In ‘Part 1’ we discussed the Tech Scene Anomaly and how traditional, glossy, marketing collateral might not resonate with the tech market. In this post, we move beyond coverage, job specs and advertising to focus on reaching talent through third parties and how to ensure your Employer brand isn’t lost in translation.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
If there is one sure-fire way of increasing coverage, it’s through the use of recruiters. The drawback, understandably, is having suddenly made a third party responsible for the first impression on future staff form of your business. An unscreened recruiter working from a bullet point job specification is a recipe for maximum damage to your brand and minimal interest from the applicants which your role is probably right for. Applicants do not typically trust recruiters and are regularly bombarded by them through various channels. But how do you expect this poor recruiter you barely know (and have briefed using a single piece of paper) to gain any traction with the high-value applicants you want to attract? The answer is, he can’t. And the increased coverage will simply serve to make applicants being contacted by multiple recruiters numb to your message.
This, of course, is not to say that recruiters should be avoided. A few simple steps can help the right recruiter become a professional ambassador for your employer brand.
Interviews – Who’s screening who?
Your approach to recruiters will only work if you recognise their potential as a gateway to real people who will potentially end up working for you. Once introduced via a recruiter, it is then your responsibility to influence the opinion of every single person who encounters your business.
The single biggest point of vulnerability on employer brand comes at the point of rejection. Thousands and thousands of “CVs” that belong to real people disappear into recruitment black holes on a daily basis, with each applicant left frustrated and disappointed with both a recruiter and employer who do not appear to want to give them the time of day. Even worse is generic or zero feedback following an interview. Assuming that the applicants most firms chose to interview are higher value, to put them through a fairly challenging process then never speak to them again is absolutely going to create negative speculation in their professional circle. Managing fair, productive feedback is crucial to employer brand.
As is creating an interview experience that balances the screening necessary to hire the competent person vs. portraying the positive image required to secure them as an employee. Many businesses, subjected to huge volumes of irrelevant CVs, have adopted a test-first, think later approach to screening, distributing technical tests to everyone who applies. The result? Every high-demand applicant ignores the test, as plenty of other employers have had the decency to pick up the phone and speak like humans. The answer to excessive CVs is limiting how many each agency is allowed to send and putting some basic screening criteria in place for the person filtering advert response. This reduced volume of applicants means more time can be invested in each person.
Screening should begin with a phone call from the hiring manager, balanced 50/50 between basic screening questions and a description of the role, with a chance for each applicant to ask questions. It’s an exercise in engagement and protection; building a great impression with the applicant but also preventing any precious face to face interview time being squandered.
Technical tests are useful, certainly, but paired programming tests carried out in real-time to solve a problem together give a more realistic result and have the double benefit of building a relationship between employer and employee. Try to place one into your second stage interview. Which should also be the final stage, by the way. If the talent you want is high value, efficiency will be appreciated and give you a competitive edge over less agile employers. Five stages of tests and meandering chats certainly won’t, but they will form a great topic of conversation at the Shoreditch Python Society’s next meeting.
Finally, for every interview or CV that doesn’t work out, send a piece of constructive feedback either to the recruiter or directly to the applicant. Thank them for their time, give a positive reason why the role isn’t for them, and invite them to request any further information if they wish to. This is incredibly meaningful and really impactful, at times resulting in colleague recommendations who turn out to be better suited to the position.
There is a lot more to proactively managing your employer brand than the above. Equally, observing the above will be far cheaper and easier than the extensive research and management needed to truly own and manipulate a brand. Plus, without the above, such steps are largely meaningless.
It is however worth noting that where information provided on a role is vague – and it frequently is – applicants often rely on Google to make decisions around where to interview. Implementing a quick, regular review of your search engine results, specifically on Linkedin, Glassdoor and Twitter for anything that could be interpreted negatively is worthwhile. With Glassdoor, the only way to really counter a negative review is to bury it in positive ones – perhaps engaging current employees who feel passionate about the organisation to post details of their experience.