If you’ve ever ran a business, held a senior management position, or even started on the basement floor, then you’ll know how important talent is for a company’s success. 

It’s not just about having the brightest and smartest employees either – you need to make sure you’re hiring according to a cultural code that transcends the individual. But how? And why? Well, most businesses make a fatal mistake right off the bat. 

The problem? The majority of companies tell candidates WHAT they do. But they don’t tell candidates HOW or WHY they do it. 

Let’s explore how you can apply this principle to create an employer brand that is genuine, powerful and inspiring. 

Ditch the What

Recruitment is complicated – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Ultimately, your goal is to create something that resonates with candidates and inspires them to want to take action. 

First, you need to ditch the ‘What’. Stop telling candidates what you do. It might sound counter-intuitive, but that’s because it is. If you’re not familiar with Simon Sinek, his ‘Start With Why’ TedTalk has created a schism in the landscape of global business. And for good reason, too.

However, most businesses have only thought about how this applies to their marketing department. Yes, it’s a great strategy for increasing sales and driving new customer growth. But if you’re not applying this to your HR and Talent department, then you’re truly missing out on a revolutionary way to attract and retain top talent. 

Start With Why

Candidates are people too, right? So we need to treat them like people. Remember, people feel first and think second. And in today’s hyperactive digital age, you might only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention.

Let’s see how this might work. OK. So, I run a business that sells shoes. I’m trying to hire 200 new staff over the next 12 months as part of a hyper-growth strategy. How inspired would you feel if you read this?

WHAT/HOW Approach

“We’re Shoe – and we make and sell shoes online. We have 1 million customers in 23 countries. Our shoes have won many awards. We’re the best at what we do. Come join us!” 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to be joining Shoe anytime soon. Sorry guys! Now, this is what the same message looks like when you start with why. 

WHY Approach

“We’re Shoe – and we’re passionate about changing the world. Our mission is to redefine the way you look and feel. We’ve changed over a million lives in 23 different countries so far. And this is only the beginning. So what are you waiting for? Join the revolution today.”

Notice the difference. When your employer brand and talent strategy leads with ‘What’, the message leaves you feeling bland and unimpressed. However, when you start with why, you change the focus and align with a higher aspirational purpose. This message is stirring, strong and inspiring. In fact, aside from the company name, the ‘Why’ message doesn’t even have anything to do with shoes. 

Yet it still strikes a chord with your soul. And if it doesn’t, you probably wouldn’t be a good cultural fit anyway! So it’s a win-win for both parties.

Emotion in EVP/Employer Brand

Remember, purpose, fulfilment and meaning are now more important to employees than ever before. Why? Well, for starters 75% of the workforce is now millennial. But I also think it’s because people are no longer satisfied with showing up to work, moving up the ladder, cashing a paycheck and doing it all over again. 

Old societal norms are breaking down, as new belief systems break through the veneer. 

Ultimately, if you want to attract the right talent, you need to understand why you do what you do. Until then, you’ll struggle to really land the top talent you’re searching for. And even if you do, you can't be confident they’ll stick around for too long. 

As the saying goes, “People won’t remember what you said. People won’t remember what you did. But people will always remember the way you made them feel.” 

Put the principle of 'start with why' to work in your own employer brand; you may be surprised at how effective and powerful the results will be.

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