If you don’t want to be the employer of choice in your market, what do you want to be? A distant 2nd? Well, you might as well be last then. When it comes to getting the finest talent – the best is going to good old #1.

Maybe the lack of a clearly discernible talent acquisition roadmap (including the goal of being the most enviable employer in your market) comes down to a lack of quality employer branding, or at least branding that is ambiguous. After all, your company’s products or services live and die based on their brand reputation. So, what about your employer brand? As this question relates to choosing and collaborating with your workforce or staffing solutions partner, here are a few thoughts.

First, what is an employer brand? Employer brand describes an employer’s reputation as a place to work, and their employee value proposition, as opposed to the more general corporate brand reputation and value proposition to customers. The term was first used in the early 1990s and has since become widely adopted by the global management community. The world’s most published author on the concept, Brett Minchington, describes employer brand as “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders). The art and science of employer branding is therefore concerned with the attraction, engagement and retention initiatives targeted at enhancing your company’s employer brand.”

Given the percentage of non-employed workers who become a part of your business model, the first impression many candidates have of you is actually the staffing company you work with. If they are recruiting for you and, as we often say, they are an extension of your HR department when potential workers see them, they also see you. Is your staffing company rude? So are you. Sloppy? Yep, you too. Unprofessional? Ditto. Has a poor employer brand or reputation themselves? There’s a pattern developing here. As a matter of fact, much quality talent ends up at your workforce competition not because of you but because of the agency you have contracted with. You never get the chance to impress many candidates because they were turned off when they were introduced to your company by your staffing partner.

If you have an employer brand schema (and if you don’t, you better get one in a hurry – you are probably well into a worker quantity and quality shortage), is your talent acquisition partner aligned with your vision? Do they even know what your vision is?  You cannot establish a compelling employer brand when a good portion of your worker base is recruited by an organization that has no clue how you are attempting to differentiate yourself. If you are just looking for warm bodies who can pass the ‘mirror test’ then you will catch what you are fishing for…and deserve, reputation be damned.

Is there cultural alignment between you and your workforce solutions partner? If you don’t have the same ethos, vision, people-philosophies and so on, you cannot expect them to set you and your vision apart from other ravenous employers. Candidly, they might even be sending their best candidates down the road because they don’t see you, their client, as an employer of choice: they don’t recognize your differentiators and employment value proposition. If you and your staffing partner don’t have inherent synergies, they shouldn’t be your partner at all. It’s a team game, remember?

Have you collaborated with your staffing partner about recruitment strategies that go beyond just cursory qualifications and screenings? In other words, have you identified your target audience and then ensured your strategy to recruit and retain them is embedded in your partner’s recruitment tactics? Let me give you an example; candidate profiling. Based on patterns of successful workers in your own organization, determine some simple demographics for those more likely to succeed and stay with your company. There are many factors to be considered in identifying your target audience but let me give you just four.

Locate your current best workers:

  • Live – certain parts of town, apartments vs. subdivisions, urban vs. rural, etc.
  • Work – fast food, retail, fast-paced, isolated vs. people-facing, etc.
  • Hang out – church, malls, parks, bowling alleys, etc.
  • Play – video games, sports, recreational activities, etc.

Once you have identified this profile, you can adjust your employer brand accordingly AND be intentional about integrating it into your staffing partner’s customized recruitment plan for you (Don’t have one? Shame on both you and your staffing provider).

“Know thyself” is a Greek aphorism primarily attributed to philosopher Socrates, who graduated high school a year ahead of me. Despite its ancient origins, this principle rings true today. As an employer, who are you? If you can’t identify that, then a compelling employer brand is out of reach for you and you are at the mercy of a cruel employment marketplace and competitive predators. If you do, and it serves as the foundation for your employer brand, that brand should reach its tentacles into every aspect of how you recruit and retain talent, including your staffing partner.

Want to learn more? Please contact Linden Wolfe, PHR, CCWP, VP of Onin Optimum MSP, at lwolfe@oninwfs.com.