Employers! Want to attract the best talent? Stop lying and start listening. 

Written by Mark Puncher

Mark Puncher is Employer Branding Australia’s Founder and Chief Energy Officer. Having spent many years with one foot in talent attraction and the other in marketing, he loves helping fantastic, imperfect organisations bring their stories to life to engage their future superstars. When he isn't helping people shape their employer brands, hobbies include finger painting, 5am ballet and building dens. He also has strong beliefs about the importance of wine.

OK, I’m aware that’s an aggressive title for my first #ChatTalent piece. I’m a passionate guy and this stuff winds me up. I also like to share, so here goes…

Everyone knows that attracting and engaging the right people is a key driver of organisational success… and economic growth… and personal satisfaction and achievement.

So why do so many ANZ employers still treat recruitment as a distress purchase and an admin process?

And when they do get proactive and market themselves, why do their videos and written content look like shampoo ads?

Here are three key insights for employers based on my 14,657 candidate conversations to date:


Candidates don’t trust you. They may trust your people.  

In a world where we’re being sold to 24/7 and where the reality rarely lives up to the hype, we have stopped believing what government, institutions and companies say. From an employment perspective, we are ‘continuous candidates’ (or guns for hire), believing only what we can see and touch for ourselves. Glossy agency videos and stock images of smiling American models will deepen candidate mistrust and reduce their likelihood to apply. Use your own people – they’re far more beautiful than anything on Shutterstock.

Content is still king for recruitment marketing and your current employees are the most powerful brand asset you have. Give them the platform to showcase your story through theirs. Do not give them a script. I repeat: DO NOT GIVE THEM A SCRIPT.

Oh, and before you do all that, engage your employees about their experience of working for you. Listen to them, hear them and respond. They’re your best shot at becoming / remaining the company you want to be.


Employer of choice’ means nothing, or worse. Candidates care about what they get, what is expected and what it’s like.

‘Best Plastics Production Employer in North West Tasmania 2018’.  

We’ve surely passed the tipping point now, with an array of (paid for, subjectively judged) employer awards. If everyone has one, it ceases to be valuable. Don’t get me wrong – I love seeing truly great employers being recognised. But we’ve all seen the other side of the coin – the award announcements which trigger smirks and / or wall punches from the company’s own employees on the ground.

And here’s the thing. If all you do with it is add ‘Employer of Choice’ to the bullet points at the top of your job ad, it’s unlikely to do anything… except maybe deepen that candidate mistrust we talked about earlier.

I’ve found that prospective candidates tend to have three key silent questions when considering applying: What’s in it for me? What is expected of me (and am I right for you)? What’s it really like (and are you right for me)?

So when you advertise, ditch the 3 ‘About us’ paragraphs and reduce the 12 bullets for ‘Mandatory requirements’. Say something different, to inspire and educate your target audience and bring your offer and experience to life. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference it can make.


Lying or overselling to make a hire will hurt you  

I spoke to an internal recruiter the other day who is sick of sitting in interviews watching her Hiring Manager colleague oversell the role to candidates. The best-case scenario here is that the candidate smells the lie a mile off and ghosts you. The worst result is them joining you and either disappearing on week 2 or staying on for 5 years for the thrill of daily resentment and whingeing.

From advertising to onboarding, be honest. Talk about the challenges alongside the opportunities – Candidates will respect you for it and will be better prepared for the role you hired them for.

No organisation is perfect. That’s ok. But few are consistently honest with candidates. And there’s no excuse for that.


Further reading / ranting:


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