What’s your employment brand? Ask someone. Ask Steve Ballmer.

We had our annual marketing symposium yesterday and Steve Ballmer spoke. He took questions at the end and someone asked what gets him excited to come to work every day. My first thought was "nice softball question", but his answer really made me think about our employment brand. He bascially said 4 things:

1) smart people

2) tough business challenges

3) the opportunity to work on things that change the world

4) his unique charter and the fact that if he doesn't like something, he can change it (you know, given his job title and all)

I know that in the past, I've talked about the difficulty of measuring an employment brand. You know, having to engage a research provider, etc. But what could be more simple than just asking your employees; assuming that you want to hire more of the same (as far as I am concerned, the answer is yes and no)? It's certainly not a comprehensive study, but you do get a sense of what resonates with people. When we talk about employment brand in the abstract, the conversation generally comes back to money (ever notice that?), though I'm willing to speculate that no amount of money is going to keep someone engaged if other elements of the employment value proposition don't fall into place. I've been there and frankly could still be there is I wasn't just dying to get out ("keep the cash folks, I'm outta here").

Recruiters out there should be contacting new hires a certain period of time into their employment and then regularly and ask them why they stay (or "what gets you excited to come to work in the morning?"). Look for themes and sell the heck out of them (and never forget that a job description is a marketing tool). This is reminding me that I should be asking those questions more often.

Hiring managers should know the themes overall and specifically on their team (poll data anyone?) and foster the good stuff, work to eliminate the bad stuff, sell the heck out of it interviews and then never stop selling (it's called retention, people).

Job seekers/future job seekers-think about the best position you ever had and/or when you felt most productive. Figure out what it was that made you feel that way and then find another company that offers those things.

Anyway, in the interest of sharing, here are my "reasons":

1) smart people

2) got to craft my own job description

3) my job is new every year so I am never bored

4) industry leadership

Comments (5)

  1. Mark Tookey says:


    Very interesting that both you and Steve put "smart people" as the number one reason you both get a kick out of coming to work. I’d go so far as to say that, from a personal perspective, the reverse is also true – the one thing that seems to make a job unbearable is the prospect of another day surrounded by distinctly "un-smart" (sic.) people, and fighting to overcome the challenges that that entails.



    P.S. So, did you ask a question??

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yes, I’ve had that experience and it’s frustrating. Smart people was truly my #1 reason. No, I didn’t ask a question. I just didn’t have anything that I thought others would find interesting as well ; )

  3. Some really great points Heather. A few other ones that others should consider.

    Yes, looking at your employees is a great way of understanding your employment brand. For many companies the best place for these questions is the staff opinion survey, partly because it usually has the deepest reach, and you can segment it in multiple ways.

    What is worth understanding is the difference between what long-standing staff think and what new joiners think. The new joiners will most accurately represent the external market perception so doing this you’ll be able to create some sort of analysis on the differences. These often show the reasons why people leave after relatively short times in employment.

    For similar reasons it’s worth asking leavers their impression of the employment brand.

    In some instances there are reasons to commission external research. Two powerful ones are if you hire from a local area where field research could then be an option. The other is where you want to know something like ‘what do finance execs in my closest 3 competitors think of our employment brand’ where direct research is then possible.

    Way back I posted a ‘how to do it’ sort of post on this issue:http://resourcingstrategies.com/2004/12/15/understanding-what-matters-to-the-candidate/

    Take care,


  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Excellent points Andrew. We do the polling of ex-Microsoft employees. I like the idea of comparing new hire perceptions to long-timer perceptions.

  5. Ben Utzer from germany says:

    American way of life:

    Never bite the hand that feeds you!

    200 Million Americans… a whole bunch of opportunists…….

    ….don’t let them rule the world…….oh good have mercy!  

Skip to main content