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How to Ace Recruiting by Telling Stories

How to Ace Recruiting by Telling Stories

According to a recent Hubspot sales statistics compilation, 63% of attendees remember stories after a presentation, while only 5% remember statistics. Whether you’re selling a product or a position, this statistic should give you pause. Instead of trying to win top talent with an onslaught of cold facts about the company and the position, tell them a story that will make them fall in love with the job before they’ve even applied!

While some candidates will respond to positions based primarily on income, benefits, hours, and other things traditionally advertised by recruiters, this simple approach is unlikely to win the hard-to-get, but often high performing, passive candidates. To reach already employed top talent, you need to sell them on the idea of themselves happy at your company. “The biggest trend in marketing is brand storytelling, using content, examples, and experiences to bring your brand to life in the mind of consumers,” says Jody Ordioni, president of BRANDEMiX.

Great! So you need to tell a story. Easy, right? “If you don’t know what kind of story you want to tell, you probably won’t tell a good one,” says Thomas H. Davenport, co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics. Think carefully about the story you want to tell and then be clear and consistent.

Your story should be true to your brand and your company culture. It should reflect what working at your company is like and should spotlight outcomes for exceptionally motivated employees. The material for your stories already surround you; your task is to curate mini-stories into one overarching employer brand. “Find great stories to tell,” says Chris Bell, Senior Executive Recruiter at Microsoft. “Interview successful employees at your company to understand their stories (successes, struggles, and journeys to where they are today), ask for permission to use it for recruiting future candidates.”

Keep your audience in mind when you develop your story. “Harnessing the best of employer branding and storytelling means sharing not only the story you want to tell but also integrating the story your best candidates want to hear,” says Ordioni. Put yourself in the mind of the candidate you want and let that guide your process. As you develop your stories, keep in mind your end goal, which is helping candidates imagine themselves as employees of your organization. What information is really important to the candidate you’re talking to at the moment? What stories could you tell that would appeal to that individual?” says Michele Ellner, Director of Marketing at Montage.

With the help of the marketing team and a bit of college-level psych, you can put together a winning story. But be sure that your story reflects your reality, because current employees will be your biggest employer brand ambassadors. “If your story accurately reflects your company as it stands today, then employees will more easily engage in telling it,” says Carla Johnson, Vice President of Thought Leadership at the Business Marketing Association.

So what do you do if your company culture could use some work? “If you’re trying to change the story you tell, then employees will need tangible evidence of that change — recruitment, recognition, rewards — before they begin to believe,” says Johnson. “Marketing needs to help them feel proud to represent their employers — because we need them to tell our story as a cohesive, unified team.”

Including storytelling in your recruiting strategy will not only improve your applicant pool by giving you access to high-achieving passive candidates, but also provides a great opportunity to make sure that your company is the company that you want it to be. So stop spouting stats and start telling stories!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Danai Kadzere

Danai is a Content Marketer at Happie. Before Happie, she worked as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and children's book author, after graduating from Harvard University with a BS in Human Evolutionary Biology. If she's not working, she's probably reading, baking, or getting lost.

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