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Why Brand Names Aren't Enough Anymore

31 May 2018

Conor Bannon & Marc Bentley

To attract top talent today, employers can no longer rely on salaries, benefits, generous perks and all the accompanying bells and whistles. Sadly neither can they rely solely on their brand name to both attract and retain staff.

Let me set the scene: my colleague and I met a client in mid-March of this year who required a very specialist resource. They were a global brand, the type of company that instils a warm fuzzy feeling of excitement with potential employees. The minute the name is mentioned, job seekers can only think career development, promotion, excellent bonus and exciting challenges! For me as a recruiter, working with a known brand gives me huge candidate buy-in from the start. Basically in recruiter terms, once you get the right candidate, it should be a “slam dunk”!
The client met their preferred candidate 4 days after this meeting and it was clear from the get-go that they were head and shoulders above anyone else in the process. However, because of the brand, they wanted to see similar candidates to benchmark against and be completely sure they’ve got the right person. This is totally understandable and not usually a problem as it means the company is completely sure of their candidate when they make the final offer. What is not understandable is that the company take nearly 3 months to make up their minds, confident in their belief that their brand and their company’s reputation is enough to keep the candidate on the hook. The client sees more CVs but is not happy with any of them, continuing to reference the original candidate in their benchmarking process. The candidate calls every 3 days, keen to secure the role. They are interviewing elsewhere but are holding off, simply because of who the company is and what the role will offer in terms of career. As is our policy of offering feedback to both client and candidate, I do my best to keep the candidate warm and advise the client of every call and urge them to move on the right person if that’s who they want.

So nearly 3 months after the initial interview, my candidate has called me to say they’ve accepted an offer with another company (not as high profile a brand) but with a better salary, remuneration package and progression opportunities. We ring the original client to give them the bad news. The HR contact panics and asks can we offer them now. With no optimistic expectations at all, I ring the candidate back and our conversation is painfully brief:

Me: Congratulations, we have great news from X, they are now in a position to……

Candidate: “Conor, stop, you are good at what you do, you kept me interested in the role and I wanted it. Wanted, past tense. I don’t want it, they didn’t want me. They let me wait, used me and now that I am gone, they want me. No chance, in fact I am angry when I think of them. They are not a place I want to work or somewhere anyone should just because of their brand”

People by their nature, are drawn into a brand but if the people behind the brand don’t practice the philosophy of that brand or espouse its values at every stage of the recruitment process, then the brand means nothing. All the work and effort that has gone into promoting the brand as an employer of choice, eg. social media, innovations in company culture, re-writing job descriptions and interviewing will all go to waste if accompanied by non-action and over-confidence at the final stage.

Companies work incredibly hard to align and integrate their culture and brand to create an environment of competitive advantage and growth. To have this brand then leave a bad impression on a potential employee simply due to overconfidence in their brand during the recruitment process is, at best, careless and at worst, incredibly unprofessional. If an organisation’s culture and brand are driven by the same goal and values and are woven together in a single guiding and focused force for  that company, not only will they win the competitive battle for customers but also for top talent.

Potential employees want to belong, they want to be part of an exciting brand and be an ambassador for that brand themselves but sadly in cases such as this, the exact reverse will happen. Brand names simply aren’t enough any longer in the recruitment process, they must be matched by the same type of positive action all the way through. Employers should build their recruitment brand on honesty, not benchmarking.