Employer Branding For Dummies
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Your employer brand will likely be focusing largely on recruiting. No recruiting tactic is more effective than contacting and engaging with a prospect on a personal level.

Imagine recruiting the top college baseball or football players for a professional team. You certainly wouldn’t post an ad in the newspaper or even on Monster in the hopes that your top pick would notice it and respond. You’d need to initiate contact, engage the recruit, and then convince the player to join your squad. The same is true when you’re trying to fill a high-demand position at your company: To succeed, you need to personalize your approach and cut through the spam.

Advertising at scale still can’t be personalized for the direct one-to-one or one-to-few messaging that’s likely to convert top candidates to fill high-demand positions. You need to make it personal.

Personalizing your employer branding message

Writing a generic letter or job description is easy, because you don’t have to do much research, include research, or understand your audience. You simply describe the job and what you or your company needs. Personalizing your message requires getting to know the prospect(s) you’re reaching out to, demonstrating your interest in them, and addressing their needs. Take the following steps to develop more personal messaging and engagement:
  • Prioritize positions. You probably don’t have the time or resources to personally recruit every candidate. Focus your personalized recruiting efforts on filling key positions.
  • Do your homework. Conduct a thorough search of the web to find out more about the candidate, including the person’s alma mater, past employers and positions, major accomplishments, interests, and so on. You may even be able to find out what sort of position and employer the person considers to be ideal.
  • Be specific. Whether you’re writing a letter or a job description, details are key to personalization.
  • Tailor your message to your audience. Mention something specific about the person you’re contacting — perhaps his alma mater, what he majored in, a previous position he held, a place he worked, a paper he published, or something else that shows you did your homework and put some effort into getting to know him. Tell him why you’re contacting him. “You have a great background” is the same line a dozen other recruiters have used that week. Explain what it is about his background that makes him so well suited for the position and why you think he’d love to work for your company.

Don’t get creepy. Mentioning someone’s marital status, his children, or other personal details may make the person uncomfortable, as if you’ve been spying on him. Try to stick to relevant job-related details, such as education, certifications, experience, and professional accomplishments.

  • Reach out on social channels. Social channels are great for getting to know candidates personally prior to contacting them to come and work for you.
  • Go old school: face-to-face. If and when appropriate, try to meet the candidate in person, perhaps over coffee or lunch. Nothing is more personal than an in-person, face-to-face meeting.

Cutting through the spam

It’s never been easier to contact talent, and it’s never been harder to cut through the spam and seize their attention. The recruiting world is awash with bad templates from lazy recruiters who treat email and LinkedIn InMails as a spam machine. Those generic templates lie dormant in junk mail folders, as busy candidates ignore the drone of mass communications.

Here are a few suggestions to help you cut through the spam and get your message across:

  • Avoid templates. Many recruiters lean too heavily on generic templates for mass outreach. This approach may work for some positions where prospects are more likely to switch jobs, but it has little chance for niche or in-demand talent. This doesn’t mean every email must be handwritten, but it does mean a degree or personalization is required to convert.
  • Minimize jargon. “I have an outstanding value proposition full of synergies with your portfolio.” Bingo! Unless you were playing buzzword bingo, that jargon-filled message will likely result in a swift click of the Delete button. Use real language. Talk like a human being. That natural vernacular is more likely to be relatable, capturing a prospect’s attention and increasing the chances of a response.
  • Make it visual. Scroll through your inbox. What captures your attention? Probably not the plain text emails. Perhaps it’s the newsletter with the branded header? Take a page out of email marketing’s playbook and use tools like MixMax to create dynamic emails with images, videos, links, and other assets to help your email stand out.
  • Personalize everything. Any initial outreach to a candidate should include at least one personalized element that demonstrates you’ve taken the time to explore her background. With the amount of information on the social web, there are very few true “cold calls.”
  • Include a specific call to action (CTA). Why are you contacting this person and what are you looking for? A referral? An application? General networking? Be clear about your intent so candidates know you appreciate their time and understand why you’re contacting them.
By cutting through the spam and delivering a personal message, you significantly improve your chances of connecting with a candidate and engaging her in a discussion that’s likely to convince her to join your organization.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Richard Mosley, Universum's Global Head of Strategy, is widely recognized as a leading global authority on the subject of employer branding. He regularly chairs or delivers keynote presentations at many of the world's leading employer brand events.
Lars Schmidt, Founder of Amplify Talent and Cofounder of HR Open Source, is a leading strategy consultant, speaker, and writer in the fields of employer branding and recruiting.

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