Storytelling has earned its rightful place as an invaluable marketing strategy, but it is still relatively unknown in another business practice: the hiring process. Here are a few tips in how storytelling can improve your classified ads to better attract your company’s dream candidates.
by Jason Beever
While the recruiting process is largely focused on the needs of a company, it’s unfortunate that so many job postings mistakenly forget about the other half of the equation: the prospect.
The most brilliant and talented job seekers know better than to waste time applying to mundane and vague ads that offer little emotional incentive. So what can be done to capture the interest of your most desired candidates? How can you lure them in and hope they’ll bite?
In order to catch the biggest fish in the sea, you’ll need to hook them with a great story.
The Hiring Process: A Hero’s Journey
Stop with the dry, impersonal bullet point list of duties and requirements found on 95% of applications! When a job post does nothing to differentiate itself, the résumés you’ll receive will also suffer from the same monotony. Instead, the hiring process should be thought of as a journey, with your ideal candidate as the hero.
At the heart of every hero’s journey lies the outcome of transformation. The best stories are ones where a hero undergoes significant change, often for the better. Therefore, when devising the content of a job post, your primary task should be conveying the promise and opportunity for meaningful change that a candidate will experience if she joins your company.
How will the prospect grow and learn from her time working for you? What new skills, life lessons or personal relationships will she acquire? How will she become a different person by the end of her tenure?
Top talent often seeks more than just a regular “9 to 5”; they pursue a career that gives them purpose and a sense of accomplishment. While salary is of course important, today’s generation will happily trade a negligible amount of pay in exchange for a fulfilling, uplifting workplace.
As a recruiter, it is up to you to paint a narrative of what life will be like for your employee around the office. Vividly describe the details of the day-to-day, giving a complete sense of the goals, obstacles and triumphs a candidate can expect. If at all feasible, video content can really seal the deal here and attract the top echelon of talent. A virtual tour of the office or fly-on-the-wall footage of a typical workday will tell greater stories than words could ever achieve.
Remember to show not only how the prospect will transform by joining the team, but also how the company itself will change as a result of the hire. Expressing this mutual benefit gives the candidate a sense of power and value, knowing her actions will have direct influence on the company’s success. This will then help the applicant better visualize herself successfully fulfilling the position.
Interest of Conflict
Great stories are propelled by conflict; it’s what keeps the audience engaged and the plot moving forward. If we think of conflict in terms of recruiting, we can see that the entire hiring process is founded upon conflict to begin with: the company currently faces an obstacle that can only be overcome by hiring an individual with a particular skill set. To craft an engaging ad to attract the right hero, try framing these job requirements as interesting points of conflict.
Rather than list hackneyed requirements like “passionate and hard-working,” “computer skills a plus,” or “must be able to take direction,” it would be more compelling to describe scenarios from the employee’s perspective where these skills might actually be implemented.
For instance, narrate a potential workday where a copywriter puts her best efforts into crafting a witty and memorable webpage for a client. Her creative director, however, gives notes that change the entire tone of the project, requiring a full rewrite. Not one to back away from a challenge, the copywriter doubles down on her creative spark and gets a rewrite done by the end of the day. She even manages to upload the new copy to the website, showing off her web design skills. Her boss is impressed by both the results and her initiative, making this a day of tremendous achievement for the heroic copywriter!
A hero overcomes conflict and stays committed to the journey because of her pursuit of the object of desire. This can be either an internal or external goal that is meaningful for the hero to obtain. Whether it’s honor and praise, creative fulfillment, or a nice fat paycheck, it’s worth mentioning how an employee’s hard work against conflict will be rewarded—and how that ties in with her eventual transformation.
A Valuable Mission
Finally, there is one other story that begs to be told—yours!
Your brand could very well pioneer new technologies that will save humanity, but if you’re not adequately expressing this mission in compelling words, no one will bat an eyelash.
In storytelling terms, this could be considered the theme; it’s what gives the whole narrative meaning and reason to exist.
What impact does your company hope to leave on society? What motivates your brand’s decisions? How do you intend to make the world a better place?
In a sea of so many job posts all desperately trying to stand out, eliciting a powerful sense of purpose and value behind your brand will help strengthen an emotional connection for prospects who identify with and share similar goals.
By revealing a grander mission behind the recruitment process, and by implementing the above storytelling elements, the best and brightest talent will surely take notice. This is then an instance of the hunter becoming the hunted. So to fill a position quickly and with the perfect candidate, the key is to tell irresistible stories!