We’re living in a candidate-driven market.
The competition for finding and hiring great talent is stiff thanks to today’s extremely low unemployment rate. And companies across the globe are fighting to find top talent, especially in the tech world.
Luckily, leaning on media coverage to shed light on your company culture and highlight open positions has proven to be a great way to attract talent.
Don’t believe us? Then trust one of Chicago’s top recruiting pros.
For this blog, we sat down with Stephanie Hill, the vice president of business development at Empowered Staffing, a recruiting firm that’s helped more than 100 companies hire over 800 employees in the past eight years.
She answered our questions on the best ways for startups to generate candidate interest with the help of PR wins:
Propllr: What should startups keep top of mind mind when they’re recruiting new talent?
Stephanie: The majority of today’s workforce is looking for companies that align with their own personal values, provide healthy compensation and health benefits, and also have a positive culture. Particularly, Millennials and Gen-Zers want to work for a company that’s driven by a social mission and empowers employees to give back and serve the greater good of the organization and community.
It’s also important to note that because startups usually have smaller budgets for annual salary, companies should make sure their culture and workplace environment are extremely appealing.
That means flexible vacation and work from home or remote work policies, paid time off for volunteering, updated office space, company outings, comprehensive benefit plans, and the opportunity to do work that impacts people both inside and outside the organization.
P: How have you seen PR placements improve a company’s ability to hire top talent?
S: We find that companies who make it a priority to earn PR placements and recognition that highlight their culture have an easier time attracting interest from new talent. When candidates read about a company – be it on LinkedIn, in business magazines like Forbes, or through press announcements for award wins – they have an easier time identifying with and seeing themselves working at the company.
PR wins to improve recruiting efforts include, but are not limited to…
- Thought leadership: Securing contributed articles and media interviews in national and local publications that showcase your company’s mission and culture (think Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.).
- Media placements: Earning media placements that talk about what positions you’re hiring for.
- Social engagement: Encouraging C-suite leaders to share company updates across social channels, especially LinkedIn.
- Job opening outreach: Posting job openings across all channels ( blog, digital job boards, social media).
- White papers: Publishing white papers and thought leadership articles that relate to company values, mission, and culture.
- Employee recognition: Spotlighting employees and job openings (frequently) on your company website/blog.
- Awards and speaking: Applying for awards and speaking opportunities that recognize your company culture and accomplishments.
P: What culture and workplace awards should companies apply for?
S: There’s really no right answer here since any positive recognition of workplace culture will ultimately help recruit candidates. However, a few Chicago-based and national awards to consider that highlight company culture, innovation, and growth are:
- Chicago Tribune Top Workplaces
- Chicago Inno’s Coolest Companies
- BuiltIn Chicago’s Best Companies to Work For
- Chicago Crain’s Fast 50
- The Timmy Awards
- Fortune’s 40 Under 40
- Inc. Best Workplaces
- Fast Company Most Innovative Companies
- CNBC Disruptor 50
P: What common mistakes do companies make when recruiting?
S: I think that companies often underestimate the value of making sure a candidate’s soft skills fit with their company.
Hard skills are the qualifications you see on LinkedIn – things like the ability to code in a certain language, the number of years worked in a given industry, the job titles and managerial experience accrued.
Soft skills are those characteristics that make you a great culture fit. This includes personal values, how approachable a candidate is, what type of management style they have, and how their preference of work environment fits with what your company has to offer.
Identifying a candidate whose soft skills align with your culture will have a lasting impact on their success at your company.
P: Anything else you’d like to add about the value of PR in recruiting?
S: A few important insights I can’t forget to share:
- Leverage your network and current workforce: Ask for referrals via social media and tap your current employees for leads. Also, encourage employees to share why they like working at your company on a recurring basis with your HR team. That way, you can use employee stories to pitch reporters on why your company is a great workplace.
- Identify competitors in the media: Plug in to where your competitors are getting media placements around culture and hiring. By doing that, you know where you can aim to publish articles (and what’s working for others in terms of recruiting).
- Don’t forget LinkedIn: Create and publish LinkedIn posts and articles that talk about your open positions and company culture. For example, ask your CEO to publish a thought leadership article about company initiatives or highlights that stand out about your culture. Not to mention: since LinkedIn is a major job-search hub, candidates are more likely to find your company if you publicize what makes you a great place to work.
- Partner with recruiting firms: This is especially helpful for startups who have small PR teams. You should also find recruiting firms who will act as an extension to your in-house HR team (just like PR!). They should get to know you, your core values, and take the time to build the relationship.
About Stephanie Hill
Stephanie Hill moved to Chicago just over four years ago and wanted to continue her career in sales. She joined the recruiting world, which was the perfect industry for this passionate, outgoing, social east coaster. She now serves as VP of Business Development at Empowered Staffing. Stephanie has a passion for helping others, which is what she loves about this industry. Outside of work, Stephanie can be found exploring the city by running the lakefront, checking out the food scene, or attending any sporting event.