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September Question of the Month: Brand or role – what is more important when choosing a company to work for?

Our working lives are centred on our day-to-day roles and the company itself that we work for. For this question of the month, we posed a question to find out more about how people make their career choices – is the brand or the role the deciding factor when choosing a job?

It was clear that across all seniority levels, the role on offer was far more important than the brand itself, with over three quarters (76.2%) prioritising roles over brands. This got us thinking about why job descriptions might be more important for career decisions....

 

Pinpoints your skills and talents

If you are looking for a new job, you may be after something that you would be good at, but also perhaps something that is going to stretch and challenge you. The job description will be telling you what skills and talents you will be able to utilise on a daily basis. If the role does not encompass these, then maybe it is not going to play to your strengths, even if the brand is great.

Experience and expertise

Your work history will play a role in what you are able to offer in your next job. The expertise we build up from our previous jobs enables us to progress – if the job description is not going to allow your skills from previous experience to shine through, then there is often not much point in applying, even if you love the brand.

Exciting projects

Perhaps the company name is not well known, but if the projects you are going to work on in your role are exciting and play to your strengths then it may not matter.

Make your mark

You are more likely to make an impact on a company if you are in a role that suits you rather than simply working for a brand you like.

Improve the brand

If you have the right role that plays to your strengths then you may even have the opportunity to improve the brand. Passion for the brand or desire for a big name can only get you so far; sometimes you can grow more in a smaller company that you might not have heard of if you are in the right role, rather than a large well-known brand where things are more established and labour is divided up amongst more people.

 

But what were the things about branding that did affect people's career decisions?

Brand reputation

Despite the answer that a good role in a mediocre brand being better than a mediocre role in a good brand, respondents still seemed alert to the fact that a brand's reputation would have an effect on their choices. There are some brands people would rather avoid due to perceived working conditions or recent news scandals, whereas others that, if a role came up, they would still be enthusiastic to work for.

Effort into the role

If you know that you do not like the brand you are working for, whatever the reason, then you are unlikely to put all your effort into it. An engaged worker is always going to deliver more quality to a company.

Unique brands

Some argued that similar roles can be found in many companies but brands are unique. If you feel strongly for certain brands you should aim to work for them so that you are more engaged and can deliver innovative ideas to help develop the ethos of the brand.

Company values

You won’t want to be dedicating your working life to a company whose values do not align with your own, either in respect for the product, or simply the way the company values its staff. After all, the culture, ethics and market rating of a company is its foundation.

Impact of the brand

Some believed that they would put up with a position that was not very exciting if they really believed in the product being sold or the company's impact was really important. We don't mind being a cog in a big machine if that machine is doing something worthwhile.

Team ethos of the brand

If a brand is well known and successful, chances are there is a great team working on it. Some respondents argued they would take a role that did not necessarily play to their strengths in order to be part of a dynamic strong team rather than work as an individual in a poor brand.

 

This question of the month therefore really highlighted the importance of brand reputation. Perhaps something even more important than the brand of the actual product being sold itself was rather the 'employer brand'. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2007 report outlined that 'employer branding' is becoming more and more important in career decisions. An Accenture survey even showed that 60% of CEOs are worried about attracting and retaining talent through employer branding. What can the employer offer its employees? What is the career progression? What is the mission statement that they are working towards? Companies need to force themselves to look within and question the engagement they have with their staff as effective employer branding in one organisation can make it more successful than its competitors. It's imperative for well-designed career pages on company websites that reflect a cohesive brand image of the company's mission, vision, values and perks.

So as much as candidates need a 'unique selling point' (USP) to make them stand out from the crowd, companies themselves increasingly need one too so that they recruit and retain the talent they need. This will ensure that candidates keep the company brand in their mind when searching for future opportunities and employers could cultivate talent communities to keep them in the loop about future vacancies they may wish to apply for and even offer professional development courses they can work towards in the meantime.

Therefore, whilst most people will apply for the role that suits them best, it is worthwhile for brands to recruit people who believe in their product/service so that employees put in their best efforts and may even be willing to attempt other roles in order to stay a part of the company. This in turn will have a positive impact on the brand if people are working in roles that play to their strengths.