Article provided by Anna Gibbons, Head of Recruitment Client Marketing at I-COM.
With over 12 years’ experience in the sector Anna has a wealth of insight into the professional recruitment industry across the UK.
As all recruiters know, one of the biggest challenges faced is attracting and retaining talent in-house, which may be surprising to some as they are experts in hiring talent for their clients. With growth being a key objective for many recruitment businesses, the fact that they are struggling to increase and retain their headcount is causing a real barrier to achieving this.
Over the years, a number of reasons for this ongoing struggle have been identified, and quite often it is simply down to the fact that recruitment is not perceived as being a true profession; coupled with the issue that the sector still has quite a tarnished image as one of aggressive sales people with limited values and standards. Despite this, impressive inroads have been made to change these perceptions, with the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) leading the vanguard in promoting recruitment as a career choice, rather than just as a job. Yet there is still a long way to go.
Improving Brand Reputation Starts at the Top
With the new world of social transparency, recruitment businesses can ill afford to rely solely on recruitment advertising to build a positive employer or industry brand image. Employer reputations depend on the consistent values and vitality of their organisational cultures to create employee advocacy.
Ultimately, it is down to the recruitment businesses themselves to review their own employer brand and positioning in the marketplace, developing a unique employer proposition which will differentiate them. Again, recruiters can be very quick to advise their clients on employee attraction and retention strategies, but they often fail to practice what they preach. The employer brand of any business needs to be come from the top, and has to permeate throughout the business encompassing the values and culture. Then it is down to marketing to communicate it effectively to stakeholders, whereas previously the responsibility had sat with HR.
Establish your Employer Value Proposition
There are clearly a number of interpretations of what a strong employer brand looks like. But the key is being considerate of all of your stakeholders with the development of a unique and targeted employer value proposition (EVP) which will influence why talent would choose your recruitment business over your competition.
In order to achieve this differentiation, there are a number of steps which will help recruitment businesses attract and retain the talent they need:
- Carry out research with your key stakeholders to evaluate your current employer brand awareness and reputation
- Define your employer brand, identifying your distinctive strengths, and translate this into a clear and compelling EVP
- Be more proactive in using social media, building a more engaging employer brand reputation
- Ensure that your employees understand the value of a strong employer brand and its role in the success of the business, including the role they need to play in sustaining a consistent brand experience and reputation.
Whether it is HR or marketing that takes responsibility for your day-to-day employer brand, the onus stands with the CEO to advocate your recruitment brand regardless of the size of your business. In today’s market there is no room for complacency when it comes down to your reputation as both a recruiter and a employer; the recruitment market is huge and there is always another business that will be one step ahead of you. As part of your strategic planning it is critical that your employer branding is a focal point for you, and that your current team of employees are a part of that plan because, ultimately, retention and attraction work hand-in-hand.