Branding Your Opportunity

Branding Your Opportunity | Attract the Best Candidates | Kathleen Duffy

Branding Your Opportunity

Strategies You’ll Need to Attract the Best Candidates

Ten million jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary], that’s how many jobs were available at the end of June. That’s ten million positions that need to be filled, and ten million opportunities for job seekers.

If you’re an employer who is hiring, you need to be strategic. There’s a lot of competition for skilled, talented candidates. Your challenge is to consider how best to brand opportunities and market them to make sure that you’re attracting fully qualified applicants.

I’m a big believer in the value of recruitment research, and it’s especially critical when the demand for great candidates is high. A passive approach won’t work. One of your best investments will be in sourcing candidates—identifying the best applicants immediately, often those who are not actively looking for another position—and then finding out what’s missing from their current job that might inspire them to leave. Through these conversations, you’ll learn what’s lacking in the marketplace, and discover how to brand your opportunity to ensure that you’re highlighting the factors that matter most to the candidates you want to reach.

I’ve listed a few factors below that I consistently hear from the candidates with whom I work. Think about these as you identify how best to sell your job to the people you hope to hire:

More money

Yes, many candidates want to feel that their work is valued, and this often translates into dollars. It’s not just salary. Signing bonuses, once reserved for senior executives—or professional athletes—are increasingly being offered to employees at many different levels. The trucking company US Xpress is offering sign-on bonuses of $8,000-$10,000 to qualified drivers who join their team. Pennsylvania-based convenience chain Wawa is offering $500 bonuses, as well as a free daily “Shorti” hoagie, for all new hires.

Skilled healthcare providers are in demand, and bonuses have increased to attract the best candidates. Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia is one example. Seeking qualified nurses for its 11 hospitals, the nonprofit has offered new nurses signing bonuses of up to $30,000 if they will commit to staying for two years. Bonuses are a way to offer financial incentives without raising salaries—but some businesses are also increasing base pay as a way to stand out from the competition.

Solutions to the childcare challenge

It’s fascinating to me how quickly the ability to work from home has shifted from a benefit to an expectation. But the pandemic has also demonstrated the challenges working parents face. With schools shifting to virtual learning and daycare centers closing, parents who lacked flexible remote work options were forced to leave their employers.

Many parents are continuing to wrestle with these concerns. Often, the childcare options that existed pre-pandemic have been permanently shuttered, and parents are understandably concerned about the possibility that schools may again shift to remote learning, or that children too young to be vaccinated may be exposed to the virus in larger settings.

Recognize this reality as you market your opportunity to potential candidates. One possibility is to offer childcare at your workplace. Another is to specifically structure work schedules to create greater flexibility for remote work—and to highlight this in your recruitment campaign. Note that your company honors and supports those caring for family members, and will enable them to continue to do so.

Make it personal

It may seem contradictory, but I’ve learned that many candidates want both increased opportunities to work remotely and more opportunities for connection and a greater sense that they are valued as unique contributors. This is an important change that all employers can and should make.

Candidates increasingly value inclusivity in their workplace and opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship. If your business is lagging in these areas, you’ll lose out to competitors who understand their value.

Don’t wait

When I work with clients to ensure that they are presenting the very best offer to potential candidates, we discuss several strategies. One that many have not considered is simply acting faster. If your hiring process takes weeks, you may lose that highly qualified candidate to a competitor. Consider the example of Semperis, a global cyber security firm. The firm set a target of doubling its workforce—and then committed to shortening its hiring process from three weeks to seven days.

A highly effective branding opportunity lies in this quick turnaround time. Letting candidates know that they will have an answer within 24 or 48 hours sends a clear message that you value their time, and want them to be part of your business.

I encourage my clients to act thoughtfully—but also promptly—by investing time at the very beginning of the search. Working with a recruiting firm like Duffy Group can ensure that candidates are appropriately vetted before the initial interview. That way, if the interview is positive, an offer can be extended the next day.

Think differently

Sometimes the best candidates are the ones you create. Does your opportunity require a specific academic degree or skill set, or is it more important to find intuitive or innovative thinkers and doers? You may be selling your opportunity too narrowly, and missing a larger pool of talent.

Additionally, I stress to my clients the importance of assessing internal mobility. You need to constantly and vigorously manage your internal talent, identifying candidates for future opportunities before those opportunities even exist. Prospective candidates want to know that they are being recruited not simply for today’s opportunity, but to equip them with the skills and training they’ll need for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Experience matters

Candidates are increasingly asking questions about the “employee experience.” What is it like to work for your organization? What can they expect? How will their contributions be valued?

Be prepared to tell that story. And invest in sourcing the candidates who will accept your offer and become your organization’s next successful contributor.