Talent is not only present within the organization, but also exists outside of it. It is HR’s role to identify talent, to develop it, and to incorporate it into the organization. If a company must sustain itself within a tight labor market containing a limited amount of talent, the ability to spot and attract talent is crucial. Principles that are true on the commercial market are equally true on the labor market. Just as you have to convince clients that your product or service is indispensable, you have to convince new employees of your uniqueness, and tie current employees to your company. This is about brand awareness: who you are and what you stand for is important in the eyes of the employees that spend a large portion of their week in your organization.
Achieving brand awareness as an employer is not easy: an elaborate campaign is simply too expensive for most companies. HR must find creative ways to create a coherent image, so that the same image is portrayed both on the inside and on the outside, and the company’s identity is properly reflected. The story being told during campaigns must match the inner workings of the company.
Future employees have enough channels available to them to check the validity of a story against the truth. If an innovative digital campaign is set up, making use of social networks, or multimedia tools, the new employee will expect to see this approach reflected within the organization. New generations have been exposed to a wide variety of marketing-techniques, and see straight through them. If the external corporate image does not match the internal view, then it will be considered inconsistent and new employees will leave the company soon after arrival.
Employer branding is complicated by the fact that for the first time in history four generations, with very different expectations, can be found on the labor market and work together in companies. Whereas baby boomers tend to spend long periods of time with one organization and advanced their career based on knowledge and experience, the younger generations tend to follow a non-linear career path with broad interests. They want to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible, and do not hesitate to change paths repeatedly.
Furthermore, the use of channels is different: baby boomers respond to advertisements in the printed media, whereas generation Y is used to working digitally, and makes use of social networks and similar options. They will probably not even see your ads, but are made aware of the job by a friend. As most companies only have a limited budget for promoting themselves on the labor market, HR has to make intelligent decisions. This is only possible if HR has a deep understanding of the people that possess the needed skill sets, and how these future employees can be contacted on the labor market. Differentiation and segmentation can also be a useful tool in this domain: a social network can be a good way to bind a particular group to your organization.