Why Recruiters Need to Think More Like MarketersDoes your corporate brand translate effectively to recruits? This is something we always encourage clients to think about when going through a branding initiative. After all, the best talent has choices. If your company hasn’t thought about how this important audience fits into your brand strategy then you’re missing a big opportunity to connect with and engage prospective employees in a competitive market.
LinkedIn learned this lesson first hand. Workforce.com recently published an interesting article outlining the approach they took, starting in 2009, to compete with Facebook, Google and other industry giants, for the best talent. Working from the inside-out, they solicited employee feedback and leveraged those insights to develop an innovative corporate culture that developers and engineers would find attractive. For example, LinkedIn instituted inDay, one Friday a month where employees work on pet projects, and [in]cubator, a quarterly pitch session where employees present new business ideas to LinkedIn executives. Rather than trying to compete on salaries or perks alone, LinkedIn focused on communicating these types of unique learning opportunities and the entrepreneurial work environment that recruits valued just as much.
The results were immediate. LinkedIn’s head count went from 500 in 2010 to more than 3,400 by the end of 2012. “We started to build muscle,” Steve Cadigan, LinkedIn’s talent vice president until last December, told Workforce. “Our offer acceptance rate went up, the number of senior-level hires we closed and the candidates we needed to make offers to fill a position, those numbers improved in our favor.”
LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, recently told attendees at the company’s corporate user conference in October, “the world’s best recruiters are increasingly thinking like the world’s best marketers.” We agree with this sentiment. Smart marketers understand that, to stand out in a crowded market, they need to create a brand that establishes a distinctive and compelling position for their firms. Recruiters must apply this same approach to understand how their corporate brands can translate to the recruitment brand with the most impact. This may require up front research to identify the gap between how employees and recruits perceive the firm today and how the firm would like to be perceived by these audiences in the future or, perhaps even more important, what employees rank highest on their list of workplace priorities. To close this gap, companies often must change behavior to align with their messages so that they talk the talk and walk the walk. For LinkedIn, this meant implementing changes from the inside-out (such as designating special time each week for employees to work on pet projects) to foster the innovative, entrepreneurial culture they were trying to build and their employees were seeking.
In an increasingly competitive employer market, the best talent has the most choices. Companies that spend the time to identify how their brand translates to recruits and employees stand the best chance of competing for this small pool of talent. To do this effectively, recruiters must think more like marketers. What can you offer recruits that is unique and credible coming from your firm? How are you showing this in your words as well as your actions? A solid and differentiated brand can help guide a firm in answering these questions.
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