So you’ve got the attention of top quality talent, but they’re not ready to apply to your current openings… now what?
Since the value of employment branding grows over time, it’s critical that your efforts include some type of strategy for long term relationship management with passive candidates. A great brand will attract both active and passive seekers. Active seekers will apply to your job postings, and enter your hiring process. But what are you doing for the passive candidates. Whether they are unwilling to apply because they haven’t decided to move on from their current position, or because you don’t have any current openings that match their skills, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time to engage.
Ideally, a well developed employment brand strategy will include activities geared toward attracting both the active and passive candidates. Active seekers can be attracted with traditional job posting advertisements and by posting jobs on your own website, and making them search engine optimized (you’d be shocked by how many job searches start in a Google search field). To catch the eye of passive seekers, it’s a good idea to be leveraging social media, developing advertising programs outside of the job board arena, and creating recruitment campaigns to targeted groups.
Drawing the seekers into a strong landing page that highlights the culture, benefits, and values of your organization is foundational to this process. What many companies tend to miss, however, is giving the visitors of that site multiple options for how to engage with you. At the very least, a landing page should include a simple and easy process for the visitor to apply to open jobs and a second process for those who wish to stay in touch or receive updates from you.
How do you manage this process? Any thoughts or ideas on best practices? Any lessons learned that you’re willing to share?
(Reprinted from the Employment Branding Best Practice Exchange on LinkedIn) After speaking with more than 100 HR professionals over the last year, I’ve found that very few develop or feel they control the employment brand. At first, this appears to illuminate a broken system. It seems logical and intuitive that the people who spend the most time dealing with the employees, and focused on the employee/employer relationship, would be the exact right folks to build and manage an employment brand. So why isn’t this the norm?
I have come to believe that there are three very common realities that take place once a company makes a thoughtful decision engage in employment branding. Each of these three, in my opinion, creates less than ideal situations which negatively impact the value and return your EB realizes. I’d be interested in thoughts from this group on whether or not these seem to be accurate representations of reality, or if you can share ideas on how to avoid this pitfalls.
Here are the three most common scenarios I’ve seen first hand, and the obstacles created by each:
1) INTERLOPERS: Once the idea for an employment brand initiative gains support and agreement, senior managers (particularly CEO’s, GMs, and Marketing Directors) feel compelled to guide and direct the brand- to put their stamp on it, if you will. The power and control is taken away from the HR professional, and too much emphasis gets placed on how the company will market the brand. This emphasis leads to a contamination of the brand, as efforts are made to make the brand “look good” and fit into a pre-determined definition. Of course, we all know that brand loyalty and penetration is directly related to brand integrity. This practice most often leads to a rift between the brand you use to attract candidates and the reality of your workplace.
2) DETACHMENT: The decision is made to outsource this work entirely to an advertising/marketing agency who promotes an employment branding specialty, but who’s experience is truly in the consumer branding realm. This is common with companies who lack one or more of: internal resources (labor hours and/or creative/design competencies), understanding of the process to build the brand, and confidence in internal ability to do the job right. My company is an HR vendor, so I will not bad mouth this world or the enormous level of talent and expertise in it. However, creating this disconnect between HR and the outside agency can demotivate internal experts to engage in the process and offer their best effort in supporting the agency. The other drawback to this practice is often that the agencies are unable (not unwilling) to really get to the heart and soul of your true employment experience. It has become second nature to managers and employees to say nice things to outside vendors, either because of fear of being caught saying anything negative, or out of a sense of duty to put on the best face possible.
3) SHORT ATTENTION SPAN (I should have listed this one first, right?): While buy-in and engagement are promised by the management team, it is quickly swept aside, and the resource support is never provided. This happens more often than any other. After a compelling presentation and proposal to the management team, GM, or CEO, you are able to generate widespread understanding of the value of employment branding, and support. Then, when you need to fill a position or hire an outside consultant for some creative work or analysis or SEO, there are no funds provided, and the req’s are denied. The expectation becomes that you, and you alone, will somehow take care of this initiative… in addition to all the other work you already do. This unrealistic circumstance makes it nearly impossible to put the time and effort in initially, and even more difficult to sustain it through completion. What began as a great initiative which you proposed and presented, has become an unmanageable burden to you. Can you spell frustration?
Over the years, I’ve worked for many companies who put on great employee appreciation events, and many more who offered referral bonuses when they were hiring.
Few, however tied these programs together to clearly communicate and reinforce their Employment Brand. If you’re going to put in place an incentive for your employees to speak with their friends and family about working for your company, you should ensure that your core values and unique programs are top of mind, and clearly understood by all. Again, as I have written several times, your values must be in line with the reality of your environment to ensure brand integrity, and ultimately brand loyalty.
When we consider changing recognition or appreciation programs in our company, we always closely examine how it will affect our ability to hire great people. As an extension of that, we explore how it will affect the retention of our current staff, and what potential word of mouth “advertising” they will bring to their communities.
Aside from offering the highest compensation in the land, a company’s REPUTATION is the most important element to attracting applicants. Our company has built a reputation for fast growth, casual atmosphere, engaged employees at every level, and flexibility to generate, develop, and execute new initiatives. Our perks are very much in line with this reputation, and serve to reinforce our employer brand. Some of our special perks include Bring A Dog to Work Fridays, employee driven All Star Awards with photos on the wall, and company outings the local Triple-A baseball game, or a harbor cruise.
Even when times are tight, as they certainly are now for most companies, we understand that any changes we would make to these unique and special perks would impact our ability to retain and attract great employees in the future.
What special perks does your company offer, and how well do you connect them to your Employment Brand both internally and externally?
First, a word of thanks to the MaineHR Cafe for giving me this great idea. You can see the MaineHR Cafe elevator pitch by clicking here. As I read that recently, I was reminded that it’s important to routinely share the motivation, purpose, and hopes associated with a blog to let help new visitors and subscribers understand the intended perspective.
Here’s a go at why I write the Recruiting Front Lines, and why you might care to read it or subscribe:
For than a decade I have have worked in marketing, sales, and advertising for media companies. In January of 2004, I joined JobsInTheUS.com, the umbrella of state-specific recruitment resources which now includes the leading resources (most job postings, events, and in-state traffic) in ME, NH, VT, and RI, along with growing presence in AL, CT, LA, MA, MS, NY, and PA.
Starting in 2005, I was charged with building and managing a field marketing program that was focused on reinforcing our local focus by engaging job seekers and employers in the community. Through this activity, we have presented workshops at career centers and colleges, developed HRCI-accredited seminars and webinars for employers, promoted our brand at festivals, trade shows, and job fairs across our markets. Last year alone, we exhibited at more than 250 events in New England and the Gulf Coast.
While I captured a significant amount of market data for use in our sales and marketing, I had no outlet to share the qualitative information I was getting from front line managers, HR admins, job seekers, career counselors, and business owners. I started the Recruiting Front Lines as a way to record and share the stories, news, and trends that I was hearing first hand from both seekers and employers.
Over the past year, I have become much more involved in the HR community, and have found myself building a focus on employment branding, social media for HR, staffing management, and other recruiting/hr focused issues. I still attend many events, and continue to broaden my awareness and knowledge of the labor market from those most closely and directly affected by it every day.
Okay, so I’ve never been one to be pithy or short on words. I hope this provides a good view of why I write and why I do what I do. Please feel free to visit often or subscribe to my feeds. If you know of someone who would be interested in following along, please share the link.
As a follow up to my previous posts, Don’t Just Sit On Your Hands and 4 Keys to INTERNAL Employment Branding During a Recession, the following bullets are laid out to provide some direction to employers, recruiters, marketing directors, personnel managers, and HR professionals on EXTERNAL Employment Branding. (remember, Consumer Branding is meant to build up your consumer base, Employment Branding is meant to build your employment base.)
During a recession, you’ll likely be making fewer hires- potentially only replacing key positions. Employment Branding is absolutely necessary to ensure your attracting the very best candidates that will help you company survive the downturn and thrive in the upswing. Here are some of the most important things I’d ask everyone to consider when developing or reviewing your external employment brand:
If you asked every applicant to share what they know about your company culture during your first phone call, what would the result be?
Ask this question to every applicant you phone screen, and track the results
When you do an online search for “Careers at (YOUR COMPANY NAME HERE)” what would you find?
Make sure you have pages on your website dedicated to your employment brand.
If you aren’t hiring, how could someone find out what it’s like to work for you?
Be sure to keep your employment brand visible all year long and drive a consistent message.
How many GREAT applicants do you get when you’re not actively hiring?
Companies with well developed employment brands will receive applicants from great candidates all year long, because they want to be part of your organization.
If you went for a recruiting day at a campus right now, would there be a line of students waiting to speak with you?
Utilize social media and online resources to generate a buzz about your company- and yes, even YOUR company is buzzworthy!
What would your current employees say if they read your employment branding promotional materials?
Remember, brand integrity directly affects your ability to retain new hires and existing employees- so be sure that you’re brand is true.
Consider this: With all the bad news about layoffs and unemployment, any news or PR you can generate about your positive employment brand will catch people’s attention. In fact, it is much easier now to grow your employment brand awareness and brand penetration! While others are shying away from the spotlight, you can take center stage.
If you aren’t currently hiring, investing time and energy in your employment brand now will lead to significant payouts when you’re back in growth mode. Develop brand loyalty now, and when you’re ready to hire, great people- and maybe more importantly, the right people- will be banging down your door.
EMPLOYMENT BRANDING STORY FROM THIS WEEK:
When we work with job seekers, we push the idea that employers are looking for the “right fit” for their company. We guide job seekers to begin their search by doing a self assessment- what are their own core values, strengths, motivations, talents, desires, and comfort zones. Once you know what makes you happy, and what you want from life, then you can target companies who’s culture and mission fit your own. This is the key to long term employee satisfaction, increased retention, and ultimately profitability.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate (verbally) how employment branding can affect the type of candidates you receive. A soon to be graduate at Smith College is looking to start her career with BET, and has asked for some advice on her cover letter and resume. She has already interned with the Media Education Foundation and with MTV, so has relevant experience in this industry. Additionally, working in media is a passion of hers, and she has the experience to support that. However, it’s likely that BET will collect hundreds of resumes for this position, so it’s important to make sure she conveys her alignment with their culture and philosophy.
We went on the web to research more about the career environment of BET, their culture, professional development programs, etc. And found nothing. The job she was applying for was written up in three sentences, part of a pdf that included a dozen or so other job descriptions. There was nothing about their culture, nothing about the types of employees they’re looking for, nothing about the benefits they offer to top talent. There was simply no information that would shed light on who they are and what kind of environment a new hire is walking into. While I can’t find statistics published on this, I have a pretty high confidence that they struggle with significant employee turnover. If you don’t specifiy the type of culture you have and the type of people you’re looking for, you’re far less likely to attract the right ones.
I told this student that she continue to reach out through social media and other online resources to explore the culture and environment further. A key to getting the interview is presenting yourself as the “right” person for the job because of your unique combination of skills, talents, motivation, drive, values, and passion that align with the company.