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IT Crafts HR – Adrian Martinez from HR Embassy

Podcast | January 15, 2020 | itcraftship | ,
IT Crafts HR – Adrian Martinez from HR Embassy

If you want to get to know about the importance of employer branding at different scales of a business and how to start implementing it well, listen to this podcast episode. Maks talks with Adrian Martinez, CMO & Co-founder of HR Embassy to find out what areas of employer branding are most frequently neglected by employers and how does that affect their success. Adrian also shares his insights on why contemporary recruiters need to have some marketing skills to run successful recruitment campaigns and why a career page can be a better place to direct traffic instead of job boards.


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A photo of Maks Majer, the host of IT Crafts HR podcast

Maks Majer

Podcast Host

Maks Majer is a software engineer, co-founder, and CEO of ITCraftship, a company that helps both talented developers get a dream job at tech companies all over the world, and companies hire remote software developer superstars. He’s also a remote work advocate and helps startup businesses embrace the remote work culture. Maks is passionate about solving pains and removing obstacles by focusing on good software design and user experience practices. In his free time, he broadens his knowledge of business development as well as focuses on a healthy lifestyle that gives him the energy to get the most of a 24 hour day. You can catch him on LinkedIn.

Adrian-Martinez-profile-picture

Adrian Martinez

CMO & Co-founder of HR Embassy

Adrian is CMO & Co-founder of HR Embassy, a training and consulting company delivering services for large companies. Consultant, trainer and practitioner, associated with the marketing industry for years. He specializes in training clients n the field of Facebook communication and ads and LinkedIn sales, as well as online brand presence strategies (he cooperated with the training brand Sprawny.Marketing, as well as conducted dedicated training). Among the clients with whom he cooperates are companies such as: Cushman & Wakefield, Badura, Kitchen Aid, ISTV, infoShare, e-point and Pruchnik.

Something that you wish you have known earlier

For the last year and a half, I worked with a lot of HR departments, so I'm going to answer that question from a marketing perspective. I think HR professionals might learn and might get a lot more from the digital world, from the abilities, from the tools, from mechanisms that work in digital. They can learn a lot more about that and that's what I would try doing – which is to learn and cooperate with marketing as a partner more because that can only give us an advantage, that can only give us better results.

Transcript

Maks

Hi, today, my podcast guest is Adrian Martinez, the founder of HR Embassy and expert in employer branding and recruitment marketing. I had the pleasure to participate in a workshop with Adrian, so I have firsthand experience of his knowledge in the field. Hello, Adrian, I’m excited to have you here.

Adrian

Hi, hi, everybody, how are you?

Maks

Adrian, I want to start by asking you to tell us a little bit more about HR Embassy. What led you to start this business and what is your background in the field?

Adrian

What led me to start this business, that’s a tough question, Maks. Basically, I’ve been working in marketing for several years. Let’s say like, six or something like that, so I’ve been working on marketing and sales, doing strategies for social media, social media account management, sales in that area. My background for a few years was strictly marketing and strategy in marketing. 

At the beginning of last year, I met my old friend Karolina who was back then the owner of a recruitment agency. We’ve known each other for like, 12 years back from the university that we studied in and we talked for a little bit. We decided we wanted to start a business together and it naturally came out that we wanted to combine my competencies in marketing and her experience in HR.

I’ve never wanted to do recruitment, like strictly recruitment, so I’ve never wanted to do a recruitment agency because I’m not a big fan of that. But we wanted to do something that helps the companies go forward in terms of developing teams, in terms of being a better employer and naturally, it came out that we’re doing trainings because I had more than 3 years of experience in trainings in marketing. 

Now we’re doing training and consultancy in the field of employer branding, in the field of recruitment marketing, and we usually work for bigger companies, corporations, and medium companies. That’s how it started and it’s going now for a year, and maybe not a year and a half but something close to it, we’re approaching a year and a half.

Maks

Okay, so the starting story for us was also accidental, so it’s interesting to hear.

Adrian

It’s always accidental.

Maks

Yes, that it begins in the same way. Awesome! Most entrepreneurs believe that they don’t need to bother with employer branding until their company is big enough. You also mentioned that you’re working with corporations, so what do you think about the importance of employer branding at different scales of a business?

Adrian

That’s a tough question because you have to think about employer branding not only regarding the size of the company. That’s usually important, but you also have to think about employer branding in regards of the market that the company is in. For example, Poland: employer branding for the same company is going to look different in Poland and in the United States, for example, right? Because in the United States, the market is more matured. It’s different, the recession that they had in 2008 hit them more than it hit us, so you always have to think about that. 

When you think about the size of the company, I think all companies, if they want to grow, like that’s the goal of the company, it should grow, right? So, if they want to grow, they should think about employer branding because it helps not only in hiring new people, but also helps in engaging people that already work for you. Because of that, it also has an impact on your sales, it has an impact on how people buy from you, because people want to buy products from a company that they know is good inside and out. 

The size doesn’t matter, but it does at the same time because smaller companies usually don’t have the money or sometimes, they don’t have the resources to do employer branding on a big scale. But at the same time, you can do employer branding no matter what size you are and you should do employer branding no matter what size your company is. It’s still going to help you, but if you’re a small company, you can start from the inside first.

You can start from engaging people, making sure that their well-being is good, that the work culture that you’re building is something you want to build. You can focus on that work culture. If you’re a small company, you can focus first on what’s inside before you start communicating it. If you’re a bigger company, you usually have some of that work culture, some of those activities already done. You can start thinking about how to communicate it, but it’s not always like that. Sometimes, bigger companies also have problems inside that first you have to think about your work culture or you have to build your EVP to communicate.

In Poland, I usually work with medium to big companies or to corporations, usually, because those are the ones that are already thinking about employer branding maturely and that know that they need it and these are the companies that come to me and want to talk about helping them develop their employer brand.

Maks

It was very interesting what you said about employer branding touching both the inside and the outside. As a smaller company, you should start with the inside first, making sure that everyone in your company feels great, and then you can communicate that.

Also, with smaller companies, from my experience, a lot of hiring works through network, so if you build that kind of culture inside, you’re definitely going to benefit from people coming in by recommendation from your coworkers and employees in the beginning stages, and that’s also part of employer branding, right?

Adrian

Of course, yes. I mean, it doesn’t matter if it’s big or a small company. When you look at the employer branding, you shouldn’t look at the size of the company. It’s important for everybody that wants to develop and grow, basically, so the size doesn’t really matter.

What matters is what you have already done inside and what you want to communicate to the outside world, but yes, you should start from the inside because of course, recommendations are one of the best ways to grow your teams to hire the best people, but not always.

Maks

When companies come to you for support, how do you suggest to them to get started with defining your employer branding and employer value proposition?

Adrian

Well, I have a process that I implement in the companies, I usually work with my friend Maja and with my friend Wojtek. We have competencies complementary to each other, so we come in, we show them the process, and it starts with an analysis, an analysis like an audit of a few things.

First of all, the outside environment, so what is the competition outside, but not a product competition, but an employer branding competition. Sometimes, it’s different. Employer branding competition is between companies that hire the same people that you do, so if you hire IT, your competition is not going to be people that sell the same goods, but people that hire the same professionals and that you want to take these professionals from.

The audit outside is also what people think about your company right now. Check what potential candidates think about the company, how they portray it in that moment of time, so you know what you want to change.

The audit also goes inside. You have to check what activities are there inside, how people feel inside, what people think is the value of this company, what is the culture inside? If you were a consultant, you can’t know it unless you talk to people. If you’re a company, it’s even harder for you because if you are, for example, an HR director or an HR manager and you go to people inside your company, and you want to talk to them and say “okay, what do you think is our culture? What do you like or dislike?” They are going to be less likely to tell you what they dislike because they are like, “okay, but this person can go and fire me, right?” So, usually, that’s a big plus of hiring someone from outside. 

We go in with the process, that starts with an audit, then, only when we have everything audited, we know what is the image outside, what is the image inside. What has been done inside the company to make people feel good, to build the culture of the company? Only then we can go and do, for example, an EVP workshop that will allow us to define the EVPs for the whole company but also for certain branches of the company.

If you have a big company like a big bank, I’ve just started working with one of the biggest banks in Poland, it’s one company, but at the same time, it’s four or sometimes five different companies in that one company, like it’s still one company but there’s so many cultures and different parts of it that are totally different. So the EVP is not going to be one big EVP, usually. It’s going to be some EVP that they want to communicate on the global level or on the major level, but the teams or branches are going to have different EVPs that they want to communicate.

Maks

Okay, so getting started, actually looking inside and looking outside about what employees and potential employees think of your culture, what’s the spirit of the company, only then you can think on an actual strategy for employer branding and employer value proposition, right?

Adrian

Yes, very slow, yes. First, you have to think about the employee value proposition on the basis of the employer value proposition. If you have it defined, you can start working on what you’re going to communicate to the outside world, but first, you should think about what you are going to communicate inside and what changes you are going to do inside.

Maks

Yeah.

Adrian

Because if something is not the way it should be or you want to build a certain culture, you have to make changes inside, and those changes are not going to happen in a month or two months. It’s going to take a longer time, so you have to plan those changes. Netflix is a good example, but it’s a good example globally, not a good example in Poland because as I said before, every market is different.

Netflix built one of the strongest company cultures in the world and they succeeded largely on that, and so you have to first make a plan on building a culture, making activities for employees inside, and making sure the communication inside is well, and then you can do a creative workshop on how we are going to communicate the employer brand outside.

Maks

Okay, so once you actually do work on your EVP and then your employer branding, how can you measure the ROI from these activities? What data do you actually need to measure in your recruitment funnel or in your HR department to measure that ROI?

Adrian

That’s a complex question. So, when you look at the statistics, I’m talking about Poland right now, but it usually looks similar to other markets. There was a report on what HR professionals measure when it comes to employer brand, and the main measures when it comes to employer branding are employee retention, the number of CVs you get per process, the quality of those applications. 

These are 3 major things people measure, and it’s good and bad at the same time. I mean, it’s good because that’s what HR professionals want to measure, but the question you want to ask is: if I measure how many CVs come in from this campaign, then the problem is that before the employer branding campaign, you have 10 CVs per process, and then you launch a campaign, and then you have 20, but that doesn’t tell you anything. It tells you that “okay, we got 50% more”.

It also depends if you spend, e.g. $20,000 on a campaign and you get only 10 more, then something might not be right. What you should measure is again, inside and outside. Inside, you can measure engagement, retention, you can do surveys among workers, how they like the initiatives and stuff like that.

Outside, you can measure the reach of the campaign, how many people visited your career website, out of those who visited your career website, how many applied? How many of those people who entered the website started the application process and didn’t apply because that’s also important. It’s not only important how many people apply, but it’s also more important how many people didn’t apply. You want to focus on making the process of the employer branding better and better every time, so you have to look at different levels of data in order to make it better.

If you look only on the last measurement which is how many CVs I got, you are not going to be able to make the process better. Only if you look at different levels, I mean, how much reach did I get? How much engagement did I get in that campaign? How many website clicks did we get? How many people left the website? How many people applied in contrast to how many people entered the website? Only then you will be able to make the process better and to make changes in time. So, that’s a complex question.

Maks

I want to actually ask you about this because you mentioned measuring a lot on your careers page, but still, many businesses rely on job boards to attract talent. Just recently, I spoke with some talent acquisition sourcing specialists, and they said that they are not getting so much data when they’re looking from job boards or when they are looking on LinkedIn, by advertising job ads on LinkedIn. So many businesses rely on that but they don’t have the data. Do you see anything wrong with that and what can companies do differently to get this information?

Adrian

I am a marketer and I’m going to start with that sentence because it’s a very important sentence. Marketing works a little bit differently than recruitment, and I’m a big fan of directing all the traffic I can to my website. I know that if I do that if I direct everybody to my website, I can do remarketing. I can make changes to my website, and those changes affect the conversion, so I’m a big fan of bringing traffic to my website and that’s an ideal scenario.

But then we have recruitment, and again, it’s good to build traffic on your website because you have full control of that traffic. You know who enters, how many people enter the website, you can make changes and stuff like that.

Job boards have a certain advantage, which is a reach. They also have an advantage of trust. For example, in Poland, you have a job board called Just Join IT, and that job board has a lot of trust among programmers. So, usually, when you put an ad over there or when you put a job post over there, you usually get a pretty good response rate on that ad on the job post. So, I’m not saying job boards are the best, but in some cases, they’re just a good way to reaching the goal that you want to reach.

But they have a disadvantage: you don’t have enough data about what’s happening. You direct traffic through a different company which is absurd for me, and I still cannot skip that in my mind. The same happens with LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is different like people post job posts on LinkedIn, and it depends on your network. It also depends on how creative you are because usually, those job posts are not creative. So, there are advantages and disadvantages of those two things.

On your website, you can build the image of your company better because you can put a lot of materials over there that build that employer brand, and usually, on the job boards, everything looks the same. If somebody lands on that job post, if they don’t know your company, they don’t know what you are about.

Maks

Yes, it’s hard to differentiate as well.

Adrian

Yeah. I think you cannot say this is better, no, it depends on the process, it depends on your brand, it depends on your goal.

Maks

Yes, but also, you said that HR is different than marketing, but right now in the market of an employee rather than an employer, you really have to become a marketer if you want to do sourcing and if you want to see good results with recruitment, right?

Adrian

Yes. I mean, I think it should always be the market of an employee, always. Saying that it’s an employers’ market is very dangerous for us because that means that companies are going to get lazy because if it’s an employers’ market, then “Oh, hell, we don’t have to do anything because we own that place.”

Maks

Yeah.

Adrian

Like “since it is an employers market, no matter what we do, we are still going to get people” which is a very dangerous way to think. I like to think that it’s always the employees’ market. But yes, knowing the mechanisms, the trends, the tools of marketing, it makes it a lot easier.

Remember that marketers worldwide spend over, I think, $1 trillion a year on researching the customer’s journey and the customer’s behavior, so they spend a lot of money on researching how the customers buy things, and HR professionals spend only $750 million. It’s 1000 times less than we spend on researching how the candidates behave, what they like, what they dislike, and candidates and customers are the same people.

Your base candidate is the one that buys from you, so I would advise on basically knowing everything that marketers know because that can help you in recruitment a lot. They have tools, they have a lot of researches that has been done on behavior that you can basically read and you can implement not only in your employer branding but also recruitment processes.

Maks

Awesome. You mentioned the different spend on researching the customer’s journey versus a candidate journey, so I want to talk a little bit more about the costs. You mentioned job boards versus getting traffic to your website.

Do you have some data about that, how do the costs of advertising on job boards versus advertising in social marketing compare in your experience? What kind of results you can get from one versus the other?

Adrian

That’s impossible to answer. I mean, okay, I’ll try to answer. It’s impossible to answer it because it depends on what job board and what position you hire for. So, sometimes, you spend PLN 1500 on a job board and you get X amount of CVs. If it’s a specific job board, like Just Join IT, this might be a good decision, but you have to measure it yourself and you can do a test, an AB test, so spend the exact same amount on a job board.

At the same time, spend the exact same amount on a Facebook ad, a Facebook recruitment ad that leads to your website, and if it leads directly to your website, leave some of that amount to make remarketing to reach people that were on your website already. Check what makes more sense for you. Usually, because on Facebook, you can get clicks to your website for, say 40, 50 groszy which is PLN 0.5 – I don’t know how much it is in dollars, and the price depends on the market, right? 

Maks

Yeah.

Adrian

So, in Poland, you can get it for pretty cheap. For PLN 1500, you can get more than 3000 clicks, so more than 3000 people can visit your website, and it also depends on how good your website is. If 3000 people reach your website and your website’s conversion is, I don’t know, 20% which is really good, then you can get 3000×20%, that gives you…

Maks

600 applicants

Adrian

That’s really good, but that’s a really good website, seriously, like the top of the top. That’s really simple math but it’s not that simple when you do it, of course, because you spent some of it on remarketing and stuff like that and not everybody will apply for the first time but you have full control.

Maks

Yes, with a job board, we also spend much less time and resources to prepare everything, so there’s another investment that you have to consider when comparing that.

Adrian

Exactly, that’s what I mean. You have an investment in creative graphics, You have an investment in posts which takes time, but you have full control of the process. If somebody clicks on your website, you can basically use that traffic that you generated for another process. You can remarket it.

If somebody clicks on that ad, they go on your website, they read the job post, but they don’t want to apply or their in, I don’t know, they’re in the subway, they’re in the car, they’re walking somewhere and they don’t have time to do it, then you can display another ad later on reminding them “hey, listen, you were on our website, you engaged in that website, why don’t you apply because maybe it’s a job for you?”

Maks

Yes, and you can even get as targeted as, for example, someone opening up a specific job position, let’s say, you are looking for a React developer, and then show them a very targeted messaging that we have such a great React team with these people on, would you like to join us?

Adrian

On Facebook, it’s going to be harder for two reasons. One, not many people actively upgrade their experience if it comes to IT, and you don’t have as much data about the people when it comes to employment. The second thing is, Facebook lost this year, the beginning of this year.

For example, if somebody does a recruiting campaign on Facebook in the United States right now, they are not able to target the ad based on age and gender due to discrimination. In Poland, you can still do it, but next year, it might change, but you can do all that on, for example, on LinkedIn where you can choose whatever you want, whatever programming language you want, but LinkedIn is more expensive.

Maks

Yes, but I more meant as a case where people actually visited your careers page already, they went into your specific job advertisement about a React position.

Adrian

Yes, of course, you can even test it. First of all, you can say, “Hey, we saw you on the React position application. It looks like this might be the job for you,” or you can display someone from the team, “Hey, Michael, this is Andrew. He’s already working on that team, he wants to tell you two sentences,” and you can display him a video of Andrew saying what he does in his work, how he works, stuff like that, to make Michael think, okay, this is the team for me.

Maks

Yes, so that gives you plenty more power than just advertising through job boards where you don’t really get control of that traffic and that powerful remarketing tools.

Adrian

Of course, some job boards give you statistics, some allow you to do a basic form of remarketing, but not many of them.

Maks

Got it. Okay, and you talk a lot about the candidate’s journey. In your experience, what areas of that journey are most frequently neglected by employers and how does that affect their success?

Adrian

The candidate journey starts when the candidate sees your company for the first time either through an employer branding video or whatever else, so the employee journey doesn’t start when the candidate enters your career page and that’s the first thing we have to remember.

In my experience, the most neglected is not the first part of the advertising of a career page. The most neglected is the recruitment process, so the communication that recruiters have with the candidate. It very often differs a lot from what the candidate experienced in the first part of the process.

Sometimes, for example, you do an amazing employer branding campaign, you do an awesome video, you spend $20,000 on that video, you put another $10,000 in the ads to direct traffic to your website, you do an amazing graphic, amazing creatives, and you have the best EVP, and then the person decides “okay, this is the company for me, hell, yeah, I’m going to apply.” They apply, and as soon as they apply, the CV enters to the recruiter the hell starts.

Recruiters don’t have the same communication language. They don’t make the experience seamless and that’s what marketers always want, they want the seamless experience, so the experience is not continued by the recruiter and I think that’s the most neglected part. Or if you use video in employer branding, you should think about using video in the recruitment process as well because it will make it more natural and more seamless. The communication done by recruiters is very often neglected.

Maks

Well, I think our time is coming to an end, so I want to ask you my final question because you have a lot of experiences as an HR expert, I would like to know what do you wish you had known earlier? Do you have any tips for HR departments from different companies that could improve their results?

Adrian

I’m not going to call myself an HR expert. I’m a marketing expert, that’s for sure. For the last year and a half, I worked with a lot of HR departments, so I’m going to answer that question from a marketing perspective. I think HR professionals might learn and might get a lot more from the digital world, from the abilities, from the tools, from mechanisms that work in digital.

They can learn a lot more about that and that’s what I would try doing – which is to learn and cooperate with marketing as a partner more because that can only give us an advantage, that can only give us better results. I don’t know if I answered your question.

Maks

Yes, I think that you did really well on that question because that is right, HR people don’t really know their digital toolsets and it’s really great to explore that because it can really make your life easier. So, thanks a lot, Adrian. I think you shared some amazing tips and some good strategies that will be very useful for our listeners in HR.

Adrian

I hope so.

Maks

I appreciate you joining me on this podcast, and I look forward to speaking with you more on EVP end EB in the future.

Want to listen more? Check out the IT Crafts HR podcast episode with Julia Melymbrose, Head of People Operations at Animalz where she tells how they deal with communication and processes at a fully remote company.