Cut through the noise. Authenticity in tech recruitment.

Anne-Lise Brown
Anne-Lise Brown ↓ 7 minute read
Apr 27, 2022
Read 32 times

I’ll start off a little less corporate. Suppose you go on a date. The conversation is going great and time flew by while getting to know the person in front of you. If this is the case, you probably really wish they will be the same on the second, third, or 10th date. At the same time, if the person states they like you it would be a relief to know they do so because you’ve been your truest, most genuine self, and not a version of yourself that will make all future dates a challenging performance you have to keep up with.

The same goes for working contexts.

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The joy of realizing our candidate experience matched up to the employee experience!

What you see is what you get

Candidates are more involved than ever before. The social media algorithms are showcasing targeted information, offers and opportunities they didn’t even know they needed, a constant supply of attractive, exotic, out-of-the-box alternatives, and is making the audience responsible for deciding what is worth their attention.

Within the IT recruitment industry, the stakes are even higher, with great budgets and endless remote possibilities appealing to the candidates, which is why companies are faced with the challenge of being simultaneously flexible, creative, and committed to their brand’s story.

Although talent acquisition is not incredibly hard to achieve, talent attraction is on the flip side of the coin, being the special ingredient for success. Since social media has shrunk the distance between brands and consumers, the interaction between the two is similar to the dating world. Brands want to present themselves and their products in the most attractive manner, while also preserving their authenticity. They need to be active listeners of their targeted audience’s interests and use them to personalize their image without forgetting about their true essence.

A study conducted by Korn Ferry revealed that 90% of executives say between 10% and 25% of new employees leave their organizations within the first 6 months, the main reason being a discrepancy between “what you see” and “what you get”. Their expectations from their candidate experience didn’t match up to their employee experience once they were on board, including job responsibilities, given resources, and company culture.

Talent gives a company a competitive advantage. This is why it’s worth focusing on authenticity, and why all efforts in hiring and retaining top talent should be the priority for any HR department.

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Talent attraction is giving people the opportunity to engage and openly discuss their choices.

How to present yourself authentically as a company?

Stand out from the crowd. When you started your brand, you probably got the idea from a form of comparison with what is already out there. And you noticed a niche where you could add up value and went for it. That’s the energy you need to keep when it comes to your employer branding as well. What makes you unique? What makes your field of activity meaningful? There is no need to chase whatever is cool out there, be it memes, tik tok reels, or whatever else is trending. Don’t get me wrong, all these tools can add great value to your business, but only if they align with your brand’s philosophy.

Show and tell. You can’t just tell your audience about how professional/creative/fun/inclusive (you name it!) you are, you also have to show them. In everything you do as a company, let consistency guide you. Your communication style, the way you approach candidates or clients, the way you conduct an interview or a negotiation - all actions need to give off the same message to candidates, employees, and clients as well.

Employee experience vs. company culture. These two right here are not the same. Culture mostly supports the employee experience and shelters satisfaction, productivity, and engagement in your organization. Authenticity also shows up in your commitment to the health and success of your employees, through the physical and emotional working environment, resources, and tools to help them in their work.

Transparency (with moderation). Candidates will sniff out the forced effort of trying to portray your brand as flawless. Authenticity is about admitting your mistakes or weak points that need improvement, without oversharing or falling into the other extreme of highlighting your flaws. As Ashley Deibert notes in Forbes, sometimes the best way to be authentic is to stay in your lane.

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The human approach is our superpower. What is yours?

Let the employees do the talking. The ones that know most about employee experience are, you guessed it, the employees. When creating online content, such as videos, blog posts, or posters, try to put them in the spotlight, and encourage them to share their views on what it is like to work for your brand. Encourage them to not shy away from mentioning the aspects that might not be ideal for future candidates, but make the commitment to address those pain points.

Storytelling for the win. Research shows that storytelling is 22 times more memorable than facts alone. Bring in the human touch by linking your brand to the stories of the people who work there and keep the wheels turning. Similar to the previous point, find creative ways in which your employees can give future candidates a real insight into what it’s like to be part of the team. If the company culture truly reflects the brand you are selling, your employees will be looking forward to being involved in actions that promote the brand and provide social proof.

Growing together. Just as much as your new employees will help your project evolve, you should also put thought into the ways you can help them grow professionally. An authentic relationship is built upon understanding and following each other’s rhythm, so do invest in a thorough onboarding process, learning and development opportunities, and policies and practices that help craft a good experience for employees. And don’t forget to ask for feedback to make sure your initiatives are aligned with your team’s true needs :)

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If the company culture truly reflects the brand you are selling, your employees will be looking forward to being involved in actions that promote the brand and provide social proof.

How can you assess the authenticity of your candidates?

Of course, just as much as you want your brand to come forward with authenticity, you also wish your employers will share your values and will show up in their most authentic way. The more authentic they are, the more they engaged in their work, their internal motivation increases and they become more committed to and satisfied with their work. This also contributes to building up trusting and lasting relationships with other colleagues, so it is pretty clear it can only benefit the well-being and the long-term success of the company.

Here are some ways you can bring to the surface the authenticity of your candidates:

It starts with the interview. Although a structured interview can help remove biases and save time in hiring, they have the downside of triggering typical, scripted answers from the candidates. Set a goal to review the questions regularly and to incorporate some open questions that help you get to know the applicant better.

Make it engaging. The prepared questions are what assure consistency in your interviewing process, but you will get a better insight into whether the candidate is a fit or not if you treat the interview as a conversation. If a candidate does not answer a question thoroughly enough, maybe some further questions will elicit a more complete answer. If their answer inspires follow-up questions, then allow yourself to ask them before returning to your initial structure.

Assessment center. Simulating real working scenarios will give the candidate the opportunity to show their approach to problem-solving, the way they behave under pressure and their approach to technical and/or social challenges.

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A team that is fully on board :)

There is no shortcut to coming off as authentic in recruiting. Achieving authenticity requires some extra work to discover who, what, why, and how you are as a brand, and as a team, following with a thoroughly prepared plan to put your findings out there in a representative way. But once it’s happening and you take a minute to appreciate the wholesomeness of your brand, you will gladly smile, knowing that your efforts translated into having a team that is fully on board with your vision.

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