An organisation’s brand and reputation is one of its most valuable recruiting tools, and yet many large businesses overlook the significance of a bad news headline or a negative rumour when they are trying to hire.
Poor perceptions of a company can impact its ability to attract talent, because the most eligible candidates in the market may be unwilling to engage if they have heard bad things or have negative preconceptions. If it is difficult to get the best talent to the interview room, it becomes challenging to build the talent pipeline, and recruitment can quickly become a pressing issue.
The other challenge is around retention because bad publicity can lead to a notion of instability in a business, resulting in competitors targeting talent. As key staff become vulnerable, the likelihood of losing talent increases, and the risk of any misinformation in the market gathering momentum also grows. That can have a further downward effect on staff morale if peers continue to reference problems in the business, and the spiral can quickly become self-perpetuating.
Added to the immediate impact on recruitment and retention is the opportunity cost of the market having a poor view of a brand. For a start, a business can find itself missing out on ‘black swan’ events that have the potential to be transformative, such as team hires or the opportunities thrown up by competitor closures, because candidates don’t want to talk. And then there is the long-term impact of hiring the wrong people, which – particularly in commodities trading – can be very expensive mistakes and the potential cultural cost of high staff turnover driven by weak recruitment.
Some bad news is beyond a business’s control, and sometimes rumours spread that simply aren’t true. But we also see plenty of organisational behaviours that contribute to misinterpretations. Advertising roles isn’t always a good idea, for example, even though we recognise that it is a legal requirement in some geographies. The problem with advertising a role is that firms have to be swift in taking down an advert when the position is filled, or in rewriting it if the job specification evolves, because otherwise, candidates can get the wrong impression – either that the business cannot hire, because a job post has been doing the rounds for months, or that it is simply disorganised.
Issues also arise when several recruitment firms are engaged on one mandate, because candidates can find themselves approached more than once, and the messages being communicated to the market can become disjointed, diluting the value of the proposition. And interviewing too many candidates for a role can be damaging, too, because people talk, and the view can quickly circulate that a business is struggling to hire.
The role of a recruitment partner in managing the message to market is often underestimated but can be an extremely valuable weapon in the arsenal when it comes to attracting the right talent to an organisation. We bring with us a breadth and depth of network that means we are speaking to clients and candidates every day, so not only can we help communicate information, we can also speak candidly to senior management to share what is being said externally.
If we are privy to the story behind the headlines, we can advise on how best to communicate that to the market, and make sure it reaches the premium candidates. We frequently act as brand ambassadors for our clients, and help them explain news – like departures or performance data – or quash incorrect rumours before they gather momentum.
Managing a brand effectively takes an army, but don’t be afraid to make use of a trusted recruitment partner to fight your battles in the talent market, where perception is all.
by Jamie Tranterview my profile