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Franziska Huggenberger BASF

How to avoid disappointing new employees



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New employees are naturally sceptical when starting a job. Franziska Huggenberger, BASF’s head of regional recruitment for Asia Pacific, shares a few tips on creating an authentic employer brand that ensures they know they’ve joined the right company.

A while ago, I read 76% of people believe companies lie in their advertising. Looking at the massive popularity of online product review platforms and blogs, it is evident the only opinions people really trust are those of other consumers.

When we buy a mobile phone or book a hotel for two nights, the downside of making the wrong choice is relatively minor, but when we apply for a job, we run the very real risk of ending up with a position we do not enjoy, or which does not provide proper career development.

As the consequences of a wrong career decision can have a big impact, job seekers spend a lot of time checking with friends and doing their due diligence on portals such as Glassdoor before taking the leap of signing a contract or even applying. Marketeers would call that a “high involvement” purchasing decision.

So, how can you bridge the gap to your naturally sceptical candidates and turn them into employees who feel they have joined the right place?

It can be challenging, but it can also provide an excellent opportunity for raising candidate engagement. Over the past two years, I have been working on a global project redefining the employer brand of BASF. Here are a few ideas for sharpening your company’s image towards job seekers.

Let real people tell their stories

Storytelling may be the marketing buzzword of the decade, but it does make sense in employer branding. Instead of displaying smiling models on our recruitment materials, we choose to tell stories of real innovations in the company, portraying the colleagues behind these projects and their achievements.

In a fully integrated approach, the colleagues you promote could be visible on social media, websites and career events, providing job seekers with real persons with whom to identify. BASF has recently started showcasing employee ambassadors on its new career website. Candidates can send messages, ask them for career advice and even have a live chat with them. We are starting to see many interested job seekers and very good questions coming in through this channel.

Walk in your candidate’s shoes

So now you have got the applicant interested. However, one bad experience during the hiring process can destroy the entire reputation you have built with a candidate in an instant.

This is why you will want to look not only at your obvious brand interfaces such as a website or your job postings, but also at the experiences they have with recruiters, with hiring managers, or while visiting your office.

One bad experience during the hiring process can destroy the entire reputation you have built with a candidate in an instant.

For example, if your company prides itself in excellence and efficiency, speeding up your screening process will prove just that. If personal interactions and a caring attitude is at the core of the corporate culture you want to convey, doing good follow-ups, and giving proper feedback can shape the candidate experience in a way that shows what your company really stands for.

Furthermore, to help you understand the mindset of your target groups, survey your applicants or follow the social network buzz and reviews on Glassdoor, Kanzhun or Naukri. Doing this, and in parallel, keeping tabs on the development of your business and its current and future talent needs, will help you build a business case for investing.

Consider your current employees

Your employer brand can lose all its credibility if a new colleague walks through the door and finds they have joined a completely different company than they had expected.

It will take much longer than an external brand revamp to make sure that what you stand for is also expressed in the way your company treats employees. Consider aligning your brand promise with your corporate culture, performance management and development approaches.

Nevertheless, in our project we learned that working on our employee experience is a way to make your employees your most engaged spokespersons.

The value of engaging employees in recruitment became evident to our team when we managed to hire up to one third of our new joiners through an employee referral programme.

Building trust with candidates and delivering on your promises is more important than ever with today’s well-informed job seekers. It can make the difference for your talent pipeline and, ultimately, your company’s bottom line.

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