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What Do You Stand For? Today’s Top Talent Wants to Know

Posted by Mark LaRosa

You’ve heard it before: candidates are consumers, and recruiters need to think more like marketers. But a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report bumped this notion up from ‘good idea’ to existential directive: with millennials forecast to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, never has it been more crucial to rely on your employer brand.

What it is

Take a page from your marketing team in terms of the guiding role brand should play in all your communication efforts. But remember, your employer brand is not your company one. Employer brand showcases who your organization is, where and how you make an impact, and what you bring to the table for potential and current employees. In marketing speak, your unique value proposition for your team members--including your mission and vision, values, culture and personality. Why should your employees get excited to come to work every day? Can they see themselves mirrored in your hip/progressive/retro/caring/cutting edge/irreverent attitude? What do you do to make the daily grind an enjoyable time? If your company had a mascot, why would your employees want to have one too many eggnogs at the holiday party and dress up as it? These are the burning questions that should keep you up at night, and that each and every recruiting touch must answer.

Why you need to use it

People spend the majority of their lives at work. And while previous generations may have sucked this fact up and made do with a cubicle, salary, and complimentary hot cocoa packets, millennials want more. Much more. Millennials are searching for a Purpose, and they will look to an employer brand to help them define their profound reason for being. The mission itself can vary, and different companies may have different areas of focus--such as a well-strategized commitment to inclusion and diversity, a promise to help every child learn, a belief in the power of technology to connect human cultures, a desire to save the environment. To resonate with millennial candidates and employees, it must work towards some positive change they want to see in the world. And if it can do that with ergonomic work stations and organic cheetohs, so much the better.

Among millennials, job hopping is also a thing. The most recent Bureau of Labor report revealed the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 as 10.1 years--more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 (at 2.8 years). And this makes sense in terms of the generation’s quest to live a life that matters: if one work environment doesn’t cause their souls to soar, perhaps another one will. Problem is, all this job churn comes with a high pricetag for employers-- 16% annual salary to replace an hourly worker, 30% for mid-management, and over 200% for a leadership role. Yes, you want to bring in great candidates, but a candidate is only great if your organization is a great fit for them, too. A well-articulated employer brand, clearly and authentically expressed throughout the candidate journey, can not only help ensure you hit your time-to-hire goals--but also help candidates self-select so those who sign on will more likely stay.

How you should communicate it

Millennials love experiences. They invest their time and money into adventure and entertainment way more than they spend it on stuff. Reflect this in the way you present your employer brand. Throughout the hiring process, weave the presentation of your brand into an ‘experiential’ journey--one that is seamless, end-to-end, consistent and as close to real-time as possible. And you can rely on digital to deliver it--millennials’ high comfort level with all smart forms of messaging makes it easier to frame this cohesive approach.

Social media colors how millennials expect to interact, with companies as well as with friends. So to get candidates engaged, communicate in a personalized, one-on-one manner--using your employer brand’s culture and personality to set your tone of voice. Customized, conversational communications get responses. And allowing candidates a chance to react and respond in a way that expresses their individuality will further draw them in--whether its presenting the opportunity to answer tailored questions over video, or asking for their opinion on the way you’re conducting the hiring experience.

It’s also important to be real. Millennials put a premium on authenticity, and they can smell pseudo-sincerity a mile away. Demonstrate the values behind your purpose-driven employer brand in how you communicate with candidates. If your company prioritizes ‘the emotional well-being of every team member,’ don’t acknowledge applications with a form letter--or worse, not acknowledge them at all. If you ‘believe in the power of technology to change people’s lives for the better,’ don’t let a hiring process string out for ten days you could complete in three. Human beings in general, and the 25-35 set in particular, appreciate transparency. So let your candidates know how they measure up against the competition, what the next steps are and when, and how they can find out more info on your flexible work policy and insurance.

Value statements don’t explain an employer brand. Stories about real people do. Feature that case study about your company’s new meditation room, complete with testimonials from team members who use it daily to reduce stress and feel more productive and creative. Point out that article about Geraldine--who won employee of the month last June for the mentoring program she put into place. And you can at least consider sending candidates the link to that team-building video, the one where your COO leads account receivables in a spirited lesson of riverdance.

Moving employer brand front and center humanizes and galvanizes the candidate experience--especially when it comes to the ever-growing millennial pool. Use technology to automate touches that help candidates experience the purpose and personality of your brand throughout their journey. And use your strategic skills to strengthen the human authenticity behind it.