For years, EVP (the focus on your Employer Brand) has been hailed as the silver bullet of great candidate attraction.
- Not enough candidates the hiring manager liked? “We need to invest in brand”.
- New office opening in a new city? “We need to invest in brand”.
The general practice in ‘Employer Branding’ has been to distil your EVP, hopefully segment that down, then ‘sell’ it to (ideally) passive talent as a way to attract them in the top of the hiring funnel. Preferably attracting as many of them as possible so your metrics look good, then the recruitment team can start whittling them down to the lucky few.
However, this has increasingly sat uncomfortably with me. Whilst working within RPO a few years ago, I was often asked to develop talent attraction campaigns for organisations with no discernible EVP, little Employer Brand recognition, and very little time or budget.
The metrics showed that the top of the hiring funnel could be enhanced through shrewd digital job advertising without much increase in spend (in the US, programmatic was a saviour especially for volume roles) and then providing a great experience to candidates in the funnel, successful or not, were all ingredients for improving quality of hire and other important metrics. This challenges the notion of EVP being relied upon in the pre-application phase. I am not saying it’s wrong, or universally true for all roles, but it’s worth exploring.
Bill Boorman is a person to watch if you are interested in finding out more about this important shift in Talent behaviour and how to ensure our Employer Brand efforts are optimally deployed. I watched a talk he gave called ‘who moved my brand’ which really brings this point home well. He explains the topic so well that I have included my notes on his presentation below (I am paraphrasing, hope that’s OK Bill!)
- International research based on the review of 9 million job applications
- EVP is not as important to talent during the pre-application phase, it doesn’t match candidate behaviour anymore. The focus has moved!
- People apply for 8x more jobs than ever before as they don’t expect to hear back.(Talent Board research proves most people feel they go into a black hole).
- Typical hiring process is 7 stages, each stage reduces the numbers by 2/3 of what’s left – so we’re often attracting the wrong people and often focusing attention and investment in the wrong place.
- Once people get a positive response (like an invitation to a phone interview) they then go all out on research and crawl over assets like social and the careers web site to explore your EVP. So EVP is still really important but the emphasis and investment is potentially misplaced
- What do candidates want to know at the time of application? (Clue: It’s not culture and values and generic EVP, it’s things that are very specific to them about the JOB)
So, what can we learn from these insights?
1. Focus on JOB branding and advertising – being very clear on how a job will support a person’s career objectives. (This notion of the an Individual Value Proposition – IVP – is something that is now achievable through technology). As Marketeers and Recruiters we need to help our organisations and Hiring Mangers be very clear about the ‘what’s in it for me’ for the roles.
2. Have very targeted sourcing (which can be mainly automated of course)
3. Use ‘Employer Brand’ content to create experience-based funnels around key job families. How can a singular EVP be relevant when an individual’s reasons for selecting a job are so diverse? (Again, this can be automated)
4. When someone is not looking for a job what content would they want to receive? Learning and development material. (i.e. something that helps them build their career, feel respected by that company, being treated like a human not a number means they will think of your brand favourably when they are looking/open to receiving job advertisements from you).
5. Use advocacy programs – we trust peer content exponentially more than branded content. So our employee networks and voices carry generate considerably more trust, influence and reach! (Useful article about employees as influencers here)
There are all sorts of other good insights in the recording, so I encourage you to have a watch of the full session.
Interestingly, this thinking is very aligned to TQ’s stance that the TA function needs to shift towards that of TEaM (Talent Engagement and Mobility). As we continue to work through this pandemic, the focus is unlikely to be (just) on talent ‘acquisition’ for many organisations. Instead, we are already seeing organisations across A&NZ focus inwards on skills visibility, engaging their internal talent pools and trying to build a total talent lens so that they have a more holistic view of talent and how it can support their shifting business strategy.
Again here, I believe the focus will be on matching tasks and jobs to the skills within an organisation’s talent ecosystem (increasingly becoming marketplaces)…and the EVP will be leveraged to enhance the experience layer around skills development, career pathways and culture shift in the from of a more individualised value proposition (IVP).
In this current and near future, it points me to believe that Employer Brand is still a critical business asset, but that it will need to be focused correctly if it is to be fully optimised.
We know that saying ‘invest in brand’ will will land on deaf ears with budget holders and in our current context of escalating application volumes. But if you can demonstrate the value of building and nurturing talent for critical workforce segments, which can be very easily measured across your Total Talent ecosystem, you will get way more traction with requests for budget or resource allocation. Always be pipelining.
I will be digging into this subject more in coming weeks, I hope it’s helpful that I share thoughts and findings.
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