• Stephen Flanagan

How are you fighting the war for talent?

Unemployment is decreasing, more people are thinking of moving jobs and the best candidates are getting snapped up more quickly. Equally, jobseekers are becoming more demanding of what they want from a company.

Whilst use of the word ‘war’ when referring to a business challenge is a little crass, it’s true that recruiters and HR professionals are fighting more and more battles to bring in top candidates.

The question is, do they have the weapons to win?

In this blog, I’ll show you where the current process of recruitment is lacking and how you have an opportunity to get ahead of the pack and draw in the best candidates with my top 3 tips.

My most recent job was with Hays, the largest specialist recruitment agency in the world. I spent eight years managing their brand in Ireland, (internally and externally) and creating marketing campaigns to attract more candidates and clients.

Since I was selling their services through marketing, I needed to get an understanding of the recruitment process. What I soon realised was that marketing, in some form or another, was part of the recruitment process.

However, I noticed that at this time, recruiters spent a lot of time perfecting sourcing, CV screening, candidate screening and selecting the best options. There didn’t seem to be any focus on perfecting the art of attraction.

This puzzled me. The first part of the recruitment process typically involves advertising the job to potential candidates. So, in my view, the quality of that advertising will determine the quality of candidate that responds to it. However, when I randomly picked a job ad on one of the big job boards, it was typically a list of job duties, skills and qualifications required.

If I’m a discerning candidate, what is in that job ad that is compelling me to apply for it? What is making that job more attractive to me than the other four jobs I’ve seen? Normally, very little. In addition, all the jobs ads started to look the same.

That was back in 2008. I passionately felt that creating the most attractive ad was a crucial missing piece from the recruitment process. Fortunately, Hays agreed with me and I began a series of workshops eulogising on the power of a strong ad and how to build one. Subsequently, improved ad writing was introduced to their training.

Yet in 2019 I can still go on a large job board and randomly pick a job ad produced directly from an organisation, or through a recruitment agency and it is still just a list of job duties, skills and qualifications required.

Advertising and the marketing process as a whole, is a multi-billion dollar industry. To give you an idea, WPP is the largest communications company in the world. It has over 200,000 employees in 113 countries and revenue of £12.2 billion. They have tens of thousands of clients, including Coca-Cola, Ford, HSBC and Procter & Gamble.

Coca-Cola pays WPP to use marketing techniques to persuade you and me to buy their products. So if the right employee can make a huge contribution to a company, why aren’t more companies using marketing techniques to persuade the best candidates to apply for their jobs? Or to re-assure their current employees that they are working at the best company for their careers?

Below are my 3 top tips to help recruiters improve their attraction and retention of top talent:

1. Work out your value proposition

As you set out to persuade talented and intelligent individuals to work at your company you should always ask yourself - “Why would someone choose to work here above any other company or job on offer? What makes us the best option for them?”

2. Make employer branding the core of your strategy

Employer branding should be at the centre of your value proposition. You have to articulate all the great things about working at your company and broadcast it. Institutions like The Great Place To Work organisation are brilliant at helping you discover what is good and bad at your company from your employees' perspective. Glassdoor is also a useful place to find out what external and internal people think about your firm.

3. Target accordingly

What makes marketing so successful is its ability to target its audience and deliver a message particular to them, using a specific channel. If you build a profile of the type of person you are looking to attract - something a good job specification should do - then you need to tailor your campaign accordingly.

Choose the channel most suitable to that audience. For example a senior finance individual may be targeted through an industry website, whereas a junior admin may be reached via Instagram, or Snapchat.

You should alter your tone and content of your advert to suit the profile you’re hiring for. For example, a senior finance ad should use a more formal tone and include last year’s turnover and the size of the finance team. Whilst a junior admin ad could use a lighter tone and highlight the social aspect of the company.

What you say, how you say it and who you say it to, is what has made marketing so successful for companies when trying to sell their products or services. Considering how important your workforce is, in the success of your company, isn’t it about time it was given the same marketing attention?

About the author

Stephen Flanagan has been a marketer for over 20 years. He's worked across all aspects of the marketing mix including brand management, advertising, market research and data analysis. He has worked agency side for advertising and PR companies and client side for textiles, finance, IT, recruitment and not-for-profit organisations.

#Tipstohelprecruittoptalent #Recruitmentmarketing #Employerbrand

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