Sea of Sameness Episode 5: Latin America Part II



In this series about the Sea of Sameness in Corporate and Employer Branding, we explore how this plays out in Latin America.


Welcome our Special Guest, Gabriela Torres.


Listen to the podcast here.


Connect with Gabriella via LinkedIn here.



HEATHER: Welcome to HeatherP Solutions POV podcast series. This is the fifth episode where we will discuss our recommendations to address the sea of sameness in BOTH corporate and employer Branding in Latin America and how it relates to American companies, based on our previous episode. This episode is based on research done with big companies in Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil. We call this episode “How can companies in Latin America get out of the Sea of Sameness that they find themselves into?”.


I’m HeatherP, and I’m here with my guest, Gabriela Torres, who joined me in the last episode of the podcast s well.


Welcome, Gabriela & Thanks for joining me again!


GABRIELA: Hi Heather, thanks for having me back. I’m excited to keep discussing this topic with you.


In our last episode, we covered the implications of the sea of sameness in Latin America and how it relates to American companies. We discovered companies in the region have a long way to go in terms of employer branding and overall talent attraction. While there are issues that require structural changes, many others can be fixed with just simple steps that don’t require a lot of budget. Among those, we find COVID-related communications, UX, and language on websites.


This time we’ll be talking about addressing the issues, especially if you’re a company in LATAM or a US-based company with operations in the region.


As a refresher, in LATAM, similar to the US, we see a Sea of Sameness by industry and even by all the companies. The same key themes are being called out, with similar or the same language, and even corporate brands don’t differentiate from each other.


So, why do you think employer branding and even corporate branding is where it is at its lifecycle in LATAM?


I think there are many reasons for this, starting with the fact that most countries in the region are developing countries. This reflects in how companies and talent behave in the market. Most people still work out of pure necessity to make money, without considering their careers, preferences, values, or personal purpose at the moment when they pick a job. Unemployment rates are high across the region, and after COVID, they’re even Higher, so people are looking for a way to survive rather than a job that is aligned with their beliefs, etc.


So based on this, most companies usually have no significant issues attracting candidates. Many of them use headhunters for executive or harder-to-find roles, and sometimes even regular roles, and don’t have career websites where people can learn more from them as an employer. Instead of focusing on building a strong employer brand, they do what seems to be the “easier” thing and pay others to bring people in. As an Example that shows us how a recruiting process is handled here in Ecuador, most recruitment companies don’t tell candidates the name of the company they’re representing until candidates advance further in the process. So they don’t know what company it is they’re interviewing for at the beginning. This says a lot about the power that companies still hold with jobs over people, instead of being a win-win situation right at the start.


Gabriela - I can totally get it might be easier. And the process you just described is pretty company-centric vs. people centric. I wonder, though, if it ends up being more expensive in the long run between paying a third party, people who drop out of the process once they know the company, and turnover after they join, given people are sort of going in blind. Super interesting! What about more specialized roles?


I’m sure it ends up being more expensive, but I think the logic behind it for most companies is that if they do it that way, they don’t have to put themselves out there as employers and be vulnerable, often as candidates are. This is me assuming based on what I’ve seen and experienced btw, but I have to say this for me would be a red flag in any company I’d want to work for to be honest.


As for more specialized or technical roles, as a region just a few years ago, we started to need these kinds of talent on a scale. This is why we’re starting to focus on talent attraction, and we see new initiatives emerge. Of course, not all countries are the same, and some are more advanced than others, but in general, we’ve still have a long way to go not only in knowing how to attract the right talent but also in developing it. Most companies look elsewhere for talent instead of focusing on genuinely developing people.


Finally, the overall lack of automatization in many recruitment processes makes it harder for HR to identify where the quality applicants come from and how to improve the process, so they don’t have time to focus on building an employer brand or much less see the value it could provide, because they’re caught up on their day to day activities.


I can completely understand that. With so many companies tightening their belts to deal with COVID, I think a lot of leaders are short-handed...too much work to do in too little time. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day vs thinking strategically about how to position yourselves for the best talent. What about corporate branding?


For corporate branding, although it’s more “developed” (quote on quote) than employer branding, it’s still usually a “nice to have” in many companies. Most organizations typically have teams of one that have to juggle internal and external comms, PR, corporate social responsibility, and events, all at the same time. So that doesn’t help to develop the industry either.


So this context allows us to see that there are no dedicated resources to employer branding in most companies, actually in the vast majority. Employer branding or employer branding related activities are usually managed by HR or communications and not by marketing teams that specialize in talent.


In my time leading a global employer branding & talent marketing team, we found that HR doesn’t have the communications expertise, Communication teams frequently forget the WIIFM for employees and marketing is focussed on driving top-line revenue. We found the most success was taking marketers who understand customer segmentation and the full suite of engagement tactics and apply their skills towards the target market of talent.


Specific to LATAM, Gabriela, we also know there are very few agencies that specialize in employer branding in the region, maybe a handful? Companies don’t have the support they need even to start to think about employer branding—this not even considering that it requires a budget that many many companies don’t have.


Which brings us to the next topic we’ll discuss today. What are some quick-wins or “easy” opportunities the companies in the region can focus on that don’t require a large investment of money, time, or resources? We can talk about the most essential things such as career websites, which could improve based on what we discussed in the last episode.


I’m glad this is something we decided to talk about. While I do believe employer branding needs dedicated resources to be successful, since most companies in LATAM are just starting or not even paying attention to their brand as employers, there are a few things that they can do that will make a huge difference and impact on how they attract and mainly engage with the people they want to work with.


● If a company doesn’t have a careers website, they can quickly and easily create a local site (or even a landing page) for candidates with some necessary information. If they have an ATS, they can link to it.

Absolutely. There are inexpensive platforms such as WIX or GoDaddy that companies can use to set everything up and get the help of freelancers to build it all through platforms such as workana or get some references of experts in web design. Heck, for a single page website which would be progress for some companies, you don’t even need a freelancer because some of these platforms are so easy to use with templates. As far as guiding the work, though, we highly recommend you have someone with some expertise in Employer Branding, such as Heather P Solutions or Gabriela.

In case your company does have a careers website, you can invest a little time and effort with the help of your communications or marketing departments and create compelling content for the type of talent you usually go to a headhunter for. It could save you money, and it will differentiate you from others.

● The easier way to get this unique content would be to interview your existing employees, specifically the ones that you want more of, and asking them about what attracted them to the company, what they like about working there, and also what are the challenges they face. All this information can help you create articles, videos, or resources that even your hired headhunters can use.

● On the other hand, how can companies know what to highlight in these pieces of content? What are the things that make their company unique as an employer? I think building an EVP would be great. Still, as this is a lengthier and more in-depth process, companies can start by asking their employees and leaders what’s interesting, challenging, and appreciated about working there and start by highlighting the two or three most important messages.

I agree. Overall, raising the bar slightly on Employer Branding does not have to be costly or time-intensive. Companies can focus on the critical talent and a key message or two they already share with them in the interviewing/hiring process. They can also work with an EB expert or EB agency to guide how to translate this message to an inexpensive website or landing page.

And let’s not forget about social media. Anyone can pull out their iPhone to talk to some employees, creating videos and social media content as well, which will go a long way.

● Of course! Some companies are afraid of being on social media because it could potentially provide a space where employees can say negative things about the company or complain about specific things. But I think that if people want to complain or say something negative, they will do it whether or not you have a social media page. The difference is that if companies do, they can be a part of the conversation, highlight positive aspects and also make employees feel heard.

● A similar example of this is employee review sites such as Glassdoor. Not only you can’t stop people from writing reviews, but also that’s precisely what you want. As a company, you need the feedback to be better, and you need to give your employees a safe space to use their voice and for it to be heard. And almost no one manages those platforms, so it’s an excellent opportunity to do something different.

And these are so easy to manage and reply to. These platforms provide an immense value to a company, even for using the reviews as part of the content companies promote on websites and social media. The possibilities are endless, and mainly they don’t require high investments of time or money.

The key is learning from the process and harnessing what works and leaving behind what doesn’t, but that can only be done by testing and trying new things.

● Speaking about doing things differently, something that is high value but requires small efforts is engaging with potential candidates for key roles through meetups, events, or even newsletters. Doing online events through platforms such as zoom or any webinar platform costs relatively nothing, and building email lists or sending newsletters can even be done for free for a while with platforms such as Mailchimp.

● Although the planning of this might require a bit of time for someone in the team, the results could be a higher number of quality applicants for when positions do open up, less time to fill the role, and less money spent on headhunters. What do you think, Heather?

I love the virtual meet up and event idea, Gabriela. When you think about it, this IS how many companies are actually doing business for the near future...so using this as an attraction tool means you will get to see how candidates will really be able to function working in virtual work environments! Then you use your social media page to promote it. The great thing about both is that they are mobile-friendly, so they are super accessible to candidates, too.


And now, for US-based companies that operate in LATAM, what are some of the opportunities they can capitalize on? We know that some of these companies are big and have big brands and probably more resources to dedicate to employer branding, so supporting their local Latam teams could be a great way to start developing employer branding for those companies in the region.


● One of the first things I’d mention is that for local country presence is doing a language review. While the language these companies use is English, that’s in no way an excuse to have websites with poorly done translations, typos or grammatical errors. This review doesn’t have to be done by an EB, Comms or HR expert even, anyone with good writing skills can do it, quick and simple.

● Also, when reverting to US websites for jobs, a clarification can be added that the roles featured all require English, thus posting them in English aligns with the job requirements. If this is not the case, then either translate them or just post in the local language. It doesn’t do anybody any good if people that could potentially be a good fit with the role, don’t understand what is being said.

Another thing when reverting to US websites is creating a single landing page that offers context between the local country presence and the overall company, so that this information works in favor of the company and provides the candidate with the whole picture.

I’ve done this work to transition a US-based presence to a local presence in LATAM, Europe and Asia. You are correct in that it doesn’t have to be a lot of time, money or resources...but it does require a little to be thoughtful and respectful. After all, if a company is choosing to operate in a region, it is because that region offers great value. So anyone should want to lead with their best foot forward. And if a company needs assistance with that...with localization of their website or brand presence, that is something I can help them with.


So, in summary, there is a huge opportunity for companies in LATAM as far as how they engage and educate local talent. The solutions to this do not have to be time-consuming or expensive. There is also a lack of local expertise. That is where local experts like you, Gabriela, and HeatherP Solutions can help.


Gabriela - How would a company engage your expertise?


LinkedIn


And you can engage with me on LinkedIn or Just reach out to us at heatherpsolutions.com


Thanks for joining us for the fifth episode in the series on the Sea of Sameness. This is HeatherP and Gabriela Torres signing off from the HeatherP Solutions POV podcast fifth episode “The Sea of Sameness in Latin America”.




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