I’m not sure if you noticed but a couple years ago a surge of articles came out about how millennials want brands to be more authentic.
For example, in 2016, Huffpost wrote “Millennials Want Brands To Be More Authentic. Here’s Why That Matters.”
In 2017, Forbes wrote “Why Label Transparency Matters When It Comes To Millennial Brand Loyalty.”
And while I get that “millennials” is a hot topic term, I never understood why so many writers connected authenticity only with millennials. Because, as humans, aren’t we all programmed to seek out the truth? Aren’t we born with a tendency to avoid being duped? And isn’t truth (and our avoidance of being duped) at the core of our craving for authenticity?
Why, then, was this phenomenon isolated to a single generation?
While I can’t answer that question definitively, I can tell you definitively that all generations want authenticity.
In a day and age where we have the answer to just about any question at our fingertips, it certainly makes sense that authenticity would rule the day. Why?
Because authenticity is the only way to stand out.
And this applies to talent acquisition as well.
Authenticity is the key ingredient to successful talent acquisition
Earlier this year we conducted an analysis of the top brands’ recruitment marketing strategies and found that almost all of them were producing culture videos and creating employee stories. And while this is not a bad thing, it isn’t doing anything to help these companies stand out. First and foremost, EVERY company is doing this. And second, the practice does nothing to peel back the layers and tell a candidate what that company is really about.
It doesn’t build trust.
Think about this. What if I scripted every conversation I had with my friends, family and colleagues? Besides taking an inordinate amount of time to do, my conversations would be awkward and one-sided. I’d likely be talking at these people rather than with them. It wouldn’t feel natural.
In fact, let’s try it right now. Pretend we just met up at a coffee shop to have a conversation about this article. Here’s me to help you picture the scene:
Me: Hi, how are you?
You: Actually, I’m pretty stressed out right now. How are you?
Me: What do you think about this article?
You: It’s interesting, and I have a lot of questions about it.
Me, not acknowledging anything you just said: Well, I think that the article is informative, creative and, at times, cheesy. But that’s just me.
[You stare at me, jaw dropped, eyes wide open, thinking “what’s wrong with this guy?”]
There’s a lot wrong with me but that’s not the point. The point is, it’s impossible to script a conversation like this. It is off-putting to the other person. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. And it isn’t real.
Conclusion: life is not a play, so why do employers keep acting like it is?
So from a recruiting perspective, what can you do?
Keep it real.
Instead of the highly produced culture videos, try showing candidates who you really are. All it takes is a smartphone these days. For example, check out this this video I made recently on my way back from lunch.
That’s actually me. No makeup. No script. Just me and my Peruvian chicken, quinoa salad and mixed greens.
It doesn’t start and stop with videos created on your phone. While video is the closest thing to reality, nothing beats a real conversation.
A conversation with a candidate is as real as it gets. It’s not one-sided. It’s not scripted. It’s two people, connecting on a human level, learning about one another, building rapport, and being authentic.
And if study after study has found that people, not just people looking for a job, want brands to be authentic and transparent and real, why not give them what they want?
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