Talent Attraction: A Beginner's Guide for Talent Acquisition Practitioners

Success in talent attraction requires solid competencies in recruiting and marketing. In this post, we'll show you how to stand out in the crowd with a strong employer brand and improve your ability to attract people who fit your business to establish a real competitive advantage for your business.

It's simple really. Attract and hire the right people and you're well on the way to delivering a real competitive advantage for your business. And to do this effectively, we need to borrow a few ideas and concepts from corporate marketing, and bring them over into talent acquisition and recruiting.

In the most competitive firms, talent acquisition is seen working with marketing, as cross-functional partners, to deliver compelling messages across brands and culture. And similar to a consumer-based marketing approach, your talent acquisition team members need to work and think like marketers to enhance visibility and credibility in the market, nurture and engage the right candidates, and generate new leads from their efforts. An easy way to think about this is to see your brands and cultures as two sides of the same coin – with employer brand on one side and culture on the other.

How your corporate marketing team attracts and engages potential clients is similar to how you should think about attracting and engaging potential job candidates in talent acquisition. You don’t need to become a full-blown marketer, but a lot of the work that is now done in talent acquisition is the kind of work marketers do. Don't believe us? Well, consider the skills required to collect and analyze data and define “best-fit” candidates, build up a strong employer brand and value proposition, discover touch points and improve experiences along the candidate journey, deploy candidate-facing, nurturing technologies and tools, create and promote attention-grabbing videos and employer-based content to share your brand, culture, and values with the outside world. Talent acquisition is where recruitment and marketing collide. And the sooner your team understands the basics of marketing and are able to think (at least some of the time) like a marketer, the more effective your business will be when doing talent acquisition and recruitment.

Strategy and Goals

To succeed in talent Acquisition, it's important to have clearly-defined goals and objectives and measure what’s most important. Some of the biggest challenges companies face when implementing a new talent strategy include having little or no budget or bandwidth, no clear business case or well defined need, no ROI justification, no executive sponsorship, or no clarity on available technology or tool products. Establishing clear goals and objectives will keep your team focused.

Also See: How to Develop a Talent Strategy that Works

Answer the following questions to establish a new foundation built with your goals and objectives in mind:

  • Over the next 2-5 years, specifically what are the primary “driver goals” our organization is looking to achieve through better talent attraction? (top 2-5 goals only)
  • To satisfy our primary goals, what are our core business objectives to satisfy? (top objectives only)
  • Specifically, how will our efforts support the business achieving those objectives?
  • How is success defined for our team? How is success defined for this particular effort?
  • How specifically does this effort support our reaching our objectives and company goals?
  • How long do we have to achieve outcomes? What range is reasonable?

Studies show that we (humans) overestimate our abilities in life – and it’s common practice to do the same when determining available resources. Knowing the (real) resources available to you before starting is critical to developing a plan to achieve your goals. Answer the following questions to define all the resources are available to you:

  • Do we have buy-in and support from leadership? (list of all people and their roles)
  • Do we have confirmed buy-in from Marketing? (do we have a united front and back)
  • Do we have a partner or influencer as part of our team? (do we have internal or external support)
  • What level of  confirmed support can we expect from Marketing, Leadership, etc? (key word is “confirmed”)
  • Who are the stakeholders that will be supporting this initiative? (list of all people and their roles)
  • How much workload will each person on the team carry? What level of commitment can we count on from each person?
  • What technologies, tools, and resources are available to achieve success? Are they confirmed and truly available?

Think about why you are powering up a new talent attraction strategy in the first place. Answer the following questions to establish your baselines and define your right set of measurements:

  • What is our current attraction funnel and what is our “pass through” data (from end to end) telling us?
  • What is our current req aging and time to fill and how does this compare to others in our industry?
  • What is our current offer filled percentage and how can we do better next year?
  • What is our current offer acceptance percentage and why isn’t it closer to 100%?
  • What is our current rate/level of candidate satisfaction and how can we improve the overall experience?
  • What is our current rate/level of hiring manager/recruiter satisfaction and how can we make the process more enjoyable?
  • What is our current quality of hire and cost per hire and what can we do to improve both measures?
  • What is our current employee turnover/retention rate and how can we do better next year?
  • How will we define C-suite satisfaction? (actually take the time to define this and get buy-in!)
  • How will our efforts be judged and what data visualizations does leadership need to make snap decisions?

Data and Insights

Let’s say, for example, that your three primary goals are to improve your ability to attract and retain people by 20%, hire only “best-fit” people 99% of the time, and improve your employee satisfaction rate to 98%. That’s great – but where do you stand right now? To find out, you’re going to need to collect some data from your company (and maybe even from your competitors ) and then translate that data into insights you can use.

When you review your competition, try to capture everything you can find, including: career sites, employer brand, employer-facing content, application processes and hiring experiences, great ideas, trends, technologies and more. Use this competitive data to improve your own approach with best practices, ideas and trends that are already working out in the field.

Don’t forget to pull your own KPI data, including: time to fill ratios, cost per hire, retention rates, job application rates, advertising and marketing spends, cost of turnover, cost of on boarding, and even list all your investments related to last year’s brand building, cost of tools, and so on. This data will help you to build up a few important baselines.

You might also want to survey past/current candidates and employees to collect preferences, opinions, and attitudes or interests. In your survey, make sure to use a structured (formal and out in front) approach to collecting the data, including: email/web-based surveys, phone or in-person interviews, and focus groups. While you are doing this, deploy your own unstructured (behind the scenes) approach to collect other data, including: employee-initiated feedback, employee reviews on third-party websites (Glassdoor), unsolicited comments across social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), and so on.

This two-part approach – structured and unstructured surveying – will help you to develop clear answers to the following questions:

  • How is our organization perceived as an employer when compared to other companies in our field?
  • What specifically makes our organization attractive to candidates?
  • Which aspects of our employer brand (as it relates to attraction and engagement) are functioning at a high/low level.
  • What sources are used by candidates to find, and learn about, our organization?
  • How can we use our employer-of-choice status to deliver more successful outcomes across attraction, engagement, recruitment, hiring and retention.
  • What are the ways we can improve communication in our organization?

What we're trying to do is uncover are the real (authentic) truths about your company – not made up stuff that sound good. It’s critical to lead with authenticity because all of this will be used to support your later efforts when you are building up content and messaging to deliver on your brand promise. Working from authenticity will help you to improve your ability to connect to and engage with the “heart and soul” of the people you want to hire most. And all of this will be used to drive your hiring and fit profiles, candidate personas, job description content, blog content, career site messages, and so on.

Also See: How to Develop a Talent Attraction Perception Survey

A true, strategic talent acquisition program requires that you take the time to learn about your organization (it’s authentic truths, not fake) and employees (who they are, why they work, and why they stay) and then use what you learned to deploy available (real) resources to attract and connect with others outside your organization.

Employer Brand

Establishing a strong employer brand is necessary to boost awareness and improve your ability to attract and engage talented people into your company. In addition, having a strong (and differentiated) employer brand can offer your company a real competitive advantage and help you to stand out from the crowd.

Customarily, employers use employer branding to:

  • improve awareness of the company
  • communicate the EVP and key strengths of the company
  • differentiate the employer from its competitors (or stand out)
  • promote employee engagement
  • create a filtering mechanism for the candidate
  • build awareness with targeted audiences

Every organization has an employer brand. By “employer brand” we mean the reputation of the organization, the perceptions of everyone around it, the culture, and even the way it cares about its people. Your employer brand is the sum of what everyone thinks about your organization as a place to work. The employer brand is felt, seen and heard by every person inside and outside – and basically everyone who interacts with your organization around the globe.

It might make more sense to think of your employer brand as the “authentic inside-out” view for everyone to see.It’s your job to reinforce authenticity with words, images, stories – and by teasing out and being able to articulate an effective employer brand message. Ideally, one that resonates, connects, and motivates your target audiences to take action.

The best, and most authentic, brand messages traditionally go both narrow and deep in truth. And as a practice, they don’t hide from uncomfortable truths. They are often positioned as an answer to “here’s what our true self looks like” or “here’s who we are” and “here’s what you’re going to be a part of when you join” or “here’s what you are really getting into”.

Your messaging should be presented in a way to inform or help people understand why they should join, and why they will remain satisfied. Or why they should self-select themselves out of the process.

It also needs to communicate your core value proposition and attractiveness as a place to work and thrive for employees. This will become your “promise” to prospective candidates. And you will use all of this to attract others, filter candidates in-and-out, and resonate and connect with others. Notice how one message supports the next? Your data collection will feed into your insights. Your insights will be used to build up your core messages.

Middle C sets every other note.

Your core messages will serve as a support structure for multiple sub-messages – or secondary and tertiary messages. And then your sub-messages are all pulled, yanked, and stretched in multiple ways – while still retaining their authenticity – to be launched out across whatever paid, owned and earned content channels you deploy to support attraction.

Value Proposition

Developing a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) is critical to improving your ability to attract, engage and hire people into your organization.

Think of your brand and EVP as a structure that will help you to frame (or support) all other messages, content and communication materials. Your EVP is the “give and take” (or contribution and the expected return) between the employee and the employer. A compelling EVP supports content/messaging, explains additional value outside of salary, benefits and perks, serves as a tool to engage prospective candidates and employees, and can differentiate your company and help it stand out in a crowd.

Also See: How to Develop an Effective Employee Value Proposition

When building up a brand new employee value proposition, you should remember to keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure your new EVP speaks to and resonates with our ideal prospects.
  • Clearly identify the benefits and advantages candidates receive by working at your company. (similar to the employer brand promise)
  • Your new EVP should convince others that your company is a better place to work than the competition. (Explain how it’s different; how it’s better)
  • Your new EVP should be able to be delivered and understood within a few seconds (under 10).
  • It’s important to get this right because your new employee value proposition will be used to help guide (or drive) conversations with niche and target candidates in the future.

To support those conversations, you’ll want your new EVP to provide clear answers to the following:

  • What work/career experience value is my company selling?
  • What is the end-benefit of working at my company?
  • Who is our target candidate for working at my company?
  • What makes my company unique and different?

Example of a general EVP: “HP helps great people grow. We develop strong leaders who trust and respect our people, give them opportunities to stretch and achieve, and reward those who focus on the customer, drive innovation and help HP win.”

Example of a niche EVP: “For experienced technical sales representatives interested in continued career growth and financial independence, our company offers an in-house career development program and performance-based bonuses to those who take an active role in helping the company meet its obligations to its stakeholders and finding new ways to attract and retain customers.”

Take your talent acquisition and recruitment efforts from routine to remarkable with TalentSum 360. For more information on how TalentSum 360 can unlock the full potential of your talent function, get in touch with our team today.

Continue reading

Up Your Work Skills

Tools and tactics that leading companies need.

Subscribe to get our content not found on our blog delivered straight to your inbox. Learn incrementally with each occasional issue.