The corporate world has used storytelling to market and sell products for decades, if not centuries. And because stories are innately compelling, this tactic works. Consider these statistics:
- A recent study suggests that by telling their brand story well, companies have the power to increase the value of a product or service by over 20 times
- 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel more like a story
- Messages delivered as stories can be up to 22x more memorable than facts alone
Yet, despite these statistics, storytelling isn’t talked about as frequently in HR and recruiting circles — but I think it should be. Keep reading to learn how the art of storytelling can help you attract better candidates, improve your employer brand and so much more!
How to Tell a Good Story
There are five key elements to any good story: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict and the resolution. Now, in terms of recruiting, the story you’ll tell most often is the story of your company or brand and how it relates to an applicant, a candidate or an employee. This concept is often referred to as brand storytelling.
The specifics of your brand story are ultimately up to you, but are often dictated by each organization’s unique journey and evolution. Before I get into examples, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:
- You won’t always be the hero of the story. As humans, we’re used to making ourselves the hero of the story. But in the recruiting world, that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. Remember, this story isn’t about you, and sometimes, it won’t even be about your company — and that’s okay. Instead, focus your efforts on crafting a story centered around your target audience — whether that be an employee or candidate.
- Be authentic. Storytelling is often intended to build trust and form lasting relationships. But, if the reader or listener can tell you lack authenticity, they’ll feel as if they’re being duped. So keep it relatively informal, be conversational, use language and imagery sure to resonate with your talent pool and above all else, be honest.
- Keep it short and sweet. Unnecessary details often detract from a story. The more concise you keep your story, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on the candidate or employee you’re speaking with.
Specific Applications of Storytelling in the Recruiting World
Now, in order to understand the full impact of storytelling as a recruiting tactic, let’s look at some specific examples and applications.
1. Humanize Your Employer Brand
You’ve polished your job descriptions, cleaned up the career page on your website and you’ve even had a handful of candidates apply to open positions. You’re doing everything right — or so it seems. But, what is it that sets you apart from the hundreds of other companies vying for top candidates?
In our competitive hiring landscape, companies must go the extra mile to develop a fun, relatable employer brand to make every candidate’s “yes,” just a tiny bit easier. Storytelling can give your employer brand that competitive edge.
It’s one thing to see pictures of a company online, but nothing beats a first-hand account from a happy, engaged employee. To achieve a more relatable employer brand, leverage storytelling to create engaging video content or imagery to weave throughout your marketing materials and promotional content. Consider featuring actual employees, employee testimonials or fun animations to make your videos more engaging.
2. Improve the Candidate Experience
A candidate who feels disconnected from the hiring experience isn’t likely to accept an offer with your company. It’s important that the candidates you interview feel valued rather than like a cog in the wheel. A recruiter or hiring manager who masters the art of storytelling can use that to their advantage. Whether in person or on the phone, use the basic components of storytelling to paint a picture of your candidate succeeding and growing in the role they have applied for.
Tell each candidate where they fit in the big picture of your company, what their day-to-day life would look like and the positive impact the job will have on their life. By making the candidate the hero of your story, you make them feel more connected to the hiring process.
3. Attract Better Candidates With Your Job Descriptions
A story doesn’t always need to be told in person, on the phone or even through video. Recruiters and HR professionals can even tell stories within their job descriptions. By using more conversational language, painting a realistic picture of company culture and positioning the reader at the center of it all, you will attract more candidates to apply for open positions.
Remember, it’s difficult to stand out among the millions of other job descriptions online, but storytelling can help you do just that!
4. Improve Company Culture
Like most company-wide initiatives, a brand story starts from the top down. Think about it — employees often mirror the tone and mindset held by those in leadership positions. If you work hard to cultivate a brand story that resonates with your employees, it will trickle down to even the most junior employees — resulting in a connected, engaged staff.
This type of storytelling culture can improve employee satisfaction, employee retention and can even convert your staff into loyal advocates for your brand.
Storytelling is innately appealing to humans. It facilitates deeper connections, generates more interest in a topic and can be extremely persuasive. Use this to your advantage as a recruiter, HR practitioner or hiring manager, and it could help you improve every aspect of your strategy.
Molly Clarke is a Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, a leading company and contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Molly writes for ZoomInfo’s sales and marketing blog on topics related to B2B growth and success.