If your company wants to attract and retain talent in the competitive China market, it must find a way to distinguish itself. Employer branding is one way of doing this. Peter Sheahan, an Australian, is a Generation Y expert and talent management consultant. He is the author of Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work, and Flip! which advises how to think and act counter-intuitively in business. Sheahan spoke to CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW about his approach to employer branding.
Q: Let’s start with a basic explanation of employer branding.
A: Employer branding is best defined as the sum total of what everybody says you’re like to work for when you’re not there. So, in the same way that Nike has a brand for shoes, employers have brands as well. One of the problems I’ve found in China is we tend to think of employer branding simply as recruitment advertising. It’s much bigger than that. It’s who you are and what you’re like to work for. It’s a much deeper idea than just having great advertising and cute words.
Q: China has 1.3 billion people. Why is there a talent shortage?
A: There’s a huge talent shortage in China. It’s not about getting lots of applications. It’s about getting the right applications and getting the [applicants] you like to say yes. And then getting them to stay long enough that you get a return on the investment.
Q: If your company is similar to dozens of other companies in your field, is it possible to do employer branding?
A: The first thing to get really clear about is why “you” instead of “them.” And then you put your answer to that question through a couple of filters. Your answer has got to be relevant, differentiated and compelling. Google receives 7,000 unsolicited applications a day. Those 7,000 people haven’t seen a brochure. Find out what’s different about you.
Q: Is this mainly a strategy aimed at attracting and retaining Generation Y employees or does it apply across the board?
A: It’s about attracting good talent. Good people across the board.
Q: A survey in China said more than a third of Generation Y workers were interested in starting their own business. Do you have to rule out that group in your branding strategy or could you do something to attract them?
A: No. No, gosh, you definitely don’t have to rule that group out. That’s the group that’s going to work for any organization that allows them to pursue new ideas. What most of those people who say they want to work for themselves want to do is start somewhere else first, get some experience, get some skills, get a network.
You make part of your promise, “we’re going to give you a platform to launch your entrepreneurial spirit on.”
Employer Branding Strategy
CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW is proud to bring Peter Sheahan to China. Peter will be presenting one-day workshops in Beijing and Hong Kong on employer branding. In these workshops Peter will guide you step by step through what it takes to build a powerful employer brand, provide you with a comprehensive checklist and lead a discussion on what that brands should look like.
Beijing: September 22, 9am-5pm; Hong Kong: September 23, 9am–5pm.