Every once and a while, as part of my role, I spend some time going through job descriptions, careers sites and other channels – mainly seeking to understand how clients and their competitors position what they offer to the key skill sets they need to engage. Clients will have approached us for support in attracting and retaining talent at both ends of the spectrum – graduates and apprentices for the future; and established professionals, who they need to support them with the here and now and the not so far away.
What strikes me is the number of organisations that don’t particularly go out of their way to segment what their employer brands offer for this latter audience. The focus appears to be on telling those early on in their careers why their organisations are great places to start their careers, which is right and proper. But what about those of us who have been out in the workplace for (ahem!) a few years longer? What about telling this cohort why their organisations are great places to continue their careers?
When I land on a careers page and read the initial blurb, I’m often faced with two options. The first option, too often labelled ‘job vacancies’, is the pathway for experienced hires. Behind this button sits a list of roles and behind those, job profiles listing responsibilities, accountabilities and expectations. The other option is the ELT one. When I click this button, I get additional insight into the organisation, its values, the culture, the training and development opportunities. It often gives me case studies and shines a light onto how people interact with each other socially and how they get involved in supporting their wider communities. It’s exciting. And that sense of excitement tends to extend into social channels, where much content via these platforms tends to be aimed at the younger end of the talent spectrum.
Why not maximise what lies behind the initial shop windows for experienced professionals? In many respects, they’re as hard (and in some sectors harder) to attract than early careers – given that experienced professionals may well be at the stage in their lives where they are settled, have families and have put down roots; and therefore have more to risk personally and financially in making a move to a new employer.
I’m not saying that practical information like Ts & Cs, rewards and benefits that reflect stage of life as well as career aren’t a focus for experienced hires. We know they are – and this information is (in the main) provided. However, I have also facilitated my fair share of interviews and focus groups with representatives of clients’ priority recruitment targets, where the feedback tends be along the lines of: ‘I don’t really know what they’d be like to work for. I could potentially do my job for any number of companies, why would I risk moving somewhere I know little or nothing about – particularly if the money/ overall package isn’t that different?’
I guess what I’m saying is that, when it comes to experienced professionals, we too want to be engaged and excited at the prospect of working somewhere new, or at staying put as our organisations develop and move through change.
We also know that information about broader culture, values and the like plays a role in making organisations feel more open and transparent to female and BAME professionals, who want to know not just how much they’re going to be paid but what they’re being asked to be a part of. And dare I mention the phrases we see time and again in HR and recruitment-focused articles and blogs: ‘skills shortage’ and ‘war for talent’...
The more targeted your organisation's proposition as an employer, the better prepared it is to engage with these issues. So here's to segmenting employer brands for all talent, regardless of where they plot on the spectrum of experience!