Brands

How Content Marketing Helped Make Google the Most Attractive Employer in the World

By Tim Parsons November 3rd, 2016

For three years in a row, Google has been the most attractive employer in the world for business and computer science graduates, according to research from advisory firm Universum. In the U.S., Google is second only to NASA for engineering graduates, and in 2015, it snuck into the top three for humanities and reached number six for natural sciences.

But why?

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is the eighth most profitable company on the Fortune 500 list, which likely has a major influence. But tech is a booming industry, and many of Google’s competitors share those lofty echelons of commercial success. Apple, for example, occupies the third spot on the Fortune 500, but Google consistently ranks higher when it comes to employer appeal.

A lot of Google’s success in attracting talent comes down to employer brand—in other words, the company’s reputation among potential recruits. Employer brand can be a tricky concept to navigate, as every generation has a different idea of what an ideal employer looks like. Millennials tend to be more preoccupied with work/life balance, rapid progression, and company values. Their parents, meanwhile, may have favored stability and high salaries.

So how did Google build such a strong employer brand, and what can its competitors learn from its success?

Don’t just say it, show it

Imagine your typicalWork for Us” page on a corporate website. Your mind probably conjures up stock photographs of grinning employees (or stock photo “employees”), accompanied by several claims about a “culture of innovation” andcommitment to personal development.”

That’s all well and fine, but this approach doesn’t exactly differentiate companies from the crowd. There isn’t a tech company in the world that wouldn’t claim to be innovative; that’s like a car manufacturer lauding its ability to make objects with wheels.

Google’s approach is more about showing how these ideals are actually applied. Its careers page resembles the homepage of a tech magazine, complete with stories about employees, professional tips, and videos. Innovation is not just a vague claim but a theme running through the content. Take this employee’s mission to disrupt education, for example, or this 360-degree tour of one of the company’s new data centers.

Similarly, claims about personal development are substantiated, if not replaced entirely, by stories about actual achievement, with a focus on intrapreneurship. It’s a subtle but important shift—Google publishes stories to inspire new recruits rather than just telling them they should be inspired.

The more functional elements of the experience, such as job postings, are integrated contextually. This interview with a site reliability engineer, for example, is accompanied by a side bar of relevant live vacancies.

Social proof

The employer brand doesn’t just live on site. Working at Google has become synonymous with the famed campus, which is important since Universum found millennials are more attracted by environmental factors than company reputation or compensation.

The campus essentially acts as a content factory that drives the brand’s reputation. On social media, willing employees make a lot of user-generated content. The employer brand Twitter handle @lifeatgoogle might be corporately managed, but it mostly just retweets employees who post a vast amount about their life at Google. Colorful bikes, table tennis breaks, nap pods—awareness of these enticing perks spreads through employee advocacy.

Google also actively encourages employees to use their own creativity, the prime example being the Nat and Lo YouTube series, which explores activity behind the scenes at Google HQ. The fact that this content comes from employees is key, highlighting the importance of social proof that candidates can access when hunting for jobs. Hearing about a company from an individual will resonate more than a company talking about itself.

Get to the point

Google has a fondness for slogans. (Its corporate motto used to be “Don’t be evil.”) That style is mirrored in the company’s employer branding. “Bring questions. Build answers” greets visitors to Google’s careers page, and its predecessor, “Do cool things that matter,” can still be found around the site.

While pleasingly succinct, these sayings are also thoughtfully constructed. A recent survey by Deloitte points out that millennials want to make a positive impact through their careers. Google’s employer brand slogans capture that importance while also appealing to people interested in creative problem solving. There’s no buzzwordy jargon, just a concise message about corporate values.

It’s difficult to evaluate if these slogans have a quantitative effect on hiring, but one telling factor is that other companies have started to imitate Google’s style. Microsoft, for example, shifted from the vague “Empower your future” to “Come as you are, do what you love.”

Perhaps the most important lesson from Google’s employer branding is that the company takes it seriously. While many organizations just create a bland careers page and hope for the best, Google empowers employees and tells their stories. When Google likely takes the top spot for most attractive employer in the world for the fourth year running, you’ll know why.

Image by Unsplash / CC Zero
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