Publishing a job advertisement is no longer enough to recruit the best talent. Nowadays people want a workplace with the right values and where they can develop professionally. This means that the candidate experience is becoming increasingly important. Tia Heimala, recruitment manager at consultancy Accenture, explains how recruitment has changed over the years and how companies can make themselves more attractive to potential candidates.

In the past, almost every vacancy would be filled with hundreds of applications and the employer could choose the employee they wanted without the recruiting company having to do much to impress the candidate.

Today, the situation is different - the employer's market that prevailed for years has been replaced by a jobseeker's market. If a vacancy is difficult to fill, the recruitment process is too many steps or takes too long, the best talent has already been recruited elsewhere. The recruiting company must also be able to communicate to its target group how the position could support the professional development of the talent. If the employer's added value is not communicated to the potential candidate, cooperation is unlikely to happen.

–Between 2008 and 2012, there was no mention of candidate-driven recruitment or employer image. It was all about getting the job done. In 2012, some companies did have Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, but few were as prominent as they are today. It was only in 2015 that we started to think more about employer image and the applicant-driven nature of the recruitment process, says Heimala.

Changing the Recruitment Market

Tia Heimala worked at Accenture from 2008 to 2020, so she has seen the transformation of recruitment that has taken place along the way. Although the change is big, she says not all companies have woken up to it.

–Many companies are stuck in the same recruitment practices of 10 years ago. Back then, the employer's market still prevailed and simply posting a job advertisement was enough to attract potential candidates. Today, competition for the best talent is fierce, which means that more effort has to be put into the recruitment process and employer image.

Indeed, more and more companies are finding themselves in a situation where the problem is not one of sales and customer acquisition, but one of skills shortages.

–It is therefore important that companies are aware that recruitment has changed, and that they are also changing their own approach to be more candidate-driven and invest in their employer image.

Making the Recruitment Process More Candidate-Driven

What kind of talent does your company need?

How can a company looking for new talent then go about making its own recruitment process more applicant-driven?

–The company needs to genuinely know its target group and the recruitment team needs to know what kind of talent the company is looking for. Knowing your target group makes it easier to find out where they are and how to reach them, says Heimala.

A good way to find out more about the target group you want is to ask them directly, says Heimala. This way you get direct information without intermediaries.

–If a company is looking to recruit more nurses, it makes sense to talk to the nurses who are currently working for the company. Ask them what they value about their job, what things are good, what makes them stay and what things need to change.

Heimala points out that it is also important to have an active discussion, as people's opinions change over time. Young people tend to appreciate spending time with colleagues and a relaxed atmosphere, while older people tend to want flexibility in combining work and family life.

What is your employee promise and what added value can you offer the applicant?

Once a company knows what kind of talent it needs, it's time to think about what added value the employer can offer those people.

–If the company's target group is top professionals in their field, the workplace's pool tables, nice work culture or Friday after-work activities are less important. They are more interested in how they can develop professionally and advance their careers in the workplace.

To get a realistic picture of the added value a company can bring, another good way is to reach out to current staff and ask their opinion.

–When considering what exactly our company can offer to the top talent we need, it is worth talking to staff, going through staff surveys, and taking additional questionnaires about our company culture. It's important to find out what's true within the organisation, not just from an ivory tower.

You can also use an external partner to help you conduct an employer image survey. It helps the company to find out what kind of perceptions its own target group has of the company as an employer, says Heimala.

It is crucial for employer image and trustworthiness that management not only relies on their own image, but also involves employees.

–If a company outwardly says it is flexible, but in reality, working hours are controlled, it is a terrible situation for the applicant. That's why management should never rely solely on their own opinion or brand book, but should also ask the staff for their opinion and, if necessary, adapt their actions in the desired direction.

How And Where to Communicate to Your Target Group?

Once the target group and the added value that the company offers are clear, it is time to consider how to communicate the added value to the defined target group. All communication needs to be designed to reach the right professionals and deliver added value to them.

–If recruitment marketing and communication is non-existent or does not convey the added value of the company, it is unlikely that the desired talent will be reached and attracted. A good way to add value could be a podcast that highlights the company's values, culture and industry knowledge. This would show interested professionals that the company has something to offer them.

Podcasts, articles, videos, other content production and events also help to develop the company's employer image, brand and recognition, which will help to attract people to the company as a place to work.

–Experts can write articles and produce videos on topics that are of interest to the target group that the organisation wants to reach with its communications. Making podcasts is also a good way to showcase expertise and company culture.

–To sum up, when a company knows its target group, the added value it brings them and how and where to communicate that value, it is already in a strong position, Heimala sums up.

Jobilla has been working for years on recruitment advertising and recruitment development in cooperation with Tia. Book an appointment for a free consultation and together we will see how we can help you develop your company's employer image and recruitment.

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