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Why your employer branding and recruitment strategies don’t work anymore (and what you can do about it)

Typical employer branding

This is an article dedicated to those awesome HR managers working their magic in IT companies.

The problem with headhunting and why it doesn’t work anymore is that everyone’s doing it – to the SAME potential candidates (poor them!). So imagine you were a senior Java developer and you’d get around 10 LinkedIn messages per day, all trying to convince you to give them 30 minutes of your time so they can explain what a great job opportunity theirs is. Would you still read them after day 3? I would stop after day 1, honestly. This feels like stalking.

What’s your HR goal for this year?

How many hires do you have to close?

How many direct emails have you already sent without receiving any reply? (or how much headhunting are you engaged in?)

Yes, you know it, we know it, everyone else is facing it: the recruitment processes and strategies that were working 2-3 years ago no longer work. Not only are they not working, they’re doing more harm than good. Here’s why this is happening and in what areas:

Headhunting

You have a senior position that nobody applied for so you start doing your own research and contact the people who match the job description. You probably use LinkedIn for this because it gives you access to more info about the candidates’ skills and past work experience.

The problem with headhunting and why it doesn’t work anymore is that everyone’s doing it – to the SAME potential candidates (poor them!). So imagine you were a senior Java developer and you’d get around 10 LinkedIn messages per day, all trying to convince you to give them 30 minutes of your time so they can explain what a great job opportunity theirs is. Would you still read them after day 3? I would stop after day 1, honestly. This feels like stalking.

Conference/ job fair sponsorships and participation

The problem with this, at least in Romania, is that very few IT companies follow creative approaches when attending conferences or job fairs. Most go to sell and market themselves to potential job candidates and when you see 100 companies doing the same thing, you feel like you’ve had enough. It’s like having too much chocolate pudding. You like it at first but then the sweetness makes you nauseous.

Furthermore, IT people on senior positions are highly unlikely to spend time at your stand, get a bag of goodies and then think they may want to join your company. Interns and juniors yes because they see any experience as good experience – since they don’t have too much of it. So it really depends which segment you’re trying to attract. Attending conferences and fairs just because everyone is doing it and it seems to work for them might be a complete waste of time for you.

Team building

Organising a team building where everyone needs to go just so that you can put photos on Facebook and say: “Hey, look how great we are! Come and join us!” is a pretty communist thing to do.

It doesn’t work anymore because your employees are not one and the same, they don’t like the same things so half of them will dislike this team building that they have to attend every year. As a consequence, they will spread negative vibes about the company all around affecting your future hiring rate.

Team buildings should be replaced with more personalised events for different categories of people. Instead of one big thing, you can have 5 separate events that cater to the different tastes of your employees.

How stressed are you right now at thinking that you’re not going to reach that goal?

What works now (tried and tested by us)

For the past year we’ve been working closely with IT companies on their employer branding strategies. What we’ve discovered is that the trick is to give people the freedom of choice and the liberty to choose whenever they feel ready, without any pressure. For that, we create standalone employer branding campaigns targeted at a specific audience. We use creative concepts to convey the messages that describe the company best, highlighting what makes it different from other players in the field. It’s not easy since, to be honest, many IT companies are quite similar and finding that unique value proposition is always a challenge – luckily, it’s worth all the effort.

With standalone employer branding campaigns that consist of a creative concept, a landing page and a series of social media and Adwords ads (highly targeted), potential candidates learn what makes the company special and if they see it as a match for them, they contact the company when they are ready.

As a matter of fact, one of our recent campaigns for TiVo Romania is based on giving people the liberty to start when they feel ready. No HR stalking, no pressure, no rush. The campaign is called “Apply from the beach. Start when you’re ready.” and is being rolled out this summer.

Another important aspect that you can easily convey through standalone campaigns is your human side. IT companies are oftentimes viewed as big corporations where people don’t feel that they’re making a difference. Through a creative concept, that view can be changed. Take for example a campaign we’ve created for Maxcode and titled Your Team. Your Family. Here, we’ve conveyed the family spirit that the company boasts for over a decade but had never fully leveraged to attract top talent so far.

Last but not least, one tried and tested way to get the right people on board is to show them what a great adventure awaits for them in the form of an exciting project where their skills make all the difference. To give you an example here, we’ve recently completed a co-branded campaign for youngculture and Pearson. Whoever felt like they wanted to work on a big project, could apply to join youngculture on a role that was part of the Pearson project.

Old HR practices will soon fade out. Creativity and uniqueness are taking their place and the companies who understand this will have better chances of putting great teams together and thrive at HR endeavours.

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