This week, thousands of HR and recruitment professionals flocked to San Fran for the 2014 Talent Connect conference, put on by LinkedIn. And this year (largely because I didn’t apply for my press pass in time), I wasn’t one of them. At first I was rather bummed about being on the outside looking in at all the awesome pictures and content scrolling from the conference through my Twitter stream. After all, LinkedIn knows how to put on an event: from the receptions/parties to the event app, this conference was designed to be first-class.
And I. Am. Missing. It. Oh sure, there’s the “live stream” but let’s get real: it’s not the same. Plus, not everything I’d want to learn is streamed, streaming doesn’t allow me to take part in cruicial, career-building conversations and if you’re not a conference attendee, do you get access to the 4500 Talent Pools? No, that’s another “Oprah Moment” you have to be there to experience. *Sigh*
Just before “bummed” turned into downright depressed, it hit me: that’s exactly how we want prospects and candidates to feel when they look at our employer branding and recruitment marketing content. So fired up by the prospect of being part of our work experience, that NOT being part of it is unacceptable. Which in all actuality, is probably the single-most valuable lesson any of us could take away from the LinkedIn conference – and one I’d hazard to guess few-to-none there will. Why? Because that’s the topic we rarely talk about head-on.
We talk around it, tangentially related topics or piece-meal it, focusing on specific elements needed to get to what that feeling represents: a desirable employer brand, a marketable culture. But all the “big data” in the world won’t matter much if you don’t know how to use it to create a brand that’s “INdemand” with the people you want (and need) to work for you.
The last part of that sentence is pretty critical: there will always be someone who will work for you. There are plenty of active job seekers, unemployed and under-employed professionals that you don’t need to seek out because they will stalk you. But is that the employer you want to be? Or would you rather be like Google, who’s Senior VP of People Operations Laszlo Bock, reports has a hiring ratio of 1:458 applicants and has received over 50k resumes of talented professionals, clamoring to work for them in one, single week? That one hire isn’t just anyone out of those applicants: that one hire is a carefully screened and well thought out match to Google’s culture identity; someone who will perpetuate their culture of “Googleyness.”
Their hires aren’t people who are satisfied with doing any pedantic job. And Google employees like Allan Eustace, Sr VP of Engineering and Research, test for that by trying to get candidates to find the ways that working for Google can bring meaning into their own lives… definitely a different take than the traditional, company centric “what can you do for us” stance typically taken in the recruitment processes. Taking that stance does something very important for Google: it delivers the message that Google understands employment is a 2-way relationship. To do cool things that matter, they need you (the employee).
They demonstrate it in their interview process, you see it in their employment marketing materials, and in the way employees self-identify: they do cool things with Google, they matter, and they know it. As a result? They’ve built a highly in-demand culture full of employees that make things happen.
Top 5 Ways To Transform Your Culture Into A Career Destination
So how do we create more of that in our own organizations? How do we build a culture worth marketing and get talent we want clamoring to work for us? For established recruiting organizations, that can seem like an impossible order. Getting buy-in to “turn things around” can feel like trying to turn the Titanic… after all, the status-quo is familiar, and most of us like the familiar. We’re comfortable there. So take things one step at a time. These 5 steps are a good place to start:
- Define Your Employer Value Proposition: Why do your employees want to work for you? What do you offer as an employer (I don’t mean 401k benefits)? How can your organization add value and meaning to employees lives?
- Define Your Core Employee Pillars: What characteristics do candidates need to possess in order to be successful employees? For Google, that’s generalized cognitive ability, leadership, culture fit (their “Googleyness”), then role-specific knowledge. But they have a why – a reason that can be tied back to their overall mission – each of those traits are important and necessary to employee success at Google. So should you – make sure you’re not listing attributes just because they were outlined by a hiring manager. Push back: ask why those attributes are important – how does that help their employees specifically within their roles and as they progress within the organization? Repeat this exercise across your job families and look for the commonalities to define your org’s pillars.
- Pull Employees Into The Mix: As a recruiter, your voice is a “Sales” voice. You’re selling the company because your job it to fill vacancies (to some extent) and candidates know it. So mix it up: from your marketing to “get to know us” phone or hangout sessions, allow employees to share their experiences, thoughts, and perceptions of your company. If an organization doesn’t trust their employees to speak for them or with future employees, that’s telling for truly talented individuals.
- Don’t Settle: Yes, there is a negative cost associated with job vacancies, but that’s not nearly as expensive as making a bad hire. As Bock simply put it, “It’s toxic.” Poor performance begets more poor performance in the employees around them. “Employees see they don’t need to work that hard. Your best employees will leave.” That creates desperation your candidates can practically smell during the interview process, further affecting your ability to get A players into your organization. Do yourself a favor: take the time to hire right & market your wins. Solution systems like Take The Interview and psychological assessment companies like Furst Person can help with this.
- Market Your Wins: This means marketing your employee wins, really. Start by doing an “onboarding interview.” Survey the new employee on what stood out on the interview process, why they ultimately chose to join the organization, info about their interests. Follow up at 90 days, 6 months, 1 year and ask them about their projects/work wins in the interim. What are they doing that matters to them? How does that impact the organization or matter externally with customers? It creates an asset database on the employee that you can use in your culture marketing. It also allows you to measure how connected your employees are to the meaning of their work and your company’s brand promises and mission. And using those assets will, over time, show off a culture and organization that the talent you’re looking for won’t want to settle for being on the outside, looking in.
About the Author: Crystal Miller is a Strategist and has over a decade of experience at some of the world’s biggest brands. She has worked with start-ups to Fortune 15 companies to at the intersection of HR & marketing; creating campaigns and strategies that solve business problems, tell compelling corporate stories and share the meaning of work in engaging ways that drive results. In addition, she has led both the internal HR function for a regional $350MM business and the largest real estate recruiting practice for the leading single-site search firm in the United States.
She has been a reliable expert source on the topics of talent attraction, talent acquisition, talent management, and digital strategy for multiple media outlets including CBS, Hanley-Wood, Mashable, and ABC. As an industry leader, she is recognized for expertise in employer branding, recruitment strategy & marketing, social media, community building, digital strategic solutions and speaks globally on the same.
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