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Can we attract talent in the same way we attract customers?

My name is Lena Berlin Stålhammar, and I have worked in Schibsted for soon-to-be 10 years in different positions connected to talent attraction and acquisition. Today I work as Director of Employer Branding and Talent Programs.

One thing I’ve learned is that talent attraction needs to be prioritized and seen as a long-term investment, which is not always the case. So what if we think about talents the same way we think about customers, would business leaders look at this differently then?

A customer journey is complex, looks different for different customer segments, and depends on a solid corporate brand. Everyone knows it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with new prospects, maintain a customer base and work with customer care. And we also know that it takes marketing efforts to succeed. Every organisation with a product or service to sell has a marketing function and a dedicated budget. That is just a given!

Let’s have the same mindset regarding talent attraction. Because the way I see it, we are also selling a product. Our product is our employer brand, and our customers are the talents. The employer brand (just like a corporate brand) is something that every organisation has, regardless of if you communicate about it or not. It’s the reputation you have as an employer in the talent market. And then we have employer branding, which is about showcasing and visualising the employer brand to talents; it’s the process of promotion and marketing. When you look at it like that, it makes sense to invest time and money in Employer Branding. 

I know what you’re thinking, “Where do we start?” So, first, we need to identify who we want to attract. Who our customers are. Out of that, our communication and content need to be adjusted and targeted to that talent group. What do they want to know about us, and what is essential for them in a future employer as we can deliver on? The next step is identifying where we can reach and engage with them, on what social platforms they are, relevant conferences, universities, forums, networks, etc. 

Now the hard work begins; we have a target group and the right platforms, but how do we cut through all the noise in the talent market? Step one is to build awareness, make us visible and let them know we exist. And when we have their attention, we must engage with them. We need to keep them warm and continuously interact with them to “sell” the product of us as an employer of choice, which is done through relevant and engaging content and activities. And last but not least, the secret weapon that removes the clouds from the clear sky: brand ambassadors.

In the same way we lurk, dig, read reviews, ask our network, and research new restaurants, hotels, products, and services, we do the same when considering joining a new employer. Recommendations and endorsements are mega important, if not business critical. Therefore, authentic stories from employees are worth a thousand paid marketing campaigns. So one of the most crucial keys to success is our employees. We are all important ambassadors to tell and share the employee experience and give the employee’s perspective on workplace culture. Everyone can do something, and we want the same thing – to have the most skilled and competent colleagues on the market, right?