Companies must devise new recruitment strategies if they are to attract the best candidates
Talent is often described as the corporate resource that will be the most important over the next 20 years. It’s also a resource in short supply. Companies, therefore, must continually rethink their recruitment strategies to attract and retain the cream of the crop.
“Your Brand Matters To Talent!”, a white paper on employment branding from workforce solutions provider Kelly Services, advises employers to make an intentional effort to maintain their corporate brand not just as a means of customer engagement, but also as a way to keep attracting talent.
Phillip Sciro, the paper’s author, says employers who engage their workforce from the very start of the recruitment process attract larger pools of jobseekers who have the required skills and who can relate well to the company culture.
Such companies also end up being more successful in luring sought-after, passive candidates and in being recommended by satisfied current employees, while receiving lower rates of offer rejection and turnover.
“Any strong brand attracts loyal customers. The end users of a company’s product or services today could be highly sought-after candidates for the company tomorrow,” Sciro says.
Sciro has 20 years of experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership in the staffing industry. Based in Atlanta, Georgia in the US, he has run and operated multiple consulting schemes all over the world and is currently responsible for product development of all direct hire, permanent-placement solutions at Kelly.
He says that employers look at employer branding differently today than they did years ago. They know top talents are managing their career and are asking questions like “how can I learn?”, “how can I get better at my craft?”, “am I important in the grand scheme of things?” and, most importantly, “can I get that better somewhere else?”
Another change is that employees today are very conscious of their personal brands. “Our social and professional worlds are colliding at two gigabyte speeds, where top talents have options on who they could work for. The day of long-term company loyalty is past,” Sciro says.
He notes that each organisation has its own company culture – the shared values, beliefs and practices of its employees – which develops over time. This company culture constantly evolves as employees come and go, when fresh regulations are introduced and when the marketplace shifts.
However major or minor the changes may be, companies have to keep an eye out for them to make sure their culture stays aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. “The goal should really be to create a culture that encourages employees to want to contribute at a high level. And we want them to do it long term,” Sciro says.
He proposes adding processes into the hiring strategies of companies to help determine whether a candidate is going to be a good fit with the company culture. Without such processes, the candidate will only end up frustrated and will eventually leave once they realise that their cultural norms and those of their employer are incompatible. Matching the value proposition in the mind of all parties from the start will, in the long run, lead to higher retention rates, shorter time-to-fill rates and lower cost-per-hire rates, he explains.
In the recent Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) survey, 53 per cent of employees in North America said they considered an organisation’s reputation or employer brand to be one of the most influential factors in their job selection.
The survey further revealed that about a third of Gen X and Gen Y workers consider corporate reputation a critical factor in both job choice and retention. It also showed that all generations regard the quality of a company’s management as one of the most important factors in its reputation.
Not only does an appealing employer brand, with a streamlined application and hiring process, attract the best talent, it also leaves candidates feeling positive about the brand, even if they are not offered a job. This is why Sciro sees it as a big mistake for companies to exclude internal HR leaders responsible for human capital development and acquisition during the development of a corporate strategy.
“HR professionals are an extremely important part of the talent supply chain in any organisation. No one in the company knows the pulse of the talent community better than HR and employees themselves,” he says.
With regard to courting top talent, Sciro says companies should target places from which they can recruit employees with specific skills sets and who are more likely to thrive in their culture. For example, they can check the career sections of websites of trade associations where jobseekers in that industry may be posting their résumés. They can also take advantage of sophisticated search engines in online communities such as Angelfire, Tripod and GeoCities.
He cites another KGWI survey from 2010 in which workers who feel that they are more appreciated and valued were found to be better motivated and more productive. They also showed stronger commitment to their company’s success.
In the same survey, many young workers said they were willing to get lower salaries for more “meaningful” jobs. In addition, 40 per cent of employees across all generations identified training as the most important work benefit because it was an investment in their future. This was ahead of health-related benefits and outcome-based rewards.
Employees have always owned the employer brand, Sciro says, but the tools for rapidly spreading their opinions did not become available until the arrival of the internet and social media networks.
He emphasises the need for companies to be proactive in monitoring their pages on public social websites and checking comments being made about the company. Fortunately, there are many effective methods for employers to achieve fast and cost-effective brand exposure. These include listening to online conversations and actively contributing thought-leadership content to target audiences; keeping a visible profile by tapping site-specific advertisements and apps; and engaging the company’s target audience in polls and surveys to learn more about them.
The white paper identified online tools that companies can use to protect the employer brand. Among them were Rapleaf.com, which shows ratings of company reputations; ReputationDefender.com, for removing negative online content; MonitorThis.com, which tracks keywords throughout multiple search engines; and board tracking services such as ForumFind.com and Yahoo Message Boards.
“Social media and its commercial impact is still evolving,” Sciro says. “Companies should develop social media guidelines for their employees that will strengthen and promote their corporate brand. Give them a place and permission to speak, and then the organisation must contribute as well.”
One of the main channels for companies to develop their brand is through their own websites. A survey by the Personnel Today website found that more than 75 per cent of companies are planning to increase the use of company websites for recruitment.
“A corporate website says something about the company immediately,” Sciro says. “It is the face of the company. Purposeful online branding should bring candidates to a place that clearly identifies the company culture, its mission and values. That place should also be cutting edge.”
Creating an informative and engaging recruitment section within the company website strengthens candidates’ perception of the brand and makes them feel excited about working for the company, he says. Websites, however, have to offer information beyond job opportunities and where to send CVs. For instance, it should say what the company is doing for the community. All information, meanwhile, needs to be current.
More than any method, Sciro recommends a viral-based approach in a successful branding strategy. “The most powerful is really the least expensive. I’m referring to the personal statements made by a current or a former employee, or a candidate that has recently gone through the company’s hiring process. Those kinds of statements are trusted more especially in the Gen Y world and have greater impact and better reach,” he says.