How to fight the skills gap with a hiring message that doesn’t suck

November 28th, 2019

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Skillset-specific messaging is the approach of tailoring your employer brand to appeal directly to the skillsets you’re hiring.

Instead of boring candidates with generic, theoretical value propositions, skillset-specific messaging enables a highly personalised approach that can convert even the most passive of candidates into applications – which is key when you’re hiring from candidate-centric markets with skills shortages or high demand for talent.

It involves taking your EVP’s ‘big message’ and making it real at a role, team or departmental level.

In what is now the most difficult UK hiring environment in two decades, this approach offers a powerful advantage over other employers and enables the recruitment of top talent in difficult, candidate-driven markets.

So, how do you go about building a skillset-specific message that inspires talent to join your organisation?

There is no ‘fast way’ to create the perfect message for your job description, social media post, campaign or event – you’ll have to work hard in order to engage and win the favour of your ideal audience.

1) Decide how specific you need to be

Every organisation is different. And there is a sliding scale of how specific a skillset can be. Ultimately, the volume of vacancies that you have for a particular role, team or department will define how specific you should go.

If you have 20+ vacancies for a single role, then it will be worth building a campaign at the role level. If you have 20+ vacancies for a team, like cybersecurity, but with lots of different roles, then it will be worth building a campaign at the team level. If you have 20+ vacancies for a department… well, you get the idea.

You can go as specific as you feel you need to and choose only to develop specific messaging for the skillsets that will provide the most value to your business. In which roles, teams and departments are empty seats having the most negative impact on performance? Which skillsets are the hardest to fill through your existing source mix? And which roles will benefit most from having stronger performers?

This data will give you a clear idea of where and how your recruitment marketing strategy should allocate resources for skillset specific campaigns.

2) Build a skillset-specific persona

Now that you have decided on the kind of skillset that you want to target, the key thing is to build a matrix of information that gives you a strong idea of who these people are. This is what is known as a persona – it will tell you everything you need to know when building and activating your campaign. As such, it’s vital to define this as clearly as possible from the get-go.

To create an accurate persona, a healthy rule of thumb is to discover datapoints around the below elements of segmentation.

Skillset Education, experience, experience level, salary (this should go without saying but including stuff like age, gender, marital status, race and religion is discriminatory and should be avoided)

Psychographic Values, desires, objections, beliefs, interests, personality

Behavioural Communities, lifestyle, hobbies, purchasing habits, brand interactions

Geographic Country, region, city/town/village

While the geographic and skillset segments contain datapoints that 99.9% of recruiters and recruitment marketers will already have, it is much rarer that we know the psychographic and behavioural traits of the people we’re targeting.

These are relatively subjective datapoints and require a qualitative research method. Luckily, we live in an age in which everyone leaves a searchable trail of digitally-preserved information in their wake. I am of course talking about the things we do and say on social media.

There are 3.5 billion members of social media communities online. With so many social media users, the sheer scale of personal information being uploaded is staggering. In just a single social media minute, the world uploads 474,000 tweets, 400 hours of new Youtbe video, 510,000 Facebook comments and 50,000 Instagram posts – and all this activity is building an ever-growing goldmine of data that recruiters can use to find relevant candidates for their roles.

Through the lens of recruitment marketing, every single online community is a repository of information that can be accessed to map behavioural and psychographic insights direct from your would-be candidates.

By digging into your target talent’s social media profiles, you can learn valuable datapoints like who your thye interact with, who they look up to, what kind of content they like and respond to, and what kind of brands they follow.

Twitter is one of the best platforms for this – but any digital location where people share and discuss information can be used. If you want to learn more about this, check out our Social Sourcing Bible. It contains 100+ pages of tactics and tips for finding and engaging talent on social media, and is an amazing place to start if you’re new to all this.

3) Define your message

Once your persona is complete, you can start translating it into a skillset-specific message that gets your target talent excited about your organisation and role.

Most of your marketing will expose your audience to a single, powerful headline that can make or break their first impression of your employer brand and opportunity.

Take the time to craft an effective headline that sums up the most important and relevant benefits of working for you at the skillset level you’ve defined.

This should fit within the context of your big EVP, but it doesn’t have to be too obviously associated. Most EVPs are built to be generic and flexible. Use that flexibility to craft something that is creative, specific and engaging.

A powerful example of this is what Infosys were able to achieve with their ‘You Bring The Power’ campaign, which hired 51 full-stack developers in North America.

It doesn’t matter if wider audiences don’t completely understand your messaging – the important thing is that it is understood by the talent you are trying to engage. Use their language, hashtags, slang, emojis, memes, and anything else that they are familiar with in their day-to-day.

By communicating in their language, you are appealing not as if you want to get to know them – but as if you already do.

Most importantly: if a professional is going to engage with your employer brand, it better be worth their time.

Too many employer brands focus on telling their audience who they are and what they do rather than getting down to what’s really important to their audience. People don’t really care about that stuff.

They care about what’s in it for them.

Resist the urge to talk exclusively about what the role is. Instead, make the meat of your message about the amazing and unique benefits people will receive from working in that role at your organisation.

Tailor your content to resonate and add value along the contours of their needs and interests. From the talent’s perspective, this demonstrates that you genuinely care about their career and that you want to help them.

Are you interested in hearing more about how we helped Infosys use skillset-specific messaging to hire elite developers? Want to find out how you can incorporate a similar approach into your hiring strategy? Register your interest here to set up a conversation with one of our strategic client partners.