Recruiting well-informed candidates can be a challenge, but by closely managing their online presence, organizations can get the upper hand.
By Marta Chmielowicz
Marketing is, and always has been, a highly consumer-focused business function, but talent acquisition hasn’t kept up—until now. In today’s competitive job market, companies are intentionally shaping their brand and online presence in order to attract top talent.
“Employees are consumers of the workplace and are drawn to brands to which they connect,” says Elizabeth Black, marketing manager at Personify. In fact, the 2017 The Rise of the Well-Informed Candidate study by ManpowerGroup shows that 58 percent of job candidates across the globe feel that employer brand is more important now than five years ago.
And candidates are also better-informed than ever; ManpowerGroup’s research indicates that American job candidates in 2016 had access to almost double the amount of information about company brand than the previous year.
“The ‘Amazon Effect’ has spread into the job search process. Candidates have an abundance of resources at their fingertips to easily click and collect information, while simultaneously reviewing and ranking potential employers,” Black explains. “Job seekers can easily ‘shop’ for the roles and organizations that best meet their needs, and they do. From social and professional networking sites and company career pages to Glassdoor and job boards, candidates want to make sure their priorities align with the organization’s values, as well as paint a picture into life at the company.”
This means that recruitment professionals now have a new job: to influence talent by strategically driving brand awareness and sentiment in ways that have typically belonged to the marketing world. Organizations that are able to paint an honest and authentic picture of their employee value proposition (EVP) and employment brand can turn a cultural advantage into a competitive advantage. Here are four best practices to help achieve this:
1. Define the EVP. To make their organizations stand out, HR professionals first need a clear vision of the things that make them unique and special. This goes beyond offerings such as salary, compensation, and benefits, and includes cultural considerations as well as company mission, values, and purpose. An EVP should be an honest and realistic reflection of the entire employee experience.
“If you’re just beginning to develop your EVP, think about why employees like to work for your organization, what they value most, and why they stay,” recommends Landry Seedig, division president of travel nursing at AMN Healthcare. “Such information is best acquired by getting feedback directly from employees, often through employee engagement surveys. It may even call for the establishment of an internal team to analyze and compile the feedback results.”
2. Deliver authentic content. HR professionals then need to amplify their employer brand and EVP across a variety of platforms to give candidates a window into the day-to-day life at the organization.
“Essentially, candidates want their target company to have ‘glass walls’ so they can peer into the culture and day-to-day,” says Kinetix Director of Marketing John Cloonan. In fact, 85 percent of job searches start on a search engine, according to Recruiting Daily. “Having searchable content on your careers site as well as a robust social presence is paramount.”
According to Seedig, business leaders should keep an eye on the following platforms:
- Company websites. Organizations should provide easily digestible and frequently updated information about their services, products, leadership team, mission and values, and successes.
- Social media platforms. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter feeds provide ample opportunity for companies to create content that highlights their brand in a personalized way. In addition, each platform’s commentators give direct insight into the ways the messaging is being received by the greater community.
- Company review websites. Monitoring feedback on sites like Glassdoor that allow current and former employees to anonymously rate and review their employers is key in the new job marketplace.
Employees can be leveraged as a powerful resource when creating content for these platforms, Black says. Brand ambassadors can provide candidates with an unfiltered look into the daily life of an employee, delivering important information about the business, the brand, and team in an authentic and relatable way. They can also provide an honest perspective about the organization’s vulnerabilities, acknowledging areas of improvement and showing job candidates how the organization is working to address employee feedback and make changes.
“Empower your employees to become your biggest advocates,” agrees Curtis Grajeda, founder and managing partner at LevelUP. “Invest in social strategy and sponsored content to promote what your company culture looks like. Be genuine in your approach and humanize the user’s experience. Utilize your website to communicate organizational values and include any social or environmental bottom line initiatives.”
3. Take a candidate-centric approach. But it’s not enough to just show candidates what the organization has to offer—an effective recruitment marketing strategy should also help candidates understand how the company can help them fulfill their specific goals.
“By sharing thoughtful, genuine, and useful employment branding content that takes a candidate-centric—‘you can grow in your career with us’—approach rather than a company-centric—‘we’re growing, join us’—focus, small and mid-sized companies can create relationships and build trust with candidates,” Black explains.
In a job market where 85 percent of employed people are open to switching jobs, according to a 2017 survey by ZoomInfo, companies that pursue passive candidates with a tailored approach can gain a significant competitive advantage.
4. Conduct audits. The rise of consumer-driven social networks and employer review sites has created immense opportunity for recruiters—but also significant risk. In today’s era of “fake news” where certain websites deliberately spread misinformation and anybody’s unfiltered opinions can go viral, organizations need to be careful to monitor their online presence and respond to anything that undermines their brands.
According to Cloonan, smart technology can play a role. “Organizations need a specific, robust employer branding strategy that includes social media to influence the way they’re perceived by talent. That strategy should include sentiment monitoring at both the automated and human levels. There are a number of automated tools that can provide sentiment monitoring and alerts when human intervention may be either required or beneficial. And sentiment monitoring isn’t just about reducing negativity, it’s about engaging positively with candidates.”
Cloonan says that by thanking people for positive sentiments and responding to negative comments, organizations can demonstrate that they are vested in a positive candidate experience.
Grajeda and Seedig also emphasize the importance of human intervention when correcting inaccuracies found online. Dedicated employer branding experts should be employed to conduct audits and maintain brand integrity—and this should be an interactive process that engages candidates in conversation when appropriate. Throughout these exchanges, organizations can reinforce and validate their corporate messages at multiple stages of engagement.
Organizations should take both positive and negative feedback in stride, Grajeda says, comparing online sentiment with employee and customer feedback surveys to make a difference. “Whether the information presented online is inaccurate and/or negative, it is essential to respond in a respectful tone and to correct any inaccurate information and address next steps,” he says. “Keep note that potential candidates are watching the interactions you have online, so handle each exchange with your organization’s integrity in mind.”