Using Stories to Stand Out from the (Employer) Crowd

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– Guest post by Caroline Kangas of Stories Incorporated

When I was looking for a new job, gauging culture was something that was important to me—but I found it was a lot harder than it sounds. Short of knowing someone at a prospective company or reading online reviews (which could be colored by experiences that are unrelated to true culture), how can candidates gain a sense of what it’s like to work someplace?

Knowing that companies spend on average more than $10,000 per hire and upwards of 50 days to fill an open position, I assumed that some of that time and money would be devoted to giving candidates an inside glimpse at what it’s like to work there—beyond just a job description. But, when I looked at corporate career pages, I found them rich in all kinds of claims, such as their culture is “like a family” or “playful,” but lacking much proof or rhetoric on daily life working there.

In speaking with recruiters, the best ones could generally give an idea of how culture works and share more specific examples, but I couldn’t help but think that if they shared their stories in a more up front way, candidates could opt in (or out) before ever spending time applying. So that said, how should the recruiter substantiate their claims for prospective candidates?

One word: Stories. Stories from your own people speak much more authentically than an unsubstantiated “we’re like a family” claim.

So, how do you share your stories? There’s the obvious choices—via your social media channels, your career page, encouraging your people to share via their networks. But that’s only the “how”—not the “what.” What kinds of stories will resonate with candidates? Simply put, authentic ones that are a true reflection of your core values. Being honest about who you are and what you stand for will allow candidates to self select into your culture.

HomeAway, for example, recruits people who formerly worked there and left. Those individuals, dubbed “boomerangs,” may have chosen to leave for reasons that had nothing to do with the company and were welcomed back with open arms. Bonus: they are likely already onboarded and familiar with the culture, reducing the time it takes from hiring to productivity.

The Motley Fool lives by their Core Values and has made a point to create numerous people-focused programs to match their business objectives. Not only do they have these programs and policies, they share relatable stories about them both internally and externally through their interactive employee handbook, The Fool Rules. Stories matched with policies makes for a transparent view into what it’s like to work there for a prospective candidate.

Taking the time to cultivate and share your stories only makes for a good candidate experience and moreover, reduces the likelihood of hiring someone who isn’t a good fit. So, what are you waiting for? Tap into your own best kept secrets—your people’s stories!

Craving more stories? Check out their recent podcast on recruiting that shares some great stories from Zappos Head of Talent Attraction & Candidate Experience Rick Jordan as well as the Stories Incorporated team.

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