Personality goes a long way

It’s hard to attract and then retain new recruits, whether new graduates or at senior levels.

Recruitment has been a recent topic of conversation in the South West PM Forum meetings. It’s hard to attract and then retain new recruits, whether new graduates or at senior levels. Each region in the UK will have its own specific landscape, but in the South West, in terms of young graduates, they are not only attracted to the bright lights and opportunities that London offers, they are also drawn to other more dynamic sectors in the same region, which for us is the growing Tech and Creative Industries. In this situation, let’s face it, professional services, which typically has a traditional approach to brand and communications, can look dull by comparison.

This isn’t to suggest a move toward job listings that employ the communications equivalent of go-faster stripes or gimmicks that try and look cool – we don’t want to start conveying an air of desperation! But what we can do is reappraise the situation and realise that effective recruitment needs to be more than a generic layout consistent with the company identity. Successful recruitment needs a campaign approach.

Great campaigns stand out to gain attention. Only then can you inform with the salient points and direct the audience towards the desired action. To stand out, campaigns must resonate. Too many recruitment ads take a blanket approach to all the positions that might be available, regardless of whether they are aimed at recent graduates or those with specialised experience. It is not enough to place similar ads in different locations or publications. Messages need to demonstrate cultural fit expectations, which will be specific to the career stage that people are at, and aspire to.

Assess the company you keep
When you place an ad, who else are you up against and how do you compare amongst that crowd? Gather examples, put them up on a wall and take a step back. It is surprising how we can forget to look outside – especially at those indirect competitors from other sectors.

Walk in their shoes
Meet the expectations of your target audience based on their perspective, not your assumptions. What values, lifestyle or workspace environments are they seeking? These can be as important as the nuts and bolts of salary and skills required, so research is worthwhile.

Tone of voice and storytelling
Factual information is necessary, but jargon is optional. Graphic layouts add visual impact, but great copy and storytelling is where personality shines through. A little wit, a core truth, a well-placed phrase about what you offer elevates recruitment from a one-way advert to a conversation starter.

As the first ‘touchpoint’ for a potential employee, recruitment ads indicate the working culture ahead. They are the beginning of your brand experience that leads through induction and on to the internal culture – and these might also need refreshing to ensure they support the retention of those new recruits.

Hannah Lee, Regional Director, PM Forum South West