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Be yourself: authenticity in recruitment marketing

By Libby Ellis

5 ways thinking like a consumer brand can help you attract talent.

Authenticity has been the story for consumer brands for the last few years. Today’s job seekers are accustomed to scrolling through carefully curated Instagram posts. They’ve got finely tuned bullshit detectors, and they apply that sceptical thinking to job searches just like they do when they purchase consumer goods and services.

It’s a searchers’ market, and candidates can afford to be picky. Recruitment and retraining costs the UK £4bn a year. In the US, the average cost-per-hire in 2016 was $4,425. And, fewer people are looking for work – the unemployment rate in the UK is at its lowest since 1975. And last October in the US, Job openings were at a 17 year high, with the unemployment at a measly 3.9 per cent.

The good news is that if you create recruitment experiences that truly reflect company culture and mirror the employee experience, chances are, you’ll attract better candidates who are well-suited to your culture – and more likely to engage and stick around.

Being authentic requires transparency. Removing the filter doesn’t always make for a universally flattering picture, but that’s okay. Recruitment marketing isn’t about appealing to the masses; it’s about finding the right people for the right roles.

Here are five tips for building authenticity into your recruitment marketing process.

1. Make corporate culture the star. Almost 80% of millennials consider how they fit into the company culture before taking a job. According to recent research, members of Gen Z, who are 61 million strong and entering the workforce now, care even more about culture than compensation. Unlike the early days of the dot com boom, culture isn’t about perks. Beer on Fridays is nice, but both of these generations care more about what you stand for and how diverse your organisation is. When you post about your culture on your website and social media (and applicants are looking at all of your social channels), think beyond fun. Share your values. Let employees take the lead in sharing their own stories about what it’s like to work in the company.

2. Be honest.  Not every corporate culture is for every applicant. In job listings, be very clear about the role, responsibilities and benefits. Share what’s great about your culture, but don’t fall prey to trends. For example, remote work may be all the rage right now but if that’s not part of the deal at your company, don’t hint that it might be. This doesn’t have to be a negative. A simple sentence that says, “Our culture relies on face-to-face team interaction with the majority of your work taking place in our office,” will weed out job-seekers looking for remote opportunities. Ultimately attracting candidates who feel on-site working offers greater stability and connection. These are the people you want to hear from.

3. Be human. Applicants are so used to “applying now” and never even receiving a response that a transparent, human-centric process will have an impact. Employee engagement starts at recruitment so how you communicate with applicants speaks volumes about the kind of employee experiences you’ll offer. One company applying this kind of consumer thinking to hiring practices is Johnson & Johnson. Its recruitment hub, Shine, is designed to bring transparency to the application process. Candidates can track every step of their application, watch educational videos and engage with J&J in a friendly online environment. Since last October, response rates to posts rose 24% and, J&J’s Textio-enhanced job listings, analysed to remove gender bias, resulted in a 14% increase in qualified female applicants for STEM roles and a 7% uptick in hires, according to Fast Company.

4. Sell it. When you shop online, you choose an item, get information and then receive recommendations for other products you might like. Cool Blue does a great job with this approach on its job search results pages by showing similar roles to an applicant after they have applied. Not only does this encourage people to engage, but it also removes any concern about applying for multiple positions within an organisation that may hold someone back. The company adds a level of personalisation by including a photo and contact information for the recruiter and boosts transparency by sharing information about the team and a day on the job.

5. Talk benefits. Benefits are a tangible representation of corporate culture—and they matter to recruits and employees. A recent report from SHRM found organisations that use benefits as a strategic recruitment tool see above-average effectiveness in recruitment and retention compared with organisations that do not:

  • Effectiveness in recruitment: 19% vs. 8%
  • Effectiveness in retention: 28% vs. 11%

Research what benefits matter to the core population you’re seeking. And don’t just list them on a job description. Create blog posts and videos of employees talking about how they used the benefits that matter most to them – time off for caregiving or student loan reimbursement, for example. In short, show, don’t tell. Social media is a great place for this kind of content, as is the careers page.In theory, authenticity is simple. In practice, it takes an ongoing commitment to engage with current employees to gather their stories, sharing them regularly and interacting with applicants efficiently. It’s a commitment, but in the tight race for talent, the investment is well worth it.

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