EP18: Building Long-Lasting Employer Branding Strategies with a TEAM Mindset (with Alex Her, Manager, Global Employer Brand, GoDaddy)

Welcome to All-In Recruitment. A thought-provoking, insightful series of podcasts. This series dives deeper into understanding what diversity hiring means in the modern day. Additionally, we come to learn more about the importance of recruitment tools and technologies can have in streamlining the process.

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The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Lydia: Welcome to the All-In Recruitment Podcast by Manatal, where we explore best practices, learnings, and trends with leaders in the recruitment space. If you like our content, please subscribe to our channels on YouTube and Spotify to stay tuned to our weekly episodes. My name is Lydia, and joining us today is Alex Her, Global Employer Branding Manager at GoDaddy. 

Hello, Alex. Thank you for joining us today.

Alex: Thanks for having me.

Introducing Alex Her and His Journey Toward Employer Branding

Lydia: So Alex, you head up the global Employer Branding function at GoDaddy, and you have been in the employer branding space now for more than five years. Walk us through your journey, Alex, and why employer branding has become a topic that you are passionate about.

Alex: I think my journey was quite unique. I’m just kind of sliding in or bumping into Employer Branding. I started off actually doing desk work, and then to workers comp insurance, or labor insurance.  

Then I helped a cousin who has a Thai restaurant with social media for free. I got a chance to try all these different practices that I was learning in school. And then, I moved over to a digital marketing agency here in Austin, Texas. I’ve learned everything from email marketing to ops reporting, social media planning, media planning, SEO, running campaigns, and start to finish. 

Then I took a chance on a contract position at a company called ‘Cox Enterprises.’ There, I was handling the employer brand for the automotive sector, ‘Cox automotive.’ It resonated with me because it took everything that I really enjoyed doing. I love the tech, love social media, and the whole SEO and digital marketing aspect as well.  

After that, And then I went over to Informatica, which ran their employer brand shop across 27 countries as a team of one. Then moved over here to GoDaddy, where I've been working for the last year and a half.  

It's been a good journey. I love what I do here and love the employer branding space because it gives me a chance to give back to others. At the end of the day, you're just educating people and  helping people get into what may be their dream company, whether it be the perks, the benefits, or the EVP (Employee Value Proposition.)

Lydia: From the outside looking in at GoDaddy, I like seeing how empowering the word ‘Empower’ itself is. It's a theme that permeates the brand, and you have thousands of employees. I’ve noticed that your career page even encourages employees to work a side hustle. How have candidates really responded? And what's the thinking behind that?

Alex: Our tagline is, ‘You Belong Here.’ And that's intentional because you belong here. Whether you live thousands of miles away, whether you work remotely, go in hybrid to the office, or have a side hustle. I think the candidates have responded well. To be honest, even for me, when I heard, “Okay, you can have side hustles,” most firms or corporations don't allow that, right? That's typically frowned upon. 

However, this was something shared in full detail by a bunch of my leadership. It said, “we'll give you the tools, free marketing tools. You can go out there. We actually encourage you to go create something of your own and grab as much as you want. They actually encourage you to do that because we feel okay, “we're gonna support you along the way, even if you have a side hustle.”  

We have tons of teammates who have side hustles or are encouraged to do so. At first, candidates might think, “there is a catch to it.” But then there’s nothing to it. It’s true. And during the past year and a half that I’ve been at the company, that hasn’t changed. From top to bottom, everyone does support you to have that side hustle and just do what you want to do and to be happy. You don't need to hide that from your leadership. 

Lydia: And I understand from some of your previous talks that you've been a soccer player. And the sports team mindset is perhaps what also influenced one of a concept that you came up with for employee branding. And it's called TEAM, right? Tell us about that.

Alex:  Good segue there and great connection. I've always been a team player, especially when it comes to sports. And then and when it comes to employer branding, it's very much the same approach there. So, breaking it down, the ‘T’ is for time, the apathy, the ‘E’ is for empathy, the ‘A’ is for advocacy, and the ‘M’ is for magnetizing. 

It takes a team to accomplish, not just within employer branding but within the entire department. So, across the different departments and stakeholders, to make everything happen.

When you do that, you can be successful. That's what I've done indirectly at each and every position. I came up with this concept in early April. It was like, “Okay, I look at everything here. It requires a team. So, let's call it TEAM and just find each aspect of it.

Building Strong Employer Branding Strategies

Lydia: Building a strong employer brand is something that is meant for the long haul. And it takes time. But for some companies, especially those without a mature employer brand, there is the challenge of connecting the employer brand with the corporate brand as well as the pillars of its business. 

So, how do you develop a strong EVP to ensure that your talent strategies and your employer branding strategies for business and culture are both aligned?

Alex: They can't be siloed. I think what happens far too often is someone comes in, and they're working either at TA (talent acquisition) or internal comms. And it's great to come up with an EVP, right? I'm always gonna be an advocate for that.  

But what's happening with the business, the culture, mission, the values, and all that good stuff, we've seen the EVP grow and develop into something and to be, I would say,  a force to be reckoned with that can really go out there and attract some talent. It needs to take into consideration, “Okay, where's the business at? Your mission, your values, the culture, does it all line up? And then fuse that together with the EVP. 

But in most cases, again, it's being done on its own. And when that happens, it's tough to go out there and find people because you're selling them on one thing, but then when they do join the company, your EVPs almost becomes a marketing scheme. They may come in and realize, “This is not what I'm getting.” 

So, I think if done correctly, again, working with your other internal stakeholders, which is what should be done, regardless of where you're at in this journey, then it can be the right tool, the right means to go out there and attract the talent that you want to join your company.

Lydia: Let’s talk about where we're headed into the new year. We are in an economic pinch right now. And we've seen layoffs happening. So, how do you approach employer branding at a time when companies are downsizing? 

Alex: There's a full-blown recession. You need to look at what you are offering for jobs because all that stuff is happening, but there are still job seekers in the market who are out there fighting for jobs.  And depending on what type of employee you're trying to have to join your teams, whether it be software engineers or marketing sales professionals, they still stronghold the market in a good way where they can pick and choose where they want to go and where they want to be. 

So, it's looking at what you offer to them. They can get the pay, they can get the perks and the benefits, but what are some of the things that really matter to them?  For us, I would say, we're going to offer them a, you know, a soft salary. Depending on where they're located, those benefits will be eating to that too. But we offer them the opportunity to truly come here and be themselves and have that growth and opportunity where they're not limited by the geographic location of the team that they're on. 

Collaboration Is the Key

Lydia: As you pointed out earlier, collaboration is the key, right? You've got to work not just with the employer branding team but also with internal communications and TA, etc. And especially so in periods of downsizing and layoffs, collaboration with internal communications and HR becomes very critical. 

What are some steps that employer branding professionals should take to work together with HR and maybe corporate communications to ensure that the messages, however difficult, are conveyed smoothly and with empathy?

Alex: I think, across all teams, you've got to be speaking as one. 

I think it's very difficult when the employer brand is talking one way and internal comms is talking one way.  Let's say we just laid off 10% of your workforce last week. The next week, suddenly, you're out there sharing, “Hey, this is how amazing our product is. And come join us here. We have these phenomenal speakers.” I think that really does more harm. And that impacts everybody, everyone that's attached to the company.” 

So, coming up with an actual comms plan where, “Hey, listen, we've been impacted by this. What do we do?” Okay. Maybe it's, “Alright, let's go a little bit silent here on social, and anywhere else will we have comms going out. Let's go a little bit silent there. Let's see where we're at. Okay, what can we do? Let's put together a plan where we all come together, all these different departments, and we put a list of employees who have been impacted.”  

And then showing that empathy, “Okay, we are helping out these individuals.” And then you slowly merge back in with content that you agree upon, and then maybe within months, go back to business as usual. 

Having each individual department kind of do their own thing and stay siloed is the worst thing that can happen.” 

Lydia: Through these processes, you also have communication, as you said, external as well as internal, and employer brand works both ways. So, how do you ensure that the employer brand continues to be reflected throughout this transition process, as people are laid off, or as you start hiring again? 

Alex: When it's a layoff, how can you fuse on something that you've created? When it comes to your EVP, your messaging, any sort of content that you've created or are creating. When it's coming down to layoffs or downsizing, you should have a seat at the table and then have the employer brand influence that touches each aspect of that, whether it be emails that are going out or any sort of sites or blogs that you're creating, and social polls that are going out. I think it's crucial for the employer brand to be a part of that in any shape or form. 

Diversity in Employer Branding

Lydia: Talking about the employer brand, it's also key to ensure that you are showing off your diversity inside the workforce. And in lots of places, especially those companies that are more progressive around this and have adopted DE&I strategies. They make sure to allow the messages to go out through the visuals, videos, the words that they use on their career pages, etc. So, let’s jump into the workforce, diversity, etc., as well as technology and how it might help in ensuring diversity in hiring practices.

Alex : Let me first say that the employer brand should work side by side with your DE&I and be efforts. If you have a separate team, then phenomenal. It should be the top priority. I don't ever want to come across for employer brand and say, “Okay, let's take some stock photos to show we have diversity.”  

If you do have a strong diversity practice and program in place, work side by side with the employer branding team, or if you have a unique setup where you're all together, then even better. 

I think technology can definitely help out with diversity when it comes to hiring practices, but it has to be done the right way. There's always a huge push for automation in our space when it comes to recruitment. And I think the technology can be good if they have there is a human aspect tied into it. 

Recruitment tools are supposed to, in a sense, give us diversity and help us out with the best hiring practices to hit gender diversity and ethnic minorities. But if we're not watching that and keeping a close eye on it, making sure that it's fine-tuned, I think it's easy for us to actually have a negative impact. Instead of going after this specific number to meet whatever goal you have as a company, you could just be going a whole different direction instead of where you want to be. So, technology is good, but having that human aspect is the key.

Lydia: Absolutely. Diversity in hiring practices, and diversity in business practices, they all really matter because it's the people that are driving it. So, on that note, what are some actionable steps that leaders and hiring managers can take to ensure that DE&I is implemented in the workplace?

Alex: Look at what space you're in. For example, I think gender diversity is always a strong balance when it comes to engineering teams. But so much of the focus is always on, “Okay, how do we get more ladies to join the engineering space?” 

And that decision is made a whole lot sooner and a whole lot earlier than we anticipated to. Because most companies are thinking, “Okay, let's get them after they graduate from college or maybe in the final year of college or university.” And then, when they're looking to make the transition, maybe those candidates have already considered going somewhere else. 

Alex’s Advice & How to Connect with Him

Lydia: You have plenty of experience in this space. What advice would you give, Alex, to someone starting out in employer branding today in the midst of uncertainty?

Alex: Well, I think you need to be a jack of all trades. Although that was frowned upon early back in 2019 and 2020, you need to come in, essentially, being a jack of all trades. Being a project manager, you need to be willing to educate people, but also subtle people. I know, that sounds crazy to you, but you are always educating your stakeholders on what it is that you do. Because for the person that has an idea of what you do, there's a person who just thinks that stuff on social media or who doesn't feel that what you do is actually relevant. It's gotten better, but you're always going to deal with those types of individuals. 

And then you have to sell your stakeholders on participating in these different things that you do because we always see the finished product in terms of the content marketing or the recruitment marketing that individuals are creating. 

So, you'll see this hiring manager in a video like a TickTock video, one via iCIMS, a video studio, or all these blogs that are pushed out there. But the work that goes into that is selling them and saying, “Hey, this is why you should do it.” Getting that buy-in finding the right balance on what you can share and what you cannot. And then getting all that produced, that's a lot of work. 

So, if you're just expecting to jump into the space, and people are just going to hand you over this content, you're going to be let down. If you’re let down, you will burn out, and you won't last long.  But if you know that, “Okay, it's a space where you're going to be constantly on your toes, you got to work hard, you got to fight for people to buy into your program, to believe into what you're doing,” I think you'll be rewarded. 

There's a constant challenge with doing that. So, always be on your toes, knowing that there's a constant battle. It is rewarding once you can get that buy-in and truly grow your program.  But it's not for the faint of heart.

Lydia: That's great. It's also really persuading people to see the value of all the work that goes in as well and why it's important, especially when you want to attract the right kind of talent to the organization. 

Thank you very much, Alex, for your time and your insights today. I'm sure the audience wants to know where they can connect with you. So, where can they find you?

Alex: You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. And if you want to see the work that we're doing here at GoDaddy, you can go to godaddy.com. But more specifically for careers and the employer branding work that we've done as a team, go to careers at godaddy.com and just check out any of the social handles that we have under GoDaddylife. We also have a blog too, that focuses on the various teammates that we have located across the globe.

Lydia: And we have been in conversation with Alex Her, Manager, Global Employer Brand at GoDaddy. If you like our content, please subscribe to our channels to stay tuned for more weekly episodes of all in recruitment.

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