Devil’s Advocate: 30 Provocative Questions for Employer Branding Mavericks

Devil’s Advocate: 30 Provocative Questions for Employer Branding Mavericks

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Hold on to your hats, employer branding specialists! It's time to tackle some burning questions 🔥 that will make you question what you thought you knew about crafting an irresistible and transparent employer brand. In a world where top talent is in short supply and the competition for skilled workers is fiercer than ever and the stakes have never been higher. 

So we've compiled a list of 30 thought-provoking questions to challenge your assumptions 🤔 and push you to think outside the box 📦. If we create an uneasy air of tension, we’ve done our job here. So buckle up and get ready to confront the tough decisions you might find yourself sweating through as an employer branding legend in the coming year.

The purpose of this piece is to shake your thinking. Sometimes it’s worth asking ‘is the sky blue?’ even though of course we all know it 100% is blue… or is it?

A search query asking if the sky is blue and it states that the sky is violet but it appears blue because of the way our eyes work.

Devils Advocate: what's the Real Deal with Employer Branding in Your Organization?

Working with limited time and resources how can you prove that your employer branding efforts are resonating with your target audience? Are your employees engaging with your brand? Does your leadership team understand your EVP fully? 

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if your employer brand is having a positive and impactful role in your company in the right way:

  • Does your employer brand shape your company’s culture or is your culture the foundation of your employer brand? 🧭 In other words: should employer branding be impacting the culture or just reporting on it?
  • Want to get your employer branding efforts approved by the bigwigs? 👔 How are you working to get buy-in at the executive level? Do they really understand the importance of your function? Are you championing yourself enough?
  • Does employer branding have a seat in the C-Suite? 🪑 If not where should it sit within the company structure?
  • Can a killer employer brand make up for a subpar salary or lackluster benefits package? 🏓 Should it?
  • Think you can promise the moon and get away with it? 🌕 What risks are you exposing yourself to by overpromising your employer brand compared to the reality of working at your company?
  • How can companies juggle their employer brand with their corporate social responsibility initiatives? 💚 Is it a balancing act, or just a PR stunt?
  • How do you know your employer branding efforts are having a business level impact on the company? 📈 Are you sure you're measuring the right KPIs?

Devils Advocate: Why are Authenticity, Transparency, and Straight Talk in Your Employer Branding Efforts important?

Authenticity in employer branding is crucial but how do you know when you are giving your audience the truth without oversharing? You need a strong employer brand that speaks to passive and active candidates on a deeper level but posting about salaries and perks might not be enough to cut through the noise.

To promote your company’s authenticity and transparency we’ve put together some tough questions you can ask yourself:

  • Are you responsible for any disconnect between your employer brand and the actual employee experience? 🔌 How can you reduce any disconnect by working with talent acquisition and human resources?
  • Should companies bare it all? Is it ethical to be transparent about diversity and inclusion stats in employer branding? 👩🏿 What about including the stats in job ads?
  • Is it shady for companies to use employer branding to entice people to take on lower-paying jobs than your competitors or jobs you know are high-stress? 😬 What is your role in this?
A hand holding a postcard of a vacation house with a pile of driftwood in the background showing the postcard was a false advertisement.
  • To tell or not to tell - that is the question when it comes to disclosing employee turnover in employer branding. 👋 What's the verdict?
  • To be truly honest about your company, should you be double-checking what employees want to say in employer brand videos or letting your employees say what they want? 💬
  • How transparent should you be about salary, working hours, perks and benefits in your employer brand? 🕵🏽️ Is it ineffective to hide these until the recruitment process?

Devils Advocate: Diversity and Inclusion in Employer Branding. Are You Doing it Right or Just Checking a Box?

Diversity, equality and inclusion are a core foundation of many companies' employer brands and it's no longer enough to pay lip service to these concepts. Companies need to take a hard look at their employer branding strategy and ask themselves - are they really doing enough to promote diversity and inclusivity? Or are they just ticking a box to appear politically correct? 

We'll delve into some important questions to help you evaluate whether your company is truly walking the talk or just paying lip service to these critical topics:

  • Does your company have a responsibility to take a political stance on diversity topics like Black Lives Matter 🖤 in your employer branding campaigns? Or do you feel it is better to stay neutral and avoid any controversy?
  • How crucial are diversity and inclusion to your employer branding strategy? 👩🏽 Is it just a box-ticking exercise, or are you really walking the talk?
  • Is it acceptable to use stock photos to increase the diversity of your employer branding images, or does it come across as disingenuous and tokenistic? 🖼️
  • Can a company that has a poor track record on diversity and inclusion still have a strong employer brand, or will their lack of progress catch up with them eventually? 🏃🏿What’s your company’s reputation in the diversity and inclusion space?
  • How can companies ensure that their employer branding efforts don't perpetuate bias or discrimination? 🥇 Are you doing enough to actively promote inclusivity in your employer branding?

Devils Advocate: The War for Talent. Are You Fighting Dirty in Your Employer Branding Efforts?

The war for talent is an often-cited fight to attract and retain the top performers in your industry. Employer branding has become a crucial weapon in this war for talent, as it shapes the way candidates perceive a company and its values. But if all is fair and love and war how far are you willing to go to attract the best to work for your company?

Ask yourself these questions to see if you are fighting fair and how you can effectively communicate your employer brand to different audiences while staying true to your values:

  • Should you come clean about your hiring quotas in your company’s employer branding efforts? 🧮 Or is it better to keep your cards close to your chest?
  • How can you update your employer branding strategies to catch the attention of Gen Z and younger generations? 😎 Are you still trying to reach them on LinkedIn or are you investing in new tech platforms and video content?
  • How can you continue to have an employer brand presence in difficult times? 🫥 How soon is too soon to return to business as usual?
  • How should companies handle negative reviews or feedback on employer review sites and social media? 😡 Should they engage or ignore the trolls?
  • Does your company rely on using employee perks and salaries as bait in their employer branding campaigns? 🍿 What else can you offer your recruiters to convert talent once they are interested?

Devils Advocate: The Ethics of Employer Branding. Are you Living Up to your Responsibilities?

Beyond the war for talent, are you acting ethically when it comes to promoting your employer brand externally to the world at large? As the use of personal data and sensitive information becomes more prevalent in these campaigns, questions of ethics arise. 

These questions delve into the responsibilities you have to ensure your employer branding aligns with ethical principles and explores where the line should be drawn when it comes to privacy and consent:

  • Is it ethical for companies to use employee testimonials in their employer branding campaigns without their consent? 🥰 Does leaving a review count as consent? How far does their consent go?
  • Should companies be allowed to use customer or supplier reviews in their employer branding campaigns? 🤩 Is it fair game, or a violation of your customer’s privacy?
A man standing in front of a desk with posters of male and female employees behind him to signify employee images and testimonials.e
  • When it comes to employment data in employer branding campaigns, where should companies draw the line? Using your employees' names? Their perks and benefits? Their salaries? 📜
  • Is it acceptable to use data from third-party sources as part of your employer brand strategy ✅ (like Glassdoor or employer ranking tools), or does that cross a line?
  • Is it ethical for companies to use employee reviews from anonymous sources in their employer branding campaigns? 👤 Or are they crossing a line by sharing personal experiences without consent?
  • What should you do with negative feedback 👎 on individual managers or leaders that comes up from employees as part of your employer branding efforts?
  • Should your employer brand talk about your company's financial position? 💵 Is it okay to boast about your record profits? And what about when things aren't going so well - is it ever acceptable to be honest about your financial struggles?

The surprise controversy you didn’t see coming:

Surprise! 🤯 This article was mostly written by The Martec’s Artificial Intelligence platform for Employer Branding content 🤖

With talk of how A.I is mundane and unable to wade into the weeds of controversy, we thought we’d put it to the test. So perhaps the ultimate devil’s advocate question you should be asking is ‘Should A.I. be a part of my employer brand strategy?’ 🤔

Our take is: yes. Artificial intelligence is still very much ‘garbage in, mundane out’. To truly build out content that has a positive impact on your employer brand you need the right setup and inputs - such as raw lists of bullet points from your employees or leadership team,  insights and data. But once the A.I. is set up correctly it can tell and share your people’s voices at a speed and quality never seen before. As we've done in this very article. At the core, it’s your people’s voices - they are just enabled to speak where they otherwise wouldn’t have the time.

Are You Ready to Step Up Your Employer Brand Strategy?

Well, employer branding legends, this article has thrown down the gauntlet with 30 provocative questions that hopefully won’t keep you up too late tonight. So where do you fall in this spectrum of employer branding and where will you draw the line?

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