Lori's Blog

My StoryBrand Connection to Recruitment Marketing

employer value proposition recruitment marketing working with lori
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As I was creating my online course – Better Message. Better Talent Pool. – I had to think hard about the process that I was using to interview employees and turn what they say into compelling recruiting messages. The challenging part was taking what I did intuitively and distilling the process so I could teach other people how to do the same thing.

That led me to discover that what I was doing wasn’t as “intuitive” as I thought. I uncovered three main concepts on my learning path. One stepping stone on my yearslong path to honing my recruitment marketing expertise was gleaned from Donald Miller’s StoryBrand framework.

I came upon StoryBrand when Miller was a speaker at the Leadercast conference in 2017. What he shared piqued my interest. Shortly after being introduced to his storytelling framework, I went through his online training.

Think About a Job as a Solution to a Problem

Everything I learned from that training proved to be immensely valuable in my work as a marketing content writer, and I have integrated this learning into how I work with employee experience storytelling. The part that sticks out the most from Miller’s StoryBrand framework is thinking about a person’s problems in internal, external, and philosophical dimensions.

Most talent attraction messaging is based on a possible solution (a job) to a problem without addressing the actual problem that a potential job candidate is experiencing. In storytelling structure, that’s like introducing the hero and jumping right to how they’re going to save the day without talking about why they need to save the day in the first place.

When you do this, you’re skipping over one of the most important parts in the candidate’s story: the part that stimulates an emotional response. The emotional response is key to inciting an action. In the case of job candidates, the action can be anything from researching your company, applying for a job, or changing their mindset from “I’m going to stick it out” to “This is this the day I’m going to make a change.”

You have a much better chance of stirring up an emotional response when you talk about the problem, because it’s distress that elicits a neurological response.

What kinds of problems might a job candidate be experiencing?

Identifying External vs. Internal Problems

An external problem is what is happening to make a job situation unsatisfactory. External problems for people in their job situation could look like:

  • I’m tired of doing the same thing day after day.
  • I’m uncomfortable speaking up.
  • Standards at my workplace are inconsistent.
  • I’m wearing too many hats or I can’t keep up.
  • I don’t have any friends here.

External problems on their own aren’t usually enough of a reason for people to make a change. It’s internal problems that do that, as I learned from Miller’s StoryBrand framework.

Internal problems for job candidates are things like:

  • I’m so bored I can hardly make myself go to work each day.
  • My opinions and ideas don’t matter and that makes me feel like I don’t matter.
  • I never know where I stand, and I feel anxious because I’m always waiting for the shoe to drop.
  • I am in an impossible situation and I’m powerless to change it.
  • I’m alone.

It takes a little practice to differentiate between external and internal problems. Our default is to focus on the external, but external problems can be the stimulus for internal problems.

Once you’re convinced that you need to talk about problems in your talent attraction messages, there’s one more thing you need in your communications mix: you must present a transformation.

What Transformation Looks Like for Job Candidates

The transformation isn’t the solution. The solution is the job and employment situation that you’re offering; the transformation is how the person can change. For example, a job candidate isn’t simply looking to switch from being a project manager at one company to a project manager at yours. They’re looking to improve their mental and emotional connections to their workplace that will power a transformation.

A transformation takes the person:

  • From bored to stimulated.
  • From silent to heard.
  • From uncomfortable to secure.
  • From powerless to enabled.
  • From alone to belonging.

In my work with client companies, I have found that some people are hesitant to focus on potential job candidates’ problems to stimulate an emotional reaction. They are understandably more comfortable sticking to only positive experiences, but that is not always the best approach. Companies discover that striking a balance between positive and negative experiences offers the most beneficial way to connect with potential job candidates.

What About Philosophical Problems?

I mentioned earlier that Miller speaks about three different types of problems, but I’ve only addressed two so far (external and internal). The third that’s included in the StoryBrand framework, the philosophical problem, deals with what’s wrong with the world.

I think the philosophical problem facing job candidates can be found in the transformation that they desire. What’s wrong with the world is that a job isn’t just a paycheck – it’s a _________________.

If you finish the end of that sentence, you’ll start to see why talking about what a person will DO in a job is not attracting the kind of attention that you want and need.

You need a different message.

Change Your Talent Attraction Message

The most effective way to change your talent attraction message is to communicate value. By value, I mean what employees receive from their job apart from pay and benefits. That’s not to say that pay and benefits aren’t important. They are, but people change jobs for a lot more reasons than a higher salary, health insurance, or a retirement fund.

Let’s look at the examples of transformation again.

  • From bored to stimulated.
  • From silent to heard.
  • From uncomfortable to secure.
  • From powerless to enabled.
  • From alone to belonging.

What do you see? I see a yearning for something better, and that speaks of value.

The foundation for value messages is employee experience storytelling. When you talk to your current employees and find out what it’s like for them to work at your company, you start communicating with value and uncover the ways to promote your company as a good employer.

Related: Read how I developed my small business approach to recruitment marketing

How to Infuse Value into Your Recruiting Message

Changing your talent attraction message is the first step in my approach to recruitment marketing. When you have a message that connects with people, you can make an immediate impact on your recruiting initiatives and lay the groundwork for consistent promotion of your reputation as an employer.

Does this all sound great but you’re still unsure of where to start?

I’m here to help teach you step-by-step how to use recruitment marketing to bolster your hiring efforts.

Learn the basics in my on-demand webinar: Recruitment Marketing 101.

Ready to go deeper? There is much more to learn in my online course: Better Message. Better Talent Pool.

What's Recruitment Marketing?

Learn why your talent attraction process doesn't work like it used to, and discover what you should be doing instead in my 20-minute on-demand webinar.

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