HR Magazine, June 2000: Build Your Image

By Michelle Neely Martinez Jun 1, 2000

HR Magazine, June 2000

Vol. 45, No. 6

Recruitment advertising no longer is as simple as promoting available openings to job-seekers. Today, recruitment ads sell the company’s image, promote its benefits and often bear more resemblance to ads for products than ads for jobs. To get attention, employers are:

  • Pushing their family-friendliness. Employers are using advertising to bill themselves as desirable employers because of the benefits, programs and flexible schedules they offer employees. “The trend today is to help talented people balance work and life,” says Bob Duffy, senior vice president for strategy at recruitment advertising firm TMP Worldwide in Vienna, Va. “Most companies don’t want single-minded drones working 6 a.m. to midnight. In fact, it’s that balance that broadens [employees’] horizons and creativity.”
  • Promoting corporate image and “branding” the company. Branding promotes a company as if it were a product, something that should be immediately recognizable. The idea is to impress on people that the company is what recruitment advertising specialists call an “employer of choice.”

    “We push branding as far as we can go,” says Kelly Crawford, creative director for JWT Specialized Communications in San Francisco. “We can’t tell people how to act positively, but we try to create and send very strong messages through advertising. The interesting thing about recruitment advertising is you are swaying people to make a choice about their livelihoods, so there has to be a factual and emotional response. Ideally, those two responses should come together in a positive impression of the employer we are promoting.”

    “We use print ads to create employer branding,” explains Tim Spry, creative director for TMP Worldwide in Sausalito, Calif. “We are driving readers to the company web site for more job specifics, which makes a lot more sense, given the space limitations of print.”

  • Being up-front about tough work. The Booz-Allen & Hamilton campaign showing paper clips lined up with a diaper pin signals family-friendliness, but the ad’s text also is straightforward about working hard for the employer. The ad tells how the employer gives back to employees by offering work schedules and benefits that are flexible, so people can balance work and life activities.
  • Collaborating with the marketing department. This means bigger budgets for recruitment advertising, as well as a more integrated approach. When the marketing department gets involved in recruitment advertising, the message often moves from employer branding to a consumer-oriented approach. Whatever the company makes or does can help sell employment there, too.

    “The person you are marketing the product to could be the person you want to be your employee one day,” says Spry.

    Marketing’s experience with advertising—something HR may lack—also helps. At Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville, Ore., staffing director Karen Hansen says the software company’s vice president of marketing set the stage for a successful ad campaign because of her sense of design and years of experience.

  • Using better-looking, better-positioned classified ads. Catchy one-column ads, such as those produced for swine production company Carroll’s Foods of Virginia, Inc., in Waverly, Va., are becoming more common. Employers also are seriously reconsidering the positioning of their recruitment classifieds, explains Lynne Meena, president of Lynne Meena & Co. in New York, a firm specializing in newspaper advertising. Meena is the awards consultant for the Employment Management Association’s Creative Excellence Awards.

    “Employers are becoming more savvy about placement and how the newspaper is read,” Meena explains. “For example, instead of placing classifieds from a sporting goods store in the ‘help wanted’ section, a better choice to reach the passive job seeker may be to place ads in the sports section. “That’s where the avid sports fans go daily, and they are the people an employer would like to hire.”

—Michelle Neely Martinez

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