Prepare your employer brand for the tsunami

by John Cloonan on November 3rd, 2010

The recent flip-flop by Gap in their choice of logo illustrates the power of the consumer in brand decisions. But really, the consumer has always had this power – the internet and social media has just sped the plow. We marketers love the idea that we’re in control. We carefully craft messages and choose channels to reach our carefully selected target audience, who we track relentlessly.

But really, it’s all an illusion. It always has been. We don’t create brand perception, we influence it through our actions and messages.

Extend that idea to job candidates. You’re probably not thinking about them much these days, between slow economic growth and high unemployment. It’s likely that you either aren’t hiring or that you have a pretty large candidate pool. Supply is outstripping demand.

It’s not going to stay that way. Recessions historically are followed by roughly 5 years of growth, which will create a talent shortage.  Also, recent research by Regus and Rasmussen Reports indicate that anywhere from 27% to 40% of people currently working are going to look outside their current company to change jobs.  Lou Adler of the Adler Group has predicted a “Hiring Tsunami,”where millions of employees will change jobs during a 6-month period looking for greener pastures, discover that their new jobs aren’t any better than their old ones, and then change again.

When that happens, your employer brand will become ever more important. Don’t wait until the tsunami hits – by then it will be too late to differentiate yourself from others. A few basic concepts that will help with the employer brand:

Simplify. While in the current environment candidates may put up with about anything to get a job, it’s not likely to stay that way. Make it easy to find the careers page on your website. Have a good search mechanism to find relevant jobs. (That makes it easier on you, too, by allowing candidates to self-qualify.) Don’t make candidates retype their résumés into your online job application – invest in technology to do it for them.

Communicate. There is nothing candidates hate more than a black hole. Consider how disheartening it is to apply for a position or send in a résumé and never hear any response. And by the way, the automated “Thank you for applying” e-mail doesn’t count. At minimum, make sure that candidates know when a position closes. Most applicant tracking systems will send that e-mail for you when you close the requisition. On that e-mail template, however, encourage candidates to seek other opportunities within your company. And no, candidates don’t believe that their résumé will be on file and considered for other positions.

Another communication to consider is actually e-mailing job openings to candidates who have applied in the past for other positions. Make sure this is an opt-in list for CAN-SPAM compliance, but these types of updates can have very high ROI. In a previous position at a medical staffing company, I created a direct e-mail campaign for traveling allied health professionals where they received open positions in their skill set and chosen geographies. This campaign had a 30-day ROI of over 1,000%, and an ongoing ROI consistently over 200%.

Demonstrate. It’s great on your careers website to tell candidates what it’s like to work at your company, but to be credible, show them. Profiles of successful employees, employee blogs, video interviews with successful employees, company event videos, photos of your workspaces, insights from senior leadership and any other way you can show candidates what it’s like to work for your company are invaluable. You create great employer brand equity and credibility through these types of demonstrations.

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