What can Mr Beast Teach you about Employer Branding?3 min read.
Mr Beast is on a mission to conquer YouTube and change the world, but what can he teach us about employer branding?
For those unfamiliar with his work, Mr Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is a YouTuber, entrepreneur and philanthropist known for his large scale, seemingly impossible stunts.
What started out as a labour of love and teenage shenanigans in 2012 has earned him the title of fourth most subscribed to Youtuber in the world (don’t worry, the channel that brought you the iconic ear worm Baby Shark is second.)
He has published videos titled, “I gave my 1,000,000th subscriber an Island,” “1,000 blind people see for the first time,” and the infamous “I spent 50 hours buried alive,” a stunt he pulled off with the help of master illusionist David Blaine, which has now amassed more than 250 million views.
With his empire now extending across six YouTube channels, plus his own burger chain, chocolate brand and registered charity, suffice to say he’s a pretty successful guy.
But he is also guided by a clear north star. Donaldson reportedly turned down a billion dollar offer for his companies because he loves what he does and has vowed to give away every penny of his profits before he dies.
To serve as a reminder of his promise, Donaldson has pinned this tweet to his profile…
So, a billion-dollar brand, a passionate and purpose-led CEO, unbelievable opportunity for creative growth, and an unwavering dedication to philanthropy; there’s no way that Mr Beast has trouble hiring, right?
Despite his industrial strength fan base, it seems even this wildly successful content creator has difficulty sourcing talent with the skills, attitude and values to help his business thrive.
Mr Beast's Hiring Problem
Donaldson’s problem is two-fold. One, as is common for many large and innovative companies, Mr Beast has extremely broad appeal which almost certainly engulfs his recruiters with unsuitable applications. And two, creating viral YouTube content is more niche than many understand, and a very different discipline to traditional filmmaking.
As Donaldson explained in a recent talk with podcaster, Lex Fridman: “If Netflix wanted to hire someone to do a documentary, there's probably tens of thousands of people you could hire that have worked on documentaries before. But if you want to hire someone to make super viral YouTube videos, like we do, there's just no one you can really pull from.”
Mr Beast isn’t the only one finding it tricky to source skilled talent.
A recent survey showed that nearly 80 percent of companies, particularly large ones, are struggling to fill roles for want of skilled talent. That marks a 16-year high.
On top of that, even if you can get workers with the necessary hard skills, there’s no guarantee they will be attuned to your company’s values or have the soft skills that will best serve your bottom line. The same survey found that soft skills like ‘critical thinking and analysis’, ‘leadership and social influence’ and ‘initiative taking’ were the hardest to source.
Donaldson is no stranger to this dilemma. He continued: “Sometimes, I'll hire people from game shows, right? They have all these preconceived notions about pacing and how a video should be, and you have to spend the first year breaking all these habits. They think they're better than you. A lot of people in traditional think they are better and they think their way is better than what we do.”
So, what is the solution? What do you do when you have a strong brand presence but can’t seem to get the right people?
Mr Beast hit the nail on the head.
“The big thing is,” he said, “I need people who are coachable and really see the value in what I care about… For me, it's almost easier to hire people that are just hard workers, that are obsessed, and really coachable, and just train them how to be good at content creation and production.”
This concept of hiring for mindset over skillset, then developing skills internally, has become more popular recently. With such drastic skill gaps and fierce competition for experienced talent, it’s no wonder employers are adopting a more agile approach.
Mr Beast's Employer Brand
In Mr Beast’s case, this idea of needing curious individuals, with the humility to approach tasks with an open mind, comes across well in his careers site messaging.
There are two things I like about the company’s job postings:
1. They don’t sugarcoat
One description for a writing role reads:
“This position will have a huge learning curve, it is one of the hardest roles to fulfil at our company.”
2. They let the candidate know how to excel
“If the candidate wants to exceed our expectations, they will propel themselves into an exemplary leader by constantly pursuing knowledge and working endlessly to create the best video content in the world.”
Talent wants to understand how they can thrive at your company right off the bat, and this is a great way of setting an expectation.
That said, more could be done.
Here are two things I think could be tweaked, to make that content work even harder.
1. Include specific challenges
Paint a picture of the day-to-day demands of the role and what talent need to bring, whether it’s the ability to deal with the stress of quick turnarounds, or the resilience to move on if projects get abandoned last-minute.
Job seekers want to understand the holistic experience, harsh realities and all, so the more detailed you can be, the better. This will help to repel people with attitudes that don’t align with your business needs.
2. Embed employee stories
Content from employees will always be more authentic than what a marketer or copywriter can brainstorm.
Stories from your people will give candidates a better idea of the culture and reality of the role. If you can capture this in video format, even better. Video is a powerful tool for communicating with your audience in a way that is direct and impactful.
Let’s be real
Sourcing great talent is a conundrum for everyone right now, even companies with wildly popular consumer brands.
If, like Mr Beast, you need talent with a certain mindset to propel your business forward, your best bet is to be an open book. To curate messaging that tells talent exactly what they need to know. To draw on unique employee stories, embrace harsh realities and remain open-minded to talent who may lack specific skills, but have all the right qualities.
This is where a strong employer brand with clear messaging can really make a difference. If you're buried alive in applications and have misplaced David Blaine's digits, try this.
Bake the values of your company into every touchpoint of the employee experience and watch the quality of your applications and employee engagement levels rise.