I recently presented at the HRO Conference in Singapore on Hudson RPO’s annual global research paper in partnership with HRO Today which focuses on what top employer brands do differently to other brands.
The primary research was gathered via one-on-one interviews with top employer brands plus a 3-week online survey of global senior HR practitioners (328 usable responses).
I found this research so practical and insightful for organisations that are still looking at how they build their employer brand and what activities they need to focus on.
Here a just a few of the findings that came out of the report. If you’d like the full report (I highly recommend it!!) then download it here.
One of the biggest questions I get from clients when it comes to developing their employer brand is – where do we start? Do we just refresh our EVP, or should we just update our career site? What if I put a few videos in there, will that be enough. As with most big projects, we need to understand the objectives – what do you want your employer brand to do exactly? Building a strategy to support the successful execution of a project is critical.
The research shows that twice as many top employer brands have a defined and documented employer brand strategy compared to other brands.
So I would ask you – does your business have an employer brand strategy or is it more of an activities focus. If we just do these one or two things then we’ll be fine? Is the strategy lead by the wider HR and Business strategy so that it’s tied into delivering what the business needs? These are the types of questions that need to be asked.
Not only do we need a strategy but we need someone who can champion that strategy. The leader, the passionate crusader that understands what it’s all about, who understands the benefits and opportunities and is able to articulate that and position it in the right way to get the job done.
Once again, top brands were more likely to have CEO or President level sponsorship. I think a lot of organisations are unsure how to have the commercial conversation around what quantifiable impact EB will have on the business therefore it’s not something that is discussed at C-suite or exec level.
Top brands also generally had stronger visibility of their employer brand across their senior leadership team. By having the entire leadership team on board and behind what you are doing means that your ability to rally internal support and engagement will be higher.
I was having this conversation with the HRD of a large consulting firm the other day, and she commented that they need to see a return on investment before they will invest anything worthwhile. And whilst there are things that can be done inexpensively, there needs to be some investment if any impact is to be made. That might be cash investment or it could be resources investment – but something has to be given in order to get something in return. We found that top employer brands invested 52% more than other brands.
Top brands use more social channels to promote their employer brands, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. By using multiple channels you’re engaging current and potential employees in different ways. You’re provide multi content collateral for their consumption which is always going to more engaging that just one type of content in one place.
Partnering for Success
As an employer brand strategy can be a project in itself with many different components, the research found that whilst 57% of organisations manage their employer brand internally and 61.3% of Top Brands partnered with an external business/consultant compared with 42.9% of other brands. Bringing in specialised expertise to help you build a strategy as well as execute key activities will ensure you have targeted outcomes.
Overall, top tier employer brand companies involved more departments and other groups in promoting their employer brand as seen below. By ensuring that you’re using experts in your business to deliver input, advice and output for the employer brand project will not only share the work load but it will ensure that the employer brand is in line with the corporate and consumer brand as well. 44.6% of Top Employer Brands have defined roles compared with 17.6% of other brands.
Measuring Return on Investment
As always this one is a surprise to a degree. We’re so focused on metrics and measuring everything but the Employer Brand is still the last thing to be measured. 61.4% of respondents said that they don’t measure return on investment when it comes to their Employer Brand whilst 22.4% weren’t sure.
These are just some of the findings from the research undertaken. The report provides break out “how to” boxes to make it not only informative but very practical.
If you’d like to discuss how your employer branding strategy can meet your business needs this year then drop me a message and we can discuss how we could potentially work together – firstname.lastname@example.org
First off – Happy New Year! We’re already a week in, can you believe it?!
Well I have it on good authority (I can feel it in my bones) that it’s going to be good year! I predict 2014 will be the year of the ‘Yousli’…. what do I mean by that? It’s all about bespoke services, products and consumer expectations or in our case, candidate expectations.
As we move at rapid speed toward a world of tailored approaches, products and services, candidate attraction and the way we assess and engage with potential employees is not too far behind.
I personally love anything I can customise and I’ll usually gravitate towards something that has been designed specifically for me.
So have you noticed how many new businesses are springing up based on bespoke?
Two that that I personally like are Yousli and Shoes of Prey. Yousli allows you to choose your base muesli and then whichever ingredients you like and then name it yourself. I like to call mine ‘Suzli’. They then package it and send it to you. Shoes of Prey allow you to design your own shoes. From the style, hight, fabric etc and then you can name it…what’s not to love!
The question is, what do candidates expect from us?
What do they want to be able to consume, pick and choose when it comes to considering your organisation as a place to work? Do you provide them with a number of different options when it comes to applying for a role or finding out more about your organisation’s culture, people, activities etc? As we know people digest information in different ways:
- Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding – Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, photos on your career site
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music – YouTube, video on your career site
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing – providing written information candidates can consume or video they can hear more about the business.
When engaging with candidates, do we think of these different styles or do we treat everyone exactly the same?
So recently I asked a number of highly skilled professionals; if they could design the recruitment process they had to go through in order to get a new job, what would it look like, and this is what they said:
Tom – PhD scientist, global experience, has worked for leading pharmaceutical in research & development in the past.
“I’d like to have a lot of information to read (surprise being in research and all). Job descriptions are terrible and very rarely accurate when it comes to the tasks that I’d be responsible for undertaking. I’d like to read examples of the types of reports I’d be responsible for writing. Companies put fairly general info on their websites when it comes to careers pages. Nothing that makes me think they’d be great to work for. You also rarely get information that covers warts and all when it comes to the job and then wonder why people don’t work out when the job and environment aren’t right. Having more team based final interviews or meetings would help provide the opportunity for potential employees to have honest conversations about the organisation therefore ensuring that you know what you’re getting yourself into and that it’s the right fit for everyone.”
Jim – Senior Business Analyst working across a number of large corporates on a contract basis. One of the main things that he stated was:
“I’d like to meet the people who I’d be working with. Not just the manager but the team, maybe the stakeholders, etc. I also just want to know that I can leave the office at 5pm and get home to see my family. I make sure I get what I need to get done, but then see so many other people just staying back in the office when they don’t have anything to do because that’s the ‘culture’. I’m not interested in that. I get in, get the job done right and then get home. I wish people would just be honest about the real culture of the office so I can make the right decision.”
Tanya – Senior Manager in HR projects –
“I’d love it if someone said that they had read my blog or engaged with me on a social platform, because I never look at job boards. They want to discuss where their business was going and how I could support that. Language is a big thing. We live in a world that is solutions focused (well my world is anyway), so if you’re looking for someone like that, then you need to think about the way you approach them. What is going to be more appealing – ‘we want to talk to you about a job’ or ‘we want to talk to you about a solution that we need for our business’. In the first instance I might think…well I’m happy where I am, changing jobs can be stressful. But if you say – our business needs to find a solution to X (which is what I specialise in) then you’ve got me chomping at the bit from the start. Now when it comes to assessing me to find out if I’m right, I’m happy to have a conversation/interview but why not put me to the test. Let’s get in a room with a number of people and let’s solve a problem, work through a project. You’ll see me in action, see the way I think, work out if I’m the right fit by the way I conduct myself and the ideas I come up with. That would be a really engaging way for me to get a job.”
So your challenge should you choose to accept it, is to look at some of the roles in your organisation – you choose which ones this may work for.
Think about your hard to fill roles and look at how you or your recruiters are engaging with those candidates. Is there a better way to attract that particular type of person? What language is key to them?
What would tempt them nine times out of ten to be drawn to your role? Have you asked? What could the recruitment process look like for them that could be a bit different?
I love this ad below and recently used it in a conference presentation. It speaks to its audience and is tailored just for them. It’s interesting, different and the process of assessment is based on work that they submit when they apply. It’s challenging, fun and creative!
We do the same thing over and over again for every person – yet every person is different. Now if you’re thinking, well we don’t have time to tailor our approach then think about whether you have time to sort through 100 ad response of people who don’t really match the criteria you’re looking for. Think about the solution that you’re providing to your hiring managers and if you’re really adding value in an ever-changing market.
If the way you are recruiting today, is the same as you were recruiting 4 years ago, then are you really tailoring your approach to meet the needs of highly skilled and ever expectant candidates in the market in 2014?
Be different, challenge the status quo and you may be surprised by the calibre of great candidates you attract!
Wasting time sourcing?
Have you gone mad Suzanne?
Well no, I haven’t gone mad but I think many recruiters may have.
What would you say if I told that you I went strawberry picking. I went to the strawberry farm and I hunted for the biggest and the best strawberries. Every time I found one I picked it, thought ‘WOW that’s impressive’ then I went and put it in my basket. Every day, I would go back out into the strawberry farm and I’ll continue to pick my strawberries and I’d keep putting them in my basket.
I didn’t put my basket in the fridge, I didn’t cover it with anything, I didn’t wash them, I really didn’t do anything to look after the strawberries that I had already picked; I just kept going back out into the field and picking more. Eventually the strawberries in my basket went bad but I didn’t notice because I just kept putting more and more in.
Does that sound like a great use of my time and resources?
Was I making the most of the strawberries that I already had in my basket?
Did I care for them so that they lasted longer so that when I was ready to use them on my amazing Christmas Pavlova they were primed and ready to go?
p.s. the link is there for my wonderful international or non-Australian readers! Make a Pav these holidays….it’ll change your life! See…..you get sourcing advice and amazing recipes! What other recruitment blog gives you that!!!??
Well I feel like this is happening in the majority of organisations that are recruiting. We work to build the database, to attract great candidates and then a new job requirement comes up and what do we do? We go back out to market, put the job ad on the job board or LinkedIn and we spend 2, 3, 5 weeks looking for new candidates.
Well the reason may be that we don’t have very good database search or talent pooling practices. I really can’t think of another reason.
So what should we be doing?
Having a good understanding of which roles you may have coming up and which roles you recruit regularly should help you to manage the number of times you need to go to market a fresh.
Having engaged, well managed talent pools will not only mean you don’t have to go to market again and again but when you reconnect with candidates who have already shown an interest in your business that you’ve identified as being “a big strawberry” (or an amazing candidate) then everyone is already on board and ready to go.
The client owned recruitment database is one of the most neglected and underutilised tools today. Everyone is so focused on getting the new job out there, assessing new candidates, that we lose the good ones we already have.
That candidate who was great and applied last time, sees the ad and thinks, well I’ve already applied and they obviously aren’t interested so I won’t apply again. Not only have you wasted time going to market and going through the whole sourcing process again when you didn’t need to, but you lost a great candidate in the process and you spent more money than you needed to.
So here are 5 steps to decrease the spend on time, money and resources and use your database better:
1. Ensure your database has a good search function
This may mean that you either have to skills code or tag candidates so that they can be found later or you many need to test out if enhancements needs to be made to get the most out of the search functionality. You probably only need to make 2 hires from the database to cover the cost of a technical update. If you don’t know if your search function is good or not then find out. Either contact your ATS company and they should be able to give you and your team training as well as help you determine if what you have will work for your needs. Another option is add on database search technology such as SeeMore.
2. Train your recruiters to be database hound dogs
If you don’t train your recruiters to use the system in a way that will increase database searching then they’ll just keep doing what they have always done, which most of the time to is the advertise, wait 2 weeks then sift through 80 response! Once you know the power of your ATS or database search capability then ensuring recruiters know how to use it is critical. Also changing their mind set is something that may take some time but if they get into the habit of searching the database before they advertise then it will change over time.
3. Actively influence source of hire
By looking at your source mix and knowing where your candidates are coming from can help you actively influence the mix by driving certain behaviours (training), targeting and rewarding your recruiter’s ability to move the source mix dial towards database or talent pooled hires.
By doing this you should also see a decrease in ‘days to hire’ as they are not waiting 2-4 weeks for ad response.
4. Identify and develop active talent pools
Note the word active. I say active because you don’t want a ‘basket of rotten strawberries’. By ensuring that the quality of the candidates in your talent pools are good, it means that your recruiters will know that if they go and search in those talent pools they will get great candidates. By implementing a manageable CRM (Candidate relationship management) strategy will also mean that you’re not only building your employer brand in the mind of candidates that you know are already interested in the company; because they’ve applied before, but it also keeps them connected and informed for when you want to tap them on the shoulder again.
5. Candidate managers will pay for themselves
If you are a company with over 500,000 candidates sitting on its database (and that’s not many by today’s standards), then it may be worth investing in a candidate manager who can connect, engage, talent pool and farm out great candidates across the board. I remember back in 1998 when I was working in recruitment, our candidate managers were worth their weight in gold. For some reason we don’t seem to value this role anymore, but I think managed in the right way a dedicated resource will add enormous value to a team. They can also manage talent communities, talent pools and develop social and sourcing strategies.
So that’s my thoughts on why I think many recruiters are wasting their time sourcing. Do the work, build your CRM strategies and searchable databases and then enjoy the benefits of that by tapping back into your strawberry basket when you need to!
Have a restful and safe break over the holiday season and I look forward to share many more branding, sourcing and social hints, tips and tricks with you in 2014!
I’m actually surprised that you’re still reading when you know I’m going to be talking about writing better job ads!! Well good for you!
Yes I know it’s one of the more boring topics but the more I look at job ads online (for research purposes only of course), the more I’m astounded by how poorly they are still written.
Copy and paste the job description much?
Even though job boards have decreased in popularity compared to other sourcing channels, they are still a key sourcing channel in most regions, therefore it’s still important to craft ads that increase your chances of finding qualified candidates and that diversify your employee sourcing channels. This means writing better recruitment ads, understanding why some recruitment ads fail and using creativity to set your client’s organization apart.
Write Better Recruitment Ads
There are three types of ads you’ll work with most:
- Internal ads
- External ads
- Mobile ads
Internal ads target employees who already work within an organization. Writing copy for these ads uses different language than external ads, which target candidates seeking employment outside of an organization.
It’s unnecessary to extol the virtues of working for the company since the employee already has an idea of the culture and the work environment. Instead, talk about how the job can further their career within the company. You can still provide them with an overview of what that particular division in the business is doing as that may not be common knowledge in an organisation with 3000 plus people. Tailor internal ads using familiar language, and speak to your candidates as existing employees. If internal mobility is a key focus area for your organisation then spend the time to write interesting and tailored content for that audience.
External ads explain the benefits of working with the organization. Build the employee value proposition (EVP), and create an advertisement that attracts potential candidates to the organization. Now I know that you’re sitting there think….yes Suzanne we know all of this. Well if you know all of this, then my question is, can you honestly, with hand on heart say that you really think about your ads and whether you’re providing Meaning, Challenge and Reward statements that will attract and engage the best candidates?
Research shows that when deciding to either stay with a company or to join a new organisation, the majority of individuals will focus their decisions making on the three key areas outlined below, therefore messaging should be targeted to communicate role meaning, challenge or reward.
The amazing thing is that job ads, if written in a compelling way can increase sharability. What do I mean? Well if I’m an active candidate looking for a job and I see a job ad that is a-maz-ing, but may not be right for me, I may just pass it onto an old colleague or friend of mine that I think may be interest (even though they aren’t looking).
We try to think of all these creative ways to attract candidates..which I’m a huge advocate for, but the quality everyday standard attraction methods are declining.
When writing your job ad think about how you can provide insight about the business in a way that does not come from corporate comms. Think about something interesting about the business or the division. It’s fine to say what you are looking for but think about writing it in a way that is attractive.
So instead of saying “experience leading a team”, think about what the hook is for that person…. “with your extensive team management experience, you’ll be leading a senior group of sales experts who need further support and guidance to deliver across multiple regions and markets” . This says to me, I’ve got some great sales experience in the team, I’ll need to look at better ways to help them deliver in a variety of regions – and that’s my challenge.
When working with mobile ads, which have grown increasingly relevant over the past few years, become aware of how your ad looks on various mobile devices. Mobile ads made for smartphones can become warped on tablets, muddling your ad and rendering it ineffective. Is your career site mobile optimised or will I be frustrated as a candidate when I go and try to apply online on my phone or tablet? Don’t lose great candidates because your technology is 2nd grade!
What Makes a Good Ad?
- A strong headline
- Effective use of subheadings
- An enticing job summary
- Body copy that sells the role
Strong headlines use language with the potential candidate in mind. Don’t complicate the name of a role or use language the client assumes everyone knows. Instead, use clear, concise language. Subheadings introduce vital information, usually at the top of the ad. Use keywords for subheadings, and talk about job perks: parking, location, flexibility, and so on. Job summaries sell the role to candidates. Try to hold their attention in 150 characters, and utilize keywords candidates are searching for.
Use IDEA for the body copy.
IDEA stands for: Interest, Desire, Enthusiasm, and Action.
Interest: What’s the payoff for the candidate? Highlight the interests that make them read on.
Desire: What’s in it for them? Going back to the idea of EVPs, explain the factors that keep employees in the organization.
Enthusiasm: Differentiate the way you post jobs. Don’t use the same ad for different roles. Diversify your ads, tailor them to the job, and make potential candidates excited about reading it.
Action: Tell the reader to take action; compel them. Ask yourself from their perspective: What do I have to do to make this happen?
Using the aforementioned guide creates successful employee sourcing channels and provides recruitment managers with a step-by-step guide for creating better advertisements. However, the most important concept is understanding your candidates and speaking to them through concise and compelling copy.
We constantly talk about how the market is changing and candidates expect more, yet the quality of what we say and do to attract them doesn’t reflect that. So the bottom line is, if you want a great candidate to apply for your role online, then make the effort and spend the time creating something worth them reading!