Telling the story of your employer brand

Employer branding is all about storytelling. Often, the focus is on the general story of an organization as an employer. But what about the story of a role and how it fits in to the organization?

by Noor von Bowen, Director, Global People Partnerships

It’s not easy to tell a consistent story throughout a candidate’s experience, but succeeding can be crucial to ensuring a successful match between a company and a candidate. Here’s how we strive at SoundCloud to tell candidates an honest story that provides clear pictures of opportunities we offer.

  1. Define the story and keep it simple. What is the essential story to tell? What is the information about the role and the context that the candidate needs to know? It’s essential not to forget that what might seem common sense to a recruiter or interviewer about your industry, your organization, a team or a role might not be obvious to a candidate. For example: if you’re in a high-growth environment like ours, it’s key that the candidate understands the purpose and ambition of the company as well as the team and the role. As prospective employers we need to prove that our ambition is serious and that we’ve already acted on our purpose.
  2. Pre-select relevant available information. Of course you want the candidate to research your organization and come prepared to an interview. But if you want the candidate to pick up the most relevant articles or company blogs that touch specifically on the function or the role that they’re applying for, you need to be proactive about sharing this with them. Include this kind of relevant information with an invite for an interview and let the interviewer know that you’ve shared it with the candidate. At SoundCloud, especially with passive candidates, we aim to provide broader information to help them prepare to come and meet us.
  3. Pre-sync meeting: Before we start our interviewing phase at SoundCloud, we hold a pre-sync meeting with the full hiring team — all the people involved in the hiring process. This meeting is facilitated by the role’s recruiter but lead by the hiring manager. We aim to give everyone a full briefing on the story, purpose and ambition of the role. We also touch on the roles that each member of the hiring team are playing in the process. Depending on the role and the hiring team this meeting takes about 30–45 minutes. Initially, spending this time received a bit of resistance (‘another meeting…?) but members of our team soon found out that actually this was the key preparation they need before going into the interviews. It’s time very well spent.
  4. Candidate checkpoints: During the process we have regular checkpoints with the candidate on the phone. This can be done by the recruiter or hiring manager. These calls are mostly around 10–15 minutes, just to check in on what the story is the candidate picked up so far. This gives us the opportunity to add or correct information, if necessary. It also gives us great insight to where the candidate is in the process.
  5. Be transparent about the role of interviewers. To really ensure your story comes across, make sure the candidate understands what role each of the interviewers is playing in building the narrative. Too often, candidates only get an overview of interviewers with — when they are lucky — a job title. Make sure the candidate understands what the relationship of each person is to the open role, and what the specific role each person is playing in the process — for example, whether they’re there to discuss technical aspects of the role, or in having a more general conversation about culture. This way the candidate can also prepare and ask each interviewer the right and relevant questions.

Let me be clear, getting the full story across in the short time of an interviewing process is difficult. We’re still working on it! But the above points have brought great improvements for us in terms of candidate experiences.

We’re hiring fast at SoundCloud, and we want you to join us! Hear all about what SoundCloud is from the people who know it best: our team.