How to Make Sure Your Employer Branding Attracts the Right Candidate Personas
Having a strong brand is incredibly important. Just as an organization uses its market-facing brand to communicate its company culture and the value of its products to end-users, an employer brand does much of the same, just with a very different audience: the company's current and potential employees. As SHRM puts it: "a positive employer brand communicates that the organization is a good employer and a great place to work, affecting the recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market."
But getting your employer branding "right" is easier said than done. Not only do you need a message that resonates with all your candidates at once, but you also need to convey it in a way that it will attract specific candidate personas to your organization based on your specific hiring needs.
So what's the secret to crafting a winning employer branding message, and what balance needs to be struck between generalization and personalization to make it successful?
It all starts with knowing your target audience.
Find Out What Personas You're Hiring
Do you know what roles you'll need to fill within the next few months? Good. Do you also know which workers with similar jobs within your organization are the most successful in their current roles? Excellent! With this information in hand, you can start looking for emerging patterns that will shape the foundations of your first candidate personas. (And while you’re at it, take a look at your last year of new hires and see what types of roles and personas emerge from your typical hiring patterns.)
A candidate persona is an idealized candidate profile that takes into account tangible (i.e. data-based) traits such as skills, qualifications, and education, as well as intangible traits like personality, work/life goals, and soft skills. These personas can help TA professionals understand who they're addressing in order to make better decisions around how to reach each audience and convince members to apply for open roles. And it’s a good idea to have a range of personas to represent variety among candidates. The idea here is not to create a profile of who you plan to hire, rather, it’s to educate and inform your team about common preferences, needs, and other hiring factors about candidates - so you can make sure that you are properly communicating with them on their terms!
Just remember: once you've created your candidate personas, don't just keep them in your head! Document this information for your entire team to use on a regular basis and test your assumptions often by using them to inform your employer brand strategy and marketing tactics.
Feature Benefits and Perks that Matter
Now that you know who your candidate personas are, you'll need to find the words that speak their language, specially for promotional materials and job postings. For instance, if one of your candidate personas is characterized by wanting to work remotely, then a job posting that highlights your onsite facility's break room will probably not entice that persona. The same goes for touting generous work-from-home policies on a landing page meant to attract on-site staff for a retail business. If something is highly irrelevant to your target persona, then be sure to include it in materials created for that role. Refine your employer branding efforts and be targeted in your messaging to key candidate personas so that your talent acquisition efforts have the best chance of succeeding in this highly competitive and cluttered job market.
Define Your Message and Medium
The 'where' is just as important and the 'who' and the 'what'. So once your company story and messages have been calibrated for their respective audiences, your next step is to define and leverage the communication channels that your personas prefer to use on a regular basis. You can do this by conducting third-party market research or collecting employee testimonials regarding the places in which they'd be most likely to look for job opportunities and postings, be it LinkedIn, Facebook, or any of the digital and physical communication channels that exist today. Use this recruitment marketing intelligence to better position your messaging across your employer branding activities and during your various hiring processes for the most traction.
Note: While it is a best-practice to tailor your messaging to the audiences you intend to target, it's important to understand that all your messages have the potential to be seen by candidates outside of your chosen candidate personas, and even by all your current employees. So be mindful of fine tuning your organization's messaging so it resonates with all types of candidate personas without alienating any in particular.
Experiment, Test, Tweak, and Repeat
As many a marketing team can attest, the trick to improving branding strategies is to frequently test your assumptions and objectively evaluate their performance after the fact. The same is true for an employer brand image and message. So if one of your employer branding tactics doesn't attract the right candidate personas or doesn't perform as effectively as you hoped, just change the variables and try again until they do. Don't be afraid to experiment with your messaging and evolve as you go; it's all part of the process of creating an ever-adaptable employer branding strategy that reflects the reality of both an employer and its future employees in today’s changing talent landscape.
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