Putting Ourselves Out There
How do we prove our specialness?
Who You Want Should Want You Back
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time creating our “sales pitch” for clients/customers/investors. We do not do that for prospective talent. That is ironic because, without first communicating our appeal to competent hires, we deprive ourselves of the human capital to fulfill the promises we make to the clients/customers/investors. We decided last week that formulating our Employee Value Propositions (the things our businesses can supply to meet our future employees’ needs) was an essential thing.
Differentiating yourself in your EVP is a must. However, communicating it is the most important piece of the puzzle. When you formulated your Employee Value Proposition, shey you figured out what makes you special? Tell us eh. If you can’t, you might as well have built the most beautiful house in Lagos but painted it with some magic substance that makes it invisible to everyone. To be competitive in the recruitment process, you have to understand and advertise the qualities that make you the most attractive choice. When you showcase why the position is worth having, you attract people who are truly interested in filling it and who are the most qualified for it.
The Proof is In the Pudding
Your key EVP is not what you say but the track record that you show. If your company has created an initiative to upskill its workers by granting a month’s leave in the middle of the year so they can take a marketing course, that is a far better proof point than just showing interviewees a document that says your company is focused on professional development. Why? Because it is tangible.Because it is something your current employees can attest to. And because employee testimonials from current members of your staff will go further than any advertisement you craft, job description you write, or public relations messaging you pay for.
Let’s take it back to relationships. When you finally meet the man and woman of your dreams, after they have been informed by the emissary of all your wonderful qualities, you will naturally put your best foot forward. But what is more convincing? When a guy tells you he has never been unfaithful to a girlfriend before, or when you meet someone who used to date him who has nothing but good things to say? When you tell a prospective girlfriend that you have an entrepreneurial spirit, will she be more convinced by the fact that you have a copy of The Economist on your bedside table, or when she sees the little kiosk you opened when you were only seventeen?
You Get Points for Trying
Your EVP should be something tangible, no matter how small, that shows that you have at least attempted, in some small way, to walk the walk that you are talking. Enter the recruitment process with proof of your work-life balance initiatives, your generous maternity leave policy, your team culture, etc.
Now, those of you with small companies, or fledgling businesses that have not been around long enough to establish a track record or put any long-term policies into place, might feel a little discouraged. However, even without a long tangible track record, the values that your company embodies will show in your mission and vision statement, in the things you have prioritised in your company, and in the way you relate to existing employees and interacted with former ones.
Presentation vs Packaging
In this country, unfortunately, we are champions of ‘packaging’. We promise things we are optimistic about delivering, but have absolutely no proof that we can execute. When communicating your EVP — whether in the job listing you put in newspapers, the job description you put online or the word of mouth vacancies you share with your network — ‘photoshopping’ your image might attract candidates. The mirage might even get the best people through your doors for an interview. If you are terribly lucky, it might even get them into your company. But it will not keep them for long. If the communication of your EVP is dishonest and disingenuous, sooner or later it will show itself. And the backlash and ill-will it creates will have consequences.
Achieve the Objective
The point of a successful recruitment process is to leave you with employees who will be motivated and dedicated. The point of communicating your EVP is to get you employees who can thrive in the environment you have created. When you miscommunicate your EVP or misrepresent yourself, you create the perfect storm for D&D (distress and distrust). When your purpose is not to mislead anyone directly but, because of some failure in communication or lack of clarity in the way you presented the job, you end up with an employee that cannot thrive because their motivators are not being met. Communicating your EVP correctly and clearly is of ultimate importance in the recruitment process, and if you can master this step you are much more likely to meet your recruitment goals.
- Ruth David is the Partnerships Coordinator at WAVE, an organization focused on rewiring the education-to-employment system to create a level playing field for every African youth to access the skills and opportunity to become what they imagine.