PlayStation Builds its Employer Brand on the Cheap

Although most people may think of PlayStation as a video game maker, the company is actually much more. “We’re also an e-commerce software company,” said Director of Talent Acquisition Nick Barker at last week’s LinkedIn Talent Connect conference in Anaheim, Calif. In addition to game designers, PlayStation (which is owned by Sony Corp.) also hires software engineers, cybersecurity experts, data analysts and market strategists, to name a few. The hurdle for PlayStation’s talent-acquisition team, however, was getting the word out about these additional opportunities in a way that meshed with the company’s well-known consumer brand.

“With a great brand comes great responsibility,” quipped Stephen Anthony, PlayStation’s senior talent acquisition and branding specialist, who co-presented a conference session with Barker about the company’s effort to build a talent brand that would resonate with tech talent.

At the time they started out–in 2015–PlayStation had little in the way of brand content. The company didn’t even have its own ATS–it relied on parent Sony’s systems. PlayStation’s careers site was outdated and offered little to no insight on its organizational culture.

To complicate matters further, the team started off with little to nothing in the way of a budget. “We decided to focus on what we had versus what we didn’t have,” said Barker. The team took advantage of free tools for making and distributing employee videos. Anthony and Barker also forged close partnerships with other departments such as corporate communications, marketing, PR and legal.

Their goal: Give potential candidates a feel for what it’s like to work at PlayStation. “There’s a huge appetite out there for function-specific content,” said Anthony.

The team wanted to spotlight PlayStation employees and the type of work they did, in addition to listing available jobs.

Barker and Anthony rely on three “content pillars” for the talent brand strategy:

Content Pillar No. 1 “Your people are your No. 1 content pillar,” said Anthony. It can be as simple as LinkedIn status updates. “This was three times more engaging than anything else we did,” he said.

Anthony interviewed hundreds of PlayStation employees, asking them what they love about their jobs and working at the company. They told him about how they love creating interactive entertainment that matters deeply to gamers, the opportunity to use their creativity and gain new skills, and the collaborative environment. The team used this input to create PS Careers videos that highlight the great experiences of working at PlayStation.

Today the company incorporates PS Careers videos into every job posting. “It’s a good insight into us as a company,” said Anthony.

Content Pillar No. 2 Put a spotlight on career opportunities. The TA team sends out a monthly newsletter that includes listings of “hot jobs” for employees to push out to their individual networks and to let them know that they can apply as well if they’re interested. The team also may spotlight individual job openings on company pages.

Content Pillar No. 3 Showcase current news and public-facing events for the company and its teams, such as charity events that employees participate in. “Don’t just promote products or sales milestones,” said Anthony. Showcasing your company also helps build employee morale, he said.

Anthony offered an important piece of advice: Establish metrics for success early on. “Whether it’s going to be quality of hire or hire success rates, set these goals for the team so that you can track your success.”

Another piece of advice: “Don’t worry if something’s not perfect,” he said.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.