Employer branding today means so much more than dogs in the office and team photos on social media. Now more than ever companies are realising the importance of employer branding, however there’s a common misconception that a broad HR team and big budgets are required to achieve success and truly stand out.
I’m here to tell you this is not the case.
You may not have heard of Cox Purtell before. We’re a boutique, family owned recruitment agency in Sydney, Australia with 25 full-time employees. 2017 has been a great year for us. This month our #MakeTheMove employer branding campaign was shortlisted for Best Recruitment Campaign at the 2017 Australian HR Awards. We are the only small business in this category, alongside McDonald’s, PwC, Accenture, Telstra, WSP & International Convention Centre Sydney.
We didn’t engage a creative agency. We don’t have an HR team. We spent just $5,000AUD to hire 20% of our current workforce. Honestly, we didn’t even know if it was going to work.
I’d like to share with you the steps we took to kick-start our largest ever employer branding campaign:
1. Address business needs
As an SME recruiter, we identified the need to establish our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to differentiate ourselves in the competitive recruitment market. Spending a huge amount of money on recruitment fees and with a clear talent shortage in Australia, we wanted to take the opportunity to find new and creative ways to attract experienced recruitment talent from outside the country.
In July 2016 we launched our #MakeTheMove campaign to address this talent shortage. The campaign was aimed at attracting recruiters from overseas, showcasing the lifestyle and feeling of working in Sydney for Cox Purtell.
When formulating an employer branding strategy, always ensure your goals are clearly linked to your overall business needs so you will have effective, measurable results.
2. Scoping out competitors
In our preliminary research, we found that in the process of attracting overseas talent, many Australian recruitment agencies focused on tourist icons such as the Opera House, Harbour Bridge or the beach; but we wanted to address the fact that leaving your friends and family behind to move overseas is a massive, scary, life changing decision.
We realised that it’s a huge ask to expect somebody to leave their friends and family behind to come and work for us, so we wanted to honour that with our campaign. By telling honest, raw stories of our own people moving across the world, we would resonate with passive candidates on a deeper level. To inspire action, we needed to make people feel something.
Before formulating your creative, first be sure to look at what your similar companies are doing in this space. There is a good chance your direct competitors will be offering similar perks, so try to take a different approach and be a little left of centre. You will be competing for the same candidates, after all.
“How will we ever compete with our larger competitors?”
It’s not always about competing with the big guys. What can you offer potential employees that larger organisations can’t? At Cox Purtell, we market the fact that we are a supportive, boutique family-owned agency. At the end of the day we are trying to attract recruiters who want to work in this kind of environment, so candidates who are only looking to work for a global brand won’t be the best fit for our small team anyway.
3. The strategy
We created powerful, short stories of our people and their journey through music style videos. Our broad strategy was to not only attract recruiters to our company, but also showcase Australia as a great destination for professionals.
Human branding is incredibly powerful – we believe our people are our best brand ambassadors. Our strategy was focused on projecting a raw and personal representation of our company culture, as well as life in Sydney. We incorporated honest storytelling, increasing the shareability of our content to maximise impact and reach, with a modest budget.
Our #MakeTheMove videos tell the stories of Tracy and Imogen who are both expats living in Australia and working for Cox Purtell.
Imogen’s story is centred on her move from Ireland to Sydney. Imogen is in her mid-20’s and her video is focused on her friends, fitness and regular contact with her family back home.
Tracy’s story is much more family focused as she is married with a son, Daniel. Tracy moved her family to Australia from Johannesburg, South Africa to provide a better life and opportunities for Daniel. Tracy’s video focuses on her husband and son, as well as friends, but most importantly the life that she has been able to provide for her family.
The contrast between Imogen and Tracy’s stories is intentional. We wanted to tell two very different stories to appeal to a wider audience. While both videos feature a lot of shots from the office, we wanted to acknowledge that work is not 100% of anyone’s life, and all of these combined factors will make up the viewer’s potential new life in Australia.
We executed #MakeTheMove without the use of traditional job boards or sourcing methods, instead distributing our YouTube hosted videos throughout all of our social media channels allowed us to raise awareness and collect applications.
We successfully hired 4 recruitment consultants in the first round of #MakeTheMove.
4. Keeping it real
All videos were shot on an iPhone, many of them self-filmed by Tracy and Imogen, in an effort to keep campaign costs down, but to also capture authenticity and mimic user-generated content so that viewers could imagine themselves in the videos.
The nature of our social media targeting meant that we captured mostly passive, previously untapped job seekers who may have never considered living in Sydney.
It is vital to ensure that the message you are projecting is in fact a true reflection of your culture and values. If your people aren’t living and breathing your brand, it will soon become obvious, and the façade will crumble.
5. Keeping it alive
On completion of the first round of the campaign, each of our new recruits self-filmed their journey to Australia which we compiled into our final #MakeTheMove video released in March 2017.
I’d always hoped the final video would have the most impact as it rounded off the series by telling the stories of real people moving Australia as a result of our campaign.
We keep #MakeTheMove ‘alive’ by continuing to keep the narrative flowing on social media through company posts and by leveraging personal social networks of our staff. As a small team, every employee is regarded as a Cox Purtell brand ambassador.
Our purpose-built #MakeTheMove page remains on our website so interested candidates can apply at any time. You may find that a surprising amount of activity and interest still occurs after your initial campaign period. Allow for this by ensuring it is always easy for people to get more information or apply directly well after the ‘big push’ of your campaign period has come to an end.
I hope sharing some of these strategies can help you punch above your weight, whether you are just starting your EB journey, or executing a targeted EB/Social Recruitment campaign.
About the author: Christina Knock is the Brand & Digital Marketing Manager at Cox Purtell Staffing Services. #MakeTheMove has just been shortlisted for 2 for Global Recruiter APAC Awards: Best Marketing Campaign and Best Use of Social Media.