How to stand out in a crowded employer marketplace

Copyright CanvaIf you want to attract the cream of the candidate crop, you need to give your potential employees a great hiring experience. But if everyone’s trying to do just that, how can your organisation stand out from the crowd? Here are our top tips on ways to make sure your favourite candidates always choose you over someone else.

  1. Communicate with potential employees and give them feedback

One of the biggest bugbears we hear from candidates is about not getting any feedback after sending in their CV, or even after having an interview. It’s vital that you communicate often with your candidates throughout the whole recruitment process. Yes, you can use talent-tracking software to automate some of it. But never underestimate the power of a prompt personalised message. Companies that take the time to go back to their candidates with constructive, positive and thoughtful feedback are always going to be remembered and appreciated, even by people, they don’t make an offer to. So not only is it the right thing to do – it’s also a great way of protecting your employer brand (there’s more on this later).

  1. Share your internal culture

Think about ways to let candidates experience your organisation’s culture during the interview process. Some companies do this by getting colleagues or peer groups involved, whether that’s with a lunch or a Q&A session. Things like this will give interviewees a real insight into what your organisation is like to work for.

Another way to do it is by showing people real-life examples of how your employees are living your company values. If you can, invite them to strategy days or team-building exercises, especially if they’ve accepted an offer and are working their notice at their old job. This is a really great way to get people excited about your company before they’ve even started.

  1. Improve your interview process

In a recent LinkedIn survey, 58% of professionals said they’d turn down a job after a poor interview process. So it’s important you get this right. It’s not easy though – it takes time, thought and practice to get this spot on. Think about how the process should look, and then decide what is and isn’t working. Have a look at this Pure opinion piece on how to streamline your interview process for our top tips.

  1. Create a welcoming office environment

The pandemic has meant that lots of us are working from home more. But it’s still important to think about how inviting your office spaces are to interviewees. Little things like greeting people properly and making them feel welcome (even on a video call) can add up to a big difference. We’re also seeing more clients mix things up as well – like using breakout spaces or going outside the office for interviews (Steve Jobs used to do ‘walking interviews’ at Apple). It’s worth showing people where they’ll be working too, so they can get a real feel for what it’s truly like to be your employee.

  1. Find your wow factor

Ask yourself this question: What do we have that’s going to make our star candidate think ‘I really, really want to work for this business’? Then use this to work out what your wow factor is. It could be a tour of your state-of-art offices. It could be organising a chat for an interviewee with your longest-serving employee. It could be a great benefits package or well-being policy. Whatever your wow, make sure you show it to potential employees, whether they’re successful or not. For example, we recently worked with Virgin Wines to help them recruit a new chief technology officer. Their CEO sent handwritten notes to all the unsuccessful candidates, thanking them for their time and giving them constructive feedback. He also sent them a case of wine as an extra thank you. Not only is this a kind and generous thing to do, but it guarantees people will talk about their brand in a positive way.

  1. Polish your employer brand

Your employer brand is the market’s perception of your company as an employer. Put simply, it’s the way your employees would describe you to their friends and family. In today’s competitive market, having a positive employer brand is vital – especially now that websites like Glassdoor and social media mean we have access to insight and information (good and bad) about working for an organisation like never before. A great recruitment process, paired with an impressive workplace and package (e.g. competitive salaries and benefits, good corporate social responsibility policies, flexible working options, and so on), can only improve this, and make you more appealing to top talent.

Your biggest weapons when it comes to building a positive employer brand are your existing people – satisfied employees who sing your praises every chance they get. These are called brand advocates. Build yourself an army of these and you’ll be on the path to the holy grail of recruitment – when your perfect candidates approach you about work before you’ve even advertised a vacancy. 

Keeping hold of your key people

Once you’ve recruited those all-important perfect candidates, you’ll want to make sure they stay with you. And that can be hard – as we’ve already seen there’s lot of competition out there. The pandemic has led to lots of people seeing their careers differently, which could prompt them to look elsewhere to achieve that work-life balance, find more opportunities for career progression, or even just get a better salary and benefits package. Here are some of the strategies our clients are using to retain their people.

  1. Listen to your employees. Understanding what motivates your people outside work is a powerful way to understand why they might want to leave. Try to find out what they’re aiming for – whether it’s buying their first house, starting a family or even just taking a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Because financial pressure can be a big influence on whether to stay in a position or start looking elsewhere.
  2. Put together career growth plans. You should offer learning and development to your employees throughout their careers – not just in the first six months or year they’re with you. Think about what training opportunities you’re offering to people who’ve been with you for, say, 10 years.
  3. Keep up that employer brand. As we’ve mentioned above, your employer brand is vital for attracting the brightest and best. But people who already work for you need to know about this too. So make sure you’re communicating that great reputation to make them want to stay with you for the long term, and shout about you, to create those all-important brand advocates.
  4. Make sure your rewards package is up to scratch. Check it and your salaries against other companies working in the same market as you. Then make sure you’re matching them or, even better, beating them.


Want to know more?

We can help you with all parts of your recruitment process. Contact us to find out more.

[This piece is based on a presentation written by Jodie Woodrow, Business Director at Pure. She delivered it as part of the September Best Employers’ webinar.]



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Written by

Ben Farrow

Ben has over 18 years’ experience in specialist recruitment. He joined Pure in 2011 and has helped us grow and develop the business across Essex. Ben’s responsible for leading senior HR recruitment, using his strong networks and relationships across the region. He’s also part of our leadership team, overseeing business operations across Essex and Suffolk, and taking the lead on HR, learning and development, quality, compliance, IT and infrastructure functions.

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