Dropbox Refines Its Employer Brand

If, to paraphrase Jeff Bezos, your employer brand “is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” then you need to “weaponize” an all-too-underutilized resource (your employees) to help ensure those conversations will be positive, The Muse CEO Kathryn Minshew told attendees at the HR Technology Conference on Wednesday afternoon.

A positive employer brand can help HR cut through the misperceptions about a company that might be holding people back from applying for jobs there, said Minshew. Getting employees to share positive stories and sentiments about working at your company is key–but those “testimonials” won’t be effective if they come across as canned, generic and similar to what everyone else is doing, she said.

“Posting a video that shows a bunch of guys talking about the company’s ‘commitment to excellence’ isn’t going to do anything other than show that you know how to use buzzwords,” said Minshew, whose co-presenter for the session on employer branding was Christy Childers, global employer brand manager for cloud storage firm Dropbox.

Childers explained how Dropbox was able to correct the misperception within the talent marketplace that it was a only business-to-consumer company through the shrewd use of its strong employer brand. Correcting this misperception was important, because Dropbox was going after the business-to-business market and needed salespeople experienced in selling to large enterprises in order to succeed, said Childers.

“We had to supplement our employer brand in order to let these people know we weren’t just B2C,” she said. This strategy was also necessary because Dropbox is a mid-sized company with only 2,000 employees–it did not have the recruiting staff available to spend 20 minutes on the phone with each potential candidate explaining Dropbox’s B2B strategy.

Working with The Muse, Childers and the HR team sent videographers to interview Dropbox employees for video testimonials explaining the type of work they did and why they enjoyed their jobs.

Engaging the video subjects by asking them the right questions is a must, said Childers. “In the past, we’d had videos in which employees said things like ‘My favorite part of working at Dropbox is the great people,’ which is so humdrum. You need to ask them specific questions geared to the work they’re doing, that align with the interests of the candidates you want to attract.”

Rather than “What do you like best about working at Dropbox?” the employees were asked things like “How is your team innovating? How are you using this programming language to get those results?” These sorts of questions are more likely to get employees to open up about the type of work they do, resulting in content that would be of much greater interest to candidates than simple platitudes would be, said Childers.

Video testimonials are critical because “at the end of the day, people trust other people,” said Minshew. Passive candidates in particular are more receptive to watching a short video testimonial from employees than to traditional outreach methods, she said.

Getting great content was only half the battle, said Childers. The content must be seen by the people you’re targeting, she said, which requires a distribution strategy via social media, content platforms, SEO optimization, and encouraging existing employees to share the videos to their own networks, she said. Dropbox was ultimately able to greatly increase the volume of applications it received from experienced candidates for the positions it was seeking to fill, she added.

Dropbox’s employer brand strategy extends to its job descriptions, which now include more information on why candidates should consider working for the company, said Childers.  “You can get higher quality candidates by explaining why they should consider your company–I think this is an underutilized part of the content conversation.”

Companies employing a strategy similar to Dropbox should carefully track which messages garner the most interest among the candidates they’re seeking to attract–and they should also exercise patience, said Childers.

“Don’t get discouraged by early results, this takes time to build,” she said. “But when content works, it really works.”