Recently, my husband and I bought a new apartment. Before making our final decision, we looked at over 30 homes (much to our broker’s great chagrin). At each one, my husband zoned in on the quantitative metrics (what is the square footage?) and the mechanics (how is it heated?). Meanwhile, I was doing everything I could do visualize our family there. Where would we eat? Where would we congregate to watch TV? Who are the neighbors? In essence, I wanted to know: What was our family’s life going to look like in this new space?
Our apartment search experience reminded me of how differently men and women approach major decisions — like searching for a new job. We conducted extensive research that shows that women are far more concerned with the “hows” of the experience than the “whats.” Simply put, women want to understand: How will this new work experience fit into my life?
For men, the most important attributes of a job prospect are compensation, a good manager, and growth opportunities. For women, compensation is equally important (and please! let’s not forget that!), but having a good manager is even more important. Women also value work/life balance, company culture, and location/commute.
Q: Which Elements are Most Important to You When Looking for a Job?
Based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being extremely important
Source: Fairygodboss research, 2017
According to research from Pew, working mothers still handle twice as many hours per week of childcare and housework than men do. So it is not surprising that female jobseekers are highly attuned to whether a job will allow them to manage their family responsibilities, and whether they will have an understanding boss.
Great employer branding practitioners have picked up on these trends and are responding deliberately. They use core marketing fundamentals to segment the market and directly address the important questions put forward by female jobseekers. Here are some of the best practices I’ve seen in the market:
Storytelling: Day in the Life
Storytelling is an essential ingredient for anyone looking to engage prospects with a brand, especially in the current climate, where so much information is transmitted via social media. However, storytelling is even more important for employer branding messages directed at women, who are trying to envision their new experience. That’s why many leading brands have created dedicated careers pages that showcase the programs, policies and benefits the company has in place to support women.
Dell makes compelling use of video on its career site with several videos that speak directly to women’s interests and experiences. Its video library helps bring to life the company’s values, its commitment to social causes, and its value of work/life balance.
Similarly, Workday gives prospective employees the chance to experience a day-in-the-life in video form on its website, emphasizing how employees are courteous to each other. The video features stories about employees being available to each other, managers being respectful, and even simple, kind gestures, like people opening the door for others!
The written word can also be valuable in helping paint a picture of the culture and environment, particularly with respect to women’s work/life balance. Recently, We worked with Deloitte to publish an article called, “This Organization Is Redefining the Way We See Caregiving in the U.S.,” which detailed how the company’s paternity leave policy helps encourage men to take an active caregiving role in their family.
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. While many startups focus on attracting 20-somethings make savvy use of photos of their offices and amenities, we find that women are are most impressed with pictures of … other women. When companies give women the tools to “imagine” themselves at the company, it helps them make the mental leap to think about applying.
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For women, though, the diversity and inclusion page on a company’s website is the page that is perhaps most likely to entice them to consider the employer. This page on the Nike career site, for example, features a full splash image of about 20 employees wearing shirts that read “Equality.” And they look happy! The picture brings the sentiment to life perfectly, and the image will easily put to rest the question that nags at many female jobseekers: “does this company treat women fairly?”
Similarly, United Technologies recently introduced this Women Lead at UTC career page that highlights the company’s commitment to driving 50/50 gender parity by 2030 as part of the Paradigm for Parity initiative. The sheer real estate devoted to the company’s commitment to women is sure to impress female jobseekers, as are the multitude of photographs of women in a variety of settings and contexts.
Letting Employees’ Voices Shine Through
No single element is more effective or useful than case studies of current employees. Female jobseekers want to receive visual cues that a prospective company is a place where someone like them can thrive.
The most effective case studies actually are not those that showcase women at the very top, as that feels a bit distant for most prospective jobseekers; rather, successful case studies often shed light on women in mid-level roles. The most resonant stories are those that speak directly to how women have integrated their career with their personal and family responsibilities.
That’s why platforms and stories that enable a company to “introduce” its employees to potential jobseekers and engage their voices means so much to women. PepsiCo has a page on its career site called “People of PepsiCo” — which is just that. It gives jobseekers an opportunity to “meet” current employees and understand what they do, and again, consider how that day-to-day routine might fit into their lives.
Moreover, companies that have well-developed employee ambassador programs, such as Ericsson, will be the most successful in engaging women. The most meaningful endorsement a company can enlist is that of female employees who are compelled to advocate for their employer, particularly when talking to female jobseekers. The job and company reviews (all of which are written by female employees) have been influential in women’s jobseeking decisions.
Some of our most successful articles were personal narratives about women at GE, including this one from GE Global Employment Brand Leader Shaunda Zilich about how GE’s policies enabled her to breastfeed more successfully. Her story was so poignant and specific that it tightly synthesized GE’s appeal and promise to working women and families. These are the kinds of employee experiences that really resonate.
For companies that hope to attract more women in 2018, it will pay dividends to keep in mind how women approach job seeking …. and whether you are answering your female candidates’ most important question.