As the workforce ages and baby boomers leave both the public and private sectors, filling the void is a priority—and a challenge. Competition is fierce for finding talented and skilled personnel who are the right fit for your organization. On top of that, what age cohorts like Millennials want from their professional life is often different than what the Generation Xers hiring them value.
How can contractors or government agencies stand out? Recruitment research is one way to understand the myriad factors at play. In a few weeks, Market Connections Vice President, Laurie Morrow, is hosting a Best Practices webinar on how to effectively use recruitment research. She shared some thoughts about how this type of research is different and why it is important.
Laurie: A brand perception study assesses how the market — a company’s customers and prospects — view a firm and its competitors. We include some of the same elements in recruitment research too, but the target audience is different (although for large brand studies, we sometimes include a segment of prospective employees in the study). Overall, the factors the target audience measures may be different. For example, company culture has a different significance for a prospective customer versus a prospective employee.
For recruitment research, it’s important to test recruiting communications (ads, messaging, collateral, and so on) prior to launch a campaign, just as it is with testing advertising and messaging with customers and prospects. We primarily use focus groups a for recruitment research. While the message in the ads may be focused differently in the two types of studies, the line of questioning is very similar. The ultimate goals is to ensure communications are clear, concise, appealing, result in a favorable impression of the organization, and result in action among the intended target.
MC: What are some of the things you’ve seen revealed for your customers?
Laurie: We see differences by survey respondents’ age regarding what they view as important and how they view a firm, which is not likely a surprise to anyone. But it’s always good to have confirmation the message is resonating with different groups, and to ensure recruitment ads or collateral pieces contain elements that are important to a target audience. Millennials have different views than Generation X or Baby Boomers. Recruitment ads or collateral must be targeted and address these differences. Companies alter and tweak their communications when targeting their customers or prospects, but many do not do this in their recruitment advertising. Research helps guide organizations with this process by first making sure messages resonate and then measuring the effectiveness of recruitment campaigns.
MC: How can companies incorporate what they find into their corporate culture as well as the specific recruiting efforts?
Laurie: This research reveals what employees value and can help shape the employee relations strategy. This data can also help shape processes around things like reviews, promotions, salary, benefits, culture, workplace environment, diversity and inclusion practices, and other areas of Human Resources.
For recruitment, this research pinpoints what prospective employees rank highly, therefore what to highlight in advertising and collateral. This information can also help in developing offer packages to ensure they contain the items that will make top talent say yes to the offer.
MC: Any other thoughts on the importance of recruitment research?
Laurie: This type of primary research can help organizations find the best sources and/or tools job seekers use and the value they place on these resources. By understanding the process the specific people your organization is recruiting is using to find jobs, you can focus resources where they’ll produce the best results. While there are many studies that look at where job seekers go to find work, those studies are not necessarily focused on your industry or niche. Your ideal candidates may be searching in some very unexpected places.
Learn How Recruitment Branding Research Can Help You
The next webinar in our Best Practices series is “Using Research to Recruit and Retain the Right Talent for Your Company.” Join Laurie as she shares how using this type of research can help you understand:
- How top candidates perceive your organization and your competitors
- Candidates key needs and wants for an ideal workplace
- Barriers to attaining and retaining staff
Thurs, October 12, 2017
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM EDT
How can the government attract the best and brightest? It starts with good branding demonstrating why the agency is the place to work. The need is especially high now as many government employees are nearing retirement. How can the government appeal to young talent?
Recruitment branding helps attract young talent and keeps them engaged.
The private sector has excelled at recruitment branding for years. Industry leaders are not only innovative with product development, but have also created the type of brand that inspires people, making them sought-after employers that attract and retain the right talent.
Yet, despite its importance, and the model private industry has shown, experts say government agencies miss the mark when it comes to developing the right recruitment branding to entice talented young professionals.
There are, however, some agencies leading the pack when it comes to creating a brand that resonates with potential employees.
It starts with research.
One civilian agency demonstrated how to make a mark and attract highly skilled talent. In a two-phased study to aid in branding the agency for employees, the agency first conducted focus groups with junior and senior business majors at universities across the country. Through these focus groups, the agency honed in on what would make the agency an attractive employer. One tactic the study used to strengthen the agency’s brand among students was showing them agency collateral and using their input to change the agency’s branding.
During the initial stage of the research, the agency discovered a surprise: student awareness of the agency was very low with college students. However, the students found the agency’s core brand attributes to be appealing. The agency discovered through student feedback the ability to travel, the organization’s solid benefits, and the strong work-life balance were ideal employer attributes in the eyes of prospective, young employees.
The second part of the study was a telephone survey of college placement officers and career center professionals. The purpose was to measure awareness of agency among college placement officers, as well as gather data to inform the development of recruitment messaging and collateral.
The result was the agency had the tools to not only raise awareness of the agency, but understand exactly what good prospective employees valued in an employer. With their newfound knowledge, they developed a plan that helped attract the talent the agency needed.
Government agencies can take a page from the agency’s playbook and use research as the foundation for building an employer brand that truly resonates. By refreshing their research, they can appeal to the next generation of government leaders we need.
So, to answer the question of whether agency recruitment branding really matters, the answer is YES.
Learn How Recruitment Branding Research Can Help You
Our next webinar, Best Practices: Using Research to Recruit and Retain the Right Talent for Your Company, is coming up on Thurs, October 12, 2017 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM EDT
Join Market Connections’ Vice President Laurie Morrow as she shares how using this type of research can help you understand how top candidates perceive your company and your competitors, what their key needs and wants are for an ideal workplace, as well as barriers to attaining and retaining staff. Learn how this research can help your HR team develop and improve the right strategies to recruit and retain the best candidates for your market.