Hiring managers should take into consideration that hiring practices have a strong correlation to some commonly used strategic branding practices. In fact, the similarities in branding 101 and a hiring manager vetting a group of candidates and selecting one for employment are strikingly familiar. It all comes down to the consumer (i.e. the potential employer) selecting one brand (i.e. the potential employee) over another who best meets specific needs. There is no doubt that candidates must represent themselves as preferred brands in the eyes of Human Resources regardless of the industry or position for which they are applying.
Here are five lessons learned from branding when interviewing and hiring potential candidates:
1. Brand platform: understand the brand promise of the candidate
People, like brands, possess foundational elements similar to a brand platform. Keeping this in mind can be quite useful when it comes down to evaluating potential candidates. Every candidate comes with their own personal positioning, which summarizes what it is they stand for and what differentiates and makes them superior over others. Key messages around personal experiences, job skills and expertise and extracurricular activities support the positioning. Additionally, personality traits and attributes help mold and shape personality and define both verbal and visual expression. All of which ladders up to an overall promise – the core of who the candidate is.
2. Visual expression: appearances matter
Whether we like to admit it or not, first impressions oftentimes set the tone for what employers think even before the actual interview process begins. The look and style of a resume and how candidates physically present themselves are not unlike a brand’s logotype, advertising, website or packaging. Whether alone or in combination, colors, typestyles, imagery and patterns conjure immediate perceptions and establish points of distinction between candidates that can strongly influence decisions.
3. Verbal expression: it’s not just what they say, but how they say it
Similar to visual expression, verbal expression is also a significant determining factor in the selection process. Catchy headlines, relevant benefits and a clear communication hierarchy can give one product the edge over another. This also holds true for how candidates present themselves during telephone and in-person interviews. Being knowledgeable about your company and industry, clearly communicating relevant experience, effective listening and timely, written follow-ups are valuable assessment tools.
4. Brand alignment: integrating personal brand and corporate brand
A candidate’s brand platform and visual and verbal expression are key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide insights into a candidate’s ability to achieve success within an organization. In addition to performance, these KPIs will also provide insight for one of the most important hiring credentials — brand alignment. The company has a brand that reflects who it is and what it does, way beyond its logo. The brand extends to all internal and external touch points impacting processes, behaviors and communications – including person-to-person interaction. Employees living the brand is critical for company success. Therefore, hiring practices must be in alignment with the corporate brand
5. Ensure optimal ROI through on-going management
Selecting the right candidate is a mutual investment. Once a candidate is selected and an offer is extended and accepted, the hiring process is far from complete. Successful training, acclimation and integration are required in order to position your candidate for success and to help guarantee a high return on your investment. During the employee’s first year, performance evaluations at three-month intervals help keep the line of communication open, provide a forum for evaluating performance against expectations and help ensure that everyone is in alignment with the brand.