We like to draw lots of parallels between consumer advertising and employment advertising. Mostly, because we have broader awareness of product messages than we do of recruitment messages, but also, I suspect, because it somehow creates an equivalence in our minds regarding how important employment advertising is, or should be. This is all very comforting, but lately I’ve been thinking it’s actually quite counterproductive.
The decision to join a particular company can be driven by many reasons, but the changes that take place are significant. We leave one set of relationships for another, we move from a level of comfort to an entirely new frontier, and we alter our lives outside of work, sometimes to the point of relocation. All of this has to make you wonder if persuasion through advertising is sufficient to influence career decisions. Actually, we already know the answer to that – it’s not.
So what is?
We know that more than anything, candidates are looking for transparency into an organization – transparency that leads to the attainment of a level of trust. And trust is best attained through an abundance of information. That doesn’t mean you can’t advertise your information in traditional media venues, it just means that your message needs to be less about persuasion and more about education.
In an age when news is entertainment and entertainment is news, this may seem like a difficult thing to achieve. But it’s the only approach that will cut through an abundance of undifferentiated, me-too, positioning to reach an understandably cynical audience.