With all the buzz about branding, for business overall and for recruitment in particular, the new role of HR professional has become more marketing-oriented.
Creating an employment brand that attracts and retains is top of mind for every business, but the devil is in the details. Even the best intentions may not make your company approachable, even welcoming, to candidates when it comes to job listings, contact points and career pages. How can HR create an inviting marketing opportunity with every aspect of recruitment?
Why recruitment branding matters
"There is an old adage in the creative community that, 'only bad design is seen,'" Dan Shaker, vice president, creative at Shaker Recruitment Marketing, said in an email to HR Dive. When a design is successful, he said, the brand, content and message is what is felt and absorbed by the candidate. But when the experience falters, it is difficult for the eye and the candidate to move past the errors.
"A candidate knows within the first few seconds of experiencing a site whether it's a modern experience, well-built brand and trust-worthy tool," Shaker said. "When that happens it not only builds excitement in the candidate, it also generates trust."
Job seekers can tell whether you take the candidate experience seriously just by the amount of time and effort you spend speaking to them in an engaging manner, so it's important to create a welcoming environment as well as translate your culture clearly. "Your career site and brand experience is being weighed against every other site and brand the candidate experiences," Shaker said, "so it must align with their pre-conceived notion of what a strong brand feels and looks like."
"Your brand should be a direct reflection of your organization, its people and processes," Craig Fisher, head of marketing and employer branding at Allegis Global Solutions, said in an email to HR Dive. "If you aren't selling the organic reality of your company, job candidates will be disillusioned once they are hired and see the true picture." Fisher believes your brand should be authentic and be more about your people and culture than slogans.
How to translate your brand
"If you aren't already on social sites like Instagram and Facebook, get there fast," said Fisher. He suggests showcasing company culture by posting employee-generated content with career-oriented hashtags, as well as creating micro-targeted ad campaigns.
In addition to showcasing staff and their achievements on social media as well as your career sites, encourage employees to boost your brand with content about their experience with both their work and the organization's culture. The more content you provide, the more likely job seekers are to see an engaging company that values the input of its employees. Be sure to consider videos as well as written content.
Pagely, a WordPress hosting firm, encourages staff to create such a content in order to "showcase the real people behind a company's story, and make sure they're easy to find and engage," Rod Austin, its director of marketing, said in an email to HR Dive. "Pagely encourages team members to write about their background and experience working here, which helps prospective team members better understand how we roll."
Brand managers need to understand not only how their brand is perceived and why, but also what their target audience expects from a brand in their space, Austin said. "Neither can be known without keeping a finger on the pulse of customers, prospects and the larger industry/community your brand swims in."
Putting it into action
"Say what you're proud of, say it clearly and say it boldly," Shaker said, but don't fill the candidate's experience with more information than is absolutely necessary. "It is better to communicate a single point clearly then several points ineffectively," he said. "When a brand distributes its messaging with skill and determination, the confidence in which that message is delivered resonates with the audience."
Austin suggests that recruiters truly understand their audience, especially the interests of ideal candidates. This starts with knowing your current team on a deep level, gaining insight from interviews that have already taken place. "Armed with this knowledge," Austin said, "make sure that your career pages and job descriptions reflect what is both important to your company as well as prospective employees."
The further away a candidate is from conversion, the more enticing the experience needs to be, Shaker said. When it becomes time to convert (i.e., submitting an application, signing up for a talent community or following on social media), make it as easy and intuitive as possible for applicants to do so. "Focus on a clear and unique message, and carefully build your conversion funnel or user path from there," Shaker said. "Build interest and excitement at the front of the funnel and then reduce clicks and hazards towards the end."
Keep an eye on third-party posts
Savvy candidates will look past your career pages, however enticing they may be, and check for online reviews — positive or negative. Make sure to keep an eye on those, correcting where necessary to make sure they represent you in the way you want to be perceived.
A strong recruitment brand can translate into outstanding candidate experience and a better ability to attract top talent. Make sure your brand is putting your best foot forward in every step of the recruitment process.