Hiring / HR

How are you sharing your company’s story to attract top applicants? 4 lessons from recruiting pros

Storytelling is as much a required skill of people operation executives as payroll processing and professional development. Here are some big takeaways from the recent Social Recruiting Strategies Conference.

A team at work. (Photo by Visual Tag Mx via Pexels)
Savvy professionals don’t apply to job descriptions. They respond to stories.

That is one of the foundations of today’s talent acquisition strategies, and it was a resounding focus of the latest Social Recruiting Strategies Conference (SRSC). The national conference, part of a cohort of HR industry events with an increasing technical bent, was held earlier this month in Center City Philadelphia. More than 200 HR professionals gathered over three days for workshops, panel discussions and lightning talks on best practices in the recruiting world.

One of the most familiar truisms of HR in the digital age is how quickly a workplace’s reputation can sour. A negative Glassdoor review or an errant tweet from a dissatisfied customer can kickstart an uphill employer brand battle before you’ve had time to refresh your Twitter feed. The rise of social media, aided by a decade-old reduction in unemployment, has meant storytelling is as much a required skill of people operation executives as payroll processing and professional development.

That’s the grounding of conferences like SRSC. Here are a few other takeaway lessons for all you recruitment/HR pros who may have missed this conference:

1. Create shareable content about your company that will attract relevant candidates.

Krista Gathercole, director of talent acquisition and talent brand from Burlington Stores, shared during her session on the company’s talent brand journey that the recruitment challenge has shifted from “what does the talent pool look like, to how do we engage these people we know are out there?”

“If recruiters are doing their jobs right, if they get a req, they should be able to tell you what that talent pool looks like,” Gathercole said, using research and analytics tools.

So start simple: Know your company’s value proposition. If you haven’t conducted an employer brand audit, start by leveraging your current employees to land on a cohesive message that epitomizes what your company does and why your team comes to work each day. Plan a content calendar of engaging social media messaging using the platforms that your potential candidates use most. From there, shout that from the rooftops.

“It takes 10 touchpoints to get active candidates to engage with your brand,” shared Alyssa Gioscia, senior client success manager of CareerArc; that’s according to her company’s research. “For passive, it’s 17 or more.”

Make those touchpoints accurate, reflective of your brand and compelling to the type of candidate you’re trying to attract. And since everyone loves a good employee referral, make sure the content you’ve created can be easily shared by your team to amplify that messaging.

2. Automate the recruitment process when it makes sense, but otherwise personalization is key.

We’ve all been there: You find your dream job and decide to apply. After you painstakingly update your resume with your relevant experience and skillset, craft the perfect cover letter, triumphantly click the Submit button and start telling your friends and family about this perfect role, you hear … nothing.

According to a study by CareerArc, half of candidates who submit a job application never hear back. Here’s where hiring companies can automate basic candidate communication: Start with a simple “We’ve received your info” email and build from there, based on your internal capacity.

On the flip side, an overly automated recruiting experience can lead to frustrated candidates. Jerry Crispin, the seasoned HR pro, principal and cofounder of CareerXroads, quipped during a panel discussion on empowering the candidate experience, “The black hole does exist” — the longer you wait to tell candidates they didn’t get the job, the more you increase a negative view of company ratings.

Effie Hayes, talent acquisition operational effectiveness lead from Cigna, added during the same session that companies should consider adding personalization to their process, like a call from a recruiter in addition to whatever automated messaging they might receive and what they’re legally allowed to share with candidates. Find the balance between replacing human interaction where it doesn’t need to exist and providing that personal touch to keep candidates up to date on your process and timeline and you’ll win the candidate experience game.

3. The candidate experience can’t be an afterthought.

“Overall candidate experience is an indicator of how a company values its people,” Cigna’s Hayes said.

Companies that take the time to set up candidate expectations throughout the recruitment process on a step-by-step basis throughout the candidate cycle will reap the benefits of happy candidates — and happy employees.

So what’s next after you’ve mapped out your content calendar to share your amazing culture?

“Map out the candidate journey and find your pain points through interviewing different candidates,” said Eleni Efstratiades, talent relationship marketing of Siemens. “Take a look at pieces that you can do better — surveys, interviewing people at conferences — then look at what sort of technologies or processes you can implement.”

And Hayes quoted the Golden Rule as a simple approach: “Treat other people how you want to be treated.”

4. Investing in your employer brand can impact recruitment as well as retention.

Gone are the days of simply posting an open role, setting up shop at a hotel lobby career fair and finding the right skill set to fill a seat. Company culture is top of mind for candidates (both passive and active), so building employer branding strategy into your day-to-day is no longer a nice-to-have in the competitive jobs market of today. (By the way, we at know a thing or two about sharing your employer brand.)

Gioscia from CareerArc shared that employee turnover can be reduced by 28% by investing in employer brand. That’s why Gathercole of Burlington implemented “Real Talk with Real Recruiters” on Facebook Live as a public-facing way to give internal recruiters and department hiring managers a chance to share the highlights of working at Burlington from their own personal perspectives. The team also implemented an employee ambassador program where HR curates specific Burlington employer brand content for engaged team members to share with their networks, helping to create internal ownership of the company’s brand.

By taking the time to invest in creative outlets to share company culture and involving your employees in the process, telling that employer brand story becomes a team effort that both supports your hiring pipeline while also keeping your current team engaged and excited to share why they work at your company.

So there you have it, folks. Go forth and prosper out there in the wild, wild world that is tech recruiting.


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