As a part of our blog series “HR and Recruiters the New Marketers”, I want to share practical ways HR and recruiting professionals can put real marketing concepts to work to improve corporate recruiting programs right now. Now, I am not advising everyone to run out and spend tens of thousands of dollars on full-blown employment branding initiatives (if you want to, we have a great partner for that). Rather, I am suggesting that while the year is young, HR and recruiting pros should consider creating (or revamping) a marketing framework to optimize recruiting communications. Here is where to start.
Create / refine your corporate recruiting story
The company that provides candidates with the most information almost always ‘wins’. Remember, when people look for jobs, they are simply assessing risks. Relevant, well-organized information mitigates risks and assuages fears. Your organization may not pay the most. You may not build the sexiest product. You may not provide free organic juices or host foosball tournaments. But, if you provide opportunities that truly leverage people’s strengths, reward hard work, have flexible working hours, provide good benefits, allow people to work from home, you absolutely need to communicate this and highlight your unique attributes as part of your corporate story.
When building or refining your corporate story you need to really think about your audience. Who are you trying to appeal to? Next, think like a marketer and build a framework to organize your message. The story needs to be personal, genuine, compelling, and delivered with commitment and consistency (we’ll get into the delivery in a bit). Below is a framework that I’ve used to build and organize Newton Software’s corporate recruiting story. When you create this think Twitter
not War and Peace
- Mission statement: short company history, clarify our purpose, who we serve, how we provide value
- Key differentiators: what makes our product exceptional in a market of mediocrity
- The culture: how we treat our employees, why people choose to work here, what to expect
Select and educate your ambassadors
Anyone who has the opportunity to interact with a potential employee has the privilege to tell the corporate recruiting story. Keep in mind, interview processes should be bi-directional exchanges. It’s critical to choose interviewers that will not only effectively assess skills, talent and character but are willing and able to convey the right message. Additionally, it’s imperative that anyone that will be exposed to candidates is a trained ambassador for your recruiting brand. Everyone’s behavior has a direct impact on each candidate’s perceptions about the organization. This is easily and often forgotten.
To take this further, think about this concept in practice. You’re a job seeker. You’ve spent a couple of hours preparing for an interview. You arrive at the interview and are greeted at the door (yes, this should be part of HR’s plan) by someone that is expecting you. Throughout the interview process, all the actors know who you are, everyone has a consistent message and they are clearly prepared to spend time with you. Whether you loved the content of the job or not, your impression would be that this company has its act together and they took the process seriously. More importantly, they took you seriously. That goes a long way. The bottom line is that HR and recruiting teams must build the message and everyone that touches the recruiting process from beginning to end. Error to the side of being a control freak.
While I haven’t been a job seeker in a long time, I do visit lots of businesses that are interested in our applicant tracking software
. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a company and stood around looking for someone to help me find the person that I am supposed to meet. My first thought: is this what happens when people come in for interviews? Probably.
Create a customer experience.
As our service economy has evolved, recruiting isn’t just about processing people anymore. To attract the quality of hire necessary for modern businesses to grow, we must build relationships with candidates just as we would with potential customers. As HR professionals and recruiters, our marketing responsibilities now include creating an experience for our candidates that mimics how we treat our customers.
Professional candidates spend countless unpaid hours preparing for interviews. They research our companies on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. They build up expectations. Unfortunately, all too often, they are met with an experience that is disappointing at best. Many candidates are still subjected to disorganized, disjointed, uncommunicative and even adversarial recruiting experiences.
By creating a recruiting process that provides candidates with a great experience – a customer experience, you put your company in a position to make the decision as to whether you want to hire the candidate or not. Some would refer to this as being in the driver’s seat. Think of it this way, it’s a lot easier to hire applicants when they want to come work for your organization. Furthermore, if your recruiting process is disjointed, inconsistent, unfriendly or all of the above, you’ll not only lose the opportunity to hire top talent, you’ll lose other hugely important hiring by-products like employee referrals, repeat candidates, word-of-mouth candidates, etc.
Some closing thoughts.
There is no better time for HR and recruiting professionals to build and refine marketing communication programs to support the initiatives that we own – like hiring the best people. Find time, no matter how painful that sounds, to take a step back and reflect on how your organization communicates with candidates. Examine your interview processes and find out what’s being said and how candidates are being treated. Ask yourself if you’d be excited about the opportunities being presented by your firm. I’ll bet you’ll find some things that surprise you and that you’ll want to adjust. And, I guarantee that even small changes will make a difference and allow you to be in the driver’s seat more often.