By Ed Nathanson
Jan. 26, 2012
The headlines talk of high unemployment rates and a troubled economy. There is no question that the current economy has led to a very challenging job climate - not just for job seekers but for employers as well. For a company with active and aggressive hiring plans, there are several key issues that need to be addressed to stand out from the crowd, attract the right talent and engage the passive candidates. The route of “post and pray,” posting on job boards and crossing your fingers for the right candidate to apply, is no longer effective. What’s needed is a highly creative Talent Acquisition plan that incorporates several strategies and concurrently, a company culture that embraces the efforts needed to be successful.
One of the most misunderstood and undervalued aspects of any Talent Acquisition strategy is the employment brand. There is a common perception among employers that their reputation should speak for itself, and that attracting talent is synonymous with stock prices or the latest product release. While company reputation and viability is important, there is much more involved in the attraction strategy of top talent that fits in the company culture. An effective employment branding campaign should stand separately from the product branding campaigns but tie in to the overall company positioning around values, mission statements, etc. The campaign should be designed with the consideration of “who do we want to attract?”
For example, if you’re looking to attract Gen Y software development talent, a campaign should be tailored to resonate with that audience using the right messaging and mediums, versus if you were looking to attract more seasoned talent with different attraction points. The campaign messaging itself is critical and should paint an accurate picture of a work environment, highlighting the values and skills desired in a candidate. A truly effective employment brand can result in not only attracting the talent that matches your selected criteria, but also builds substantial “buzz” about your company that makes working for the company almost synonymous with the company itself.
Another crucial aspect is the Talent Acquisition team itself. While there will always be a place for job boards and applicant tracking systems, there is nothing quite like an innovative and driven recruiter. I have always believed there are two types of recruiters - those that do and those that react. The “do” recruiters know where their desired audience is and have the marketing acumen to find them and engage with compelling campaigns, acting as true talent scouts for the company. The “react” recruiters wait for job seekers to find them and don’t drive proactive messaging or outreach. Since the recruitment process is personal and emotional, having the right people engaging with candidates ensures the desired positive outcomes and experience.
It’s also important to have the company as a whole understand the importance of recruiting and have it become an ingrained part of the corporate culture. A company that “gets it” is constantly in the recruiting mindset - from individual employees networking and referring great candidates, through executives investing in programs, benefits and referral programs. Ask yourself about the great interviewing experiences you have had in your career (whether you got the job or not) - why was the experience great? More often than not, there was an engaged and passionate interview team that displayed energy and enthusiasm about their jobs and the company.
While it’s extremely important to be assessing when interviewing, it is equally important to be selling the company and the opportunity. Whether you hire the candidate or not, the ideal outcome is for the candidate to leave with a positive impression of the company. In today’s networked world and with sites like Glass Door, word-of-mouth goes a long way to building the desired buzz about your hiring efforts.
Lastly, there a number of avenues to “get the word out” about a company’s hiring plans. Traditional job boards have their value, but the game has changed quite a bit since the social media explosion, making it extremely important to have a social media strategy in place. Having an active presence on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter that promotes the employment brand gives companies the capability to reach larger audiences than ever before. It also gets company messaging to the passive candidates who may be a great fit, but are gainfully employed. Also having the whole company using social media (i.e., employees tweeting about cool things they are doing) only enhances the employment brand message to audiences.
Social media is most effective when it is a two-way relationship. The savviest organizations not only “tweet” about their hiring efforts, but engage with their audience in ways that enable them to interact and continuously maintain interest and contact. Companies should be sharing more than job openings! Industry articles and interesting company news keeps the social media recruitment audience engaged and also can send a very powerful message about your company if handled correctly.
While the perception may be that hiring should be easier than ever with high unemployment - the reality is far from it. People are more reluctant to make a career move in times like these. To stand out and attract the talent you require, it is critical to have a great recruitment team, a strong employment brand, a company culture that promotes recruitment and a strong media strategy.
Ed Nathanson is the director of Talent Acquisition at Rapid7. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Rapid7 is the leading provider of security risk intelligence solutions designed to provide organizations with insight into their threat and risk posture. He can be reached at [email protected] or www.rapid7.com.