You may have noticed a lot terms being used in the business of ‘talent attraction’. There’s one right there. Terms can mean different things to different people – and there’s often more than one interpretation for each. Confused? You are certainly not alone. That’s why we thought it would make a helpful blog to shine our That Little Agency lens on the whole gamut – from the bigger picture surrounding brand, culture and values to those more often used at the business end of recruitment.
We don’t just cover what they are, we give our take on what it takes to get them right. And there are connections between many of these too. Ready? Let’s begin …
The bigger picture
We’ll kick off with the big daddy of terms, employer branding. It’s the one we all hear about the most, the one that organisations ‘do’ to attract and hire the best talent. But hang on, if there’s employer branding then there has to be an employer brand – see how tricky this can get? Let’s start with how they differ.
In simple terms the employer brand is what you have, whether you like it or not. It’s the baseline of where you are now, the thoughts, feelings, perceptions of you as an employer – good and bad. It’s usually based on the current and past experiences of employees which may not always tally with how the employer sees things. As long as there’s employees, there’s an employer brand.
So, how do you as an employer create an employer brand that your ideal candidates aspire to? How do you become that sought after ‘employer of choice’? That’s where ‘employer branding’ comes in.
Employer branding, through a carefully researched plan and creative execution, is the process that will change how you are perceived. Note the words ‘carefully researched’. You can’t build a successful employer brand on a whim, a bunch of hunches or what the MD or HRD thinks it should be. You have to get beneath the surface and find out what people really think for it to be credible and bought into. Which takes us to …
Employer Value Proposition
Often shortened to your ‘EVP’, but we actually prefer ‘Employer Proposition’. This defines the key attributes that you would like people to associate with you as a potential employer. It’s effectively the reasons why someone would choose to work for you, as opposed to an alternative employer. When it’s been determined, your EVP should provide a consistent platform for your employer branding communication and candidate experience.
To give this a little more substance, it’s worth covering how you’d reach your EVP. You might identify a target group of potential recruits and ask them what they think you are like as an employer. You’d ask group of actual employees to find out what they think of working for you and what they see as your values. You’d also want to ask your management team – to get a view of their vision for what the organisation is and would like to be.
To be effective, the end result needs to be attractive to potential hires but also credible to your internal audience. If they fall about the place when they see your employer branding efforts, you’ve missed the mark.
A vision statement describes where the company aspires to be – and increasingly where it wants the world to be. For example, Oxfam – ‘A just world without poverty’. Organisations often produce statements of their vision and this can be hugely important to the employer brand. That’s because employees are increasingly motivated by more than reward alone. In fact, it’s often way down the list. What comes first is just how well they identify with the vision of the organisation they are considering joining.
In essence, is the vision inspirational and aspirational enough? What is the organisation there to do? Is important to them, will it challenge them?
The values of an organisation are the core principles that guide and direct it and its culture. Values create a moral compass for the organisation and its employees and, just like the vision, they have to be values they feel aligned to. And, most important of all – these values have to be lived and breathed by the organisation and its management to really make that connection with employees. They need to be authentic and experienced on joining – it’s probably the most significant contributor to the employer brand having credibility.
After all, the reason we stay loyal to consumer brands is often because we feel we share their values. Why should it be any different for the employer brand?
Our earliest behaviours are formed through childhood experiences, and there are certainly some in children more desirable than others! However, in the workplace, desired behaviours are acquired and developed while performing roles. In a recruitment context, they make some people more desirable candidates than others. They also contribute towards high levels of employee engagement and a positive company culture.
For example, do they have good communication skills, are they team orientated, demonstrating enthusiasm, will they go the extra mile? Are they confident in their performance and ability to learn new skills? Do they demonstrate integrity, having made decisions in the best interests of their organisation, ahead of personal advantage?
We’ve covered a number of terms that relate to aspects of an organisation and how they impact the employer brand. The company culture is the glue that binds them all. That’s because, amongst others, a culture comprises the purpose, values, leadership style and levels of engagement found in a business. And, like values, people are increasingly looking for evidence of a positive culture, one that benefits their lives and community.
A company culture that positively resonates with employees and customers is core to retaining talent and delivering business growth. It’s something that Simon Sinek has described as a ‘sense of cause’. A company culture, he says, can be something so powerful that people would rather turn down higher paying roles to be a part of it.
Some recruitment terms
Let’s take it that ‘Talent attraction’ as a term speaks for itself. We think so. However, there are a couple of terms that apply to the recruitment stage that are worthy of a closer look. One has changed hugely in recent years and the other, if it’s seen in a negative way, could make or break your employer brand before your candidates have even joined.
Anyone who’s role has involved attracting candidates to employers (via the direct route, rather than through employment agencies), will have heard the term ‘Recruitment marketing’. In fact, if they’ve been around the block a few years, they probably used to call it ‘Recruitment advertising’. Yes, long before the web, organisations would print an advert in a newspaper, hope the right candidates would see it, read it and then send their CV in the post. How very 20th century.
Recruitment marketing is a term we like. It recognises that today’s employer treats the business of attracting talent as a marketing campaign with a strategic approach, a better understanding of the target audience and a whole different playing field in terms of how to reach them. So, recruitment marketing is how you tell your story through content and messaging to reach top talent. It can include your career site, job postings, video messages, social media, images – any public-facing content that builds your brand among candidates. It is the process by which your employer branding gets seen and put to the test.
The candidate experience is one of the most crucial stages in how you successfully attract candidates. And it’s also equally important to those that you don’t hire. A candidate experience definition might be “how candidates feel about your company once they experience your hiring process.” It’s the time when they first experience your employer brand first hand.
Whether it’s good or bad, their experience influences candidates in their decision to apply to your company or accept your job offer. The danger comes when the actual experience doesn’t measure favourably to the promises made in the employer branding and candidates vote with their feet and go elsewhere. It can get really serious when they share any negative news with their social networks – all of whom will trust what they say.
We didn’t start this article expecting it to run quite as long as it has. That only goes to show the complexity of the employer brand and the employer branding process. There are many facets involved from the strategic issues surrounding vision and values to the technical. These are all inter-connected and reliant on each other in many instances. Just as a poor candidate experience can have a negative effect on the employer brand, a friendly chatbot could just save the day.
We hope clarity on some of these terms will help you appreciate all that goes into the employer branding process from development to delivery.
Need a little extra help?
We are That Little Agency, we help employers tell their story and we do this by developing award-winning employer brands and careers websites. All designed to help you deliver measurable results. If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around selecting your ATS, defining your employer value proposition, developing your employer brand or any aspect of your talent attraction strategy just drop us a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a biscuit.