A recent RiseSmart job seeker study uncovered that 41% of people say they’re willing to wait for the right job, even if there is no other offer on the table. Outside of salary, today’s savvy job seekers care more about the workplace environment than ever before. As a result, what companies do to showcase company culture and the workplace environment during the 42 days that it takes—on average—to fill an open role, might make or break the job seeker’s decision.

As the HR department emerges from the shadowy image of paper pushers and rule enforcers to strategic business partners, HR leaders have the unique opportunity to create an image and messaging for job seekers that parallels the work done in the marketing department. Instead of touting the benefits of products and services, HR leaders can take on the role of human resource marketer by promoting the company’s candidate experience, employee journey, company culture, and workplace environment.

As any branding or marketing expert would tell you, taking a personalized approach, and knowing your audience is the first step to creating an effective marketing campaign. In marketing terms, this approach is called “target marketing,” and involves “breaking a market into segments and then concentrating your marketing efforts on one or a few key segments consisting of the customers who needs and desires most closely match your product or service offerings,” according to The Balance. In other words, just because a particular recruiting tactic, such as virtual reality demonstrations, are trending, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option for your target audience – your ideal future employees.

When HR takes a targeted marketing approach to reaching the right customers (or in this case, job seekers) with the right material (relevant information about employer brand and desired job candidate qualities), it’s possible to get more qualified and better matched candidates into your recruiting pipeline and avoid having to sift through hundreds of ill-suited applications. Targeted messaging helps people identify your workplace as a match to their needs and desires and eliminates some of the guesswork about what you are actually looking for in an employee.

The war for talent is on and those with the best strategies are winning. HR, it’s time we steal a few pages out of the marketer’s playbook:

#1: The power of personas

Good marketers begin the process of messaging by creating marketing personas, – profiles of the wants, desires, and interests of the people who are most likely to buy the product or service they are promoting. Once personas are created, research and messaging are focused on these specific groups of people identified as a target audiences. Based on target personas, customized communications and experiences are designed to lead these individuals through a customer journey – beginning with education and ending with conversion.

By taking a page from the marketing playbook, HR leaders can create a compelling employee journey for target job candidates. By creating personas based on the types of diverse personalities or skills sets you’re looking for, you can more effectively recruit and build messaging to attract a specific type of person. It makes sense to start with your company values and the skills you value most and work backwards to create personas. For example, you may require an individual who can work well in an open environment and collaborate easily with a variety of people within the organization. In that case, be sure to communicate those soft skills in your job board listings and on your website.

By taking a page from the marketing playbook, HR leaders can create a compelling employee journey for target job candidates. @RiseSmart #SmartTalkHR https://bit.ly/2taee6T

Your persona research will help you create messaging based on actual persona wants, needs, and goals and allow you to let go of old stereotypes and assumptions. Keep in mind that although much of what’s been said about the millennial generation has been debunked by data, people still hold beliefs and opinions about the work ethic and preferences of this generation of individuals. For instance, people may assume that all younger employees expect to work from anywhere and at any time as they may have become accustomed to collaborating remotely through the use of technology. Conversely, they may believe that members of the baby boomer generation are luddites and won’t be able to use modern technology. The beauty of creating personas is that you can let go of generational stereotypes and focus on personality types, skill sets, and experience.

Using personas allows you to develop different messages for an entry-level, mid-level, or executive level candidate, depending up the differences you identify in the types of people who will be fulling these types of roles at your organization. Leading inbound marketing and sales company Hubspot offers templates for creating buyer personas for marketing—but they can be leveraged by HR people too.

#2: Use Data to Understand Future Employees

HR should learn a lesson from their sales and marketing friends—it’s time to collect, analyze, and leverage data to understand what job candidates want from their job search experience and to learn what they expect from their future employer. Questions such as “What is the top attribute you’re looking for in your future employer?” and “Would more flexibility motivate you to take a job?” can lead to data points that inform how you customize and message your employer brand and job description.

#HR Take a page from marketing. It’s time to collect, analyze, and leverage data to understand what job candidates want from their job search experience and to learn what they expect from their future employer. @RiseSmart #SmartTalkHR https://bit.ly/2taee6T

Data, when leveraged to its full potential, can be a huge asset in your attempt to understand job candidate personas. But where can we find this valuable data? Try polling your recently hired employees to see why they chose to work at your company. There are also prominent industry reports from research firms like Deloitte that provide industry statistics that serve as powerful benchmarking tools.

Related Content: Insights on Job Seekers in Transition: What every employer needs to know.

Data allows the message and experience to be fully customized, which brings me to my next point…

#3: Customize your message

Upon determining a target persona to focus on, offer specific, customized details about your employee experience. For example, seasoned generations of employees are likely to be interested in long-term benefits such as a 401K match, or good health insurance policies, you will want to modify your messaging to emphasize these things when you’re looking for senior executives. Traditional generations of workers might have never had an online doctor, so perhaps you offer an expanded explanation to this type of candidate if this is a perk you offer. Cutting-edge perks, such as robots that deliver lunch, probably need broader descriptions for every generation. Whatever the message, be sure you base it on what you know about your ideal candidate and the personas you developed in the beginning.

Whatever you do, be sure to avoid umbrella statements. Don’t just say, “free lunch,” and expect employees to jump on board. When you talk about your benefits, think like a marketer. Don’t just list what you offer, let your audience know how your particular offering is better, more valuable, and how they address the needs of your employees. Provide details about your benefits and be sure to include those that impact employee well-being and support at every stage of the employee-employer relationship.

Related content: How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

#4: Think of your job description like a billboard

Keep in mind- you can always have two job descriptions. There is a job description that should have all the details required for salary composition analysis and bench marking—but this description doesn’t need to be shared publicly.

Instead, think about what makes your company attractive and the top skills you’re seeing in candidates and then focus your messaging on those specific items. The job description is your marketing asset. It’s your way to communicate what you’re looking for and who would be a good fit. Think back on your personas and tailor your content to emphasize what’s most important to your company in terms of skills and experience. Whittle down your laundry list to descriptive and engaging terms. You want people to be inspired and excited to join your company, not just checking keywords against their resume.

When you’re developing your inspirational job description, hone in on the qualities you want an applicant to have. Include the soft and hard skills that would make someone a good fit for a particular position and for your company. The more alignment to skills, experience, and personality type, the greater your chances of finding a great addition to your team.

#5: Turn to social media to amplify

Social media is a powerful marketing tool and critical to amplifying any message. Currently, there are 3.196 billion global social media users equaling 42% penetration, according to Dream Grow. For marketers and HR teams alike, social media is a powerful tool for getting in front of target candidates, engaging with candidates in your pipeline, and showcasing your employer brand. Take a page from the marketer’s handbook:

If you’re going to use social media to recruit, you can’t turn the spicket on and off. Once you commit to using social media, you need to listen as well as talk. Work with your marketing team to get your job posting on company social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. But don’t stop there. Monitor Glassdoor, Yelp, and Google pages to make sure company reviews don’t go unanswered. Proactively post pictures, talk about employee culture, and announce company awards.

Social media is a good vehicle to ensure that you’re reaching a diverse group of candidates. When you stick to regional marketing campaigns, or only look in your close-knit network of people to find prospective candidates, you might miss an opportunity to engage with a candidate who brings diversity of thought and background to your organization. Social media transcends geographical regions, a great first step to stepping up your diversity game.

By taking a targeted marketing approach to engaging job candidates in your pipeline, you can begin to close the gap between a future employee and your employer brand. As many HR leaders can relate, there is nothing worse than hearing a “no” after you’ve given a job offer, when you feel you’ve found a great match. Chances are, you didn’t target your messaging and answering the needs and wants of that candidate. Understanding who that person is up front and giving them more transparency your company and the type of person you’re looking for, will help you find that great fit with more ease. HR, it’s time to really own the “employer brand,” just as well as a marketer would. Stealing a few tricks from proven targeted marketing strategies could be all it takes to get a “yes” from candidates in the future.

19 June 2018

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