Boost your reputation on the market : storytelling and employer branding

Talent Attraction

Boost your reputation on the market : storytelling and employer branding

If you’ve ever had anything to do with recruitment, you’ve probably experienced something like this: after another long day of sourcing and reaching out to candidates, you only have a few candidates that are interested to start the process, and, honestly speaking, they are not the best fit for your company. Tired, you open the jobs section on LinkedIn to check which companies are also searching for the candidates you need. There it is – a job ad from just a few hours ago, looking for the same type of candidates as you, with loads of applications. Besides the fact that the grass is always greener elsewhere, certain companies really are a magnet for candidates: they have regular applications from top talent and they fill in their positions quickly.


What is their secret recipe for candidate attraction? Apart from the obvious- good compensation and benefits, interesting projects, and other things that come to your mind when you think of top companies on the market, these companies are usually taking their employer branding to the next level. No matter how good the benefits are, if not adequately communicated to candidates and the market, they don’t mean much on their own.


Creating a strong employer branding strategy is a very complex task and it requires much more than one blog post, so we’ll be focusing on one of the employer branding techniques that is often praised as the most effective: storytelling.


How can storytelling help your brand?


The grip that stories hold on humans, as well as their impact on market value is best understood through a literary and anthropological experiment conducted by New York Times journalist, Rob Walker. This three-step experiment easily demonstrated how a great story can increase the value of seemingly dull and pretty useless objects. To start his experiment, Walker bought around 200 cheap objects from eBay, ranging from a pepper shaker and porcelain scooter to Fred Flinstone Pez dispenser and horsehead figurine. Then, a group of recognized writers wrote stories about these objects. Finally, Walker auctioned the objects on eBay once again, accompanied by short stories. This time around, objects sold for significantly higher prices. For example, a horse head figurine ( that was originally bought for a bit less than a dollar), accompanied by a story of a loving wife who made the figurine with her own hands for her deceased husband, was resold for 62 dollars. Roughly speaking, a deeply personal and sentimental story increased the object’s value by 6,200%!


Since Walker’s successful quantification of the impact of storytelling on market value, numerous studies on the topic followed and got similar results. One clear pattern emerges: humans tend to value things more once there is a well-shaped narrative around them. Following this pattern, it becomes clear that a good story can increase your company’s value in the eyes of potential employees. 


However, after becoming aware of the impact that storytelling can have on their brand, numerous professionals start to worry. ‘’What is my company’s story?’’, ”What kind of a story would candidates be interested to hear?’’, ‘’Who should write this story for me?’’, ‘’This sounds too artsy, I am not sure how to approach this whole thing’’– these are just some of the natural things to pop in one’s mind. Luckily, Jaka Lounge is here to help and get you started!


Every company already has its own story that is waiting to be told. We’ve shown light on some of the places where you can find your stories, and listed brief ideas on how you can channel them to your target audience. Let’s dive in now, and make you 6,200% more desirable as an employer!


Here are some tips on how to find and write your stories:


1. Speak to candidates in their own language


The most relevant and important storytellers are, of course, your colleagues. Creating content for your career page or social media in which employees can talk about their journey and time spent at the company can truly set you apart from the competition. 


Most of the companies are posting plain, similar job ads, offering standard working conditions and benefits. Showcasing real stories and experiences from the employees can help you cut through this bland noise. In this way, the position ceases to be a plain list of terms, tasks, and benefits and it becomes a real-life person, that candidates can resonate with and create more personal connection to. 


2. Put your leaders and experts forward


Put the spotlight on your leaders and experts – create content that shows their development stories, the hardships they had on their path before becoming successful in their fields, and their vision for the company’s future. Giving space to your leaders to tell their stories can bring numerous benefits to your brand. Firstly, candidates who prioritize learning will surely be glad to see that your company has seniors who can support them and enhance their growth. Secondly, through sharing the hardships that they’ve been through before becoming successful, your leaders become much more relatable and admirable to junior colleagues. Thirdly, many leaders and experts have their own, personal brands on the market. Your company will surely look reputable in the eyes of potential candidates, once it is associated with such experts.  


3. Empower the parents 


A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that the largest portion of resignations during the past period came from parents. It is not necessary to explain further the hardships that working parents have on a daily basis, trying to balance their work and family lives. If your company is flexible when it comes to parents and their schedules, or if you maybe have special support programs for them – let the market know. Parents from your company can tell their stories, and explain their issues and ways in which the company helped them. Again, real parents, with their very real hardships and woes, will speak to candidates much more clearly than a simple line in the job ad, stating that your company offers ‘’parenthood benefits’’. 


4. Show what the hybrid work model truly looks like in your team


Since the pandemic has redefined the way of working, a large portion of candidates are considering flexible work models as one of the key factors when choosing a position. Recent legislation of remote work as an employee’s right in Netherlands and the discussion it opened on our local LinkedIn, clearly painted the image of employees’ expectations on this topic. If your company has remote or hybrid work options, let your candidates know. Your colleague worked from the seaside last week? Another colleague spent Monday and Tuesday in nature and Wednesday and Thursday socializing and working with her team in the office? Tell their stories!


There is just one more thing that we would like to add about this topic. While you are scouting for stories within your company, keep in mind that…


Storytellers benefit from telling the story


The benefit of storytelling is not limited to the listeners (in this case- potential candidates), the very process is awarding for storytellers (in this case- employees) themselves. Reflecting on previous experiences, creating a comprehensive narrative, being listened to, being acknowledged- all of these can truly be rewarding for your employees. By inquiring about employees’ experiences and giving them space to express themselves, you are not only making your brand more personal and desirable, you are also keeping the morale of your team.  


To conclude: Every company has its authentic, valuable stories that can set it apart from the competition. As a manager, HR or branding professional, you should always have an ear for these stories and provide a channel where they can be heard. There is of course endless number of ways in which you can find and showcase your stories. In this article, we’ve only given you a starting point, a simple map, to get you started on this quest. Good luck hunting!