When people talk about great meals, they traditionally call it a “dining experience” because it is just that – a real experience. From the lights to the sound and, of course, the food – there are a million variables that create that one moment in time and impact just how memorable it is, for good or bad.
The experience begins the second you walk in the front door and you’re greeted by a host. Their demeanor and efficiency are the first impression on the meal and how it will play out. They are your guide as you go into sensory overload. Smelling the dishes, watching plates and making notes for your order as they briefly pass by in the hands of the staff.
Once you’re seated at the table, you look around. You notice the lights, the paint on the walls and even the table setting before ever picking up the menu; each an indication of the experience you’re about to have.
You’ve had an experience before ever taking one sip or bite of your meal. When done well, this pre-meal experience is sometimes more impactful than the food (assuming the food isn’t horrible, of course). That’s why great restaurants spend so much time on this part of the experience. From the hiring of staff, creating uniforms and even down to the menu design – this is their brand, their name and their experience on the line.
The First Course: Recruiting Meets Marketing
In employer branding, it’s common to be considered an appetizer to marketing rather than actual recruiting. While foundationally speaking, there are many similarities; there are also many differences that are crucial when it comes to mapping out strategy and understanding “your product”.
Where we diverge strictly into the recruiting world is along the nonlinear candidate journey; every touchpoint is an opportunity to create an impact. We aren’t selling computers; we aren’t drawing attention to the bells and whistles of a fully loaded car or an all-inclusive vacation in paradise. We’re selling an experience, much like the restaurant. We are providing a sense of humanness to what was once upon a time a transactional process centered on filling a square hole with a square peg.
We can’t survive on marketing tactics alone. Sure, reach is important, sure, but when you’re recruiting for an Engineer with Python Coding in their background, are your resources really best spent on a job board targeted primarily at sales professionals or a social site like Pinterest? No. Maybe that works for selling a widget but not life changes. Are we saying that a recruiting background is required to excel at EB? No, of course not but it certainly helps when thinking strategy, social tactics and relationship building.
Entering the scene with a holistic view based on firsthand experience from time spent on both sides of the fence absolutely offers an advantage. We can all close our eyes and envision the most frustrating candidate experience we’ve encountered in our careers. But, recruiters can truly empathize with the employer side to that story and knowingly tap into the resources required to fix it.
A Certain Je Na Sais Quoi:Employer Branding Activation
Don’t get us wrong, the relationship with marketing is critical. We will never underestimate the power that is the direct result of a credible partnership. When it comes to compliance standards, brand guidelines and internal/external best practices, your marketing experts are the examples to live by. They’ve built it, the foundation is there and you best believe that when it comes to approvals, these teams are vital in the decision making process. When it comes to implementing your EB tactics, you will feel that much more confident, as will your stakeholders, if you have marketing support in your corner.
That support can also help with your fear factor; making the shift to recruiting experience instead of strictly marketing is a scary road. We hear from so many recruiters that have no idea as to how to get started with these direct, targeted connection. Think about it. How many times have you tried to compose a tweet and stopped yourself out of fear that you may get fired over what you share? As ex-recruiters, we feel you! It’s tough to want to think like a marketer, but to only to be trained in talent acquisition.
But now, it’s your responsibility not only to be bold in your own tactics but to bridge the gap between social enthusiasm and insecurity too. Once recruiters and hiring teams alike have established a comfort with the space, they’ll be more inclined to leverage it to their advantage.
Your most valuable asset is always going to be your employees. Telling your company’s story is important but it’s most authentic and digestible when it’s told by people living that experience. You must empower your recruiting and hiring teams to tactfully enhance their personal brands. They are your biggest champions and their networks are loaded with potential hires. Things like a weekly tweet that’s written for them, advice on their LinkedIn profiles and sharing trackable links are simple ways to build a recruiting culture around sharing.
Award Winning: Measuring Success
A lot of people talking about you doesn’t address the bottom line in recruiting: number of hires. However, if you’re measuring your recruitment marketing program on hires alone, you’re missing the bigger picture. Diagnosing a strong employer brand goes far beyond that.
Rely on your social KPIs to determine the impact of your content and keep a pulse on growth as it pertains to following and engagement. Some will refer to this as “the fluff metrics,” but in a candidate’s market it’s important to stay top of mind. Storytelling through content plays a major part in securing that; the stories we tell are more important than ever. If you’re doing EB right, the content you’ve been pushing out strictly from a branding standpoint will inspire the right candidates to apply.
Everything in EB comes back full circle when you create a memorable experience from the first moment.
Meet The Authors
Celinda Appleby (left) is the Head of Employer Branding for Oracle’s Global Recruiting organization. Celinda and her team manage the global employment brand strategy including: management and implementation of global social recruiting strategies, content creation, candidate experience, and go-to-market recruiting strategies. Celinda regularly speaks on recruitment marketing, talent acquisition, and employer branding. She is passionate about recruiting, sourcing, marketing, and branding. She is a native Marylander, who loves Nikes and Hip Hop. You can find her on Twitter @CelindaAppleby.
Author Bio – Lindsay Parks (Right)
Lindsay joined Oracle in 2015 as the Recruitment Branding Lead of North America. Prior to that, she spent 5 years of her career recruiting for a Fortune 100 and agency enterprise. Avid fan of all things social, pop culture and rescue, you can follow her daily adventures on Twitter & Instagram @LParks2387.