Welcome to the Lead with Indeed podcast, a series of fireside chats with experts in employer branding, recruiting, HR and more.

In this episode, Bryan Chaney, Indeed’s Director of Employer Brand, chats with Alex Her from Informatica, an enterprise cloud data management firm that helps clients better understand their data. You’ll hear about Her’s own journey to the talent brand career path, among other topics including:

  • Wearing many hats as an employer brand team of one
  • The importance of mapping your content across the right channels
  • Landing a career in the talent brand space

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Prologue

Bryan Chaney: Welcome to the Lead with Indeed Podcast, where we chat with the experts in employer branding, recruiting, HR, and much, much more. We'll hear about how and why they do what they do, and expand our knowledge of how they're driving results in today's world of work.

Hi, I'm Bryan Chaney, Director of Employer Brand at Indeed. On today's show: Alex Her. He's worked in marketing and publishing roles, and today is an employer brand team of one at Informatica — an enterprise cloud data management firm. Now, with so much uncertainty in the labor market, the talent attraction landscape is constantly shifting, and it's important that professionals share thoughts and insights to solve these challenges together.

With that in mind, I spoke with Alex about why employer brand means sometimes, you have to wear a lot of hats; the importance of mapping your content across the right channels; and we also talked a bit about the talent brand career path. I really enjoyed our chat and always learn a ton from Alex, and I hope you do too. Let's get started.

Introduction

Bryan Chaney: Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Lead with Indeed Podcast, and I'm really excited to have a friend of mine and somebody that I admire in the talent brand space. Welcome, Alex Her.

Alex Her: Hey, thanks for having me.

Bryan Chaney: Now, for those who might not know you: What's your role, and where do you work?

Alex Her: Yeah, sure. So I work at Informatica. We are the enterprise cloud data management leader in the IT space, and I handle the employer branding, recruitment marketing and candidate experience for the entire company across 26 countries.

Bryan Chaney: What does Informatica do? Tell us a little bit about that.

Alex Her: We are the leader in enterprise cloud data management. So if there's anything you can think of doing … any way to better understand the data that you have, we help manage that and give that back to you in the variety of products to help you better understand, to make it more consumer-customer facing. We work with groups such as the Golden State Warriors to help them better understand their data, Puma, we also partner with Google. We've also worked with the Chicago Cubs. So there's a wide variety of things we can do with data.

Bryan Chaney: Tell me, how did you get into the talent brand space?

Alex Her: Like others, I got into it by accident. I simply just applied for what I thought was a digital marketing contract role, and ended up at Cox Enterprises handling employer branding and recruitment marketing.

Operating as a team of one

Bryan Chaney: As one person globally across all these locations, how do you define success as a solo talent brander? You're one person tasked with going through all these phases of solving problems. How do you look at success?

Alex Her: So, in terms of success, starting out initially, it's, ‘Okay hey, are you getting any buy-in from anybody? Does anybody find your ideas?’ I mean I guess even having that role there's one thing too, but to get a few people on the TA folks or HR where I sit, to share my content — that was like my first big victory.  Just enhancing the candidate experience was another, but overall, it's taking people who I've never met in person across the many countries that we work in — close to 4,700 people — I've got to bring them all together. 

They are throwing up all this content that I’m pushing out of our employee advocacy programs. And aside from that, they are sharing all this great content that we worked on together that I built from the ground up, and they're pushing it out there, sharing it with their networks, and they're proud to work at Informatica. That is a complete change from when I first started here, and it's a sign to me that, ‘Hey this is working.’ There's still more work to do, but I think we've come a long way.

Bryan Chaney: That's a big challenge and being able to do that while we're all remote. So, has that made it more difficult, or has that made it easier to get people engaged online and sharing content? I'm curious.

Alex Her: Yeah, so I've shared this in other interviews and podcasts. It's actually made it a whole lot easier, believe it or not, because people are home. I mean, after the first couple weeks, people really wanted to connect, and for me, they wanted to share their stories. So it's made it easier to reach out to individuals because they're clearly not on vacation. They're not doing anything else — maybe some home projects in the backyard. But they want to share their stories.

I mean, you're getting people who are opening up with … you know, it used to be very taboo to share a lot of what your family's doing — your kids, your pets included. But now, I'm getting stories where, ‘Okay. This is what me and my cats and dogs are doing. My kid is doing this. My kid is a new sales intern, or, this amazing little thing that we did in the backyard with me, my husband, my wife, and the kids.’ So it's been a whole lot easier.

The right content in the right place

Bryan Chaney: So, what's that mix that you found between employee-generated content and the … I don't want to say manufactured, but … the creative that you work on with, I'm assuming the help from marketing and some other resources, but what's that balance? What kind of ratio do you like to strike?

Alex Her: I can't really break it down to a percentage, but I would say for the most part, it's at least like a good … probably, 60/40-mix? So, 60 being, ‘Okay, let's throw in what we're doing is a company,’ and then the 40% is, ‘Okay, this is what Joe Schmo is doing out here in Redwood City. He's taking our technology, throwing it back to the county and helping them better understand their COVID numbers. And then also, but here, we have, ‘Okay, it's pride month over here. We have a group of individuals who are really coming together to celebrate,’ and then on this side over here, we're bringing together our first ERG. Stuff like that.

Bryan Chaney: Okay, so about 40% employee-generated, and then 60% curated and collected and created content from your perspective — like, company news as well as other things that are going on. That's an interesting mix. What do you … I know I'm asking for a peek behind the curtain here, but what do you [LAUGHS] … but which one performs better?

Alex Her: It's always the employee content, 'cause it's, I think, it's great internally. And we're like, ‘Hey, we want a magic quadrant,’ and I think that stuff is good. That stuff is good for, obviously, for business and for people inside to say, ‘Hey, we put together a good quality product.’ But for us, and for people who we want to come have join the company, I mean, that employee content is huge. That's gonna really open the doors … I'd guess you'd say, ‘Open the Zoom channels’ since it's virtual, and have them look at that and say, ‘Hey, this is what's really happening at Informatica.’

Bryan Chaney: Yeah, and so we've learned a lot, right? This year especially. What's a big learning or takeaway that you've had from this year so far?

Alex Her: I guess the biggest thing is, don't think that everything's gonna go as planned or be set in stone. I, like millions of others, have had plans just changed, completely rearranged. And you need to be able to roll with the punches. I don't wanna quote Mike Tyson and say, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,’ and I think we are all there at the moment, so...

Bryan Chaney: Yeah. I think we don't necessarily have to quote Mike Tyson, but we could quote Bruce Lee: ‘Be as water.’ And I think that part is, ‘Be fluid and understand that you are gonna have to move around the things that come at you.’ So I think that's maybe a good interpretation, and I think we can all learn a lot from that personally.

Now, when you think about all the things that have helped you define success and your learnings, what would you not have on your resume that might be pretty critical in helping you be successful today?

Alex Her: One thing that's not on my resume that really did help me out with just … overall, like project management and interacting with different individuals — was previously being a Hollywood manager for my sister, who was an actress.

The talent brand career path

Bryan Chaney: Okay, okay — stop the presses. I need to know. Tell me, how did you get into being a Hollywood manager? What was that like?

Alex Her: [LAUGHS] Well, early on, my sister had an interest in acting so … took her to acting school. But all the sham advertisements you hear on the radio or online were, A., Come here, Disney's going to be here, Warner Brothers is going to be at these events. But, long story short, she got into a movie called "Gran Torino" — Clint Eastwood. So, had a chance to kind of run through that with, taking her off to Hollywood, making sure while they're filming — so, back up a little bit, while they're filming in Detroit — kind of run that process, work with all the managers, all the producers. You have that back and forth, and then all over to, moving over to Hollywood — run through that. Coordinating travel schedules, coordinating Warner Brothers executives, meeting with them, meeting with all the celebs and everything involved.

And that was tons of project management, tons of taking me out of my comfort zone. But something that was unique, and it helps me to this day just to deal with the whole back and forth and knowing that, ‘Okay, you're going to have to shift priorities. It's never going to stay the same.’ It could be low, it could be high, it could be somewhere in between, but you've got to be able to roll with the punches.

Bryan Chaney: What I'm hearing is you might not have met Bruce Lee, but it sounds like you met Clint Eastwood.

Alex Her: Yeah, I wish I would have met Bruce Lee, but no. [LAUGHS] I had a nice whiskey with him. Also a few other celebs, too, if that's relevant.

Bryan Chaney: So when you think about that — all those things that are coming at you that you weren't prepared for, that you'd never dealt with before like you said, ‘out of your comfort zone,’ — how does that map to what you do today?

Alex Her: I guess 2020 right now, especially just with what we both do in the employer branding and recruitment marketing space, we are often thrown very, very different and challenging situations to deal with. Namely with the pandemic, forcing everyone to work from home. Now, there may be some companies where that was the norm. With my company, we had some folks who were remote, but a lot of people who worked strictly in the office space. So dealing with that, you're shifting the story of the narrative in a good way, and obviously not ‘narrative’ where I'm forcing the narrative — from what I can read from my audience to share that.

And then also from there, you're dealing with the rise of social, fighting the social injustice. Which, that is, if that wasn't a big part of … if D&I wasn't a big part of your EB … it's something people are investing in now, that they're taking much more serious than before. You're needing to tackle those issues and making sure that you actually stand for that and put that out there to share that story with, not just for people internally, but people externally.

Bryan Chaney: Yeah. I think that's definitely one of the things that has connected with your employer brand and recruitment marketing, so, especially if you're hiring. If you're not hiring, it's connected with PR, HR, all the things that are out there for your company. It's understanding the delicacy of the moment and the movement, right? 

For you, you've actually been, you've turned into — so I hear — more of a career coach unofficially, right? You've started building these relationships. You've been super active in the Talent Brand Alliance. What have you learned about helping people see themselves? Have you got any secrets or tips that you can share?

Alex Her: I think the biggest thing is, when you're first reaching out for help, more people, most people that I've come across just think, ‘Okay, I'm just simply getting … this person's going to maybe forward my resume over here.’ They're coming to you, and they want you as a mentor, but they also want solid advice. 

And what I'm finding out from them is that, once you've been dogged down with your job search or where we’re at at the moment, you're not seeing your potential. Coaching them along the way to keep them positive, like positivity — especially right now — is something great to have. I mean, it's always good to have your groceries or your hand sanitizers, your keys and everything from the store. But positively also helps out, too, and that's what people who I have spoken to needed the most.

Bryan Chaney: Yeah. It's like washing hands and hand sanitizer, you have to reapply that happiness frequently. [LAUGHS] In the spirit of that, what's making you happy lately?

Alex Her: For me lately, it has been … so aside from helping out individuals who are on the search for the next job, it's really just connecting with family and friends virtually, which is something I was doing before the pandemic. But also, sharing ideas and learning from people. There's been a lot of webinars that we've all been able to attend, but then there's been a lot of individuals who have really opened the doors and their ears, in terms of listening, sharing their tactics, and that's something that I geek out on. I'm definitely not a person who feels that I know it all because I think when you stop listening, you stop learning.

Bryan Chaney: What advice would you say … you'd give someone who's just starting out in recruitment marketing, employer brand now, right? It's tough. It's going through everything. We've been in it for a while, so for us, it's, ‘Okay, how are we pivoting, how are we adjusting?’ But what advice would you give to somebody today, given your knowledge and background?

Alex Her: Given my knowledge and background, my advice to someone today would be: You gotta be hungry. You need to be hungry. You've got to want it more than, I would say even more than when we all first got involved in the industry. You can't be afraid to put yourself out there. Especially now more than ever, there's going to be people who have those stories to share — the work is there for you. 

But, you're going to need to be a little more creative. It's not a matter of you going to someone's office or going to a meeting room. It's going to be hitting them up on Teams, Slack, email — setting those informal calls on Zoom, Skype, or whatever the case may be. You've got to put yourself out there and be proactive because, as I learned from the great Emily Firth — who I still have yet to, we're going to have a little one on one here pretty soon — but you better be proactive or you're going to be made redundant.

Bryan Chaney: That is bold and brave. ‘Be brave,’ I think she said. ‘Bravery above all else.’ So I think that's good advice. But putting yourself out there — I think that means different things to different people. So putting yourself out there in your personal brand and your network and learning from everybody you can learn from — that's how I'm interpreting it.

Alex Her: Exactly, because … it's one thing to put yourself out there and ask all these questions, ask for all these photos, articles, videos, to tell their story. You kind of need to be doing the same thing, because it's tough for me, as one of your teammates, to trust what you're doing, if you're not on social, if you're not sharing yourself from a business perspective. So if you want them to do the same thing, show them that you're comfortable doing exactly what you're asking of them, and if they see that, they'll follow suit. They'll trust you, and you’ll get some buy-in from there.

Bryan Chaney: Don't be afraid to put yourself out there because if you're brave, if you're confident, if you're willing to share your story — then the employees you're speaking with and to — they're going to be brave and they're going to be more willing to share their story. And in my mind, that's where the magic happens. 

Conclusion

Bryan Chaney: Thank you so much for sharing, Alex. I appreciate your perspective. I know as a friend, I know some of the things that you've been through, and I appreciate you sharing that back. So thanks for joining us, and have a great rest of your day.

Alex Her: All right, thanks for having me. You do the same.

[MUSIC]

Bryan Chaney: I'm Bryan Chaney. My thanks to Alex Her, and a big thank you to you for listening. Thanks for joining us for Season 1 of the Lead with Indeed Podcast.

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