Corporate Eye

Employer Brand, Culture and Authenticity: Interview with Max Heywood

This is the first of a series of three interviews focused on careers, online recruitment and social media. First up: Paul (Corporate Eye CEO) interviews Max Heywood, former Global Head of Employer Brand at Credit Suisse, about his views on employer brand, and how employers express themselves online.

Job seekers’ behaviour on corporate websites, especially graduates, is probably not what you’d expect. Listening to the research that Max has done would lead you to re-evaluate where you focus your online careers efforts. And when the job-seeker does get to your content, the thing they really value is authenticity.

It’s a brave company that allows employees to be authentically themselves while representing the corporate brand. And yet, in this new world of social media, this may be the best way to attract potential candidates, by conveying the corporate culture in the natural voices of current employees.

Max believes that social media and networking technologies are in the middle of – or perhaps only at the beginning of – changing massively how organisations connect with everybody, especially jobseekers.

He talks about actions some of the more adventurous companies are already taking, and the opportunities for firms to steal a competitive advantage by taking the next step forward.

Do listen: the interview is full of valuable pickings gleaned from the coalface of careers communication: the way candidates view companies; how they use the corporate website and social media in practice; and the reality of recruitment pressures.

I’ve broken the interview down into smaller pieces, so that you can quickly find particular points you’d like to hear about. I’ve also included the whole interview and a transcript.

Part 1: Change, choice and channels

Key topics:

  • ever-increasing choice of channels
  • wide-spread availability of information about people’s experiences within companies
  • reduced trust in employer communication

Soundbite:

“The world has changed from one where corporate communications could control the brand, control the message… all they can do these days is really engage, participate and influence.”

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Length: 3:52
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 1

Part 2: Facing the fear and doing it anyway

Key topics:

  • where to start
  • overcoming the corporate fear of:
    • conversational overload
    • brand-threatening conversation
  • the benefits of social media for promoting employer brand

Soundbites:

“[some companies] lock their pages down so that students can’t engage… that’s actually a big turn-off and I think massively limits the power of the medium.”

“Having sat on that side, planning those activities, I know full well what the concerns are… but the reality of it is quite different”

“If you’re talking about [communicating with] university students, then really Facebook has got to be one of the primary platforms, because [of the] 650 million people […] and all university students, pretty much, using it”

“In the year that Ernst and Young began its Facebook activity, they had a massive jump up the Universum rankings, I think they got to the top, or very close to the top.”

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Length: 10:27
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 2

Part 3: Employer differentiation and corporate culture

Key points:

  • importance of people in conveying culture
  • using home-grown advocates to connect
  • using LinkedIn to connect: know your audience

Soundbites:

“By the time [students] have seen three or four [milkround] presentations, they can’t remember who’s who, or what’s what! And what they fall back on, and this is why face-to-face continues to be arguably the most important channel, is ‘Did I like the people?’ ”

“The reality is, if you empower an employee to speak on your behalf… they’re not going to say negative things. They’re going to be positive”

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Length: 7:29
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 3

Part 4: Employer Brand and Values

Key topics:

  • relationship between employer brand and corporate brand
  • relationship between employer brand and corporate values
  • how best to use advocates to communicate values

Soundbites:

“There’s value in trying to understand who you are, and trying to express that. But there’s a real danger that it becomes very manufactured [and that is] an increasingly big turn-off to candidates who really are interested in authenticity.”

“If you let employees talk about their experience authentically… those things [values and culture] will shine through.”

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Length: 6:33
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 4

Part 5: Employer brand online: corporate website vs Facebook

Key topics:

  • behaviour of students in usability tests of the corporate website
  • migration of the careers site towards Facebook

Soundbites:

“[On their first visit] university students pretty much didn’t go to the careers website… They did come and visit the site for one thing, and one thing only. And that’s to make an application… They wouldn’t come back at all unless they got some kind of positive response from us.”

“There’s a number of studies that show that if you’re two clicks away from Facebook, you lose half the people.”

“The web is shrinking, apart from social, which is great. And you see a trend now where you see big employers actually moving their careers site, almost lock, stock and barrel, into Facebook”

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Length: 7:24
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 5

Part 6: Evolution, ethics and expenditure

Key topics:

  • evolution of the employee profile
  • Facebook, privacy and ethics
  • where to put the corporate budget?

Soundbite:

“The single most powerful thing is campus events… this is an opportunity with social to really viralise your content and your messages.”

“So when you go on campus, and you’re going to do a campus event, for goodness sake, take some pictures, post some pictures up, get people tagging themselves. Encourage candidates to do it. And actually, because the more authentic it is, the better, actually: shoot some video. Get some vox pops saying, ‘What do you think?’ ”

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Length: 6:59
Download: Max Heywood interview: part 6

Here’s the whole interview, in case you’d rather listen to it end-to-end; and the transcript, for those who prefer to read.

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Length: 42:53
Download: Max Heywood interview (whole interview)
Download: Transcript

Many thanks to Max for taking the time to talk to Paul.

Who were we speaking to?

Max HeywoodFormerly Global Head of Employer Brand at Credit Suisse Max Heywood has spent the last 10 years running Talent Attraction programs for Investment Banks, previously JPMorgan, HSBC and UBS.

His experience is centred in graduate recruitment but also includes experienced professional recruitment, internal mobility initiatives, HR and employee communications, HR systems and HR transformation programs. He began his career as an account manager at EURO RSCG, and went on to successfully co-found his own digital marketing agency, before moving across to the client side to manage global agency partnerships and run recruitment marketing operations.

Max is an enthusiastic advocate of Social Media for recruiting, and has been active across all of the major social networks for some time.

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Lucy is Editor at Corporate Eye
 
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