There is a desperate shortage of staff. Organizations advertise themselves stupidly just to get candidates in. Yet that is difficult. Not surprising, because most organizations say the same thing. Marketing thinking helps to create a competitive advantage in the labor market and thus to recruit more and better staff than the competition.
Anyone who thinks recruitment marketing is all about posting vacancies and approaching people on LinkedIn is very wrong. Candidates have the freedom and luxury to choose who they want to work for due to the tight labor market. Many employers put energy and money into employer branding and agencies are more than happy to make an employer value proposition. However, recruiting staff does not really succeed.
It doesn’t matter to a candidate whether he chooses one or the other
There are too few people or too many vacancies, just how you want to see it. That fact is often felt by an entire industry. You hardly ever hear an employer say: my competitors are having a hard time finding staff, but they are rushing to our door. That that pain is felt collectively is one on one the result of employers who stuck in the middle to be. The messages from employers in a certain sector are similar. It makes no difference to a candidate whether he chooses one or the other.
For fun, take a look at the websites of the three major banks in the Netherlands. You can immediately see that it has been worked on by skilled people. And that a lot of money and effort has gone into making beautiful videos, in which employees are presented in a responsible diversity pallet that tell how great their work is (how authentic).
When you look at the message, you immediately see the uniformity. There is no competitive advantage. Job seekers are told in the propositions that whoever works at a bank makes the world a better place. Working at ABN AMRO means, as we read on their site, working on projects that matter. Work that impacts millions of customers.
Brilliant of course, but neighbor ING says: we want to enable these people and companies to realize their own ideas for a better future, however large or small they may be. A very cute video also shows up: at ING we prefer to fund projects that help the planet. Note the word ‘prefer’ there. Finally, Rabobank states: 550 vacancies for people who want to improve themselves, the bank and the world.
In short: the core of the offer of banks to the labor market is basically the same. True or not, the bank’s promise is: if you want to change the world, you have to work at a bank.
The wishes of your target group
The above uniformity is of course not unique to banks. You see such a central theme in all sectors. At the same time, there is something different going on in the banking example that is also playing out in other recruitment propositions. I call this phenomenon ‘false target group’. In marketing campaigns it is very important to reach a target group. Preferably with a clear competitive advantage.
A campaign tries to reach a group as precisely as possible. Underlying group for the banks seems to be: people who want to improve the world / people who want to make an impact. That seems like a valid target audience. But if you think about it longer, you quickly come to the conclusion that it is about everyone (and therefore about no one).
There is no real target audience
Because how many people answer the question whether they want work that has an impact: ‘no, I like to work colorlessly on something meaningless’. In short: there is no real target group. If you have a clear idea of who wants to reach them, you also make it clear who loses weight. A good proposition makes clear this is a product or service for people who…. The more specific you make that, the more impact. The receiver must think in the ideal situation this is for people like me.
Moreover, and this applies to a large extent to the vacancy texts, most recruitment campaigns are self-motivated. Inside out. Read through some job postings. They still follow the pattern for this you have… besides you are…. They are also clearly written from the perspective of someone offering a job and applicants who have to put in their best clothes to qualify for that offer.
Wake up and smell the coffee. This is not how the labor market works. A developer can choose from 150 jobs, so if someone has to do their best, it’s the employer.
Marketing thinking towards the labor market provides competitive advantage
Marketing thinking – and I mean customer-oriented thinking – helps to have a competitive advantage in the labor market. And in this way to bring in more and better staff. Companies have put a lot of effort into their employer value proposition: articulating their core values and purpose. The problem is that they are their core values, their purpose and their proposition. It’s thinking inside out. We from WC duck…
From a marketing perspective, this is not customer-oriented. You look at product development and how you distribute a product according to what the customer wants. So on the job market: what is a candidate looking for in a job?
Perhaps the candidate wants to work less hard than at the competitor. That may be hard to swallow for the 50+ generation that still brags about 60-hour workweeks, but I wonder if there isn’t a large group of younger employees who would appeal to such a proposition. At our company you do the same as at the other, but you have more time for yourself.
Keep in mind that although many companies make a claim on their diversity, they look for that claim in gender and skin color and not in the mentality of people. Can you differ, or it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman as long as you’ve been a member you put your career first.
Marketing thinking helps
The above only highlights a few needs that employees have. If you want to recruit real staff and thus get out of the position of stuck in the middle in your industry, you will have to think about employees the same way you think about customers. In customer acquisition, it is much more common to start from the customer’s wishes and to think about what the customer really wants. In labor market communication, we package what we have on offer as if employees are waiting for it and we hold discussions to see if there is a match. I don’t think many companies treat customers like that: four calls and then decline.
Mapping the real wishes
As so often it offers business propositiecanvas a good starting point for thinking about the target group. I’ve found that if you think about employees from this model, you can communicate with them much more effectively. The model forces you to map out the real wishes of your target group and only then see whether your offer fits.
Marketing thinking helps to have a competitive advantage in the labor market and thus to bring in more and better staff. Using marketing techniques to recruit as many good candidates as possible based on target group insights is the only way to stand out in the labor market. The alternative is to shout even louder whatever the competitor shouts and hope for the best.
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