment, you don't know. Hey, are these people that we're sourcing, are they good?

Employee hiring

Sean (30:28):

Should we start sourcing from a different company? Should we start sourcing from a different university? Are we over-indexing on one type of skill? Should we back that off a little bit and maybe try and find people with more of this other skill? That feedback piece in the moment and outside of the moment of just giving that feedback of, "Hey, how did it go? What can we do better? How can we be a better business partner?" All those kinds of things. That part I see missed quite a bit because suddenly it's like, you're the hiring manager. You've got your person hired and you're like, great. Done. Mission accomplished. And it's very transactional. Or if it didn't go so well, then they really will go in that survey and just kind of be a little negative. So, you know, I think that that feedback throughout the entire process and at the end really does help build more of a relationship as opposed to making it more transactional. So, you know, I think that those two things like time and feedback are two of the bigger areas.

Ben (31:24):

Speaking of time, do you have a productivity hack? Do you want to share something that saves you the most time in your workweek?

Sean (31:32):

Drink lots of water.

Ben (31:35):

That is more of a life hack.

Sean (31:36):

That's more of a life hack. Like everybody just go drink some water right now.

Ben (31:40):

You are upset, have a glass of wine.

Sean (31:41):

Okay. I guess have a little water. As they said over at Whole Foods too, sprinkle salt in there. Get a little bit in. Yeah. Yeah. I think my biggest thing I shared a little bit earlier on, but I can expound on it. Cleaning out your week on your Monday. I think that's the biggest thing that you can do because it lets you look back and reflect on the previous week. So then you can see like, what did we do? Well, what did we not get to? What do we have to prioritize this week? But then it helps you game plan for the entire week. So then like if things pop up, you know, like, "Hey, I can maybe move this back a little bit." Or in that moment, like when people are giving you different assignments. Cause that always pops up in a week, you know, your workload.

Sean (32:25):

So you can say like, "Hey, here's a realistic timeframe. Let's work it out." So then you're not the bottleneck and you're able to build trust and you're able to build these relationships. So I think that using those Monday mornings to reflect, to plan, and to align, I think that is probably the biggest thing. That's helped me out quite a bit that in using a to-do list or any sort of to-do list. Where you can, when you plan that stuff out, you can just kind of combine or any sort of product management board where you can just drag things up and down based on priority. Being able to use a to-do list like that helps out so much in the week because you know, if you're planning your stuff out and then you can reprioritize things, then you can just live by that to-do list. And you can just, instead of, I'm going to check emails and then, oh I gotta go on Slack. And I'm gonna try and do this thing, but then this came up and you're not as focused if you literally just plan a lot within your to-do list. And you live by that to-do list, then you can just ruthlessly go through and just go, boom, boom, boom, boom, done, done, done. And so you're, you know, hopefully, by Friday you can just kick back cause you're done, but it really happens.

Ben (33:34):

No, there's always something else.

Sean (33:35):

There's always something.

Ben (33:37):

Yeah. But the focus in planning is crucial. Fires might creep in or something has, someone has different priorities and you have already had things planned out and follow up on that. Do you bake in any ancillary pockets of time for things that might pop up?

Sean (33:54):

Kind of? Yeah. I mean the biggest thing for me is be efficient when you're at work. So then, you know, when you're done at work, you don't have to call anybody, text anybody, email. You can just disconnect and be at home with your family. Work, that work-life balance is very big. I have a 17-month-old daughter. I love picking her up from daycare. I love chilling out with her. She's super cool until she throws tantrums, then it's not so cool. But work-life balance is really big for me. So, you know, I think along those lines, what I've tried to do is, you know, agree to, as we're aligning on those Mondays of, what are we going to do? How are we going to game plan for this week? I try to align to goals and to weeks that aren't crazy over-packed.

Sean (34:37):

Okay, what else are you going to do? And what else are you going to do? I try not to do the whole drive-through thing. Instead of, is that it for your order? They go, now they go, what else would you want? And what else would you want? And you kind of feel pressured. Like, do I need another burger? Why are you waiting for another thing? I don't try and do that when we're planning our goals. And on that Monday, I'm like, okay, cool. What else? And what else? It's more, I try and align to things that are, that sound like reasonable workload. Knowing that something might pop up, you know, so it's not so tangible and it's not so in stone. It's just more of a gut type of thing. But, yeah, you do kind of hedge for that just a little bit when you're aligning on those Mondays.

Ben (35:14):

So with all of that said, what is next for you working with Article? What are you excited about?

Sean (35:20):

Started to build employer brand again. Man, there's something really cool about going from zero to one. Plus if any of you know me, I am a huge furniture builder. That's what I do in my spare time.

Ben (35:30):

I thought that was sarcasm. Was that true?

Sean (35:32):

No, that's actually a 100% true. Yeah, I really do. I have, yeah, I build and I build specifically in the mid-century modern style. Cause I build things for our house and I just liked that style for our house. So, I build furniture and so, Article building in that style, I go to them quite a bit as a point of inspiration for a lot of the stuff that I build. So super stoked to work with them and the things that they're doing and the things that they're solving are just really, really intriguing. So yeah. Building it from zero to one. It's another one of those things where again, I mentioned at the beginning, but it's like four and a half years ago, employer brand was not a thing. There was a thing, there were some companies that were doing it.

Sean (36:12):

But it wasn't as formal as it is now. If you go into any job board and you type in employer brand or talent attraction, recruitment, marketing, whatever it may be, you will see so many jobs. I guarantee you that was not happening four and a half years ago. So a lot of companies are starting to go like, "Hey, we do a really good job marketing the product side of things, but we don't do near that amount for just telling people what it's like to work here and getting high-quality talent in." So, there's companies that are doing that and the smart companies really are. Article's doing that and yeah, I'm going to build it up.

Ben (36:45):

Awesome. I'm super pumped for you and your new chapter. Another feather in your cap and you are running out of room soon.

Sean (36:52):

Two whole feathers.

Ben (36:53):

Two whole feathers.

Sean (36:55):

There are dozens of us. Dozens!

Ben (36:58):

Sean, it was great to connect with you and learn more about employer brand. And I think everyone should be watching the space because that is the way you can differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace. So thank you so much for joining us on Get More Done and we hope that you have a great rest of your week.

Sean (37:12):

Appreciate you, Ben. Thank you, everybody.

Ben (37:21):

Thank you for listening to Get More Done. Be sure to subscribe so you can be alerted of new guests or reach out if you would like to be on the show. You can find us on Twitter @YouCanBookMe or on our forum,

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