Companies Must Segment and Target Their Value Propositions to Influence and Attract the Best Talent

Jul 1, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Influencing candidates to join your company will require a segmented and targeted recruitment communications approach — that’s the key take-away from our Employer Brand International’s global research study to identify the key ‘Influencers of Employment Choice.’ The global study surveyed more than 400 employees to determine what influences their employment choice. The survey found there was a high degree of variation by region, gender, age, organization type, position levels, and employment tenure across 15 employment attributes such as leadership, communications, work environment, and corporate social responsibility. The findings provide a wakeup call for organizations currently relying on a ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruiting talent.

The findings come at a critical time as organizations adapt to the ‘new normal’ where the cost of a bad hire will impact companies more than ever before.

Recruitment spend is hard to come by, post-global financial crisis, and the days of throwing large amounts of money at recruitment mass-marketing campaigns that fail to communicate the company’s value proposition(s) are over.

Gender differences

The study found if you want to influence women in their employment choice you need to communicate flexible working patterns and a friendly working environment. Compared to men, flexible working patterns are six times more likely to influence women in their employment choice. For males the opportunity to work with thought leaders, an organization with a culture of innovation, and a clearly defined mission have a stronger influence on their choice of employer.

Organization type

The research shows employees in private companies can be influenced to join companies who value leadership, reward for performance, and have a global perspective in their work much more than not-for-profit and government sector employees. On the other hand, government employees are more influenced in their employment choice by companies that offer flexible work patterns and who can demonstrate an authentic approach towards corporate social responsibility (see the graphic; click to enlarge).

Furthermore the opportunity to work with thought leaders is nearly twice as strong an influencer of employment choice for employees in the private sector compared to government. Working for a company with inspiring leadership is three times a stronger influence for employees in the private sector compared to not-for-profit and government employees.

Position level

Entry-level and administration staff are more influenced by a value proposition that promotes work-life balance — hence the importance of flexibility, work environment, and career development to this segment. Senior management and executives look more at the type of company you are, and can be influenced in their employment choice by companies which promote the opportunity to work with thought leaders, promote a culture of innovation, a clearly define mission, and high levels of customer service.

Influencing the generations

Interestingly, being rewarded for performance decreases in strength of influence of employment choice as age increases. However, working for a company that provides a high level of customer service increases in influence of employment choice as age increases. It is nearly five times as strong an influencer of employment choice for 50+ years compared to 18-29 year olds.

What’s happened to all the fun?

While the word ‘fun’ at work has different connotations in different cultures, a friendly working environment is viewed as a strong influencer of employment choice for younger employees, and declines with age (nearly three times stronger for 18-29 years compared to 50+ years). Accounting software provider Intuit bought the fun out into the open with its ‘Be.’ Campaign when it ran a competition for employees to show how they could ‘Be…….(add personal comment) themselves at Intuit!

Implications for Leaders

Based on the outcomes of the research there are five key areas leaders should focus efforts to ensure recruitment marketing messages resonate with the target audience they are trying to recruit the best talent from.

  1. Focus on the employee lifecycle. A good place to start to better understand the needs of your target audience is with your existing workforce. Undertake an employee lifecycle-mapping exercise and look for commonalities and differences across key segments of the employee population, e.g. position in company, tenure of employment, etc. You could then overlay this list with your talent segments to determine the type of recruitment communication messages which are likely to appeal to and engage the target audience you are seeking to recruit. Recruiters should recognize that employees are seeking different needs at different stages of the lifecycle and develop value propositions which clearly articulate what candidates can expect here!
  2. Personalization. Recruitment communications should attempt to communicate and engage with candidates at an individual level. Deloitte in New Zealand did this well with its ‘Your Future at Deloitte (New Zealand)’ Facebook page where you can view videos and photos which provide an insight into their culture. It has also streamed live webcasts for candidates to connect with consulting graduates to learn about their experiences at Deloitte.
  3. Build and nurture community. Building community with your target audience takes time and is still seen by many companies as a chore rather part of a strategic recruiting tactic. Sodexo, a global food services group, builds community across multiple platforms and has invested staffing resources to ensure communication is two-way conversation between recruiters and their talent communities. There is a culture among Sodexo’s recruiters to support the community-building process. It’s not left up to only one or two people; it’s integrated into the culture. Companies such as Starbucks have extended their consumer and employer brand across their 8.5 million Facebook followers and 900,000+ followers on Twitter to promote product launches, special discounts, and job openings. A recent campaign using social media bought 1 million customers into their stores one morning with the offer of a free muffin with each coffee purchase. That’s where the ROI comes from — and the impact on employee morale is infectious.
  4. Authenticity. Philips ‘Inside stories’ campaign was one of the first attempts by a company to provide insights into a company’s culture via its career website — and it got it right the first time! The key to communicating authenticity is to ensure commentary and approach is realistic and believable rather than the scripted Hollywood-like scenes we still see too much of today!
  5. Communicate your culture. Advances in technology have provided companies with innovative ways to communicate the employment experience. Celebrating employee advocacy has moved from testimonials in text on career websites to company YouTube channels, Twitter streams, Facebook communities, ‘a day in the life’ videos, and ‘flip cams’ showing insights into the culture of a company. Candidates are thirsty for as much information they can get to help them make the right decision on which company is right for them. There are benefits for companies too — increased quality of hire, reduction in volume of resumes to sort, and appealing to candidates who really want to work for the company and contribute to productivity and growth objectives.

A concluding thought!

And don’t forget only promise what you can deliver. Trust can take a lifetime to build and only one Twitter post to destroy!

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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