Redefining talent acquisition strategies through times of adversityBy Lorenzo Spina on December 17, 2021 - 10 Minute Read
I’m sure most of you would agree that the last couple of years have presented us with times of uncertainty, confusion and adversity – but also opportunity.
In my personal experience, I have never seen the talent market transform and adapt so quickly. We have seen new legislation being introduced around furlough, unemployment increasing 1.5% prior to COVID, new industries being created and a real shift around employers introducing more measures around wellbeing, benefits and the future of work model. These changes in the employment market have led to multiple technological enhancements that will redefine and re-shape the way we recruit great talent in the years to come.
I could ramble on for hours around some of the great tools, channels and ways to tap into these talent pools. However, today I want to focus on how the landscape for best-in-class talent acquisition is changing and becoming marketing-led. As we all know, the market is crazy at the moment and this is the time great recruiters – those who can effectively market their business – will win, while others will lose. Yes, you heard that right – I believe the best talent specialists and recruiters are marketing evangelists. Here’s why.
Modern marketing teams normally include digital, brand, content and communications specialists that all aim to market a product or service in front of an ideal customer. If we flip this on its head and think about this from a talent perspective, our customer is our candidate. So, this is where the fun begins! How do we market ourselves and our product (a career-defining opportunity) to prospective candidates? And what are the steps we need to take to ensure they “buy” from us?
The answer, I believe, is by positioning ourselves as marketers and creating a talent funnel. You can see from the image below (all credit to Recruiterflow) that this approach has been considered already. But I want to expand on this and add a couple more fundamental steps.
Step 1: Awareness
At this stage it is likely that your ideal candidate may not know who you are, what you do or what you have to offer. This is where your employer brand needs to shine through.
So, I hear you ask, what does employer branding mean to me?
For me, it’s simply an authentic glimpse into your company’s culture – and it should be the defining differentiator as to why someone will want to work at your company over your competitors. It’s an amalgamation of your company’s values, DNA, vision, mission and its purpose to be a great place to work.
To do this effectively, you need to position your content across multiple channels and in multiple forms to make it inclusive to all audiences.
Step 2: Research
In conjunction with raising your brand awareness, you also really want to understand who your target audience is. What does your competitor landscape look like? What skills do you want to attract into your business? What do the timeframes look like and, ultimately, how will you communicate to them?
For this part, planning and forecasting is fundamental. You need to understand your company’s hiring goals, capability gaps and future strategy before you can document your go-to-market approach. It’s crucial that your approach is aligned before you engage with your desired target audience – remember, you only get one shot to make an impression!
Step 3: Engage
By this point you have (hopefully!) built an understanding of your target audience and have your EVP (employer value proposition) created to position in front of your audience. Karim Ansari’s definition from this Link Humans article captures this perfectly:
EVP is the articulation of the employer brand, answering the question 'why should I work for your company?' as well as 'why should I stay at this company?'. Employer brand is the reputation, EVP is the narrative.
Head of Product at Link Humans
Now it’s time to engage with your audience. For me, engagement can be broken down into multiple phases across a candidate’s journey; not engaged, actively engaged and actively disengaged. Yes, you guessed it, as talent professionals we want to steer as many of our candidates towards becoming actively engaged. As a talent specialist, this is where you’ll make the biggest impact to help shape the introduction into your company. So how do we do this?
- Create relevant content that appeals to your set audience that encapsulates your company’s values, culture and mission/vision. Be authentic!
- Personalize your approach and messaging to be relevant. Even if the timing isn’t right, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging
- Build community ties and sponsorship, and host events
- Promote your colleagues and teammates to be ambassadors and advocates of your brand. LinkedIn found that “companies with a successful employee advocacy program are 58% more likely to attract, and 20% more likely to retain, top talent”
- Gather referrals – your employees can open up doors and Jobvite identified that “47% of referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies.”
- Have a highly accessible careers website, and engaged Glassdoor and social media pages. Glassdoor found that 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.
Most importantly, be consistent with your process/communication and always look to gather data and feedback from your audience to continuously drive improvement. This will allow you to shift the dial on making more of your audience actively engaged.
Step 4: Leads
Also known as the consideration stage, this is where the candidate can start to tangibly experience what you have to offer. This is where they will meet your employees, understand your business objectives/strategies and build links with your brand.
Paramount to historical “traditional” beliefs, this is where the candidate would sell their candidature to a company. However, now more than ever this is where companies, hiring managers and recruiters should be selling themselves and the opportunity to candidates. A great candidate experience covers multiple touch points – but, for me, the fundamentals include; accessibility, objectivity, inclusivity and clear communication. Make every interaction matter.
Step 5: Hire
It’s been days, weeks, maybe even months – but the time has finally come and you’re ready to make an offer. Many of us, even myself, have fallen guilty of rushing the offer-making process, however, this has detrimental effects. As recruiters, we normally act as the first point of contact in approaching and selling your company to the candidate, and tend to bridge the gap between the candidate and hiring manager.
We therefore hold the keys to building strong relationships with our candidates and need to show empathy throughout the process. If we refer back to the marketing funnel, we need to remember that candidates are our “buyers” – they must feel wanted and feel like they’re moving to a company that truly values them. Any bad moves here can undo all the hard work you have put in during the previous stages.
Step 6: Onboard
You’ve done all the hard work now, so you should have hiring managers singing your praises and new joiners excited to start – but now isn’t the time to take the pedal off the gas! The market is highly competitive at the moment, and you need to ensure everyone has a great onboarding experience. According to Digitate, employees who had a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for other career opportunities.
When we take the steps above into account, we realize that close relationships with marketing teams are essential in attracting the best-in-class talent that your company needs. Marketing should also realize that they need to devote time to their recruitment teams – not just sales! Companies that bridge this gap will win and, in turn, provide a great customer/candidate journey and convert them into buyers/new hires.