Give and Get Authentic Employer Branding

IRI Podcast episode on authentic employer branding

What makes an employer brand? Everyone talks about it, but in truth, many are still uncertain about what it involves. And those who do understand it often choose to create an employer brand that presents candidates with a picture-perfect, photoshopped image of what it’s like to work for a company, when what candidates really need is a black and white candid pic, showing all the flaws. That’s the idea behind Bryan Adams’ latest book, Give & Get Employer Branding: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose and Belonging. Bryan joins us as today's guest, and here, he explains: 

  • What employer branding is;
  • The importance of authenticity in employer branding;
  • Why more applicants does not equal more successful hires; and
  • The competitive advantage to being refreshingly honest!

If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


What is Employer Branding?

  • Authentic employer branding demonstrates the employee experience of a company, and showcasing the reputation of a company as an employer. Smart branding showcases a company's expectations and consistency.
  • There are three layers of employer branding: essence, expectation, and experience
    • The ‘essence’ is the headline of a company, and should be the front of what candidates should expect from the company.
    • The ‘expectation’ of a company looks at how companies follow through on their expectations and promises for candidates and employees
    • The ‘experience’ looks at the framework and strategy of a company and how they are applied to the candidate and employee experience.
  • Rather than gravitating towards the conventions of recruitment spaces and employer branding, Mr. Adams and his team looked at the challenges that their clients were having, and took a new approach that is different from the marketplace.
    • Their approach focuses on the strengths of employee experience, and tries to encourage others to join the organization, as well as doing what is best for business.


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Employer Branding vs. Corporate Branding

  • Consumer branding is very similar to employer branding, but the difference is the audience and the compatibility
    • The goal of authentic employer branding is to not only make yourself attractive as an employer, but to set better expectations and find people who align culturally with the organization.
  • In conventional employer branding, everyone is looking in the wrong place for the value of the employee experience, and the benefits and opportunities of an organization, when the branding should be rooted in finding growth and overcoming adversity which lie at the heart of employee experience. 
  • Candidates typically research a company for up to six hours when deciding to apply for a job with the main, honest  question being “do I have what it takes to thrive?”, and the answers to this question can be found within authenticity and in transparency, rather than the strengths of an organization or the benefits they offer.

The Give and Get Framework

  • Give and Get is an exchange to articulate the employee experience by figuring out what you need to put in, in order to get the desired results
  • Authentic employer branding goes beyond pay, benefits, and perks, it also demonstrates the kind of environment and style that someone might be working in. Some candidates enjoy a culture that thrives on relationships, while others value hierarchical structure, some candidates value more of a work-life balance than others. Employer branding demonstrates that not every organization is for everybody.
  • For employers, it is important to be upfront about the culture of a workplace, and it is important to provide context, creating the ideal equation. Being able to present candidates with a full picture look at what working at a given company may mean gives an accurate depiction of the employee experience.
  • The Give and Get method is effective because it is more transparent, and provides candidates with more useful information when considering their next career move. The employee value proposition gives candidates an idea of what the expectations are for certain positions, and the candidates will appreciate it more.
  • You can still be authentic without using the Give and Get method, but the most authentic employers are able to encapsulate everything that makes up the employee experience, even the difficult aspects that had previously been left out of the conversation.

The Employer Branding Mindset

  • Companies don’t just want applications to positions, they want the right candidates, and by implementing this shifted mindset towards more authentic employer branding, this will be easier to achieve. Having honest branding, which acknowledges the reality, creates a higher qualified candidate pool because they know what to expect in the position.
  • There are typically defining themes and values within an organization, and when looking into these values, the ones that are challenging or harsh realities are the ones that become the more prominent aspects of an organization. With a shift of mindset, this does not become a negative thing, and can develop a sense of pride for those who work for that company, or are aspiring to.
  • The pandemic accelerated a rise in the need for employer branding, and now people are in a more competitive position. While the technology may have evolved regarding the hiring process, people are what make the difference.
  • Potential candidates are responsive to the authenticity and sentiment of a brand, and the value of how people are treated are clearer now than they were before. Being able to demonstrate that has become a competitive advantage for employers, and it is an essential part of business strategy
  • “There is a competitive advantage to being refreshingly honest”, and this makes companies stand out to potential candidates, especially by adopting authentic employer branding early on.

Declined Candidates

  • 68% of employer brand leaders continue to cite an increase in applicants as a success when launching a new employer brand. However, considering that employers want more qualified candidates, and recruiters usually cannot handle the volume of applicants for positions, it becomes more difficult to screen applicants.
    • Being solely focused on the number of applicants can create a poor candidate experience through a long recruitment process, and puts your reputation as an employer at stake. 
  • It is more important to be upfront about potential reasons not to apply, or reasons that make the job less appealing. This creates fewer, but more qualified, applicants for positions, which gives recruiters more time to get to know each candidate, and create a more personal, and better, candidate experience. 


  • Mr. Adams’ company,  Ph.Creative, advises organizations on how to improve their employer branding, and provides recommendations on how they can achieve authentic employer branding. He recommends that companies be as upfront as possible about expectations early on in the candidate process, rather than wasting everyone’s time, which goes against typical employer branding conventions.
  • Ph.Creative has specialized in employer branding for nearly 10 years, working with large global brands like Apple, American Airlines, and Microsoft. They call themselves “defenders of happiness”, and work to educate global grands to make the employee and hiring experience as positive as possible.
  • Mr. Adams also instructs an e-learning course titled the Employer Brand Strategy Sprint Series, which utilizes the Give & Get philosophy. Click here to learn more about his course. 
    • Mr. Adams has also provided a 10% off promo code for ProjectHR listeners: projectHRpodcast-sprint10

Bryan Adams Background


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