With an ever pervasive social media ensuring that the employer brand image is subject to regular reinvention, it cannot be denied now that startups and SMEs are the new masterminds in attracting and retaining quality talent.
BY AMRITA ANAND
‘We don’t think outside the box. We only use boxes for packaging.’ – Chumbak
One liners like the one above cannot be outwitted; be it an MNC with decades of reputation, or a PSU promising financial appraisals, a millennial hire seeks a lot more when it comes to potential employers. With an ever pervasive social media ensuring that the employer brand image is subject to regular reinvention, it cannot be denied now that startups and SMEs are the new masterminds in attracting and retaining quality talent.
Chumbak: A Trail-blazer
Chumbak, which came into existence in 2010 selling souvenirs, now prides itself as a ‘Design Led Lifestyle Brand’, and, is a trailblazer when it comes to carving a distinct identity in the minds of the young, urban, and an upwardly mobile workforce. At a time when hackneyed phrases and buzzwords have sapped the life out of job descriptions, a creative employer like Chumbak empathizes with the descriptors, enabling them to outshine their run-of-the-mill counterparts. After all, sombre-looking and recycled JDs are a staple form of recruitment in the corporate arena.
In addition to the hugely popular online shopping website, the Chumbak team also manages a blog, apart from their Instagram with 9,496 followers and Twitter account with 151k followers. Coupled with their Facebook page, the brand’s social media presence functions as an enviable platform to attract the very best, who apart from fitting into the roles on offer, also adhere to the company’s overall value system. Attitudinal qualifiers assuring a P-E fit phrased as ‘challenging the status quo’, being ‘mad about India’ and having a sense of humour are stated in the ‘Careers’ page in a casual yet straightforward manner. Whenever a hiring announcement is to be made, JDs are released and all these avenues are tapped. The comment thread below the post provides the potential candidates a chance to engage directly with the recruiter. Queries for additional details such as eligibility, job location, reward structure etc., or a hiccup in the application process, for instance, the recruiter’s inbox overflowing causing e-mails to bounce, are immediately sorted out.
While such initiatives provide virtually active recruiters an edge over rival firms, they also render them vulnerable over the possibility of receiving instant public backlash if the candidates undergo negative experiences, or if a disgruntled employee chooses to speak up. SMEs and startups have nevertheless realised that employer branding exercises, which traditionally was the domain of large MNCs, are no longer an add-on to their existing employee attraction, management and retention framework, but, a matter of staying relevant in the war for talent.
Another case in point is that of Blew Minds. In less than a year after starting shop with his technology and leadership consulting practice, Sandeep Kochhar, the founder, has already taken LinkedIn by storm. He taps into his skills at storytelling to narrate anecdotes from his professional life. Each post encapsulates wisdom from real world experiences and offers fresh perspectives on relatable issues such as the struggles of a first time job seeker, ego clashes at the workplace, or lessons from past entrepreneurial / corporate adventures. Most of his posts – which are amazingly averaged around 250 words- go viral, garnering more than a hundred likes and as many comments. Often, they conclude with a question, thereby awakening curiosity among the readers who go on to engage in a lively debate in the comment thread. Interestingly, each share ends with a small hiring announcement followed by the relevant hashtag such as #workonyourself or #chatinterviews.
Vishwapriya Kochhar, the Co-founder of Blew Minds says,
“Linkedin is serving as a great hiring resource and the responses to Sandeep’s posts has been phenomenal. Our inboxes are flooded with job applications and referrals. People reach out to us saying that they were moved by what they read and even if they themselves are not seeking jobs, they suggest their friends to apply because they believe that as employers, we are doing good work…a humbling and rewarding experience for us! Also, while we are in the process of screening potential hires, Linkedin gives us real-time feedback about their core values based on their online behaviour and we can assess whether or not they resonate with the team at Blew Minds.”
The duo are confident about scaling up their headcount from 25 to 100 by the end of the last quartet of 2017-18. They are making effective use of the ‘chat’ function that the platform offers to conduct an initial one-on-one with candidates; an informal ‘getting to know each other’ session before an actual formal interview is scheduled. An amazing aspect of this complete medium of recruitment is that it is practically free. Sandeep and Vishwapriya are non-premium members of Linkedin, and as of now, do not need additional features to enhance their employer brand image. Their posts, laden with wit, empathy, and sensibility, help them to accomplish what they need to.
The idea of social media being leveraged to enhance recall and recognition of an employer’s brand is not new. It has captured the interest of global surveys, polls and research. Some eye-openers from the SHRM Survey Findings: Using Social Media for Talent Acquisition – Recruitment and Screening (2015) are indicated below: –
- Recruitment through social media has grown considerably from 56% organisations in 2011 to 84% in 2015.
- 96% respondents using SNS (Social Networking Service) leveraged LinkedIn and 66% used Facebook followed by Twitter (53%)
- ‘Increasing a firm’s employer brand recognition’ was listed as the second most favoured reason for using social media for recruitment – 77% (after ‘recruiting passive job candidates’ – 82%).
- Other top reasons which also featured included ‘less expensive than other methods of recruitment’- 55%, ‘target a specific geographic region’ to source candidates – 51% and ‘create an online community focused on the organisation’ – 36%
The final list of reasons may be exclusive to small firms as they are budget conscious and aim to develop a talent pool of interested candidates close to the region in which they operate. All hiring information can be posted online and may either spread via ‘shares’ or ‘word of mouth’ within this virtual community.
Along similar lines, a study on small and medium IT firms was conducted by an Indian research team*. They measured employer branding as a construct by way of using 25 indicators and five dimensions- innovative, development, economic, application and social value- of employer attractiveness#. And, they found that the overall correlation between employer attractiveness and social media was highly significant and positive in nature suggesting the strong predictive ability of social media for employer attractiveness.
Then again, websites like Glassdoor.com act as a reality check when employers go overboard with virtue signalling. Candidates only need to look up the profile of the company they would be applying to / interviewing for and scroll down the ratings. Most are accompanied with detailed reviews, while some show restraint, several may not be keen to do so. Like a Pandora’s box, there may be several surprises in store for the employers now that the social media is coming onto its own, staking claim on their branding exercise, whether they like it or not.
* – Kaur, P., Sharma, S., Kaur, J., & Sharma, S. (2015). Using Social Media for Employer Branding and Talent Management: An Experiential Study. IUP Journal of Brand Management, 7-20.
#- (EmpAt Scale developed by Berthon et al., 2005)