One of the biggest talent acquisition trends of the past year has been implementing effective employment branding strategies. The faith of employees in their employers is at an all time low (the majority of the employees in the United States are disengaged from their work), and this skepticism can be even more pronounced in the active and passive candidates that brave the job market on a daily basis. Negative criticism from frustrated job candidates and employees can spread rapidly over the internet and damage your company’s ability to attract talented hires.
On top of overcoming the skepticism of the job seeking public, businesses must also adjust their recruiting and branding strategies to address the shift toward a candidate driven job market. Where, in the past, it was enough for companies to simply post vacancies, a bare bones recruiting strategy won’t generate the strong brand necessary to attract talent to your company. Pros with high levels of skill have options, and they know it. If you were in their shoes: receiving multiple communications, from multiple recruiters per-week, then you’d be in a comfortable position indeed. In today’s job market, success in attracting highly skilled employees has a lot to do with the working environment that your employer brand communicates to active and passive job seekers.
In the past the job hunt was like, well, a hunt. Back before the dawn of civilization, when humans hunted and foraged for their food, an unsuccessful hunt meant an empty belly, forcing the hunter to fixate on the necessities of life: food, water and shelter. Fast forward a few thousand years and I’ll bet that you’re much more likely to worry about dropping food on your pants than where your next meal is coming from. Once we’ve met our basic requirements for life, we start to turn our attentions to needs that aren’t as essential to survival, namely: satisfaction, happiness and higher levels of success in the future. Highly skilled job seekers, especially passive candidates, are looking for a job that has more appeal than merely paying the bills. In order to successfully source talented professionals, your brand needs to project a message that your company is a place where employees can experience these higher states of job satisfaction. Basically, you need to give curious and interested parties the proper resources to facilitate a growth in that interest.
Let’s try a little exercise. Imagine that you’re a job seeker and that you’ve never heard of your company before today. The majority of job seekers will research a company, whose job ad peaks their interest, on both search engines and through social media. Take an objective look at your web presence and let these questions guide you:
- “What impressions are left on you by the sum total of your online presence (company website/careers page, social job ads, promotional content, industry news, etc.)? What’s it all adding up to?”
- “Can you get a sense for your company’s culture from this content?”
- “Would you know to subscribe to the company’s social page for job opportunities? Would you want to subscribe at all?”
“Does working for this company appear to be an inviting, rewarding career opportunity?”
“How does the appearance of the website and the resources affect your view of the company? Are there outdated/closed positions still being advertised? Is the content professional, polished and sleek looking?”
By taking an outside-in look at your company’s web presence, you can start to identify the weak spots in your employer brand that can turn job seekers off from applying to your company. According to JobVite, 40% of job seekers ages 30-39 will use social media in their job search, making it crucial that your company’s web presence is sending the right signals. For instance, is every piece of outgoing communication from your company totally mistake free? A survey from Monster.com show that job seekers find spelling mistakes in job ads highly unprofessional and annoying. In fact, 57% of job seekers will be completely dissuaded from applying to a company with grammar or spelling mistakes in their job ad.
Besides making sure that every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed, the most important thing is to ensure that you’re presenting an inviting, consistent employment brand to job seekers. Job seekers will be able to spot inconsistencies in your company’s message, which makes your brand seem weaker. For instance, if your company website advertises your work environment as “relaxed,” by way of pictures of employees working from couches in the lounge or an account of a company outing, your job ad shouldn’t be targeting candidates who are “professional” or “serious” or “laser focused.” Too many job descriptions are loaded with off-putting jargon and these generic descriptors will lead job seekers to an ambivalent view of the job opportunity that you’re offering.
One of the best ways to start building a strong talent network that utilizes your employee brand, is to integrate social media into candidate/company relations. By getting your employees to promote your vacancies through their online networks, your job brand is being exposed to professionals who already have ties with your employees. This connection to your staff will lend credibility to your business as one that’s expanding around its employees, not over them. Referrals allow your talent network to grow naturally, as employees and candidates (who still respect you after the screening process) recommend your company to their friends, networks and professional contacts. A candidate approached in this way, by one of their former colleagues, will be much more likely to buy what you’re selling, than if they were to stumble across your ad on their own.