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Don’t Be a Candidate’s Second Choice .

  • 04.17.2019

  • |

  • Hannah Amundson

We all experience value differently in our careers.

For some, it’s about having passion for the work; while for others, it’s about finding a culture where they feel welcome and understood. Value proposition is as unique for candidates as it is for employers. To connect better, candidates and employers have to align on several points of ‘deep’ value. We all want industry-leading compensation and benefits but what about the harder-to-pin-down values? Do we all want to collaborate as a team—even if that means complex problem solving and increased potential for conflict? What about learning new skills outside of business hours? Do we value agility over codified processes or vice versa?  

Defining and communicating the values you share with candidates creates a deeper emotional connection, which helps them feel a sense of understanding in the present moment. It’s the same kind of understanding that makes us cry in a movie or turn up the volume on a song we love. It’s also the same understanding we feel when we get excited about a new job opportunity and the future it holds.

If we answer the questions candidates have – as well as the questions they didn’t realize they had – we inspire a meaningful experience and create the potential for career success stories.

Here are a few different ways to think about this approach:

Connect better.  

Early career candidates have different goals than experienced professionals. That much is obvious. But the more you know about those different sets of expectations, the more you can surprise candidates in exciting ways. Your current employees are a great resource for discovering patterns in deep value. Surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations will solidify what you know and help you make new discoveries.

One of the most under-utilized methods for establishing a better emotional connection is the job description. When it comes to postings, traditional recruiting methods consist of a one-sided relationship, which focuses on a candidate’s tangible skills and the needs of the company. However, new generations of job seekers are increasingly looking for the intangibles that clearly highlight how employers differentiate themselves. They are searching for company values that align with their own as well as a workplace culture where they can be themselves.

In short, they are looking for what it feels like to work for an organization.

How does the tone of your job description copy convey your culture? Does it speak to a candidate on a personal level, or like they’re a cog in a giant machine? Candidates often come across job postings early in the recruitment process, so it’s important to make emotionally-rich copy a top priority. Otherwise, you will lose them.

For example, our client DraftKings came to us with a brand positioning problem. As an innovative technology company that works within the sports entertainment industry, they suffered from outside perceptions that sports were their main priority, when it was really technology. To help them re-position themselves, we suggested a simple headline to lead off all of their hundreds of job descriptions:

We’re redefining sports and technology.

The goal was not to ignore sports because that would create a positioning problem in the opposite direction. The goal was simply to create inspirational copy that would pique a software engineer’s interest and reel them in to continue down the posting where we spoke highly of the complex technology and unique challenges DraftKings offers.  

Interested in hearing our approach to creating powerful job descriptions? Click here. 

Companies expect transparency from candidates. Now candidates are expecting it from companies.

It’s no secret that the dynamic between organizations and candidates has dramatically changed in recent years. While transparency has always been expected of candidates, companies are under more pressure than ever to pull back the veil and give their job seekers an accurate view of their culture.

Personal stories are perhaps the best way to show candidates what you are really like. They let a job seeker connect with employees whose experiences and backgrounds are similar to their own. Show them the human side of your organization. At the end of the day, people want to interact with people. This sounds simple enough but when you add together hundreds or even thousands of employees and a job market in constant flux, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s effective.

For example, do you have success stories about an exceptional parental leave policy? How are you sharing that in meaningful ways? Do you provide flexible schedules for employees? Do you follow that up with firsthand accounts of how that has impacted their lives? Do you have a leadership team that is extremely accessible and open to feedback? Do you leverage that through video testimonials of those leaders on your careers site?

These are the kinds of stories you should dig for and highlight in your content. Simply stating on your careers site that you’re flexible or innovative isn’t enough; you have to show concrete proof and connect a candidate’s personal experience to your company.

Every connection is important, no matter how small.

Never underestimate the kind of impact a seemingly insignificant gesture can have on a candidate. For example, responding to reviews on a company profile page is a surprisingly powerful tool for creating understanding. Although this task may not seem like the most important item to tackle on your to-do list, the benefits of candidates seeing that you’re willing to engage with them can completely change the way they look at your opportunities.

Even planting the smallest seeds of an emotional relationship with a job seeker or potential customer can make a lasting impact. Personalized auto-responders after a candidate applies, retargeting that is aware of why people didn’t apply, acknowledging a bug in your own careers site with a surprising or funny 404 error page…the list could go on forever. In the end, it’s all about using personal storytelling to convey your employer brand and help candidates see themselves in your culture. When job seekers can see themselves in your culture, you’re on your way to an emotional impact.

Actively seek feedback.

Have you considered asking candidates who have been through your recruitment pipeline to fill out a short 1-minute survey about their experience with you? The answers might be hard to hear but if you’re serious about improving your talent acquisition and retention, they will be invaluable tools for making new discoveries and smarter decisions.

Be receptive to both positive and negative feedback. Give your current employees a chance to voice their opinions and engage with them in an honest way so they know they are heard. A positive employee review is free marketing, while a negative one is a great learning opportunity.

Make a better emotional connection and leave a lasting impression on talented candidates by being personal, being authentic, using the power of storytelling in emotional ways, and not losing sight of the important things. For every meaningful connection you make, you will see more engaged candidates, greater values alignment, and less employee turnover.


If you have questions regarding the candidate experience at your organization, we would love to hear from you.
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