One of the things we love most about our work is getting to establish relationships and getting to meet and learn from interesting people. Brandon Linn, VP of Employer Brand Marketing and Social Media, at Freedom Mortgage is one example of a relationship we’ve built and continued over time. Through a series of meetings, we learned we had a lot in common, but one of the things that stood out most was his interesting and unique role within the organization at Freedom Mortgage. Recently named one of the Comparably “Inspiring Employer Brand Leaders In the Northeast,” we were thrilled to interview Brandon about his journey and hear his thoughts on the intersection of employer brand and marketing.
(exaqueo) Tell me about your journey to this role?
(Brandon Linn) I like to start from my first big career exploration adventure—Hollywood. I was attempting to funnel storytelling into becoming a legendary screenwriter while working for a large production company. After some soul searching on the idea that I was a small fish in a big pond of like-minded creatives, I came to believe that I could find more “blue ocean” by reaching audiences through social mediums and through the lens of recruitment marketing/employer branding. After a few years recruiting, I came to learn the term “employer branding,” accidentally. I was an ATS Administrator for a Fortune 500 company, years before scalability through chat bots would have made what I’m about to say laughable, and set-up a phone line on my desk called the “career site support line.” Literally, my coworker and I were taking on being the front-end candidate help-desk, and listening to applicants complain about their confusions and experiences with our candidate experience and online application process. I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down “HR” on one circle, then “Marketing” on another circle, and then “HR Marketing?” with a question mark in the middle, thinking that if only I could scale the efforts to educate and advise candidates on the opportunity, culture, and process, as well as broadcast these messages on social media, we could more efficiently recruit and articulate what I was doing at the scale of one conversation at a time. Since then, I’m now with a fantastic financial firm called Freedom Mortgage who fosters the dream of homeownership. I’m more than happy to be in my new role, working on elements that drive both consumer and candidate demand with my oversight of employer brand and social media marketing.
(ex) Why did the company decide to have the role be a hybrid?
(BL) Social media is a fantastic testing ground for a content marketing feedback loop. I can take some of the big messages from EVP pillars or major hiring needs as well as focus areas from our product portfolio through consumer campaigns and break them into smaller creative A/B tests, micro-campaigns, organic or paid, and come back with some very quick feedback. It’s a great way to also bring together what we continue to drive home the philosophies of the candidate and consumer marketing funnels. Each having the same best practices, analytical strategies, and at this point many of the same tools and techniques. Blending those two worlds gives me systematic insights, and thus spurs inspiration to knock it out of the park in novel ways from all fronts. Put simply – I’m NEVER bored.
(ex) What was your reaction to learning this role would report into the CMO?
(BL) This was one of the big reasons I actually joined! I am thrilled that the company is able to connect employer brand marketing and social media marketing to revenue and draw huge connections to ROI by driving forward these programs with the same fervor and sharpness of demand generation techniques and executions for both the talent and consumer sides of the house. As I mentioned before, the learnings that crossover between the two worlds make the work that much more enjoyable and the output that much stronger.
“Marketing does for Sales (Field Ops), what Employer Branding does for Talent Acquisition (Recruitment Ops). Now I can see the whole system at play… “Woah” —in my Keanu Reeves voice.”
(ex) Now that you’ve reported into both sides, where do you think the Employer Brand function belongs?
(BL) I love this question and believe it’s less of where the function belongs, but more a question of who best fits in this world? If you think about consumer marketing setting up the ball for field sales to spike, it’s correlative to how employer brand marketing should set up the ball for recruiters to slam dunk. If you get an HR person that thinks, operates, and is wired like a marketer – fantastic. You now have a utility player who can pivot to get your talent acquisition team to think bigger about top-of-funnel strategies and demand generation. But if you have someone that only operates like a salesperson (recruiter) and for better or worse isn’t comfortable with marketing, then by want and/or need gets thrown into standing up employer branding and recruitment marketing, it may be successful but will often come with lots of slow growth and potential waste (most often, burnout). In other words, someone who is an artist and a scientist.
(ex) And come year end, what will you be most proud of?
(BL) That Freedom Mortgage’s story (a la activated employer brand marketing) is live and flourishing with a campaign positioned in the right way, to the right people, at the right time to both attract and convert the appropriate talent and help others self-select out. I will also be proud that our social media channels are running like mini production studios and news rooms, pumping out content like a well-oiled machine for both candidates and consumers. We’re doing that today, but I can’t wait to see both of these facets grow!