Despite uneven economic reports, last month’s unemployment rate held at a very low 3.7%. And while down from its post-pandemic peak, there are still currently 1.4 job openings per job seeker.

Challenges around hiring and retaining talent aren’t new. Large numbers of retiring baby boomers, combined with general declines in labor force participation, have created an increasingly tight market for employers that’s very likely going to continue. According to The Conference Board’s C-Suite Outlook 2024, attracting and retaining talent will remain the #1 internal priority this year.

Historically, companies always had to work to attract and retain customers, but employees generally didn’t need to be pursued in the same manner. Now, however, in most industries, whether technology, healthcare or manufacturing, marketing to attract and retain talent is just as important as marketing to attract and retain customers.

Talent Marketing is a New Competitive Advantage

While some say that technology, including AI, will create more unemployment, it’s instead making talent marketing even more critical. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, technology is upending entire industries and killing old sources of competitive advantage everywhere else.

While traditional competitive advantages erode, a new one is emerging. That’s the ability to attract and retain a better team. Not only does that allow your business to grow, but a strong team sees opportunities, navigates around obstacles and keeps your organization ahead of the competition as the market continues to change at an accelerating pace.

The bottom line is that your company’s ability (or inability) to attract and retain talent is one of the last big competitive advantages (or disadvantages) left.

Your Talent Brand

Your company’s talent brand is what your employees think, feel and share about your company as a place to work. And just like a product or service, you must have something worth branding. If your company is really a terrible place to work, fix that first.

Things don’t have to be perfect, of course. Just like you’re always working to deliver a better product or service, you should always be working on improving things like hiring, training, onboarding, coaching and benefits.

While you’re continually improving, identify what makes your company a good place to be right now. Capture the things that make your team unique, and then present the value. Sell prospective employees on why they should work for you and remind your current employees why the grass is actually greener at your organization. In other words, build your talent brand through marketing.

Your talent brand is a major driver of engagement and results. Studies by LinkedIn and Gallup show that a strong talent brand will reduce cost per hire by 50%, reduce turnover rates by 28%, and increase profitability by 16%. Do the math on that. Even the most conservative number crunching will show the significant value that can be gained.

The Bedrock of Your Revenue Tower

At Pepper Group, we have framed marketing to customers and prospects in terms of the Revenue Tower®. Think of it as a skyscraper that builds your revenue and profitability. If customer marketing is a skyscraper, then Talent Marketing is the bedrock that supports the entire thing.

Talent Marketing can be complex, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard to understand. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick explained their new discovery, DNA, in only five minutes. So, we took this as a challenge to create a simple framework that could be easily communicated and quickly executed upon.

The Talent Marketing Framework™

The Talent Marketing Framework consists of a core plus six surrounding elements. The first three bring the messaging to life inside the company, and the second three create a culture by design vs. a culture by default. Within each element, you can analyze your current status and prioritize the activities that will help you strengthen it.

Talent Brand Messaging (The Core)

Through interviews, research and input from employees and leaders, the heart and soul of a company can be identified. What is your higher purpose or big vision? What are your core values? What’s the DNA of your employees? Establish and/or strengthen these messages as they are the linchpin of your talent marketing efforts.

Environmental Reinforcement

Your office environment is the perfect canvas to amplify your talent brand messaging with consistent, compelling and creative visuals and dimensional displays. This includes things like value messaging, company stories, employee recognition, digital screens, and many other tools. We also call these “culture kiosks.”

Internal Brand Awareness

Tangible elements like new employee welcome kits, brand books and employee gifts build your talent brand. A great welcome kit, for example, helps new employees rapidly integrate into the culture, gets them started on a positive note, and shows them and their families that they made a good choice.

Digital Presence

There is tremendous value in making sure your website and social media platforms showcase your talent brand. Culture videos, employee testimonials, well-written copy, photos of happy people, third-party awards, and easy-to-find job postings help you attract top talent and reinforce your brand to current employees. As a bonus, it also shows customers that you have a great team who will serve them well.

Internal Communications

Keeping employees updated, providing access to information, celebrating successes and providing avenues for feedback drive engagement and productivity. Whether it’s a regular newsletter, town halls, peer-to-peer appreciation, employee recognition, feedback mechanisms or a more organized Intranet, establish structures and processes so that people have the information they need and desire.

Team Activities

Strengthening connections within your team contributes to better productivity and happier people. Volunteering events are incredible drivers of this, as are social events, learning opportunities, and competitive activities like wellness contests or business games. These are relatively easy to create and don’t have to consume a large budget either.

Recruitment Outreach

High-impact and well-written job postings are important, but there are also many new opportunities to leverage targeted digital advertising and content marketing to reach potential employees who are not looking at job boards—also known as passive candidates. In addition, if your company visits career fairs, make sure your presence is worthy of your talent brand, and you have the right tools to draw candidates to your organization.

Prioritize and Execute

While we recommend that you make sure all the components are covered, prioritization is always helpful. For example, upgrading your office is a perfect opportunity for Environmental Reinforcement. Rapid growth might make Recruiting Outreach the priority. Maybe your Core Talent Brand Messaging needs to be stronger. Start with the priority areas and then continue to strengthen every component.

The framework is built to be applicable to various situations and budgets. It’s not a prescription but rather a powerful set of well-categorized tools and ideas that can be pulled together as appropriate to help your company succeed. After working with dozens of companies to help them improve their talent brand, we’ve developed a number of creative ideas and new approaches that can be applied.

How Does Your Company Stack Up?

Sometimes, it helps to self-assess, so we’ve developed a 3-minute Talent Marketing Self-Assessment that will help you see your areas of strength and weakness and identify where Talent Marketing can have the most significant impact. Feel free to take the assessment yourself and have other leaders in your organization take it as well. We will send you your results with a short analysis at no charge.

Are you doing the best that you can do? Take the survey and find out.