Frontline Intelligence: Instep - Have you bought a ticket in the talent stakes?

by 07 Dec 2011

I attended HC magazine’s HR Awards on Friday 28 October and it was encouraging to see a number of award categories recognising the great work being done by some companies in Australia to establish an effective employer brand (EB). Some companies are really ‘getting’ the importance of developing EBs and these not just being advertising ‘spin’, but playing an integral role in these companies’ broader employee lifecycle management.

For those of you currently struggling to get buy-in from your senior business leaders to commit the necessary resources to establishing an EB, there is significant supporting evidence to help your cause.

Kellie Tomney of STAND OUT ADVantage has worked with various blue chip Australian companies such as Westpac and St.George Bank, and was on the judging panel for the Employer Branding categories at the HR Awards. Kellie’s research into EB has identified some metrics that provide sound evidence of the benefits of implementing an EB, such as:

  • Providing access to up to 20% more of the talent market
  • Improving new hires commitment level by up to 29% and maintaining that level a year later*

Kellie’s research is further supported by a survey conducted by Hewitt focused on ‘Emerging trends in Employee Branding’. The survey results are presented in the graph above.

As external recruiters, we get a lens into a multitude of organisations and it is apparent that there is still a huge opportunity for organisations to gain competitive advantage through proactively developing, managing and living their EB.

While the GFC served up a temporary spike in talent supply, which enabled employers to secure suitable talent regardless of the quality and efficiency of their recruitment, assessment and on-boarding processes, the pendulum has since swung well and truly in favour of candidates who are now typically considering two or three job opportunities concurrently. So the window that employers create to their organisations will be a key determinant of whether high calibre talent selects your firm or your competitor’s.

So, while having a 360 degree EB in place is the holy grail to both attracting and retaining top talent, there are some simple disciplines that you can implement at little to no cost, to at least create a positive image in the attraction and on-boarding stages of what could in time be a more comprehensive EB proposition. 

1. Prepare a full and proper job brief, including technical and behavioural requirements, challenges associated with the role and expected deliverables in the first 3–6 months (ie probation period).

2. Have the Line Manager provide a detailed briefing to the recruitment consultant who will be managing the assignment. It is far more ‘powerful’ getting a brief from the person the role will be reporting to than a third party representative.

3. Agree a mini project plan with your recruitment consultant and internal stakeholders that incorporates scheduled dates for your internal interviews. This will ensure you have times booked in the diaries of other internal stakeholders well in advance to ensure you keep the process moving, in order to maximise your chances of being able to secure your preferred candidate.

4. Get all your relevant business stakeholders on the same page, not just in terms of the technical skills required to fill a vacancy, but the values and behavioural attributes of the desired candidate.

5. Ensure that in your internal interviews you have a balanced focus on assessing candidates’ suitability, as well as dedicating time to discussing some of the benefits of working for your organisation, whether related to remuneration and benefits, learning and development or career development opportunities.

6. Provide detailed feedback on unsuccessful candidates promptly. They may not be right for the job, but may be suitable for future opportunities and/or may even be customers/consumers of your organisation, so maintaining a positive brand image in their minds is important. Remember ‘word of mouth’ is a powerful medium.

7. Generate your Letter of Offer and issue it to your preferred candidate promptly (preferably within 48 hours). This gives candidates confidence that the offer is ‘real’ and minimises the likelihood of candidates withdrawing after verbal acceptances or accepting counter offers.

8. Develop a comprehensive induction program and put a scheduled on-boarding plan in place which includes pre-agreed times to catch up to discuss their progress and address any concerns or challenges they may be experiencing.

With an ageing workforce, the increasing momentum of globalisation and the (hopeful) rebound of the global economy, the ability to attract desired talent is going to become increasingly challenging. Those companies not giving EB considerable consideration will soon find themselves out of the race in securing these increasingly scarcer resources and consequentially place their organisation’s profitability and future at risk.

About the author

David Grant is the Director of The Next Step’s Sydney office. For additional information call (02) 8256 2500 or email Website:

*Source: CLC, Attracting & Retaining Critical Talent Segments 2006