Lisa Cruz has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, personnel resources and crisis communications, with a focus on the construction industry. She owns Red Shoes Inc., a
full-service communications, marketing and public relations agency. Cruz is also known as an expert in crisis communications. Contact Cruz at 920-574-3253 or visit redshoesinc.com.
To be brutally honest: Prospective employees don’t need you. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts construction jobs will grow 12 percent by 2026, the nation’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent or less. And you’ve likely heard stories about new employees not showing up for their first day of work, quitting after 2 weeks on the job, or simply biding their time, underperforming until they find a more desirable job. There could also be some other factors at play, but the current job market underscores their confidence.
It’s time to throw out the preconceived notion that it’s an honor to work for your company and everyone should want a position there. Those days are over—at least for now. This market is in a war over talent, the likes of which the industry hasn’t seen for years. What remains are panicked employers who suddenly realize they have done a poor job of promoting their companies as desirable places to work. For the first time ever, many are experiencing the difficulties of hiring, which leaves them scratching their heads and wondering what to do next.
From the Inside Out
Some business owners have begun combatting this labor problem by marketing their organization as an employer of choice, but their message doesn’t match what’s actually happening inside their walls. People talk. Whether it’s on social media platforms or in person, word-of-mouth recommendations are more important than ever when it comes to finding your next hire.
Prospective employees are paying less attention to your pitch than they are to their families, friends and peers, so you need to make sure whatever they’re hearing from others is positive. In fact, according to a 2012 study from Corporate Responsibility Magazine and Allegis Group Services, 69 percent of job seekers would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they desperately needed it due to unemployment.
Start with the inside out method, or rather, begin with what’s right under your nose—your current employees, company culture and programs—and then work your way out to your target audiences—in this case, prospective employees. You may need to begin with your mission, vision and values that serve as the foundation for your company. Just as you wouldn’t build a building without a foundation or put up shoddy framework, the same rules apply when it comes to building your company. The proper structures must be in place to withstand hardships and continue to grow.
Reenergizing or developing these elements is an excellent starting point to engage with employees and achieve alignment. However, a mission, vision and values are more than words. There should be an active, practical plan in place, helping all employees to live out your mission. At the forefront, that plan should include identifying or improving opportunities to engage through communication and following through on responding (both verbally and in action) to employee feedback. Affectively, this will help to ensure your employees are influencing their friends and families by sharing the positive attributes of your company with others.
This is also the time to figure out if any team members aren’t currently living up to those values and make any necessary staff changes. Over and over again, executives are being asked to leave due to complaints from employees regarding inappropriate behavior. Undoubtedly, those complaints are heard beyond the four walls of the organization, feeding word-of-mouth reviews and perceptions of the company. If something similar happens within your company, and you don’t have the right team in place internally, in addition to hurting the victim(s), these accusations hurt your chances of hiring top talent. The reputation of your company is at stake, and not just from a recruitment standpoint; this type of scenario will also impact your bottom line.
From the Outside In
Once you align the company internally, you can then take a look at your outward-focus strategy. When it comes to recruitment, the values you have established are the parameters of the types of people you want to hire. Company values should drive the interview questions so that you can begin figuring out whether the candidate will make a good fit.
For example, if one of your values pertains to sustainability, and the person you interview mentions their habit of littering, this is a good indicator that the person might be the wrong fit. While this example is extreme, you get the point. It’s all about finding the right people for your company.
Today more than ever, human resources and marketing should be working hand in hand. They need each other, and the business needs them to work together to discover more targeted ways of finding future employees who align with the company’s values. Get started by ensuring all processes and communication channels are in working order.
Keep in mind that your hiring gateway is often the prospect’s first impression of your company—whether that’s an online application, a social media ad or another tool. This impression needs to be a great one. Imagine walking into a new restaurant where employees make it difficult for you to order and then don’t follow up with you during your meal. Are you likely to visit this establishment again? Probably not. The same rules apply for an online experience. What you do or don’t do offers an impression of how you might treat employees.
To start, your website should have a landing page dedicated solely to talent recruitment. This page is often labeled as a “careers” tab on many corporate websites. Do you have a clean and simple online process in place that is easy for the candidate to use and understand? Are you following up with candidates in a timely manner, even if they aren’t the right fit?
According to CareerBuilder’s 2017 Candidate Experience Study, 86 percent of job candidates believe employers should treat candidates with the same respect they’d give current employees, but only 49 percent of them report that the employers they have encountered did so. Marketers cannot bear all the weight. No matter how good the branding, if the application experience and process fall flat, employers risk losing a candidate. Applying for a position should be a seamless and positive experience.
Typically, companies have employees in place who sing the praises of the company and the work they do. Engage these company cheerleaders to support your talent recruitment efforts by sharing their story of why they chose your company and what their job means to them. Peer-to-peer marketing and communications is a powerful tool when it comes to recruitment. Utilizing brief testimonial video spots, features about star employees, and blogs written by employees are a few of the ways you can invite brand ambassadors to tell their own personal stories in authentic ways.
Utilizing social media channels to highlight employees is another way for talent to see your company in a positive light. You can create a brand that draws people with the help of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. What is your company’s story? Let that be your guidepost to communications. Think about the founding passions, character and personal experiences of your company and weave those into explaining who you are. What are the narrative gems of your company that will give outsiders a peek inside? Convey these to your followers, who may be not only potential customers, but potential employees as well.
Talent recruitment can be overwhelming, but solidifying your employer brand, improving your candidate experience and collaborating with marketing colleagues will help your company stand out from its competitors in a truly positive way. This will ensure your company’s ability to boast talented, dedicated, honorable employees for years to come.