Capturing candidate attention as a hiring manager is one of the toughest challenges. If you’re a small to medium-sized company or startup, your job is a bit tougher. After all, you compete against more established companies that have more resources. What’s an organization supposed to do when it comes to candidate experience, best recruiting practices, and AI recruiting? There’s so much to learn and so many bigger companies to compete with for quality talent! You may have shaped up your candidate talent funnel with interesting social media posts and LinkedIn ads.
But when it comes down to selling your company to top-tier talent, have you got the principles?
Caryn Marooney, former Head of Technology Communications for Facebook, has a history of crafting succinct stories for little-known companies. Her public relations agency, OutCast, worked with little-known startups at the time. You may know some of her then-little known clientele: Amazon, SalesForce, and Netflix are all household names thanks to Marooney’s marketing smarts.
Speaking at FirstRound Capital’s CEO Summit, Marooney explained how she helped these tiny businesses capture attention. Her pared-down method is straightforward and easy to implement for owners in all industries---including hiring and recruitment practices. Marooney may have worked with creating buzz around Netflix’s movies-by-mail business model, but they’re applicable to recruitment strategies. Marooney’s methods may be particularly helpful for hard-to-get talent. Even the most skilled AI researcher, software engineer, or marketing executive want to be moved by story.
From decades of experience working with global brands, Marooney highlights how to acquire candidates in a memorable way.
She tells startups and businesses to “stick to your RIBS”, an acronym that stands for:
Maroonye’s first bit of advice: know who your audience is. When pitching your company’s mission to a candidate, hang out in their shoes for a while. What are the problems that are on the forefront of their minds? Is your business solving that problem? “Fight for relevance. Make it a priority in your positioning”, says Marrooney. If your organization is in the beauty industry, be aware of the priorities that are changing in the candidate's minds. Your talent may care deeply about inclusion or diversity; tell them about how your organization has a history of creating sizable range of lipsticks for darker skins. If you’re working in the AI for recruiting space, talk to them about the number of partnerships your company has been building to expand AI knowledge. Note: this step is not a copy-and-paste candidate recruiting method. It’s understanding the candidate and their priorities by viewing their social media pages, LinkedIn account, and simply talking with them about the things they value. It’s the art of knowing the tastes of your candidates and figuring out how they want to evolve.
As a hiring manager, tell them the story of being the company that is building the inevitable future.
Before founding Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg knew technology would be the one that would unite the world and connect people; he just didn’t know he was going to play such a large role aiding its rapid development. This applies to pitching sought-after talent in talent management. You understand the ins and outs of your industry and space. As a person pioneering the future of hiring, you recognize how things are moving. Instead of leaning into fear of the inevitable change, make your recruitment strategy include the inevitable change as a pioneering tactic. If you work for an AI recruiting company, tell candidates about how so many companies are growing remotely, yet still need to recruit applicants. If you work for a special fiber company, tell them about how sustainable and cost-effective it is---and how it's perfectly timed with consumer interests and demands. In recruitment practices, tell candidates they will be part of the inevitable.
This step is showing candidates that your organization is the one that will enact the sweeping change. During your talent search, be sure to establish credibility that your company is competing to be part of the change. Tell them about how your organization’s founder spent years working on the problem that the organization is currently solving. It shows that the problem is deeply understood. If you’re a smaller business, credibility may be as simple as an easy-to-use website or presenting compelling case studies from current customers.
One cannot overstate simplicity. Maroony highlights how you’ll be competing for the most valuable resource on earth: an applicant’s attention. Applicants---especially top-tier talent--- live their lives between checking emails, messaging the babysitter, and fielding requests from other organizations. There’s multiple candidates who have full LinkedIn inboxes from hiring managers; they’re talented and everyone wants to hire them. If you have the chance to pitch these individuals, make sure to understand your mission and what makes your company special as quickly as possible. Be inspired by marketing campaigns, if you’re looking for easy to digest lines. Maybe even work with someone from marketing to think of creative and simple ways to capture their attention. Salesforce’s “End of Software'' campaign was only 3 words. Yet, it’s potential impact was rapidly communicated—you don’t even have to know what Salesforce does! Through this simple line, one knows that 1. Salesforce is not software 2. Software is dying 3. Salesforce is the solution. Marooney advises to edit down your central message to a one-line for most punch.
When you’re thinking over new hiring strategies, set aside an afternoon to think on these RIBS principles. Then, come up with a focal point that summarizes what sets the position and the company apart. Is it fascinating research? The AI in recruiting? The experienced management? The feel-good mission? The chance to sell the company quickly? Be sure to explain why your business is the one to execute.
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