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 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, they fill in their positions quickly and it seems like they don’t spend much energy during the recruitment process.

What is their secret recipe for candidate attraction? Apart from 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.

Before we go any further, a quick reminder: employer branding is reputation that company has as an employer on the market. This term encompasses both the perception of prospective candidates and the message the company chose to project about itself. Creating a strong employer branding strategy is obviously a very complex task and it requires much more than one blog post to be explained properly, so we’ll be focusing on one of the employer branding techniques that is often praised as the most effective: storytelling.

Since long back, storytelling has been praised as one of the most effective forms of marketing. New York Times journalist Rob Walker even gained popularity by experimenting with storytelling in sales: he bought around 200 cheap items from eBay, contacted authors to write brief stories about these items, and then went on to resell them ( with a help of a great story) for significantly higher prices. For example, he resold a horse figurine that was originally worth a bit less than a dollar for 62 dollars. Roughly speaking, a great story increased the appeal of the item by 6 395%

Applying these storytelling principles to recruitment, we may ask ourselves: ‘’What are the stories that candidates would like to hear?’’ What stories do you maybe already have ‘’written’’ in your company without even knowing it and just need to communicate it to the market in order to become up to 6 395% more attractive as an employer?

1.Speak to candidates in their own language

Candidates that are actively looking for a new position are faced with numerous, often plain and much alike, job ads and descriptions. When it comes to highly qualified candidates, the situation is even worse: most of the companies are offering similar, usually pretty good, terms and budgets. You can cut through the noise by bringing life and personal elements to positions that you are looking for. Create content for your social media or career page in which employees can talk about their experiences, challenges and things that they enjoy about the company. In this way, the position seizes 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

Faulty relationships with management and the lack of learning and growth opportunities are often one of the reasons why candidates are looking for another position. Put the spotlight on your leaders and experts – create content that shows their development stories, hardships they had on their path before becoming successful in their fields, and their vision for the company’s future… Candidates that prioritize learning will surely be glad to see that your company has seniors that can support their growth and that are, on top of that, open about their path and experience, meaning they are capable of understanding struggles that more junior candidates may have.

3.Empower the parents : work-life balance

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.  Parenthood stories from your company will surely be one of the key things that candidates with families will find important.

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

Since the pandemics has redefined the way of working and organization, and after we’ve seen that it is possible to function as productively, sometimes even more productive, with flexible work models (remote and hybrid), a large portion of candidates is considering flexible work models as one of the key factors when choosing a position. According to a recent US study, 42% of employees reported that they’d change their workplace if they lost remote options. Apart from these figures, recent legislation of remote work as employee’s right in Netherlands and the discussion it opened on our local LinkedIn, clearly paints the image of current employees’ expectations. 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!

5.Don’t forget about your important team members : recognize their contributions

According to Achievers Workforce institute, up to 69% of employees note that they’d stay in their previous positions longer if their contributions were recognized. Apart from building an image of an attractive employer in the eyes of the prospective candidates, it is equally, if not more, important to take good care of your loyal team members. Provide them with a platform for their stories and recognize their contribution on your social media sites and other channels (this is, of course, not an adequate substitute for awarding loyalty and performance in financial and other ways). Content employees are surely the best recommendation for prospective candidates.

Whether you have a flexible working model, experts in certain fields, loyal and devoted employees, or parent assistance programs –  illustrate this to the market with stories directly from your employees. Of course, these are only some of the topics that can get you started with storytelling and employer branding. Every company has its authentic, valuable stories that can set it apart from the competition, attract active candidates or plant the seed in the minds of passive ones. As a professional in HR, you should always know your team well, have an ear for their stories and struggles and provide them with a channel where their stories can be heard. By listening and channeling stories from your company’s and employees’ life, not only that you’ll communicate your culture more clearly to the market and attract like-minded candidates, but you will also show your employees that their contributions and stories are valuable and recognized.