Brand Building Tactics For Tight Budgets

As competition for top talent continues to tighten in 2016, nearly every industry has found itself in a candidate’s market. The days of cherry picking are a distant memory. And all of us – HR acquisition managers and agency recruiters, alike – have been forced to accept a new recruiting reality: continuous innovation.

Today’s successful recruiters are willing to constantly refocus our strategies, sharpen our skills, re-think old tactics and experiment with new ones. We’re also adapting our approach to fit the needs of today’s emerging new talent. Millennials not only have information and social media at their fingertips, they live fully immersed in the technology. Snapchat, Instagram, texting, Googling, emailing are only a sliver of the communication and research apps that support – and help shape – the interests of today’s brightest, best connected and most informed candidates.

All of this easy access to information, coupled with the sheer volume of open positions in today’s market, has caused a substantial shift in candidate expectations. They’re not just considering the job you’ve posted. They’re evaluating you, the employer. What is your vision? What is your performance track record? How is your stock performing? What are your organizational values? What’s the culture like? What are the promotional opportunities? How generous and innovative is your benefits package? What are your current employees saying about you on Glassdoor.com, on social media, and within the walls of your own building?

In other words, as recruiters, we are no longer in the business of finding the right candidate for each job as it comes along. Rather, we are responsible for cultivating multiple, fluid talent pools by generating long term interest in the hiring organization. In three words: we are marketers.

At SkyWater, we partner with Fortune 100, Fortune 500 and emerging companies to help them find, attract, hire and retain top talent. We have identified the four best practices in recruitment marketing that deliver the greatest ROI.

1. Define your employer brand

According to a recent LinkedIn Talent Solutions study, nearly 60% of employer survey respondents said they are investing more in their employer brand in 2016 than in the previous year. It’s a wise investment. You can’t really market your organization until you first define your brand. If budgets are tight (or nonexistent) start small and build your case for a more robust budget with some early success. Pull together a team of your best recruiters and most successful hiring managers and tackle these questions:

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  • Who is your ideal candidate? (Beyond educational background and qualifications for specific jobs, think more about work style, work values, key motivators, workplace and benefits preferences, etc.)
  • What is your stated organizational vision – and how does that translate to your vision and values as a workplace?
  • Who is your greatest competition for your candidates? How are they defining their employer brand?

2. Enlist the help of your marketing department

As a human resources professional you have a million others things on your plate. And it’s unlikely that you were hired for your marketing background. But, down the hall, you have access to brand, advertising, digital marketing and communication specialists. If you don’t have a tight working relationship now, build one and start collaborating. Both sides will benefit. They can help you steer clear of messages that might contradict the overall organizational brand. More helpfully, they can assist you in using the best tactics to get your message delivered to your target candidates. Marketing professionals know how to create high quality content, tailored to candidates and customized to platforms such as blogs and social media, in formats from short text to full articles, to video and podcasts.

3. Engage, celebrate and recognize current employees

Who knows better about your organization’s greatest assets than your current employees? Who is better equipped to tell that story? The people who are there, happy, and intending to stay. Find them. Talk to them. Listen to their stories and incorporate them in your recruiting message. This not only helps you create a more solid, unique and authentic external messages for future recruits. It gives your retention efforts a serious boost internally. High performers stay where they feel heard, appreciated and recognized. They stick even better when they see their suggestions being used and shared.

4. Measure your results; use them to enlist greater investment

If you’re serious about wanting a bigger recruitment marketing budget in the future, build the case now with facts and anecdotes. This starts with your HR director. You’ll also need your CEO or other senior executives on board. This, too, is where your partnership with marketing comes in handy. They take on these battles –- and win them –- regularly. Adjust expectations around KPIs to demonstrate long term ROI.

In other words, while your cost of hire may not go down, you need to show how  employee retention is expected to increase, while the overall quality of hire will improve as a result of marketing a strong and attractive employer brand.

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