Hey bae! - Why brand tone is one of the most important parts of recruitmentby
Many of you will have seen the now infamous email that a Microsoft recruiter sent out to interns in San Francisco, trying to be all 'down with the kids' and using the language of the trendy young things of today.
It's a good reminder that trying to be 'hip' can often backfire, and that's bad enough when you're trying to get customers to buy your stuff, but if you're trying to recruit people and attract a new generation of staff, the impact of being seen as out of touch and a bit cringe as an organisation is not a good place to be.
Not seen the email yet? Well here's the tweet that sparked it all off:
My roommate received this email from a Microsoft recruiter today. pic.twitter.com/90Qwr78eGO
— Patrick Burtchaell (@pburtchaell) July 6, 2016
If you managed to make it to the end of that email without covering your face with your hands, kudos to you sir/madam; you have a stronger constitution than myself (if you're having trouble understanding the email, The Register did a handy translation).
Who are ya?
There's been a lot more recognition of the importance of employer branding in the race to attract the right talent to an organisation; no longer is it enough to have a snazzy office or an impressive benefits package - potential recruits want to know what it is you stand for, what the culture is, the type of people you have working for you.
If you're going to spend 40+ hours each week in a poorly air conditioned office, it makes sense that you want to make sure it's your kind of place. So you look at their website, you ask your friends if they know anyone who works there, you pop onto their Twitter feed - HR need to make sure they're getting this initial experience of their organisation right.
The overall impression that their youthful recruits have is of an uncle having a midlife crisis
In the case of the Microsoft email, it's a well-intentioned if slightly cack-handed attempt at being pally with their young interns, and as much as I'm sure they still attracted a good crowd for their beer pong and 'dranks', the overall impression that their youthful recruits (and most of the internet) have is of an uncle having a midlife crisis, instead of the trendy tech company that Microsoft wanted to convey.
HR or PR?
Of course, recruiters are not PR people. And that's why often, even now, most companies have appallingly clunky job sites (if I ever have to fill in another poorly-formatted Word doc application form I will cry) and thoroughly dull social media pages. When was the last time you gave your job application process an MOT?
However, is it better to be dull than cringe? At least this campaign shows that Microsoft (or someone in their recruitment team) has a sense of humour, if not the sharpest sense of brand continuity (plus, getting drunk on a Monday? When was that ever a good idea?).
Is it better to be dull than cringe?
Topically, one of my favourite Twitter feeds is Brands Saying Bae, which shares examples of companies misjudging their marketing, usually in the same way Microsoft did; using tween vernacular to promote a new pasta dish or whatnot.
But there are also plenty of examples of companies getting it right, such as the quirky & playful team of smoothie pushers at innocent, or the fun & fair approach at Virgin.
Not only does their strong brand identity mean that their organisations are nice places to work for existing employees, but those applying for jobs already have a good sense of the company, and have alligned themselves with that culture, so part of the 'sifting' process has been done for the the recruiters already.
Committing to comms
I doubt this has done much damage to Microsoft's rep in the long term, and the amount of free promotion they've got out of an email they're now distancing themselves from must cancel out the embarassment factor, but the fact still remains that they won't be happy with being mocked for their attempt to be current and cool - let it be a lesson to us all!
Have you got any favourite examples of good (or atrocious) brand comms? Have you dropped any clangers yourself? Let me know in the comments, dawg.