For quite a while now, we’ve been working with brands on Hunted to discern their employer brand. That’s, the brand of the business they run and hire people for. Recruitment agencies often have a tough time doing this. Probably because recruiting’s an identical job at a lot of agencies.
Table tennis table? Check.
Early finish on a Friday for beers? Check.
Office dog? Check.
Before I answer the question of how you differentiate yourself as a business, it’s probably more pressing to differentiate an agency’s employer brand from the other brand they promote infinitely more.
Their professional brand.
“Here at ABC People Solutions, we like to think we’re a bit different. We take a truly consultative approach to recruitment. We offer a bespoke solution for every client and treat each candidate as a person, not a number.”
But this statement’s absolutely irrelevant to your employer brand.
Your employer brand is inextricably linked to your professional brand. But they’re different things. A brand is how people perceive you. So, Google’s employer brand for example, you’ll tell me is full of googliness.
With slides from the top balcony down the to ball pit, the cafeteria with free food is just next to the sleep pods, take a right at the tech vending machine.
But only because they make a lot of noise about it. They even collared Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn for movie about it.
Can you do that? Probably not (please don’t).
But, anyone that knows you, has an opinion about you. Meaning you do have a brand. So it’s probably worth defining what that brand says about you.
Much like introducing a spouse to your family for the first time, you need to say the right things in branding. Lest either party gets the wrong impression. Now, your family is similar to a lot of other families. You might even be identical to some. Does that mean they’re the same? Obviously not.
And the same could be said of your employer brand.
A lot of agencies will use the same descriptions as everyone else in the industry. Which is perhaps the biggest disadvantage you could give yourself in defining your brand.
Buzzwords are just that. Words that offer nothing, but seem like they do.
So, don’t describe your commission structure as ‘uncapped’. Yes, we get it, you pay uncapped commission. So does pretty much every single business in recruitment. And they have done since the beginning of recruitment.
When I say that, I mean publish it. Clearly. In writing. So a Recruiter can, literally, work out what their bank balance will look like in their new home. Recruitment’s a meritocratic job, so tell them what the merit is. As a tip, your competitors already know what your commission structure is. So don’t be bashful. I could call up a Rec 2 Rec in your city right now, and find it out.
Equally, yours isn’t the best.
It’s not ‘industry leading’, nor is it ‘best in class’. There are businesses out there offering 60% commission on a flat rate. There are companies offering higher than this if you don’t want a salary. So don’t go down that path.
Your commission scheme isn’t the only reason someone will join your company.
If it was, the businesses paying the best would have the largest companies. But they don’t.
This goes for anything else you describe as ‘the best’. Including your learning and development programme, incentives, referral scheme, infrastructure, etc. You’re also probably not market leaders, or the fastest growing recruitment company in the UK.
What you do by saying these things is offer nothing tangible about your business, while sounding like every other recruitment company going. I know it sounds good. But if you can’t quantify something as ‘industry leading’ then it’s not.
OK, so now the bad stuff’s been dealt with, let’s move on to how you can change it.
The way to get around using the fluffy nonsense above is to tell your story. It’s different to everyone else’s. So telling this story will mean you’ll sound different.
Make sure you include the past. And the present. The future. The incentives you offer. The commission structure. The team culture. The individuals’ stories. The infrastructure. How you work. The management style. Your specialisms. How you let your hair down. Your benefits package. Your networking activities. Yes, mention the table tennis table.
And the name of your office dog. Get a photo of the little rascal in there too.
There’s no shortage of things to talk about in your business. So you never need to use the same sound bites as everyone else.
Imagine, if you will, being in a pub, with a good friend. You’ve just sat down with a nice pint and your pal turns to you and says…
“So, tell me about this business of yours. Why would anyone work there?”
Now, before you say you wouldn’t be chatting shop outside the office, you’re in recruitment, so I know you do.
And the way you answer your mate’s question is exactly how you should talk about your employer brand on social media. In exactly the same language. Remember, you’re not trying to win business or impress candidates here. You’re trying to be human. Just be yourself.
People read things easiest when it’s the same kind of language they use in real life. So using colloquial language will help. Don’t be formal. You’d never send an email to a colleague using formal language. Therefore why talk about your employer brand in that way?
The more personable and colloquial you are, the more character will come out. People like characters. They don’t like being overly formal.
“Whether they’re obsessed with art, film, music, literature, fine food or fashion, everyone at NU Creative Talent is a Creative at heart. Our interests naturally feed into the passion we feel for the Creative and Marketing sectors… so we’re a cultured bunch, who also happen to be damn fine at recruitment, too.”
This probably isn’t something you’d send to a client.
But, equally, if your client saw this, it would be positive. They’d know you were people. They’d know you loved being creative. And they’d assume the culture you worked in was probably quite cool.
You can’t play in the top division if you’re not promoted more than anyone else. True in sports. More true in recruitment.
When you’re looking at promoting your employer brand, the first thing I want to point out is this… ultimately your clients don’t care. Neither do your candidates.
“Oh, you’re off to Ibiza? Great. Oh, your top biller put up £800k this year? You’re doing a fun run? You’ve got an office dog? All sounds great… but have you got that CV across yet?”
The only thing relevant to these people is how you fill their jobs or represent them to the market.
There used to be an attitude which assumed, if you were deemed to be ‘work hard/play hard’ you’ll be in the office 14 hours a day and will therefore be the partner your client deserves.
That’s probably changed now. Client’s don’t want overworked, knackered drones hammering them with poor quality cold calls.
They want real life, human people. Who understand them.
But how ever much attention you think they’ll take, you need to promote your employer brand. A lot.
If you can start drip feeding your employer brand into people’s lives on social media, they’ll start to know about you. On your terms. They might not join you tomorrow. Or the day after. But they’ll have an opinion of you. You’ll capture their attention for the things you’re doing. And, presuming you’re in charge of the majority of this branding, it’ll be positive stuff.
There’s no replacement for treating your staff well of course. Word of mouth is still one of the most crucial avenues for marketing. But you’re missing a trick if you’re not telling a new story about your business on a weekly basis. We tell all of our partners to share their Hunted profile regularly.
If you share something that looks aesthetically bland, without any interesting copy, or no story, flicking out buzzwords… no one’s going to click it.
Technology Recruitment Consultant at Pioneer Search
Tele sales Agent at Recruits Management Consultancy
Recruitment Consultant (Multiple roles) at MRJ Recruitment
Principal Consultant – Interim Finance at Cobalt Recruitment