Become an Employer of Choice: The Importance of Story

by Lauren Girardin on June 29, 2016

Your organization is in a fierce competition for top talent. Thankfully, people willing and eager to work for public sector organizations are in it for more than the paycheck. Even if their day-to-day responsibilities are repetitive, people in the public sector want the work they do to matter.

According to a recent report by the Local Government Research Collaborative and the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, before people will say yes to joining your staff, they first want to understand what it means to work for your organization and what your organization stands for.

At first glance, these might seem like abstract concepts. But, who you are and what you stand for is firmly rooted in your organization’s brand.

When public sector organizations think about branding they’ll often focus on what the brand means to the people the organization serves. Too rarely do organizations grasp branding’s essential role in attracting the best employees.

You can’t plop a PDF of your brand book onto your website and hope that people will find it and understand why it makes your organization a great place to work. You need to put your organization’s brand out into the world in a way that can captivate and inspire your ideal employees.

One of the most effective ways to bring your brand to life is through the stories you tell about your organization. Brand stories can set your organization apart and help it become an employer of choice. What kinds of powerful brand stories can help your organization attract talented employees?

TWEET: Brand stories can set your organization apart and help it become an employer of choice.

Stories that humanize your organization
Your stories need to appeal directly to the real people you’re trying to recruit. Carefully consider the unique personality, biases, desires, and preferences of the person you want to reach with each of your stories. Share stories about real employees that your ideal job candidates will empathize with and relate to. Share stories designed to meet their needs and overcome any doubts they may have.

Stories that are exciting
Boring stories are not worth telling. For your stories to get noticed, they need be exciting. Share surprising stories that challenge stereotypes about people who work in the public sector. Share dramatic (yet truthful) stories that reveal how lives and communities have been improved through the efforts of employees of your organization. Share intriguing stories that divulge the risks your organization takes and the rewards it and its employees earn as a result.

Stories that affirm personal brand
People are increasingly aware of the importance of their personal brand. Younger people are especially mindful of the affect an employer’s brand can have on their reputation. Share stories that demonstrate the benefits of having their reputation linked to your organization. Share stories about your organization’s commitment to supporting employees’ professional and personal aspirations.

Stories that connect the head to the heart
Stories told without emotions are dead on arrival. Brand stories done right blend facts and emotion to create something more persuasive than either would be on their own. Share stories that make it easier for people to understand the complicated work your employees do by putting it in a real-world context. Share stories that can inspire people to imagine how they’ll feel better about themselves when they work for your organization.

Stories that prove the organization lives its values
It’s not persuasive to just rattle off a list of your organizational values. Potential employees want evidence that your organization has meaningfully integrated its values into all the ways it behaves. Share stories that show your values in action in your workplace culture, decision making processes, or how you set standards for success. Share stories that demonstrate how living your organization’s values has motivated employees to be exceptional.

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Lauren Girardin

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and speaker based in San Francisco. She helps organizations engage their communities and tell their stories. Her website is and you can connect with her on Twitter at @girardinl.