How many times have you briefed an excited candidate on a well-matched role.... only to be later advised that they aren't interested, after some basic online research on the firm?
Employer branding is becoming more and more important in candidate driven markets. Candidates are now in control and they need to be 100% sold on the hiring company. This is particularly prevalent when we offer candidates a range of relevant opportunities and they only get excited and commit to 1 or 2 - the ones with an impressive online brand.
The consumer buying dynamic has changed, often a customer has done 60-70% of their research before they take any action and this is exactly what is happening in the job market too.
The information age has well and truly taken hold. Every aspect of life is featured for all to see online – shopping to dating, from banking to keeping in touch. The fact is that we can go online and find out anything we want to know about any aspect of life, whenever we fancy. If we have a DIY job at home or want to look up our illness symptoms (not advised!) we go onto Google and look at the advice there. It is a huge source of information and the wiki model means that information is assessed and refined all the time.
Business is no different to any other aspect of modern life when it comes to the Internet and the digital age. The climate has changed for business in so many ways over the last 20 years, the last 10 years, the last 5 years and even the last year. The fact is that it is changing constantly, every single day and will continue to do so. Technology has become a catalyst for change as some industries have disappeared from the physical world and gone totally digital; leveraging the changes and technological advances. Others still have fought and fought the advance of technology and find themselves at a crossroads.
Take the estate agency industry for example. Traditional high street estate agents have dabbled in technology through property portals and have an internet presence through a cursory website but are really quite resistant to the change that technology brings. There is currently a wave of online-only estate agents advertising on television and the Internet that are in direct competition to the high street agent. The high street agent sees these new entrants to the industry as cowboys that don’t understand the game and a nuisance. But the game has changed and industries don’t look anything like they used to. Those that aren’t reacting are getting left behind, and those that are taking advantage of the constantly changing landscape are forging completely new versions of industries that have been around for centuries.
There is a reliance on technology that can bring out the good and the bad in all aspects of business. When it comes to recruiting and retaining the best talent you need to get this right. The average candidate knows upcoming trends in technology like the back of their hand and can use it to look you up in an instant. Candidates can use the shortcuts that the Internet provides to get right into the details that they want to see. They can instantly find out if they believe your company fits what they are looking for.
The average candidate doesn’t mess around applying for roles with companies who don’t match their high ambitions. They're able to cut to the chase and decide in a very short period of time whether they want to apply or not. If so, then you will see the applications flood in. If not, then you may never see or hear from them again. Because modern life is so interconnected you can lose customers as well as potential applicants from your Internet presence. If you don’t match the values of the millennial and convey that message in a concise and convincing way then they may not consider your firm at present, and will probably never look for a job with your organisation in the future.
The changing business landscape and the connectivity of the Internet have a huge impact for recruiting the top talent.
In the past it was your job advert, your job specification and your communication with applicants that defined the perception of the job role. There was a narrow definition of what the job entailed, which was completely controlled by your own job description. From there you were able to control what people thought of the potential job that was being advertised and to convince the applicant that it was what you wanted them to think it was.
Now, your employer brand and company profile is there for everyone to see. It is a straightforward process to look on your Twitter feed, your Facebook timeline, your website or to find your current employees online to see what you are all about. Your job advert may say that you are a progressive company that gives recruits a great opportunity to progress quickly if they display the right talents and behaviours. But if the current team do not agree with that you may find comments on social media that suggest that it isn’t the case. If your company website and careers site shows a different level of professionalism or a changed set of values to your job specification then your potential recruits will be able to sniff this out and you will lose applicants that once you were able to attract.
With the changes in communication that the information age has brought about the cat is out of the bag. Your company becomes what the public perception of it is.
It takes a few clicks of your keyboard and you have more information that you can ever process about any company in the world. Who founded it, how it was founded, customer reviews, complaints, trading figures, recent job losses and every other aspect of a company is out there somewhere. Your potential applicants will know all about you before they make that application and may or may not follow through their interest based on the information they find.
Your profile on the Internet consists of many things from news articles, to press releases, marketing work and on to anything one of your team posts about you. A good profile can make the difference between success and failure when it comes to recruitment because decisions are made based on how you are perceived by the public from the information they can gather.
Of course, all of this is a two-way street because a company can do its research about a potential applicant before they interview, or even before they are offered an interview. Careers advisers in schools are teaching teenagers to be aware of the information they put about themselves on the internet. This is useful to create the right image for any potential employer.
Do you value your team? Is there a real scope for progression? Is the bonus any good? Is it achievable? Is the company financially sound?
These are all questions that potential employees have and they are better positioned now to find out this information than at any time in the past, because of the digital age.
Information is swapped freely because it helps others and because the information is free, it is valued. The digital age is constantly reshaping the market that business operates in. The advent of information as an asset that directly affects what goes on your profit and loss is quite a new one for business to get to grips with but it is happening all around us. When it comes to advertising a new vacancy then your information directly affects the talent pool that you will be fishing in.
Get it right and you can be looking at better applicants that will take your company forward. Get it wrong and you could end up treading water, or even worse. The better quality of the applicants means that you can save costs by advertising your vacancy only once. You will get the applicants you want the first time. It will save time because you will be able to select from the first list that hits your desk. You can save the potential of a vacancy sitting idle in your company for several months because you can’t find anyone to fill it.
The information that the world holds about you is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days of the year via the internet. Your internet footprint can be accessed and used by potential employees to make their own decision on whether you are the type of organisation they want to work for, whether you live up to your promises and whether they will apply. A smaller pool of applicants will inevitably mean that you get a smaller choice and more than likely a lower standard of new recruit.
The trick is to make sure that you are able to make use of the information age, showcase a powerful employer brand and turn it to your advantage.
My next few posts will focus on how to raise your employer profile and stay ahead of the game in the information age.