P.Peter Coox

In an increasingly restricted labour market, employers are forced to become ever more creative to attract the few available candidates. Some are more inventive than others. The most striking campaigns often only have a limited or brief success. Even if you pull out all the stops, you might not be able to solve certain underlying problems. You cannot change your image as an employer overnight. And who cares how original your campaign is if nobody sees your job ads, if they don’t appeal to potential hires or if you make it too difficult for candidates to apply?

A strong employer brand will help you attract people more easily, keep them on board for longer and increase their engagement. Developing, strengthening and maintaining this employer brand is not something you can do overnight. And a few one-off, media-savvy campaigns are not the way forward. How the labour market perceives you is based on long-term initiatives, consistent behaviour and genuine stories.

Start by standing out from the pack of other employers: provide a clear description of what you offer as well as tangible examples and testimonials to show how you deliver on your promises as an employer. Always make sure you are relevant for yourself and your target audience. Even during those creative, innovative, stand-out initiatives. ;-)

Sometimes all the investments in employer branding and great campaigns just don’t pay off and candidates don’t snap up the bait. All too often, it turns out that simply applying for a job has been made extremely complicated. A few quick wins soon make all the difference…

1. Make your job ads more specific

Take a good look at your job titles and the texts of your job ads. Look at them from the candidate’s perspective, rather than from your own perspective as an employer. A job ad is not a job description. Choose a job title that is easy to understand: one that scores well in searches and candidates can identify with easily. Add an opening paragraph that makes them want to read more. Distinguish between required and desired skills and be realistic about your demands. Emphasise the reward package and fringe benefits, but don’t forget about guidance, career opportunities, accessibility and even the weekly fruit baskets or monthly after-work drinks. Ensure mobile readers can ‘scan’ your advertisement and always end with a call to action that refers to an application form or platform.

2. Optimise your website

Often job openings are too many clicks away from the homepage, making it even more difficult for potential candidates to find them. Have a look at your website yourself and see if you can find your job page, preferably on your smartphone. Can you find enough convincing information about your organisation, values and culture? Testimonials from colleagues enhance your offering and a clear outline of the application procedure encourages candidates to apply.

3. Have your own ‘candidate experience’

DIY. Try to apply for a job yourself and successfully complete the entire process. All too often the procedure is too detailed, with endless questionnaires, and the candidate has to upload their CV (you try doing that on your smartphone or tablet!). Worse still: the candidate has to register for an unknown, often not very user-friendly ATS or recruitment tool. Want to bet that half your candidates have already given up by this stage? They often also have to contend with dead links and infinite loops. So always test all the links and the URLs you give to external candidates, especially if you’ve made changes to the job title or content in the meantime.

4. Don’t forget your own employees

Now that you’ve tweaked your job ads, your job openings are easy to find and candidates can easily apply, you’ve done half the work. Don’t forget to share job openings in-house as well, though! This is a sign of respect to your employees and it also boosts recommendations. Ambassadorship and word-of-mouth advertising are often underused as a recruitment tool.

5. There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’

The number of channels for publishing your job advertisements is endless. Should you use social media, search engines, traditional, online or print media? Or events, bannering and out-of-the-box campaigns? It all depends on the job, target audience, location and/or expectations. A carpenter requires a different approach to a project manager; a nurse is not the same as a financial director. There is no such thing as a standard approach for all your job openings and publishing your jobs on all the traditional job sites no longer works. The search for the right mix of channels, geared to your target audience, requires a custom approach, based on specialisation and experience.

6. Knowledge is power

Fortunately, these days, we can measure all sorts of data – if not absolutely everything. So review the statistics of your campaign and website on a regular basis with your communication team or external partners. Don’t forget to install the available trackers on every platform. Adapt where necessary and do an A/B test when in doubt. Why don’t you ask your new recruits how they found out about your organisation? They find their information from different sources: one might have noticed a Facebook ad, the next may have seen a print ad or even googled you. It will definitely give you a better idea of the most interesting channels to target for your next job opening.

In the past, the reach of recruitment initiatives (the number of times an ad was displayed or published) was the main criterion for evaluation. Reach was later replaced with views and clicks and then the number of applicants. Nowadays we prefer to measure the CPA (cost per applicant) and the time and quality of the hire. Admittedly, this method is not foolproof, but in general these statistics are more rational and reliable than our rather subjective gut feelings. Stronger employer branding, catchier job ads and a simple application process will definitely result in a tangible drop in your cost per applicant.

So look around, learn from others, experiment and keep constant track of the statistics. Labour market communication is changing faster than ever. Keep up with the latest trends. And if this all sounds too complicated for you, ask your colleagues and communication team for help. Or why not ask us? Let’s set a date!

Peter Coox

Consultant

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