Lately I have been thinking a lot about the skill of storytelling, and how vital it is in every facet of business life, and beyond. Storytelling can be overlooked or taken for granted, but it’s a pivotal skill if you want to convey a message. We need to be clear in what we are saying whether interacting with a staff member, client, supplier, or candidate in our case. The ability to articulate and compose a compelling case for an exciting opportunity can be the deciding factor in landing an ideal candidate who truly believes in the vision and mission of the company.
As consultants we become well versed in articulating the value you can add and the new perspectives you bring to the table. Recruitment consultants need to direct this skill to their profession every day, by picking out the most relevant and exciting parts of a role and company they are recruiting for, and then putting this into a broader context by explaining the organisational strategy to potential employees. As a conduit between the organisation and the job market, we tell our clients about the people we have met with, summarise their experiences and explain why we feel they could be the right fit for the business. Likewise, we tell our candidates about the organisations we are recruiting for, the appeal of the role they are applying for and why this could be the right move for them.
It’s important to understand how the storytelling piece can help you attract the right candidates.
The storytelling begins when you first meet with the client and take the brief. The information they pass on to you and the questions you ask helps you shape the story you will take to the outside world. That story becomes the job description that grabs the attention of the job market. Keeping it relevant, succinct, strategic and compelling will ensure the right people notice the advertised role. Get the description wrong, and the right people may overlook a perfect opportunity.
Inside a business this can be easy to forget. Sometimes you are continually confronted with problems to solve and the issues that arise daily. In a recent example we were engaged by an organisation struggling to hire a senior person. The industry had been hit hard with new compliance and regulatory requirements. They felt because of the difficult nature of the senior finance role, they would have to hire a contractor and pay above market rates.
Knowing what candidates aspire to achieve in roles, we were able to convince the client that although they had some difficult issues to work through, they had forgotten the benefits of their extremely successful track record before the regulatory changes occurred. They were still locally owned with the potential for some equity involvement and they had a CEO who placed a lot of emphasis on autonomy and supporting people to be successful. This resulted in a permanent hire of someone extremely excited about the challenge and opportunity the role presented, in a permanent position, at market rates and bringing more skills to the table than the client originally thought possible.
To help build your story about the organisation, I suggest you start with trying to answer the following, keeping in mind sometimes you need an external third-party perspective to help you with this.
- What has your organisation’s past successes been?
- What has appealed to people who have joined your organisation in the last several years?
- If current staff were asked to give two reasons why they get out of bed and come to work, what would they be?
- What would your competitors say you are good at?
- If your organisation ceased operating tomorrow – what would it be remembered for?
Ask all the questions you need to. Understand the who, what, where, when, why and how. Develop a clear narrative that resonates with your target audience, road test it on someone and gauge their response. Keep tweaking, while keeping it factual, until it rolls comfortably off the tongue, engages and excites. By effectively communicating this you are giving confidence to your audience in what you have to offer no matter who you are speaking to, be it a customer, supplier or key potential hire.
Humans have told stories throughout the ages. It is how information is recorded and passed on. It’s by understanding the past we can move toward the future. In a recruiting sense, it’s about telling a story that gets people excited, engaged and willing to start a new journey that has the potential to shape their future career.