According to CareerBuilder's 2014 study, "The Shocking Truth About the Skills Gap," more than 50 percent of companies report they can’t find the right talent to fill open jobs. But how can this be when there are so many unemployed or underemployed? The good news is that some companies are working on defining and refining their employer brand as a means of attracting the right type of talent. As a result, they're implementing new strategies to help source new talent. It is up to you to bridge the myth of the career gap.
Employer Branding Catching On
What does it mean to be an employer of choice? This happens when a company has a reputation for being a great place to work. Defining the culture is a critical first step. Companies serious about branding usually identify the best employees and correlate similarities in interests, personalities and other soft skills. Then, the company tries to market to similar demographics. Social media has become a popular outlet for companies of all sizes to spread their employer brand. Companies who already have a stellar reputation, such as Zappos, still have to get the word out. The magic ingredient is in the culture. Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, once wrote: “At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff – like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers – will happen naturally on its own.”
Zappos.com's career site doesn’t list jobs. Instead, it shares information about employees. The company does this through photos and a site dedicated to showcasing life inside Zappos. You’ll find photos, videos and other stories that chronicle successes and day-in-the-life features. Another way Zappos shows it wants to recruit the best and brightest is in the application process. Applicants can submit a video cover letter, which provides the applicant with an opportunity to showcase his or her personality and interest in Zappos beyond what a paper version could do.
HubSpot is another trendsetting company. It provides inbound marketing software for businesses, and promotes a company culture desirable to new college graduates. In fact, Karin Robinson, senior support engineer, wrote an article entitled “Why New Graduates Should Consider Customer Support Roles” that highlights how employees at all levels make a difference.
Robinson begins by writing: “Like many people, my image of customer support roles when I was in college looked something like packed call centers, tiny cubicles, unskilled workers, rigid scripts and customers at the brink of losing their patience (or their minds) as a result of long wait times or the ineptitude of the person on the other end of the phone – sound familiar? Yep, thought so.” Robinson continues to shed light on her journey for employment and says she found out about HubSpot from a friend. She decided to take a customer support job and after 16 months, has a much different view of what her job offers. “No suits, no scripts, just another Red Pants Thursday (a proud HubSpot Support tradition) and a few of my incredibly bright and talented colleagues."
Many Companies Are Jumping on the Social Networking Bus
Amtrak Careers uses Pinterest and Tumblr photos to convey corporate culture. Its career site says “#AmtrakCareersTIP: Learn more about our company and connect with our recruiters on social media.” DirectTV uses Instagram to highlight its culture and activities. Many more companies are using photos and stories to woo potential employees as well. Begin following the social network accounts of companies you are interested in and keep up with what those companies share.
Infographic Job Postings
How many of those bland job descriptions, with little to no details, have you seen? Perhaps anything shiny and new is better at capturing your attention. If Jobgram catches on, you’ll see more insightful, branded job descriptions that show the company cares. Jobgram’s Pinterest page has job postings from a collection of companies using the service.
Another example of innovative job postings is Careercloud’s InstaJob. This service lets recruiters take any picture from an iPhone and instantly turn it into a visual job ad, then easily share it across social media channels. Studies prove that pictures with a link to the job posting are more likely to get clicked than all text. You can see examples of the companies using this service by searching for #instajob.
What Does This Mean for Job Seekers?
How many times have you wondered whom you can talk to inside a company to find out what it is really like to work there or whom you should follow up with after you’ve applied for a job? The iron gates of privacy and anonymity are coming down. Recruiters and employees are interested in engaging with potential new hires on social networks. This provides job seekers with:
- Better and more information about the company before the interview.
- Direct access to company insiders through social media profiles.
- More creative ways to apply and stand out.
- Opportunities to be a referred candidate (i.e., the No. 1 source of external hiring).
Improved information and access to insiders is only valuable if used wisely. Here are reminders to make your outreach efforts more engaging:
- Do your research and identify 40 to 50 companies that would potentially need your skills.
- Search for “careers” accounts across social media and follow updates.
- Participate in group discussions or share a company’s good news or updates to get on its radar.
- Before reaching out to current employees, find something in common such as the college attended, outside interests or volunteer work.
- Ask intelligent questions based on research on the company.
- Learn about why employees like working at the company before asking about jobs.
- Always make sure your online reputation is squeaky clean – no profanity or inappropriate language or images.
Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored “Social Networking for Business Success,” and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.