Differentiating your organization from others in the eye of the candidate is becoming our challenge as recruiters. It is increasingly difficult to recruit solely on the basis of salary or benefits or even on the merits of a particular job.
With everyone offering almost the same packages, tweaked and customized as they are, how can an organization gain a competitive advantage in recruiting? What tools or techniques can recruiters use that don’t simply rely on salaries and benefits?
One of the lessons of the past decade is that tangible things such as salary, the size of the office, or the amount of technology you will get as an employee are becoming less important than the experience and engagement they will find once they are at work. Candidates are more focused today on the purpose and nature of their work than they are on these other attributes. And this is perhaps even more obvious in Generation Y and Z candidates.
Even outside of work and recruiting we can see where experience is more important than the product. Starbucks, for example, doesn’t sell just coffee; it actually sells an “experience” built around a cup of coffee. A customer is attracted to Starbucks because it has created an environment designed for casual conversation, for quiet reading, or for meeting a friend. You buy a muffin or a roll, a cup of cappuccino or espresso, or just plain old coffee. You select a grande or a venti, not just a small or a large. And you gladly pay a premium for the coffee.
While every generation likes to have fun and be entertained, it is an expectation of Generations Y and Z. Work should be fun, engaging, flexible, and meaningful. They want to work for firms where people work hard but have a good time doing it. Recruiters need to find ways to make the recruiting experience more engaging, simpler and more fun.
Making recruiting fun
For most of us, looking for a job and interviewing is confusing, stressful, and painfully slow.
Good recruiters will transform their career sites into ones that showcase the fun aspects of the workplace. Perhaps they will use a chatbot to answer questions and direct candidates to the right positions. These sites offer tours done in a fun and interesting way. They have employees talk about what they do every day and who they interact with. Southwest Airlines uses humor well and knows how to entertain passengers on their flights and their prospective employees. Disney is also a master at this. People remember humorous experiences and continue to have positive thoughts about the provider.
Making recruiting educational
By providing learning experiences, free seminars, on-site classes, or other events, you create a sense of connection and begin a tie-in to your organization. Candidates absorb information and gain insights into the culture and working environment of the firm simply by attending a class or other on-site activity. This can be an excellent way to attract hard-to-find candidates and show how your company is different than another one in a similar industry.
Make recruiting creative
Get candidates involved in doing something different and totally absorbing. Computer games are a form of escapist experience. Anyone who has played a computer game knows how easy it is to become completely absorbed with the unfolding drama. Recruiters can create an activity that involves candidates intensely in their organization or with people from the organization. Some companies use outdoor team building activities to create an experience such as this, but one could also develop an interactive Internet-based tour of the company that requires candidates to make choices and get involved. Recruiters can gain a much better understanding of what motivates and interests candidates by tracking what choices they make. But, while they are involved in the experience, they are learning about your firm’s culture and people – almost without realizing it.
Make recruiting sensual
Appeal to the senses. This is the area that Starbucks has mastered. Coffee, music, friends, smells, and colors are blended into an esthetic experience that we all find enjoyable. Recruiters can use the corporate environment as an important recruiting tool. If your firm has nice lawns, modern and spacious buildings, a nice cafeteria, a gym, or a day-care center you can tailor a tour that appeals to the aesthetic side of a candidate and showcase the environment. Google, Facebook, and many other organizations have created such environments and they are, in themselves, differentiators.
The bottom line is simple. It takes more than a good offer, a good salary, and a good job to attract candidates and get them to say yes. Successful recruiters will increasingly need to use the tools of good marketers and learn from the lessons of the business world. Creating experiences is an inexpensive way to differentiate your company and improve your recruiting success.