it's not me, it's you


talent, recruitment, employer branding

Attracting talent is really really difficult, especially in a candidate driven marketplace.

Okay, can we at least agree it is harder than it looks. That’s why given the chance most hiring managers will run in the opposite direction to avoid it. Only when the pain caused by the gap becomes too much do they reluctantly pull out an archaic job description and thrust it into the hands of HR with an unrealistic deadline and list of demands attached. After a cut and paste exercise the ‘job advert’ is born and promptly pushed out into the world via a plethora of job boards and, all to often, a list of preferred recruitment suppliers, each of whom will slice and dice it further to make their version stand out from the rest.


The result is invariably a mash of inconsistent messages each trying to shout the loudest and win an impossible numbers game.


But hey, don’t worry your employer brand will still attract the best people, right?


If you’re lucky prospective candidates (I say prospective candidates because let’s be clear, at this stage they are only applicants or potential applicants) may have heard of your business, they may even be existing customers, but is unlikely they have any prior experience of your attraction and application process. Any impression a potential candidate may have about your organisation is more likely to be based on your product or anecdotal evidence – your reputation.


Few organisations have been able to develop a strong recruitment and selection process that leaves the applicant impressed enough to shout about it. Those which have, achieved success by a strategic and holistic approach which puts applicants and candidates firmly at the centre.


An employer brand can’t be built with just a career microsite and a twitter feed. If you engage exclusively through an online ATS then your pretty screwed from the first mouse click. A strong candidate experience covers everything from the advert through the application process, selection, interview, feedback and on-boarding. It also takes time and a huge amount of effort and commitment, from everyone, including the prospective new employee.


One of the most common complaints I hear from customers relates to the initial advert and response. “We didn’t receive any relevant cv’s”, or worse, “we regularly receive literally hundreds of cv’s so only respond to the ones which exactly match our criteria”. Job descriptions are not recruitment adverts and should never be used directly to attract people. A generic list of responsibilities and qualifications typically describe the perfect candidate who frankly, rarely exists. They appeal only to job searches who have already applied to four other similar adverts before breakfast.


Talk specifically about what’s in it for the reader, not just about you.


Remember also folks, prospective employees are motivated by autonomy, purpose and challenging problems - not cash, ping pong and bean bags. So drop the banal adjectives and sell it how it is.


A good recruitment advert can only be written after detailed collaborative conversations with a number of stakeholders who have an interaction with the incumbent, as well as HR and ideally the business owner. It should describe the good, bad and even the ugly parts of the job and it should be aimed only at one person – someone who doesn’t need a new job.


If you don’t have a big audience reach you may also want to engage an external recruiter. Pick just one, ideally someone who knows your sector or marketplace in detail. If you’re not sure who to go with ask to see some of their previous advert copy. If you really want to ensure results offer a retainer and you will have both their attention and commitment.


This process will give you a carefully crafted advert, an external business partner and maybe even a bit of a hiring strategy. The result should be a targeted and consistent message which allows you to start a dialogue with some relevant and interested people. Now crack on…