When companies think employer brand, they’re thinking big picture. They start by trying to get a sense of their reputation in the marketplace. What do job seekers think about their employment opportunities and the employment experience? Most employers look for a story to create (and hint, it’s usually the one they want to tell.) But Oscar Wilde once said “society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.”  He’s right. That’s the real employer brand story.It’s the story of the thousands of individuals that are your workforce. It’s their commonalities, the values they reinforce together, the shared goals.

It’s also about self-selection—it’s enabling those individuals to ensure they share the same vision as the company does. And that’s where personal brand comes in. As talent acquisition and human resource leaders we’re so focused on the amalgamation of our employees it’s easy to forget they’re individuals.

So maybe we should start thinking about personal brands and employer brands together? At the Fall ERE Expo I’ll be giving a workshop on just this topic: the connection linking an organization’s master and employer brand and each employee’s personal brand.

It may seem hard to connect personal and employer brands. After all, personal brand is always seen as individual—how one person gets ahead, how one person defines his reputation. The company’s role is to support that through the performance review—guidance on how the employee can and should get ahead and correct areas of development. It should be so much more than that.

Great employer brand engagements always start with the individual—the employee. They break the workforce apart to find out what makes it tick only to tie the themes back together to help tell the brand story. Because each employee has to understand the role they play in supporting a consistent employer brand message, if the themes accurately reflect who they are, it’s not hard to be a brand ambassador.

However, employees also have to find a place for their own unique talents and experience: their personal brand. And that’s more than a performance conversation. It’s teaching employees how to become self-aware and then what to do exactly with that self-awareness. It’s helping them to balance the “what do I have to offer” with the “what I want in return.”* That becomes a litmus test for brand ambassadorship. When employees feel like they’re offering more than their getting or getting more but not using their talents, they won’t be advocates.

If you’re interested in how personal brands are developed—and what role they play in the employer brand, I hope you’ll join me for Fall ERE Expo.  There’s new territory to be discovered here—let’s do it together.

*The "what do I have to offer" and "what I want in return" are from my Kaleidoscope Career Model(C) from The Right Job, Right Now (St. Martin's Press, 2007).

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