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The Power of a Digital, Social, Consistent Brand

Quarsh invited three industry leading consultants to present on their specialities at the first Candidate Communication Breakfast Forum last week. Matt Alder, Kat Fox and Andy Headworth discussed the power of mobile recruitment, employer branding and social media respectively, demonstrating how these ideas can be harnessed to improve talent acquisition efforts both individually and how they can come together to develop a solid recruitment marketing strategy. Here, we review the key messages that we took away from the day.

Matt Alder
, Mobile Recruitment: Opportunity & Threat

Matt was first to present on the day and wanted to address the way in which companies manage - or fail to manage - mobile recruiting. When it comes to mobile, context is key, and in order to understand what and how to deliver content to their audience of choice, companies must consider the context in which people are using their devices. Matt cited that mobile internet is becoming the preferred access point, with 89% choosing to browse online from their mobile device even when they are at home. And according to the Google Consumer Survey 2013, 88% of job seekers have used a mobile device to search for jobs in the last year.

“What we know about the way we search for information on mobile is that we want to find things very quickly. We have a small screen, and our attention’s probably divided between watching TV or traveling or doing something else, so getting people the targeted information they need quickly is absolutely vital when you’re looking at mobile recruitment.”

The emergence of digital, mobile devices is undoubtedly changing the way in which we consume content generally, but this transition away from desktop to mobile has resulted in what Matt described to be a particularly broken recruitment funnel, with over £3bn reportedly being spent on trying to encourage candidates through disjointed mobile recruitment processes every year – of which only 0.1% of applicants are actually suitable.

Generally smaller devices when compared to desktops command a shorter attention span, therefore simply condensing or replicating your existing careers site to respond on a smaller device is not an effective use of what limited user attention you have. Matt noted that by opting for adaptive design over responsive design, companies will have the opportunity to omit or include certain website functionality by considering the type of device the content is being accessed from, and predetermining the actions a user is going to take based on their device.

Matt likened mobile recruitment to the process of exponential growth, explaining that mobile job board traffic has increased from around 3% in 2010 to 40% today – and that figure is only going to increase. “So is mobile a threat or an opportunity? It’s both. It’s an opportunity to market yourself to a specific target audience in a very targeted way but it’s a real threat if you don’t do anything about it quickly because before too long, the majority of your traffic will be from mobile.”

Kat Fox
, Employer Branding: Keep It Simple, Keep It Real

Candidate attraction consultant Kat was next to speak about the integral part employer branding plays in reaching the right candidates. Most of us will be aware of the power of consumer brands, and the consciously constructed ideals they work to promote in order to encourage reactions from potential customers and increase sales; but far less people consider what shapes a brand’s influence as an employer, and the processes that must be maintained to communicate to job seekers, attract their attention and convert them to applicants.

We spend over a third of our day at work, and are exposed to approximately 3,500 marketing messages each day. Deciding where to work is an important choice within a competitive landscape, so failing to promote your company and engage in a dialogue with candidates will stifle your ability to hire talented, sought after individuals. “Recruitment gets a really bad rep, and I don’t think that people get recognition for the importance of bringing in talent to a company. An employer brand will future proof the success of an organisation by bringing in the right capability to drive that success through to the future.”

So how can businesses of any size or scale in any industry shape their offering as an employer? Kat maintained throughout her presentation that branding efforts needn’t be complicated or expensive; making simple changes like swapping stock shots for images of real employees on a careers site will generate a feeling of authenticity and transparency for candidates. Every business is different, but by articulating and illustrating what differentiates you – be it culture, values, perks and benefits etc. – you can help candidates to visualise their prospective employment experience and genuinely consider working with you.

It would be a great shame if you went to all of that effort to develop your employer brand, and yet delivered a candidate experience which was lacklustre and mismanaged, wouldn’t it? Long-winded application processes, untimely feedback responses, unnecessary interview stages – they all work against what you are trying to achieve. “Apply for a job at your firm and see what it’s like. See how long it takes, see what notifications you get, see if you get any at all. It will give you fantastic insight into what your candidates are thinking and feeling.”

Finally, all recruitment marketing efforts must be consistent. Consistency shows that your efforts are considered, well-managed, and that you actually care. “Emerge yourself in and enjoy employer branding. If there isn’t anyone that manages it in your company, make it your job to. Allow yourself to be creative. It gives you the opportunity to step away from the more transactional work and have a bit of fun, and I’m positive you that you will see the rewards.”

Andy Headworth
, How to Reach & Engage the Passive Audience Using Social Media

Our final presenter of the day was Andy who emphasised the heightening value and prominence of social media in recruitment. "Where is your audience? What are they doing? They are reading & watching content on social media." In today’s candidate-driven market, finding an effective way to engage with both active and passive candidates is becoming ever-more challenging. Many companies are finding that traditional attraction methods such as placing adverts or sending in-mails have been exhausted, and the number and quality of applicants is flailing. By developing an online, social presence, you have the opportunity to add another dimension to your brand and position yourselves in front of some of the people that might not actively go out of their way to look for you.

In order to recruit effectively, you first have to consider the habits and behaviours of your audience. The hard sell no longer works because people don’t like being sold to anymore. They like to make informed, considered decisions having developed positive relationships with brands – and effective relationships are built on trust. Content marketing, or recruitment content marketing more specifically, is the dissemination of targeted, relevant, interesting and regular content. Brands must shift their recruitment marketing efforts away from self-promotion about how great the business is to promoting how great the candidate could be with that business.

Once you’ve reviewed what it is that you’re looking for in a candidate by including a range of keywords and relevant hard/soft skills in job descriptions, you can search to explore where those hard-to-reach candidates might be. Ask your own employees where they would choose to include and immerse themselves - there are a wide range of networks out there, both online and offline. LinkedIn can be a great researching resource with over 500,000 active groups available in almost any sector. Andy also endorsed tools such as Facebook Graph Search, which allows you to type in the name of an employee, for example, and view others with a similar skillset.

Once you’ve identified where talented individuals are most active, you can post, tweet and create appealing blogs and videos to allow them to understand what it is you do as a business, and how you are different to your competitors. Brands embrace and promote lifestyle ideals, and the content you post will reflect the kind of culture and lifestyle an employee can expect if and/or when they choose to work with you. “Focus on content first. It doesn’t matter what form it takes - updates, status updates, tweets, messages, photos, videos - make sure they’re unique, interesting and relevant. Keep this in mind, and results will follow. You’ll get connections, you’ll get invites, you’ll get shares and retweets and eventually the content you share will reach a much bigger audience. Without it being unique, interesting or relevant, you’re not going to go anywhere.”

Employer Branding is your content, Social Media distributes your content and Mobile delivers (more and more of) your content. The ideas explored during our event last week very much interlink and when executed in a considered, consistent, timely way, can really generate results. If finding the right people to help drive your business forward is a challenge, make an honest assessment of your social media channels and recruitment marketing collateral; does it accurately reflect what your business is about? Do you know who you are trying to reach, and how you are going to reach them? If you reach them, how will find out what they really think? These are some of the questions that we will look to address in detail in our October Event - we look forward to seeing you there.