NP Group Blog

SME Recruitment: Moving From Good To Great – Part 2

Posted by Jason Collins on Jul 3, 2018 12:52:05 PM
Jason Collins

Following on from my previous blog (link) which broke down the recruitment process and explained Candidate Attraction I wanted to share with you my tips for optimising your Brand Recognition.

Firstly, why bother with employer branding? HRB states that employer branding is essential to attract, engage and retain the right talent. Furthermore, they believe that without this an organisation is unlikely to achieve their business objective. Compelling stuff…

In my previous blog, I spoke about how brand recognition infiltrates most elements of the recruitment process, but is particularly present during candidate sourcing, HR screening and candidate interviews. Whether you’re referring to your external awareness as brand recognition or employer branding, it’s the same thing and you need to get it right. It’s all about promoting your organisation as an employer of choice to a specific target group, which in turn helps you attract and recruit the best talent.

So, creating your external brand requires the pre-work of creating specific target personas for your recruitment campaign. It’s essential you do this – everyone is different and providing personalised messages for individuals is becoming more and more common place in the world we operate in. However, you decide to target (by geography, age, role etc.) this can help you disseminate mass communications in a more tailored way to your target market. WE see this kind of marketing communications in all kinds of business propositions – from network operators targeting you based on where you live to supermarkets analysing your spending habits and sending specific coupons based on this insight. So why not replicate the success we’re seeing elsewhere in recruitment? It seems like a sensible option to me!

However, not all SMEs can afford to invest in the highly complex data infrastructure those in my examples have. That’s why starting at the basic level of creating target personas when recruiting is essential. It’s your road in to low-level personalisation which can really make a difference. If you’re looking for data scientists they will want to know different things about your brand compared to those looking to relocate. It’s two different audiences and you need to cater for both.

SME Recruitment_ Moving From Good To Great – Part 2

So, once you’ve got these target personas it’s time to define your external brand and how you’re going to position yourself. First of all you need to ask yourself a couple of simple questions:

  1. What is the environment you are offering to employees?
  2. What is your brand personality?
  3. How do you want employees to feel?

This will help define what you want to be known for in your target market. It’s important here to choose where you can be distinctively great and concentrate on those areas. You don’t want to be another “me too” employer. If there’s something you do differently or offer which others don’t should about it. The most important question of all to answer is “What makes our organisations culture and employment different from others?” It will take time to develop the perfect employer brand ad it will require the collaboration of many in the organisation including your leaders. So it’s important to get everyone involved from the outset and as you would with a business proposition to a new client, figure out your USP and build everything else up around that.

Once you have defined your employer value proposition you need to think about how you are going to communicate that to the market place you’re targeting. I spoke previously about the different methods of candidate sourcing (again dependant on your target audience), but this section is more about the content included in the communications when sourcing potential candidates. It’s the age old saying: Content Is King. And I don’t think this statement can be underestimated. It may be an old saying, but it’s still relevant!

One key technique to use here is storytelling. It’s a technique that you can use in any communication – from the job advert you post on job boards, your career site and company website. Having that consistency across all of your channels will help candidates build up a picture of what you’re like as an employer and if you have your employer value proposition right then you’re sure to start attracting the right talent for you. All of these communication types are a great opportunity to highlight your differentiator – whatever that might be. It could be your culture, benefits, events or flexible working. You want to get potential candidates excited at this point, and a great way to do this is through case studies. Have videos and pictures in your communications highlighting your key differentiator or build up your profile on Glassdoor with reviews.

Now to move on to some examples of good brand recognition and great brand recognition.

Maria and Mike, a shop providing space for local artists were expanding their team. They had 5 different areas of their business which resulted in 5 different logos across their website, social media, business cards and signage. This caused huge confusion in who candidates were applying to work for and inconsistencies between the company’s values and vision. Having this kind of confusion in a small company dilutes what you stand for. Stick to having one clear brand and value proposition. Sub-brands are always difficult to manage, and for an SME with limited resources it’s going to become unmanageable to give them all the time and attention they deserve very quickly.

Virgin Media had an extremely low Net Promoter Score and identified huge inefficiencies in their recruitment process. Candidates applying to jobs were unhappy the process was taking too long, they weren’t being informed and were confused by the process. This meant Virgin Media were losing out on top talent during the recruitment process and leaving a negative impress in with candidates, ultimately impacting their brand more widely as a business. So, they identified what their employer brand should convey and consistently applied the messaging and tone of voice across their communication channels. This led to Virgin Media being rated on of the best employers in the UK by LinkedIn and reduced the number of subscriptions being cancelled. I think it’s clear to see recruitment shouldn’t be in a silo from the rest of the business – getting it wrong can have a real impact!


So, what can you do today? Here are three short and concise ideas:

  1. Sharpen your employer brand internally – your existing workforce need to live and breath your EVP. As mentioned earlier, you need a number of people in the organisation involved in defining or re-positioning your EVP so this can be a great way to get the ball rolling.
  2. Update your website regularly and push open jobs and content out through your network frequently – build a network of brand ambassadors who regularly contribute content.
  3. Shout about what you do! Make sure you’re known in the market. Once you’ve found your USP don’t be shy to share it.
  4. Reach out to me. As an experienced RPO Director, I have a wealth of experience in working with organisations to optimise their employer brand. I can share with you stories of success and failure, and once I understand your position I can make recommendations for quick wins and long-term action.


Topics: Recruitment