In 2012 I changed jobs after having spent 8 years in one organisation. Two very interesting companies started the conversation with me at the same time. One, a new age media company with a strong brand image and definitely an aspirational brand. The other, a high growth company in one of the more traditional sectors, whose name I had never heard of. And obviously, I went through many interviews. Then I made my decision.
I had some interesting discoveries going through the process.
As a marketing professional, I know that branding is important for recruitment success. In my previous firm, I have strived to build a strong employer brand image through various measures and campaigns. These included among other things, preparing an employer value proposition, developing a communication program, mobilizing employees internally and externally and being featured in many “best employer” surveys.
However during the interview process that I went through, I realised that to attract a person, many of the above things that typically companies focused on were less significant. While the recruitment teams generally focus on selling the organisation and the exciting future that is in store once someone has joined the organisation, the candidate is evaluating the organisation based on the experience she is going through. And often, very little attention is paid to the journey of the potential candidate before she joins the organisation. All the great things that are waiting are just a dream, they are an abstraction. What one experiences through the recruitment process is real. Hence the personal experience of the organisation through the course of the recruitment process, in my opinion, has the greatest say in the decision making.
When you want the best talent, you have to treat the talent as the best. It starts with:
- Respecting the person’s time. Adhering to the meeting schedules, calling back and following through as committed is critical. Punctuality is one of the best measures of respect for the individual.
- Being transparent and open. Providing all the relevant information for the role and clarity on the next steps. Letting the candidate know what is possible and what is not. This establishes trust upfront.
- Meeting the right people. Who she meets and how quickly those meetings are organized are next set of variables that need to be managed carefully. Meeting people that do not understand the role or just to cross the check list means, you have already begun to repel the best talent.
- Informing every step of the way. Many are not informed of the internal delays. Most recruiters operate in the paradigm that conveying a delay would mean losing the candidate. But in reality they have already lost the candidate as they have not bothered to update the person.
- Making a quick decision. This is the acid test. Everyone wants the person to join them “yesterday”. An employer who is really keen to have the person join them quickly, will be quick in making the decision. One most likely will not recruit a dynamic result oriented person through a lengthy bureaucratic process. Many a good candidates are lost because of the long drawn out decision making. Quality of the process does determine the quality of outcome.
All of the above sound so simple and common sense, but have to be managed efficiently and orchestrated thoughtfully, and doing so the organization sells itself. It doesn’t require to be sold to the candidate.
But alas! Most recruiters operate in a different paradigm. Those working for well known brands assume that people are falling over each other to join them. It’s a paradox: good brands have to strive harder to maintain their image. Expectations are higher. There is more scrutiny. And then, there are really small companies where decision making should be quick, but here they tend to behave like large bureaucratic organisations with multiple levels of approvals, so taking away the perceived advantage of a nimble company.
Just as the organisation looks at multiple candidates to select the “best one”, the best talent is also assessing multiple companies to select the “right one”. The candidate’s personal experience of recruitment process is the first encounter with the organisation, and a window into the operating culture. A good experience will undoubtedly make a positive impression and be the most important decision driver.
Employer branding is not just about training recruiters to sell the organisation, but helping them create the right holistic experience for the person they want to bring on board. It is for organisations to give up hubris and create an honouring feeling of being wanted.
It is no surprise who I picked to join.