How Creating an Image is Central to Successful Recruiting

Almost everyone in the recruiting business must also be an “imagineer,” (using Disney’s term) and create a brand image for their company and for the positions they are offering. Those who are best at this, reap the benefits of hiring more people and doing it faster than anyone else. This week we will explore how you can be better at marketing and branding yourself, your company, and your positions. To refresh your memory, these are the qualities that MUST exist for world class status: 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANAGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 4. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 5. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 6. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 7. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) When someone says, “Silicon Graphics hires only young whiz kids,” or when a friend says, “Silicon Valley companies offer a lot more freedom and excitement than other companies,” what are they REALLY saying? They are saying that certain companies have created an image — have branded themselves — better than other companies. They have carefully created an image that makes us think about them in a certain way. In reality, working in most of these companies is probably pretty much similar to working for other companies. Of course, there are individual differences and nuances, but generally we are focusing on IMAGE and BRAND. World-class recruiting involves actively creating the image you want to attract the kinds of people you want. An effective staffing organization creates an image of the company in the minds of prospective candidates through all of its activities. The product advertising side of a company can help this process, but generally they are experts at selling and marketing things or services, not the intangible rewards of employment in YOUR firm. Here are some axioms to guide the process of image and brand development: 1. You must deliberately craft a brand. Define what is unique or special about your company. This takes time and is not an easy task, but it pays many dividends. For years IBM did little active recruiting because its carefully cultivated image said: “stability, security, advancement, and leading edge technology.” Every internal recruiting system supported the image that IBM was different and unique. It gave the impression that only students with high GPAs need apply, and that only candidates who had solid research experience or had done something very different were wanted. This is what IBM created as an image for itself over the years — whether it was deliberate or not — and it worked. People flocked to work there. 2. Be aware that all recruiting is about answering the question: “What’s in this for me?” in offer from Microsoft, for example, says things about ME. IT says I am desirable, smart and “cool.” It says that I could run their recruiting hurdles successfully. Their offer helps brand ME. The more you can help a candidate feel important or special because she accepted your offer, the more successful you will be. Make it really easy for a candidate to say “YES!” 3. Use every channel to create an image. Get employees or other people to write articles about your company. Work with your internal public relations people to get mentioned in leading magazines. Get people to present at conferences. Run image advertisements. Sponsor events that reflect your image. If you want to attract young, socially responsible people, support causes they are concerned about. Make donations to the charities and non-profit institutions that your employees support themselves. Whenever I see an ad for Nike or Cisco or Microsoft, I can see that the ad is also targeted at attracting great people to work there. The messages work both for the product and for recruiting. This is great advertising! 4. Make sure every recruiter is sensitive to the image-lives it and promotes it. Too often I see recruiters that are almost oblivious to the company image. They don’t really know what the firm stands for or why. This has to be unacceptable. Pick contract recruiters who understand the brand and can sell it. Make sure your recruiters are accurate reflections of the kinds of people you are seeking. Really great recruiting firms virtually match potential candidates to recruiters in term of looks, personality and, style. We all tend to hire and accept offers from people who are like us. 5. Analyze why people say yes to an offer. Make sure you probe for the real reason they agreed to come work for you. In this process you may discover great ideas for future advertising and promotions. Take time to look at success, as well as failure. Supporting the solar car design contests at several universities helped me attract top notch electrical engineers many years ago. They said yes because we had matched them with some senior engineers who worked closely with them to design the car and supplied critical parts for free. The new hires told me our support and generosity make them trust that we would be a good employer. It is very easy to get caught up in technology, systems, and more sophisticated recruiting techniques. But there is much more to being successful than that, as you all know. It takes a well thought out, very systematic, and deliberate advertising and image-creation strategy for real and continuing success. See you next week.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at