Another great post from HRMToday.com, regarding employment branding. Employers take notice- if your internal employment brand fails to live up to the hype of your external brand, you’ll be creating a breeding ground for disengaged and untrusting employees. Remember, every new hire you make comes to work in your workplace culture as it exists today, so you can’t build your external brand based on how you want your workforce culture to be in the future. The work of changing your culture begins with your internal branding first.
Show respect, humility and integrity – At one point there was talk of changing the employee discount program. Employees responded very negatively to this news and because of their feedback on how disappointed they were the company decided to leave the program in place, as is. Employees shared this feedback via an online forum “the water cooler.”
Please excuse my pressing need to vent publicly about the onslaught of marketing, promotion, and “education” around the idea that recruiting and consumer marketing are essentially the same function.
Hiring a productive, engaged, long-term employee is extremely different from convincing someone to drop a few dollars on a product or service!
Ahhhh…. that feels better. Now, in full disclosure, I’ve heavily researched the various plants and animals within the “recruitment marketing and technology” ecosystem, and have even written and presented HRCI-certified seminars and webinars to employers across the US and abroad- including Fortune 1000 companies. And if you do a little searching through the archives of this blog, you’ll no doubt find several articles on the process of applying consumer marketing practices to recruitment marketing processes.
Now, let me just explain my position to provide a little more clarity. I certainly DO believe that some of the best practices from consumer marketing and consumer branding can be adapted to assist in your recruiting and employment branding processes. Thanks to the power of capitalism in America, enormous amounts of energy, brainpower, time, and money have been dedicated to the refinement of consumer marketing. As a result, we have well-established, mature, and proven concepts that allow organizations to reach, engage, and attract customers.
Thus, modeling your recruitment processes after consumer marketing will provide more effective and efficient methods to reach, engage, and attract people. The chasm between these two worlds, of course, is the specificity of the audience, and the level of commitment being asked of them.
In consumer marketing, the vast majority of marketing and branding activity is focused on (relatively) low-investment, low-involvement decisions. This is the major distinction between how homes and furniture are sold, compared to clothes and cars.
Think about it- when making a buying decision for a home, you take much more time and care, mostly due to the longevity of the investment and the cost involved. It’s not all about money, though. Even when buying furniture, consumers also spend a great deal of time with these decisions, as they are seen as very long-term commitments.
Despite the fact that purchasing a new car can be one of the highest cost purchases people make, the majority of buyers don’t believe they’ll own the car forever. As such, consumers are more likely to make quick, emotional decisions on automobiles than on dining room sets (which have you owned longer?). The same concept applies, though to the nth degree, when buying clothes. If you’re a fashionista, you know the styles won’t last long, so the decision making process is far less affected by quality than it is by style, feel, and brand names. If you’re not really into fashion, then buying clothes is simply a chore, and something that you spend even less time and brainpower on.
Now, looking at these two different buying behaviors- which one utilizes and benefits from the tactics and strategy of consumer marketing and branding more? Clearly, it’s the low-investment low-involvement products and services. These are the types of products and services we see the majority of banner ads, pyramid schemes, online referral networks, email spam, and broadcast commercials for- the tools of the consumer marketing trade.
Think about how you buy furniture, or how you select your next home. These decisions are far less affected by branding and marketing. These decisions are made by carefully reviewing the quality and craftsmanship, and a great deal more time is spent on finding the right “fit” to suit your specific personality and needs. This is why sellers are willing to pay thousands of dollars to real estate professionals to find the right buyer… sounds a little like the world of headhunters and 3rd party recruiting, no?
Consider where career transition decisions fit along the decision making spectrum. I would argue that these decisions can be handled with even great care and consideration than purchasing a new home. As a result, employers shouldn’t expect that by posting ads in more places, or by running ads with greater frequency, that you’ve improved your recruiting and employment branding processes. Yes, these practices will help you cast a wider net, and will, by the laws of probability, help you find more of the right people. While that’s good enough for consumer marketing, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for making great hires. It’s far easier to get someone to spend a few dollars on a spring blouse by offering a 20% off sale, than it is to convince a passive job seeker to quit a job where they have some level of comfort and success, to update their resume, submit an application, take time off for interviews, and then take a step into the unknown.
In order to truly enhance the effectiveness and success of your recruiting and employment branding processes, it’s a good idea to start with a strong understanding for the risk, discomfort, and complexity of the decision process of applicants.
When it comes right down to it, attracting and hiring new employees is simply not the same as attracting and selling to new customers.
Do you keep hearing the term social recruiting or social media recruiting, and wonder what all the fuss is about? Are you still skeptical about the actual value of social media with regard to recruitment activities? Or maybe, you’re on board but just not sure about the first move. Well, regardless of which bucket you place yourself in, today’s your lucky day. Consider this your primer for understanding the foundation of recruiting through social media; a starter kit, if you will.
There are two primary wheels that you have to pay attention to in the world of social media- the Push and the Pull. This is just my opinion, anyhow, and a concept that I’ve developed as I’ve spoken and trained on this subject matter. Think of it like this- you have to push your message out to places where potential applicants may see it, and you must work to pull a targeted audience in to your career site to view and apply to your jobs. The reason you need both is that you really don’t know exactly where your next great hire is coming from. In reality, that perfect fit for your organization may never see a job advertisement that you post; more and more you may start finding that your next great hire has found you through a social network where he or she spends time. On the other hand, you also need to define your target audience and develop messaging and compelling content that will draw them in to apply for your openings.
The first wheel, The Push, is all about getting your message out to as many networks, and ultimately eyeballs, as possible, while incurring the least expense. This is a great value of social media. The hub of this wheel is a blog… now stay with me. This is where most people begin to drift into daydreaming and thoughts of tonight’s prime time TV lineup. I’ll only say this one time, and then we’ll move on- YOUR COMPANY NEEDS A RECRUITMENT RELATED BLOG. Once this is in place, you can broadcast the content of this site across the internet, taking advantage of the viral nature of social networking. If done well, links to this blog will show up in places where you never expected, and could potentially reach a great candidate there. All messaging starts at your blog, and gets pushed out through various free and paid channels. Here’s the visual:
The second wheel, The Pull, is all about drawing a targeted audience to your career site. The hub, of course, is the career site itself. In order to turn this wheel successfully, you must first define your targeted audience, as this will determine the tone, tenor, and content of the messaging on your career site. Once you have this done well, you then must actively go out to places where job seekers are and work to pull them into your site. And in today’s world, that means more than simply purchasing an ad in the newspaper or on a national job board. Here’s a visualization of the Pull Wheel:
I’ll go into more detail about how to use these wheels in future posts, but hope this helps for those who are trying to figure out how to get started with social media recruiting.
I was told once that the way to determine whether the glass if half full or half empty is to know whether your filling the glass or emptying it. If it started out empty, it’s easy to see the glass as half full; if it started out full, you’re likely to feel that it has become half-empty. Following that logic, I suggest that the glass of our economy is half full.
“What I can tell you is that we are seeing signs of improvement. Layoffs, although we are still having them, seem to be leveling off a bit compared to a number of months ago. Of course, that doesn’t help those still out of work.”
Those were the words of Fran Allain at the beginning of September. Allain is the employee retention project manager for the State Department of Resources and Economic Development, one of the officials on the front line of the labor market here in New Hampshire.
Allain continued: “Simultaneously, we see more hiring. Not in great numbers, but there appears to be some positive movement. I wouldn’t expect massive hiring too soon. It’s going to be a conservative, long-term correction to the workforce.”
While not a very positive outlook for job-seekers across the state, it is a very good environment for employers. In fact, forward-looking employers have a rare opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of their workforce. Those companies slowly adding new staff will have the pick of the litter when making hiring decisions. Now more than ever, they can position themselves to attract high-quality talent that had not been available prior to the recession.
Of course, to be successful, employers will need to pay close attention to the recruitment process.
The final two months of 2008 resulted in a precipitous decline in job posting activity on our site as the economy began to tumble off the cliff, to paraphrase Warren Buffett’s sentiments. Since the beginning of 2009, I’ve been focusing my attention on identifying and developing new programs and services that will add value to the users of our company’s web service- namely HR professionals, small business owners and managers, recruiters, and job seekers- in order to stay relevant and viable.
Regardless of which rocks I look under, the hard fact is that anything which we develop will be related to a job market that is a shadow of what it was 2 years ago. Indeed, when the market was booming, it was easy street in the employment advertising sector- between 2004 and 2008 the number of online job boards increased from around 30,000 to over 100,000 due to the huge demand and growing value of web-based advertising platforms. Everyone with a dream of making it rich in e-commerce, it seemed, was staking a claim in this vast space, with our without strong business plans or depth of knowledge in this market.
It makes me think of the San Francisco Gold Rush of the 1850′s. Back then, plain folk from all over the country (and even from overseas) packed up all their worldly belongings and set out to find gold and strike it rich. Very few of these “miners” had the knowledge or know-how to mine effectively; many, in fact, failed to even make the distinction between real gold and other, less precious minerals. At the time, though, the feeling was that it didn’t matter what you knew- anyone could do it. All you had to do was dig around, sift through some riverbeds, and one day, your time and effort will pay off.
Today, anyone who can put together a little HTML and set up PayPal and Google Adsense accounts seems to have packed up their belongings and hitched their wagon to the job posting rush of the mid 2000′s. And similar to the Gold Rush, very few possess the depth or breadth of knowledge that is vital to providing a lasting and reliable resource in this market.
Personally, it’s sad to see all these new job posting sites popping up that simply scrape postings from other sites, ensure they are search engine optimized, and hope for some free money from the Google ad links that they paste all over the place. They’re trying to get rich off the backs of real businesses who are working tirelessly to help employers find the best candidates available, and help job seekers access real, legitimate job opportunities.
Next on the horizon, we’re looking at adding some punch to our Company Spotlights by perhaps adding some audio. The thinking here is that this will give employers a second dimension to engage job seekers, and really allow the personality of the company to shine. We’re also exploring outlets to share the labor market data we accumulate in a format that will help job seekers better evaluate the employment landscape.
Now I’m beginning to feel like a blowhard. Really what I’m trying to convey is that good business is based on increasing the value you present, not on merely making a better package. I’m a firm believer that by doing good, we can all do well. In our industry, doing good means helping people and employers be successful.
When it comes down to it, the value of any business is most accurately measured by the trust of its customers. Sometimes I feel like an old fashioned fuddy-duddy, still clinging to basic business principles of a bygone era, while the youngin’s wrap empty solutions in slick online marketing, and reap short term gains. Then, I remember that despite the speed of development and information sharing, long term business success must be viewed as a marathon, and not a sprint.