What’s the difference between a great candidate experience and a deep, cohesive employer brand? Nothing. The two work hand in hand. One of the most powerful indicators is a stat from the latest Candidate Experience report, an annual pulse-taking on talent acquisition. The 2014 edition showed that 78.6% of job applicants made the decision to apply to an organization based on their own job search. Whatever they encounter on their own is what’s driving more than three-fourths of your candidates.
This may not be an appealing number to recruits: only 7.8% of job applicants say their decision was influenced by a recruiter. And if you’re a company that relies on employees to attract and refer similarly great talent, you may not be so smiley either: only 13.6% of job applicants said they applied due to an employee’s referral. But I’d beg (well, not really beg) to differ: the bottom line is that whatever you are putting out there as a company has an enormous influence. Certainly that means online, in web and social. The equation, extrapolated: your brand influences talent acquisition. Which also means that your brand influences the very future of your own organization.
And that brand goes further back than one might assume. Interesting that more than half of job candidates (52.3%) said they already had some kind of relationship with the employer, well before the recruiting experience. They may have been a customer, a consumer of the company’s services, a friend or a relative of an employee, a consumer of the company’s content, or even a company advocate. With this segment, you’ve already got your foot in the door. In terms of acquisition and engagement, it’s a matter of deepening and improving that person’s experience, cultivating a further relationship with them — via the brand, and the content and message that brand frames.
And of the other chunk of job candidates who don’t have any previous impression of your company, clearly you’re going to want to seize their imagination — and attract their interest, and sooner rather than later. Again, it all comes down to brand. And in this case, a great foundation lies in telling the story of the organization, and not just “this is what it’s like to work for us.” Connection is tantamount to engagement.
There are plenty of juicy stats in this report that point to the incredible importance of employee brand, and of deepening and enhancing one’s online as well as social presence (on the latter, there’s a palpable employee / candidate disconnect). It’s not a new message, and it’s not a new trend: the shift to social started picking up speed as reflected in the 2013 report.
And I’ve made the case before that recruitment is a matter of reaching both active and passive candidates: and the passive ones may wind up active in the space of a short time. But in terms of employer brand, considering the brand as a form of strategic marketing for talent, not just customers, is critical. If you’re not sure where to start, there are some great examples a click away. We are a world of Googlers, of searchers or rabbit-holers, of on-a-whim decision makers. Madison Avenue might tell us that it’s not really a whim, it’s a response to stimuli. Whatever it is, you want to make that connection.
A cogent, engaging, imagination-sparking message will come across in any circumstance, but particularly in terms of a candidate experience, from the content they encounter when searching to the time they spend learning about the company. 67.8% of candidates say they spend up to two hours researching a company, and pay attention to its values, then products and services, and then employee testimonials). What’s so compelling about all of the stats in the 2014 report is that it reflects the recruitment process transformed — into an online and social experience, and shows that we are, actually, getting better at it. But at the foundation of candidate experience is brand — and not the other way around. Very possibly, that rewrite of your company story may well pay off in spades, turning an occasional visit into a committed job applicant. So go for it.
This article was written by Meghan M. Biro from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. SmartRecruiters is the hiring success platform to find and hire great people.