Battle-proof Your Brand: the Fight for Talent Is On

Published on February 9, 2018 | LinkedIn

2017 was a grueling year. But for different reasons 2018 is going to be just as challenging. As technology continues to disrupt most industries, the battle is for both customers and talent.

You can feel the anticipation in a recent Career Builders survey:

  • 44% of employers will be adding fulltime, permanent jobs
  • 51% will be looking for temporary or contact workers
  • 40% of workers plan to change jobs in 2018
  • 45% of employers have jobs they can’t fill because they can’t find qualified talent
  • 58% of employers report that they have jobs that stay open for 12 weeks or longer

The newly found capital from corporate tax cuts will add fuel to the talent race given current, full-employment rates.


Recruitment in its basic form should be straightforward. Engage with your internal stakeholders, accurately define the role and requirements, and use a variety of channels to reach prospective talent. If you have an established brand, booking interviews with the right candidates should be a formality. But today’s needs have upended this process.

As third party recruiters play a diminishing role, more companies are taking on recruitment responsibilities. Technology plays a big role in managing the volumes of resumes but is also contributing to colder, less human experiences. A recent Randstad US study found that 82 percent of respondents agree they are often frustrated with an overly automated job search experience.
87 percent of respondents agree technology has made the job search process more impersonal.

Recruitment should be social and not such a complex process
supported by robotic, numbers churning activities

And the less-then-personal experience comes at a cost. Recruits might interview with up to 10 individuals for a job and on average spend about 24 days before an offer is made. Which means many candidates will invest a lot of time and not receive an offer. And for the candidates that breakthrough the application process, the sentiment might not improve given the challenges in fulfilling the role they thought they signed up for. Writing an accurate, or more importantly realistic, job description is becoming increasingly difficult.

At some point, many organizations have gotten tangled up with their own challenging needs and have forgotten to treat prospects like humans with meaningful lives.


Would a CMO for a consumer or B2B business find it acceptable to not respond to a prospective customer’s question? Particularly if they provided personal information and invested so much time. Most likely the CMO would be alarmed. Yet so many well intentioned organizations will focus on the short list of candidates and fully neglect the rest of the prospects that are looking for a simple answer about their status or what to sharpen and clarify.

A big part of this problem is that many HR and talent acquisition teams are understaffed and not set up to run as focused marketing units. Technology has opened up new channels and streamlined parts of the process but has also created a colder, anxiety-filled experience.

You provide your life story, do a fair amount of research, and rearrange your schedule to talk and meet a lot of people. And then you can't even get a response. Where is the respect for your time and effort?

And tomorrow’s talent has different expectations and requirements, They’re not fixated on salary and title. While companies are redefining the workforce and how they operate, most recruiters tend to focus on very functional activities or broad generational categorizations such as Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. The gig economy is amplifying individual values and recruits are increasingly more concerned about the impact ­they can create. The quicker and more visible impact they have the greater the employee satisfaction.

As competition for talent intensifies an organization’s brand remains a critical asset. For a brand to be effective, talent acquisition teams need to be more than bounty hunters. They need to have a deeper understanding of prospects’ needs and motivations, and be prepared to align them with the organization’s values. For many large successful organizations the brand is shifting from an asset to a liability when compared to fast paced tech brands or startups.


Over-reliance on a brand’s long history, deep industry expertise and global scale may actually project an image of a battleship that is slow, cumbersome, and potentially yesterday’s news.

For most blue-chip brands it’s the right time to take a look at what your brand really stands for and make the necessary adjustments. As the rate of marketplace change has proven, those that wait for a better time to pivot might better spend their time on writing their obituary. The right brand strategy will not only serve as a catalyst for change internally but also serve as a powerful tool to bring in the right talent and help accelerate greater customer engagement.

A well defined brand and properly resourced talent acquisition team can do wonders for getting the right talent… but also boost engagement with employees and customers

A combination of experience and openness to new approaches will be critical to building performance driven cultures. There has never been a better, and critical, time for talent acquisition teams to reinvent the recruitment process.


Change initially causes a lot of pain but should be welcomed and advanced. Change acts as a disruptive force but if harnessed correctly can make any organization stronger, sustainable and successful. Technology alone will not create category leadership so it is important that talent acquisition teams are equipped with the right tools and resources to operate a disciplined, marketing function.

Every brand should be sharpening their focus:

  • Define your purpose - understand who you are, what makes you different and the everyday impact you create
  • Know your audiences - redefine prospective segments by adding depth through needs and motivations
  • Engage existing employees - utilize the recruitment process to inspire the organization, drive meaningful change and recast the brand with external audiences
  • Embed with internal clients - build stronger relationships internally and work towards understanding the talent needs today, in 5 years and a decade
  • Embrace humanity - embed technology to help automate routine processes but disproportionately inject awareness and focus on human engagement
  • Tell a better story - get the journey and experience right and tell relevant, authentic stories that emotionally connect with prospects
  • Take charge - act courageously, reimagine the recruitment process and ruthlessly promote the transformation

The old paradigms for staying relevant are gone. Is your strategy built for the future?