A Good Employee Value Proposition Attracts Talent, but a Great One Repels It

Joshua Ramirez
Apr 2, 2020 · 4 min read

The following is adapted from Give & Get Employer Branding by Bryan Adams & Charlotte Marshall.

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Your employee value proposition (EVP) is designed to attract talent toward your organization. That’s what the industry says. Google it, you’ll find that basic premise all over the internet.

Yet, we believe the most valuable use of EVP is to help your organization repel talent.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, it’s true. We want you to think of your employer and EVP as a smart filter that sits between your recruitment marketing and your recruitment, helping to weed out people who are unsuitable. For the good of the organization and for the good of those people, too.

The Give and Get Approach

The true value of EVP lies in articulating the expectations, harsh realities, vulnerabilities, and challenges people must be willing to overcome to thrive at your organization. Pair those with the benefits they stand to receive in return, and you’ll be amazed what starts to happen to your recruiting funnel.

If you do it right, this will turn most people away. As crazy as that might sound, we believe it’s essential to building a viable, productive, “happy” culture by design.

We believe in creating EVPs by using the premise that it’s not a one-way broadcast of strengths, benefits, and opportunities but a value exchange that clearly articulates what a company wants, needs, expects, and demands in return for the spoils on offer. It’s a two-way street. If you can communicate that message effectively by illustrating what it’s really like, how someone is likely to feel, and what they must be prepared for on any given day, people are far more equipped to make an informed decision as to whether they have what it takes to thrive there and whether they want to take on the challenge.

For an organization that appreciates the value of happy, productive people to achieve business success, this approach is extremely valuable. The beauty of this is, 49 percent of candidates consciously cite knowing what it’s really like to work somewhere as the number one obstacle to changing jobs. And 66 percent of candidates want to know about the culture and values most of all.

We call this mutual value exchange the Give and the Get.

It’s important to articulate the give because it enables you to qualify applicants before they apply. Embracing the things that people need to be prepared to face, such as working lean or being ready to embrace a consensus-driven organization, enables you to repel anyone who isn’t up for working that way.

Repel the Many to Compel the Few

If conventional employer brand is all about talent attraction, our methodology focuses on repelling the many to compel the few.

When consulting with many different businesses of all shapes and sizes over the years, we’ve never worked with a business that just wants more applications. Everyone wants more of the right applicants based on competency, potential, culture alignment, and diversity.

If we stop thinking of an EVP as something to attract people to our brand and start thinking about it like a smart filter designed to reduce the number of applications, we can craft messages designed to help people self-select out who ultimately wouldn’t be happy working at our organization.

After all, generating more applicants is easy. Give a half-competent marketing agency a few hundred dollars and access to your Facebook account and watch what happens, or read Bryan’s first book, Getting Goosebumps, and make a plan.

However, before you do that, remember that unlike marketers, we can’t sell to everyone. We reject 99 percent of the candidates who apply for every role, whereas our marketing counterparts would happily sell a product to anyone who agrees to pay for it. That makes the experience of applying for a job incredibly different from selling a product or service.

For more advice on building an effective EVP and employer brand, you can find Give & Get Employer Branding on Amazon.

Bryan Adams is the CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, recognized as one of the leading employer brand agencies in the world with clients such as Apple, American Airlines, GVC, and Blizzard Entertainment. Bryan is also a bestselling author, podcaster, creative strategist, and specialist speaker. Charlotte Marshall was named the 2019–2020 Employer Brand Leader of the Year and has successfully built and launched five Fortune 500 employer brands. She is an in-demand international speaker and the global employer brand lead at Danaher Corporation.

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