Let’s start with a really important question: If you ate a slice of pizza at every pizza joint in New York City, how many pizzas would you end up eating in total? Now, the importance of this question is not so much in the answer (374 pizzas, assuming each pizza has 8 slices), but in the process of getting there.
And how, exactly do you get there? You put the challenge to the brightest, most enthusiastic people you know—your interns.
At first glance, it might not seem like this is the type of problem that EY would give its interns to analyze. Don’t they have some complicated tax code to memorize instead? But Erin Maxin, EY Americas Employer Branding Leader, begs to differ. Erin explains that this puzzle (and others like it) was part of a bigger initiative called “Truth in Numbers” which demonstrates how EY employees have to look beyond simple number-crunching to understand complex issues.
We caught up with Erin to discuss how EY is using the “Truth in Numbers” campaign, the exceptionalEY.com website, and other content marketing initiatives to help students and recent grads explore their career options and understand what EY is all about—before they’ve even applied for a job.
Can you describe your role at EY? What does it mean to be the “Employer Branding Leader”?
The core of our employer brand is: whenever you join, however long you stay, the exceptional EY experience lasts a lifetime. In general, it’s my team’s job to clearly illustrate to recruits how we deliver on that promise.
Specifically, I support EY’s Americas recruiting organization, helping campus and experienced recruits understand why EY is an exceptional place to launch or continue a career. My team and I are focused on making sure our employer brand resonates with top talent, so that we can attract and inspire the best and the brightest candidates.
I’m passionate about making sure that every online click, conversation, event, and interaction gets recruits excited about the possibilities of a career with EY and makes them confident that they’ll be a great fit here. That’s not always easy in an industry as competitive as ours, so we focus on delivering powerful, authentic marketing efforts that allow candidates to experience our brand, build strong connections with EY, and find real value in what we offer as an employer.
What are some of the projects you’re involved in on a regular basis?
No two days are alike, which is one of the reasons I love this job. I work on everything from branding and messaging at signature recruiting events to developing tools that empower our recruiting team to effectively articulate what EY has to offer and why a career here is so valuable.
I’m also responsible for managing the relationship with our external advertising agency, overseeing the allocation of our media budget, and collaborating with them on brand campaigns to reach and engage our recruits. My team is also responsible for the oversight of our digital properties and social media channels.
This fall, we rolled out a campus-focused campaign called “Truth in Numbers,” and we’re really excited about it. The campaign came about because we wanted to show students that at EY, numbers are just the beginning.
No matter which of our service lines they choose to start their careers, they’ll look beyond the numbers to help our clients solve complex problems. So, we asked teams of EY interns to get creative and use their love of math, problem-solving, and critical thinking to find compelling, comprehensive answers to some puzzling questions. Examples include: how long will it take for the United States to run out of unique phone numbers and how long would it take to shake hands with every person on earth?
Our interns blew us away with their creativity, and we used the output of their work to create infographics that showcase to potential recruits that they will do so much more than crunch numbers here at EY and that they really will use their skills to solve complex problems for our clients that will ultimately help to build a better working world.
How does the exceptionalEY.com website fit in with EY’s recruiting efforts on the whole?
You’ll find the hub for the Truth in Numbers campaign on exceptionalEY.com, a companion to our careers site that brings the exceptional EY experience to life in a whole new way.
Featuring informative infographics, vivid photography, and dozens of videos, the site invites recruits to explore the world of EY through vignettes on our culture, our global reach and opportunities, our career development framework, and learn about the ways we give back to communities.
Then recruits can imagine themselves working here through an interactive exercise that shows career paths by major and areas of interest. Lastly, they can initiate the recruiting process by learning what we look for in candidates and the opportunities we offer.
While we know our culture at EY is really special, we launched the site a year ago because we wanted recruits to be able to see it, explore it, and experience it for themselves. That’s why the website design is so clean, minimal, and focused on our EY professionals. Our EY people are the ones who build and nurture our culture. For example, no copywriter or designer can create something that communicates all of the ways our organization values differences better than the stories and experiences of our people.
Our recruiting teams and our digital properties must provide an exceptional candidate experience from the first moment they interact because that’s often where the relationship begins. In fact, I look at this site as the digital embodiment of EY Americas Director of Recruiting Dan Black’s overall approach to recruiting. It’s simple, but powerful: open the doors and do everything in your power to give candidates a clear and authentic view into life at EY. Because then, candidates can make an informed decision about whether EY is the right employer for them.
What is EY’s belief and practice when it comes to content marketing?
For our campus recruits, we offer valuable information that will benefit students wherever their careers are, whether it’s with EY or someplace else. We’ve taken our EYU (EY and You) learning and development framework and modified it for campus recruits to provide them with the right mix of experiences, learning, and coaching—even before they join us. It goes to show the investment we are willing to make in them as future professionals. Some offline examples include:
- Mock interview sessions with recruiters and EY people to help students polish their interviewing skills
- Résumé workshops, where our recruiters and client-serving professionals help students understand how to put their best foot forward on résumés
- On-campus skills and leadership workshops that provide information on building a global mindset, job interview ethics, social media and personal brand management, etc.
- Leadership development programs
- Technical skills development challenges such case competitions, internships, and Launch internships
Online, we offer a wealth of useful, interactive, and informative content on our social media channels, such as engaging games, infographics, student-submitted photos, and career advice from our most senior leaders.
Students can use our “See Yourself at EY” tool on exceptionalEY.com to match their interests and talents to one of our organization’s service lines. They can also find videos and tips for preparing for and acing the interview, as well as videos containing stories and advice generated by our own people.
In fact, this year, we decided to pilot a video crowdsourcing effort with the ultimate goal of shifting the balance of our created and curated content. By curating user-generated videos, we can avoid the time and expense involved in traditional video production, while giving recruits an honest, unvarnished, unscripted peek behind the doors at EY.
We simply ask our people to answer questions and they send us their video responses, which we make available on exceptionalEY.com and link to from our social media channels. Their responses have been so warm and genuine, making me smile, laugh out loud, and feel extremely proud to work for this organization all over again.
What are the benefits of content marketing in a university recruiting context?
It’s in the best interest of EY and our recruits to provide an authentic, real-life glimpse into life at EY. While we aim to accurately portray required skills and responsibilities in our job descriptions, candidates need to determine whether EY is a cultural fit for them. By providing them with appropriate content that will allow them to make an accurate decision, it’s a win-win for EY and for the candidates.
The students we’re trying to reach are incredibly savvy, and they can smell generic corporate messaging from a mile away. They don’t want gimmicks. They want real, useful information such as suggestions for building their global mindsets, advice on how to build their professional networks, tips for how to stand out to a recruiter, and workshops to help build their personal brands. As an employer, when you invest in students by spending time and sharing information that they truly find valuable, you build trust and loyalty, and, ultimately, that’s a great way to engage people around your employer brand.
How does your team work with the university recruiting team?
My team works closely with Dan Black, EY Americas Director of Recruiting, and his leadership team on a day-to-day basis. They welcome my team to their leadership and planning meetings, so that we can better understand their recruitment strategy and understand how their strategy fits into our larger Talent strategy.
It also allows my team to understand their goals, processes, challenges, and opportunities. The more my team understands about the business of EY recruiting, the better able we are to serve as trusted marketing and communications advisors.
We inform Dan’s team about digital and social media marketing trends and proactively provide recommendations that will help us enhance our employer brand on campus and extend our reach in the marketplace.
Our teams work side-by-side planning and implementing large signature recruiting events, such as our Emerging Leaders Summit and our International Intern Leadership Conference. We also work directly with the recruiting teams to create engaging content that will help them make better connections and have more meaningful conversations with students on campus.
What advice do you have for university recruiters who would like to make use of content marketing in their program? How can they get started?
Know who you are as an employer, what you stand for, and your purpose. At EY, our purpose is to build a better working world, and included in that is a commitment to developing future leaders and creating a culture where we empower our people to do their best work for our clients. Stick to it, be consistent, and find meaningful ways to engage students with your purpose.
Next, know your target audience and build trust and credibility with them by providing something they truly value. Stay focused on what they want to know, not on what you want them to know about your organization. If you can provide useful, relevant content, you’ll begin to build a genuine relationship and they’ll want to get to know you as an employer.
Finally, be creative, be consistent, and always ask yourself “What’s in it for them?” Provide content that answers the hard questions and don’t focus so much on being completely polished. It’s more important to be authentic, engaging, and consistent, so that their experiences with you provide value whether they’re searching for information online or standing in front of you at a campus event.
What are some examples of other companies who you think are doing noteworthy work in content marketing as part of their university recruiting programs?
Two examples that come to mind are:
- They have engaging and informative videos that cover everything from training to life in the military.
- They offer useful resources for parents and educators, who I imagine are key influencers for students thinking about a military career.
- Their information and tools demonstrate the long-term value of a military career, including facts about how military skills translate into civilian life and pay estimators.
- Coupled with their social media channels, GE’s careers site taps into the passion and creativity of its target audience. Their social media channels share fun memes, incredible photos, and videos of locomotives and turbines, complete with explanations sure to capture the imagination of budding engineers.
- Their daily online magazine, called GE Reports, tracks tech trends, stories about innovation, and how GE is fulfilling its purpose.
- The GE Careers Blog is a fantastic combination of original content and links to recent company articles and publications.
The next step: Spend some time looking at exceptionalEY.com, todaysmilitary.com, and ge.com/careers. Pay attention to what makes these career sites so interesting and compelling. Make note of the questions they answer. What are some of the common questions and concerns that applicants bring up in their discussions with you? Think about how you might be able to address these topics on your own website or through your social media channels.
All photos courtesy of EY.