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A Quick Guide to Empathy Mapping for Employer Brand

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Employer Branding

The most important quality for any brand that wants to create a compelling experience for the audience or stakeholders is the idea of empathy, because making an emotional connection from a position of understanding and caring is at the heart of great experience by design.

So, let’s look at a process we call “empathy mapping” which will help you to connect with your audience on a more impactful level and, in turn, vastly improve their experience of your organisation. 

How to Empathy Map your Audience

First of all, there are a couple of different stakeholders to consider. Obviously, there are candidates, employees and alumni, but it’s also important to include hiring managers and recruiters in this process, because they are integral stakeholders in the puzzle of talent and experience.

But what exactly is empathy mapping? Start by taking each one of those stakeholders - candidates, for example - and ask yourself some simple questions at each touchpoint of their experience to better understand the world from their perspective.

1. What are they hearing and seeing?
2. What are they doing and trying to achieve?
3. What are they saying?

And crucially...

4. What are they thinking and feeling? 

The idea behind this is if we can get a tangible sense of the answers to these questions, we have a much better chance at designing an experience that will resonate because we're operating from a more informed position. 

The Practical Value of Empathy Mapping

When we first engaged with Virgin a few years ago, they knew that they had a serious candidate experience problem.

To their credit, they were measuring it using NPS, but the score was low.

When we mapped the candidate experience from end-to-end and committed to a bit of extra digging, we found that the candidate experience was so poor, that candidates that were also customers were going home, cancelling, and moving over to the nearest competitor. It was costing virgin a whopping $6 million a year.

The challenge was big, but we looked at each touch point of the organisation’s recruitment process and mapped out how people think and feel, how memorable the moments were, and how easy it was to progress.

From here, it was easy to identify simple changes we could make to improve the overall experience. 

1. We quickly identified opportunities to improve small things like candidates’ nerves the night before an interview, by providing content to educate people on what to expect and put them at ease. Simple things like:

- Getting hiring managers to offer advice on how to approach the day.
- Being clear with where to park or how to travel to get there on time.

2. To make a memorable impression, we were lucky enough to work with Usain Bolt and we encouraged him to record several motivational videos. Before the night of an interview, candidates would receive a video from Usain Bolt wishing them well and giving them key messages of encouragement. The result was real moments of magic that were on brand for Virgin.

3. We also provided content to make every candidate a better version of themselves. It was memorable and it added value. Even if they didn’t get the job at Virgin, they were now encouraged to leave that experience with positive feeling.

By empathising with what candidates were experiencing at each stage, we were able to best determine how to reduce of friction and add value to each touchpoint.

The upshot? Virgin’s NPS significantly increased. It transformed its candidate experience. People stopped cancelling their subscription as customers. All with a few simple changes with empathy at their core.

Now, it’s your turn.

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