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Think the power/aura of the employment brand doesn't matter as much as some people allude to?  Then you need to consider the curious case of Greg Paulus, who recently finished his career in college basketball as a point guard for Coach K at Duke University.

Stick around even if you're not into sports.  It'll be worth it Paulus .

First up, let's tell you who Paulus is and why I'm talking about him related to employment branding.  From the sports section of the New York Times:

"Greg Paulus, who is 6 feet 1 inch and 185 pounds, was the national high school player of the year as a quarterback at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, but he turned down an offer to play football at Notre Dame to become a point guard at Duke. He was a three-year starter for the Blue Devils, but his career faded as a senior last season. Paulus started 5 of 36 games and saw little playing time in the Atlantic Coast Conference and N.C.A.A. tournaments after Duke made Jon Scheyer its starting point guard.

Paulus will graduate from Duke in May, and he has exhausted his college eligibility in basketball. But under N.C.A.A. rules, he has one year of eligibility in another sport. After four years as a point guard for Duke’s basketball team, Greg Paulus suddenly has a future as a quarterback.

Paulus, 22, said he was weighing interest from college and N.F.L. teams, as well as potential opportunities to play professional basketball. He has worked out for the Green Bay Packers, and he confirmed that he had an offer to compete for the quarterback job at Michigan next season."

What's this got to do with employment branding, you ask?  Employment branding is about creating an aura around your brand - you're a great place to work, so naturally candidates will want to come to work for you.  In fact, the opportunity at your company is so special that candidates will likely take less money for a chance to work at a gig in your firm.  You're special, candidates know it, and as a result, you not only get more than your share, you at times might even get candidates you don't deserve when you look at the competition.

Duke didn't deserve Paulus, not when you compare the Duke opportunity for a talent like Paulus against the competition.  They got him because of the branding of Coach K and the Duke Basketball program. 

Think about it.  Paulus was the NATIONAL player of the year in Football, and skilled enough to still have opportunity even after 4 years away from the sport.  He was the top player in the nation in Football.  And in basketball, while he was good enough to play at Duke, he wasn't the top player in the nation - far from it.

They have a name for point guards in college basketball with average speed and average shooting skills.  Role Players... Bench Warmers.... Statistics...  I know, because at one time in my life, I was a college basketball player (at a much lower level than Duke) at the point with average quicks and a suspect jumper.  Life was hard.  I had to scrap for EVERYTHING I got.  Nothing came easy. (see photo above for perspective).

Which is why Paulus got benched this year at Duke.  He was average, and Coach K finally bit the bullet and sat him down for the majority of the year.

That brings us back to the concept of the employment brand.  Paulus traded being the national player of the year and a certain star in college football to be an average player for Duke basketball.  He ultimately gave up the glory to play for Coach K and Duke. 

May your employment brand land a Greg Paulus or two this year that you don't deserve, but get anyway. 


Scott Eblin

Great point about Duke and Coach K's brand Kris. On a related note, how about the job Paulus did last week in repositioning his personal brand? For a two or three day period, he was everywhere (e.g. Dan Patrick's radio show, PTI, NYT, and others) talking up his workout with the Packers and leveraging his conversations with Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. He must have had some great branding and PR advice because suddenly people were remembering him as the HS QB of the Year and not the point guard who got benched at Duke. Pretty smooth!

Suzanne Rumsey

I am admittedly biased (being a Dukie), but I would be willing to bet that Paulus has had some great coaching on his career options and branding tactics from his coach, Coach K. One of the reasons Coach K's brand IS so strong is the personal interest he takes in each of his players - on, but mostly OFF, the court. The exemplar of a great leader, manager, mentor, coach, friend.

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