Do You Want to Hire the Best Talent?


At the beginning of 2010 I wrote a blog post called “Why would I want to work for your company?” and published it here. It must have struck a chord because I was asked to remove it because someone thought I was having a pop at them; would I do that? Being new to blogging, I duly complied. I then reposted it here in April 2011. Today it is my most visited (and I hope read) post. It is also the one that is searched for and found the most often using the words in it title. Obviously there are many that are asking the same questions.

This post is to take the subject of that post a bit further.

In that post I talked about poor employer brand and the lack of attention many companies give to promoting that brand to potential candidates, naïvely in favour of their hallowed corporate and consumer brands (which might suck by the way). Today it is all about engagement – at least some people are getting it. I’ve been banging on about networks, communities and candidate engagement since July 2006; the date I came into HR Resourcing. They didn’t really listen then, but back then I didn’t have such a loud voice.

Now it’s louder and I’m not alone either. People are listening and asking questions, hungry to learn. I go to seminars, conferences and have conversations with plenty of people who do a similar job to me and have many of the same challenges. The subject of Candidate Engagement, what it means, how important it is, the dynamics, psychology and methods of approach are all part of the discussions.

Now I don’t have all of the answers, none of us do, but it seems to me that there are some simple concepts to grasp.

  • Everyone is a potential employee if you get the proposition right for them
  • Not everyone is a potential applicant – some just won’t fit or have the skills you need but they are interested in what you have to say and will have opinions others will listen to
  • Everyone could be a consumer – piss a candidate off and it will cost you money
  • Talking costs nothing – tell them what THEY want to know, not what you think they do or just what you feel comfortable telling them.
  • Every employee you have has a story to tell, make sure the majority have a good one

That last point is a huge subject that covers a wide range of HR aspirations and failures. But I’m not going there today.

So how do we engage with the world and give people the information they need. In the more mature and up to date companies you’ll need to join forces with Marketing, Branding and Communications to create an environment that can be used to let everyone know what your organisation is all about. It products, its people, its ambition, its opportunities, events, initiatives, CR projects, the good news and the bad news. Get people interested in you and your company and they will be more interested. Some will even want to work for you. It takes time and effort and therefore money, but can you really afford not to? There are companies that you compete with in the quest for top talent that are doing this already.

Most Resourcing Departments don’t have someone with the title Social Engagement Manager or Candidate Engagement Specialist or similar. Why not? Mostly it’s because I’ve just thought of it myself! – far too many options available for answers on that one.

It’s a new concept; no one has any experience of it. It therefore scares those who are supposed to be in control because they can’t be and don’t have the skills and knowledge to work with it. It’s a new concept only in so far as people now see Social Media and new technology as enabler to get the job done. The concept is not new it’s been around since Man learned to speak. But with Social Technology we all see a route for a quick fix.

But don’t be fooled into believing the technology will be the complete answer; you will need to invest in the people who have the aptitude and attitude, who can use the platforms and then use them to engage.

There are platforms that are now emerging, some established like TribePad, that will actually help you with your engagement plan. They are all so new that when I thought about this blog post I searched the web using a host of different terms and search strings and all I was finding was job boards, aggregators or ATS providers. None of which seemed to offer you a platform to engage with the world and anyone who wants to engage with you properly yourselves – apart from TribePad. There are others, I know there are. I have yet to meet or find them. I welcome comments on this blog from those who offer a similar option I’d be interested. However you don’t have to use advanced platform to make a start; you can use Facebook, your own company website, Twitter, blogs as well as face-to-face events. There is so much that can be done.

Ok I’ve digressed. In my previous blog I was stating that we have to give the public more reason to want to join our companies. We need to engage with people in person, face-to-face or online we need to give them what they want with targeted or subscribed distribution of information. We have to be available, ready and willing to answer the tough questions now. It’s no longer acceptable that just because you are one of the biggest companies in the world, with one of the best brands that people will want to work for you. Why would they when you don’t engage at all or give them an idea of what it’s like, what our culture is like, what opportunities exist for them to help their careers?

Engagement is not about just giving a candidate a good experience during the interview process or the lifecycle of a job, it’s about fully embracing the concept and looking at everyone as a potential employee. They are no longer candidates, they are followers or interested parties who need to be given a reason to keep coming back to your site or platform or community. They have to want to be there, they want to experience what you are, they want to be informed and if you get it right they may also apply for the job.

    • Jacob Sten Madsen
    • November 14th, 2011

    What you refer to and talk about Gary are very poignant, interesting subjects reported about on across numerous forums, groups, blogs and recruitment strategy websites.
    It is a message repeated and becoming an increased point of focus in the recruitment community, and not least the brilliant blueprint Recruitment 3.0 by Matthew Jeffery address these matters
    As for your comment/question on platforms and systems that understand and embrace this ‘new world’ I have recently researched Taleo extensively and believe to understand that they already are on the path of implementing a social media and open communication set up (ability for applicants to interact directly with respective recruiter behind a role). In addition having over the last year acquired a number of companies Taleo is now offering a very comprehensive HRIS that are about ensuring complete end to end talent management solutions.

    I think though that your piece raise some questions that I have not to date found many answers to.

    The first one being; as the subject of the ‘all –inclusive-every-person-a-candidate, companies-must-adopt-an-integrated-all-encompassing-attitude-continually-engaging-allowing-dialogue’ has been spoken about for a while and by many, yet fully implemented by few (at least that is what my understanding is) Whether this is due to the subject only really been on the agenda for the last year subsequently not had enough time to become widespread and with that known/reported about, or it is because we have a scenario of a lot of talk in the recruitment community, yet few organisations truly embracing it!

    I have myself been involved with organisations where one could assume that the latest most innovative talent acquisition strategies being used/implemented yet seeing that despite these organisations having substantial formal talent acquisition set up’s they are very far removed from applying anywhere near these methodologies or mindsets.

    The second subject is that as there is all this talk about establishing and engaging with a community, persons that have shown an interest in a company being a follower, potentially becoming a candidate or the indirect source to a candidate (in case of following person passing on a referral) no one seem to address the time aspect. With that I mean that if there is going to be this increased interaction someone within the companies/organisations have to be the one answering and responding to incoming enquiries and/or having the required dialogue.
    I know of no in-house/on-site recruiter in this day and age that are not at all times working to the max, with little or more likely no time to spare on interactive dialogue outside what has to do with the specific roles he/she are currently working on.

    A fair assumption will be that not all community members or candidates following and showing interest in a company will indeed be directly a candidate (either from perspective of not having the prerequisite skill/profile, or that there simply isn’t a vacancy for that person’s skill-set) a lot of communication will be ‘wasted’ or at least not directly transferable to an open role that the recruiter is trying to fill.

    So unless companies in addition to embracing the ‘new world of recruitment’ also invest and put structures into place that can support this mindset, it will never take off properly.

    As far as I understand it (again could be due to the ‘newness’ of the subject, subsequently not reported upon yet) few companies have added the necessary resources.

  1. July 17th, 2012

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