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What is your talent brand, and why does it matter?

In a world of flux, we must be ready to flex. So says the  World Economic Forum. Yet CEOs are still spending time awake at night, worrying that they do not have the right skills in place to ensure their organisations’ growth. We are competing more for everything – market share, resources, and especially for talent. And the talent challenges we face in South Africa are intensifying. We are not alone in this. According to a recent global PwC study, more than half of CEOs surveyed were planning to hire in the coming year.

What is talent brand, and why does it matter?
Your talent brand is defined and amplified by those who experience it.  It is the honest story of life as an employee inside the organisation, as told by the employees, in parallel with the company.  And it matters. It can help to deliver results like a 50% reduction in cost per hire and a 28% slash in turnover rates, according to LinkedIn. Megan Biro, Forbes Contributor, describes talent brand as being about the how but also the why. She says it has a ‘tone’, an intangible sense of atmosphere and mission that drives a tangible engagement. There’s no doubt that this tone matters when attracting the ‘right’ talent into your organistion.

Whilst leaders and corporate communication departments are working hard to shape, model and message employer brand, employees are acting more like consumers, spending less time consuming broadcast media and messages and more time in conversation online. We are most likely to trust recommendations from friends, families and people we perceive to be like us, even if we do not know them.  Over the past decade, trust in leaders, governments, companies and advertising has been slowly been eroding[1]. Trust is not engendered by advertising messages, any more so than are values installed by communications. Rather, these things are lived within the organisation, through the delivery of consistent and positive brand experiences. And it’s the sum of these lived and shared experiences that creates your talent brand. Conversations between people are not new, they define what it means to be human. But the fact that these conversations can be amplified means that our talent brand can have more reach – and in times of talent scarcity – that’s a lever you definitely want to pull.

“Increased transparency demands a new way of communicating, a higher level of accountability, an elevated approach to leadership, and indeed, a deeper focus on trust, purpose, and the inherent human connection that has brought us closer together.” – Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC

You need to leverage your talent brand

We can draw on the networks of our employees to extend the ‘reach’ of our talent brand. Employee referrals bring in 7% of applicants, but account for a huge 40% of all new hires, according to Everyonesocial. Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when issued by employees versus brands.

Your brand must be lived and experienced on the inside by employees, but also be seen and felt on the outside by talent. Start thinking about your recruitment and engagement as a cycle that can create valuable ambassadors for your brand, and about how to best use employee referral programmes. Your talent brand can be a valuable competitive lever in a talent-scarce landscape.

And employees are a brand’s best medium.
[1] We trust our friends recommendations – 92% trust friend recommendations, 40% trust advertising, according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report.

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