Branding and Recruitment – Marketingweb Article October 2007

 In Press Releases


The recruitment game is changing as HR practitioners align their jobs with corporate branding, says Mark Gray of marketing and human resources firm Graylink.

Every year companies spend millions of rands building their corporate brands and marketing themselves as leaders in their respective industries. This is often in a bid to not only attract business but also to recruit and retain good talent.

However, Mark Gray, chief executive of marketing and human resources firm Graylink, says most of them fail because they are either “fishing” for candidates in the wrong waters or are using the wrong bait.

“HR is tasked with a lot of things including recruiting good talent. However, over the last years we have seen a lot of audience fragmentation caused by technology and there is a great mismatch with the type of medium HR is using to ones that consumers are reading,” says Gray.

Added to this, he says, is the lack of synergy between companies’ human resource (HR) and marketing divisions, and the former’s failure to be more imaginative and innovative in its recruitment process.

“A common misconception among HR managers is that companies need to reach as many candidates as possible. But, in fact, less is more. Using the most appropriate channels and devices to get the right message across to the right audience can substantially increase a company’s hit rate.”

He says as the media becomes more fragmented, media planning has become more complex and it is difficult to speak to the right candidates using traditional broadsheet advertising.

Developing the bait

The image that a company portrays about itself and what it stands for plays an essential role in the type of candidates it attracts or fails to attract.

However, says Gray, a lot of companies do not know how they are perceived in the marketplace, whether it’s negative or positive, or who their target audience is. They do not know what message their target audience is most likely to be receptive to.

In order to catch the right fish, companies need to first understand the lifestyle and habits of their potential recruits –where they are, the media they use and consume, what networks they use, and so forth. Through knowing and understanding this, they are able to target them, using the right type of message and channels.

“The new group of Generation X and Millennial job seekers, also known as Generation Y (because they never stop questioning the status quo), is a very different breed from the Baby Boomers who have dominated the workplace until now. Disenchanted by the old paradigm of employee loyalty due to consistent downsizing, rightsizing and retrenchments, they are not easily attracted and retained. According to the US Department of Labour and their ‘Employee tenure in 2006’ report, the average 25-34 year old employee keeps their current job for only 2.9 years.”

Gray points out that unlike the Baby Boomers who would have given almost anything for a top-paying spot at a big-name firm, the Generation Xers and Millennials are more interested in what companies can do for them to help them lead a more purposeful and meaningful life.

Citing work that Graylink recently did for a private clinic on a drive to recruit more nurses, Gray says they first conducted lifestyle and habits research to find out what nurses read, like and look for in an employer. He says the result revealed that time is a big issue for the health workers who often work long and odd hours. This resulted in them building a message around the issue of time and the employer value proposition.

“The value proposition to potential recruits, just like with any marketing, is the first impression the company makes,” he points out.

Gray says to stay in the game, HR managers need to develop a level of comfort with technology and marketing practices. One way of up-skilling fast is to hire consultants to integrate a new generation of more internet-savvy HR practitioners into the organisation.

“One thing is clear. The basic approach to recruitment is changing. HR managers are going to have to adapt if they want to attract, retain and motivate the next generation of workers,” he concludes.

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