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How Modern Talent Industry Leaders Are Approaching Talent Market Positioning

When you’re hiring, it’s only natural to accentuate the positive aspects of your company. After all, you’re trying to attract candidates and encourage them to apply, right? This is all true, but you can veer into dangerous territory when your portrayal of your company is so rosy that people who come to work for you feel that they were misled. And this happens more often than you might expect. Only 19% of nearly 2,000 global employees feel strongly that the work experience their employer promotes publicly is matched by reality.

Positioning matters. Talent market positioning refers to your reputation and perception by candidates and potential candidates. This can include both your overall employer brand as well as how you’re perceived in relation to the specific roles you’re hiring for. And while it can certainly be influenced by intentional activities like social media campaigns and blog posts, your talent market positioning exists whether or not you’re actively shaping it.

We recently gathered a group of forward-thinking talent professionals to discuss how they’re defining talent market positioning and what steps they’re taking to measure and communicate it with candidates. Discover a few highlights from the conversation below.

Why is talent market positioning important?

Your talent market positioning can have a real impact on your ability to attract and retain talent. If you build a strong employer brand, you can increase the number of inbound candidates you receive for open roles and as a result you may be able to spend less on advertising, agencies, and other sourcing efforts. LinkedIn finds that a strong employer brand can decrease cost per hire by 43%.

And as long as your talent market positioning is aligned with your actual work culture (and not just the idealized version of it), the new hires who join your company will be more likely to stay.
Gartner finds that having a strong employee value proposition (EVP) can lower turnover by 69%.

Who’s responsible for talent market positioning?

There’s no single answer to this question — it can vary a lot depending on your organization’s size and maturity. Some talent professionals say that the CEO and other company leaders are ultimately responsible. Anytime they speak or share their ideas in blog posts or on social media, they have the opportunity to highlight your company values and honestly share some of the challenges you’re facing. It can be scary for leaders to be vulnerable in this way, but transparency matters to today’s employees and candidates.

Talent market positioning isn’t necessarily top of mind for all leaders, though. If your leaders aren’t actively trying to shape your employer brand, share your expertise as a talent acquisition or HR professional. You work closely with candidates and your workforce, so you can provide a highlight reel of what you’re hearing from them. What are candidates’ top priorities today? Why are they accepting — or rejecting — your offers? This information can help leaders see the connection between their actions and your employer brand.

Finally, if you’re on a small but mighty TA team, remember that even if you’re ultimately responsible for your talent market positioning, that doesn’t mean you have to operate alone. Don’t be afraid to partner with other teams. If your marketing team is putting on an event, ask if they’ll let you set up a booth so you can promote your hiring efforts. See if your social media manager can help you create or refine an employer branding campaign.

How do you measure talent market positioning?

There’s no standardized industry metric, which makes it a little complicated to measure your talent market positioning efforts. Here are a few of the ways talent professionals are approaching this today:

  • Ask the audience
    Survey your talent market to find out how your employer brand is perceived. Monitor websites like Glassdoor and Comparably to find out how people are referring to your company.
  • Track individual campaigns
    You can use Google Analytics and similar tools to track how many people visit your careers site, blog, or specific job listings. Some tools will also let you track open rates and click rates on your candidate outreach emails and messages.
  • Measure employee referrals
    The number of employee referrals you receive is a good indicator of the strength of your employer brand — if your current employees feel that your company is a good place to work and they’re aligned with your values, they’ll be more likely to refer others.
  • Track your job offer acceptance rate
    Similarly, your job offer acceptance rate is a good indication that your employer branding efforts are successful. If you don’t already, consider tracking the reasons why candidates reject your offers to help you identify any potential issues with talent market positioning.
  • Measure employee retention and engagement
    Your talent market positioning isn’t just about how you’re perceived by candidates — your current employees have an essential role to play in shaping your employer brand, too. Keeping track of retention (and the reasons for voluntary departures) can help you learn more about your employer brand reputation. Employee engagement is linked to voluntary departures. Workday’s data reveals that an employee’s engagement metrics will reveal warning signs nine months before they leave an organization, so measuring employee engagement can help you get a sense of any potential issues.

Prioritize progress over perfection

It can be tempting to feel like your talent market positioning efforts need to be highly polished and perfect. But the majority of candidates don’t care about slick marketing campaigns — in fact, only 12% of employees put a lot of trust in what employers say about themselves. What matters more is ensuring your company is aligned around your values and every step you’re taking to establish your talent market positioning helps to tell a cohesive story.

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