How to Turn Your Talent Brand into a Powerful Recruiting Tool

August 17, 2017

When Maria Guinane joined LinkedIn as the head of talent acquisition for EMEA, she realized that one simple change in her team’s priorities can create a considerable impact on the business. That change was talent brand – identifying it, building it, and promoting it across Europe to attract specific talent.

As a company headquartered in North America, LinkedIn was facing a lot of competition recruiting in Europe and especially Germany. And according to Maria, the company couldn’t just sit around and wait for talent to walk through the door. It had to proactively reach out to specific highly sought-after talent pools and be able to tell a compelling and authentic story about what it’s like to work at LinkedIn.

To hear how Maria and her team distilled and promoted the LinkedIn talent brand in EMEA and how you can go about it as well (no matter the company size), check out this week’s episode of Talent on Tap with Brendan Browne:

Here are some of the key tips Maria shared:

1. Understand which talent gaps you need to fill to help your company grow

The first step for Maria’s (or any team) was figuring out the kind of candidates the company needs to attract.

“You need to understand where the business is going,” Maria advises. “Where does your organization want to grow to?”

For example, knowing that your company needs double its sales over the next year, makes it clear that you need to focus on finding impressive sales reps. You can then use data (like LinkedIn talent pools) to size up the market and better understand the availability of talent in a particular region.

This will help you start thinking about how to strategically attract and engage with this audience. You might discover, for example, that there aren’t many qualified people where your head office is located, leading you to set your sights on candidates from other locations with a campaign designed to show them why they should make the move.

2. Run focus groups (or do research) to learn what your prospects want to hear from you

One of the crucial moments in shaping up a talent brand strategy is understanding what your prospects care about and want to know. There are many ways to do that though publicly available data, but Maria and her team went a step further and ran a focus group.  

They asked the focus group what information would help them decide whether or not to apply for a job at the company. It turns out that keeping it simple was the key:

“People just want to hear what it’s like to work here. We noticed that people want to hear and see social events; they want to see pictures of people and teams. They want to see the manager in pictures. And content they want to see is, what is the opportunity for me to grow and learn in your organization?” Maria shares.

Asking what people want is the easiest and most effective way to have smarter conversations with candidates, driven by a clear understanding of their motivations and a focus on what your company can do for their careers.

3. Create and share content on social media and on your company’s blog

Once you know what you want to say to candidates, you just have to put it to (virtual) paper and share it with them. And to do that, you Maria says you don’t need a budget or a dedicated content writer. Just good ideas and access to your company’s social media channels.

For example, Maria’s team interviews new hires and asks them about their recruiting experience or how they are settling in the Dublin office. Then they just snap a photo of the new employee, quickly write a short article and post it on their blog.

The next big step is sharing out the content with employees and prospects:

“We use Elevate as a publishing platform [to make these posts visible to our employees and urge them to share]. So we share content out with our target audience; we also partner with the business to do the same.”

Snapping a photo at your company volunteer event or of a team member’s birthday cake, for example, takes just seconds to share on the company’s social media, but gives candidates an enticing glimpse into your unique culture.

According to data from the Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate report, nearly half (49%) of job seekers surveyed said they follow companies on social media to stay aware of potential positions. Among millennials, that number is even higher (57%), so if your company doesn’t have a solid presence, you’re missing out on a vast potential audience. If you’re not sure how to approach your company’s social media, take a look at our post on simple strategies to weave it into your recruiting plan.

4. Turn every employee into a talent scout, but make sure that they are conveying a consistent message

Once Maria and her team had content to share, they were counting on employees to re-share and extend its reach, becoming recruiters of sorts.

“Partner with the business,” Maria advises. “Turn your business into talent scouts. Coach them on how they can show up on the platform, how they can share content, and give them the narrative. Turn your whole company into a talent acquisition organization, so they’re helping you bring talent in.”

Make sure that employees understand the important messages your company is trying to get through and encourage them to weave those through in their posts.

“Whatever content you’re sharing, it should include key messages,” Maria says. This is relevant for content shared by you, your coworker in the next cubicle, the person who steals your yoghurt from the break room fridge, your manager, and so on. And that requires coaching.

As someone who moved across continents for a role, Maria knows from personal experience that candidates may look at employees profiles to see what they say about the company.

“We are always coaching our people [on how visible their LinkedIn profiles are], to make them very aware that when people are applying for opportunities, especially when they’re moving, they’re going to research, and they will research your profile to see, are you what the TA team are telling you are.”

To encourage a unified talent brand that all employees are excited to share, be sure to ask for feedback and collaborate to make sure everyone’s on the same page. After all, talent brand is a group effort.

5. Measure the ROI of your talent brand efforts, but don’t let it be a deal breaker

Savvy teams want to make sure they measure the ROI of their efforts, especially if they are asking the business to invest money. In fact, that’s the stage where most talent brand strategies get stuck and die.

Maria and her team decided to run a small talent brand test and then see if they can tie it back to ROI. They targeted specific talent pool of sales people with branding messages and then tracked if the number of social media followers increased, if there was a spike in their InMail response rates and the number of hires they made.

They ended up seeing good initial results and this encouraged the business to invest further into these campaigns.

Last thoughts

Finally, don’t let your mistakes hold you back – talent branding is more of an art than a science.

“To be honest, there’s going to be mistakes,” Maria admits. “But you have to start somewhere. Everyone’s got a talent brand, whether you like it or not, but you need to take some risks. And sometimes it might not work, and sometimes it will, but as long as we get the right messaging, that will help.”

Mistakes happen, even to seasoned TA and HR professionals, as Brandon and Pat Wadors revealed in the last episode of Talent on Tap. Don’t let the fear of mistakes hold you back—that talent gap won’t fill itself, and you’ll find even the simplest improvements to your talent brand will go a long way. 

* Original feature image here

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