Adverts, taken singly as an attraction method, are to be understood as ‘representations’ of an organisation, its people, its business, its values and indeed its overall mission and vision. In this sense, they are the strategic windows through which an organisation initially introduces itself to the ‘world’ of talent.
A good amount of time therefore needs to be allocated to developing an advertising strategy that ensures a positive perception of the organisations brand is instinctively created in the mind of the individual reader – for it is within this capability that the advert will be able to attract a wide range of talent.
Ensure for example that
- The wording and messaging on the advert is clear and easy to understand – avoid the use of typically complex HR acronyms
- The language used in inclusive – do not use words that have an ageist or gender bias or presupposition. Ensure to pay particular attention to this as your potential talent always read in-between the lines of what is written
- You have checked that your advert is compliant with relevant equality legislation / best practice requirements – this is extremely important as you don’t want a candidate complaint before you have started the recruitment process!
- You have thought hard about where you want to place the advert – print is fast losing its historical attraction capability, however, don’t completely discount it. Ensure to use print as part of a suite of ‘advertising’ options – all linking into the same messaging
- You have thought very carefully about imagery use. People connect more to imagery than actual messaging/wording, so ensure imagery use is not stereotypical, particularly when using pictures of actual people.
Conveying a positive impression is key here: In today’s global world characterised by talent diversification, it is important to ensure advertising is relevant and has inclusivity at the very heart of its messaging. Indeed, organisations that do not effectively position themselves as demonstrating that they have grasped the concept of competitive advantage derived from having a diverse workforce, may have an up-hill struggle in securing a wide pool of talented individuals.
Continuing with the theme of ‘relevance’, it is imperative to mention that advertising (paper and on-line) is to be seen only as a cog in the chain of tools to be used given changing candidate behaviour, driven by the corresponding changes in the forces of the labour market:
With web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook, Youtube, Linked-ln, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, Bebo, and blogs all gaining an absolute foothold in the global market place (social networking generally accounts for approximately a quarter of all time spent on the internet) – even competing with the traditional TV (see link to diagrammatic explanation at bottom of page) – it is imperative that meaningful engagement with prospective talented candidates is a continuous process prior to a specific advertising need arising. In this sense, strategic candidate engagement is in fact (pre) advertising…
This type of engagement does not need to be recruitment focussed. It should be all about ‘tilling the soil before the recruitment seed is sown’ – get to know the individuals you are seeking to attract, understand them, their individuality, and indeed, their skills in advance of actually advertising in order to recruit. In this sense, you’ve already began building the psychological contract that will ensure your advert yields a return on investment.
This is talent management with a great deal of foresight – well before your potential talent is even aware. And diversity is… right at the heart of it, ensuring that the process is not only strategic but delivers real and tangible value – by way of the qualitative response rates received to the advertising strategy deployed.