Your Secret Weapon in the Hunt for Candidates? Telling a Good Story.

Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of being human. From the beginning of time, we’ve been telling each other stories for a number of reasons-- to educate, to entertain, to caution.  

A good story can make you smile, can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end with fear, can make you laugh, cry, feel hopeful, depressed, and everything in between. That's a mighty power. One that can be wielded to your advantage.

Imagine if your recruiting efforts made candidates really feel one of those emotions.

Hopefully, you don't want your candidates feeling scared or depressed but imagine if your story made them feel hopeful or excited enough about their future to want to learn more about your open job.

What if it made them feel like they could accomplish all of their career goals?

What if your story could transform a passive candidate into an active one?

That's compelling.

After all, recruiting is mostly about telling the story of why someone should consider working for a given organization.

So why are people drawn to stories?

Stories help us to make sense of things that seem to be random and uncontrollable, retain more information and connect with other people/cultures.

A lot of stories/mythologies are created to explain the unexplainable.

Why are there stars in the sky?

According to the Greeks, the stars were deserving ancestors who had earned a place amongst the stars in reward for good deeds.

Why do we experience the seasons change?

Why do the oceans have tides?

Almost every culture had myths and stories for why these things occurred.

They also help us to better retain information.

Organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser found that learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts and figures.

Even if these aren’t full stories told every time, the suggestion of a story can be highly motivating.

Stories connect us to other people from different backgrounds, who have experienced different cultures than we may have.

In fact, “the more compelling the story, the more empathetic people become in real life.”

Stories are a way to experience other lifestyles, other cultures, and hey, maybe even other careers!

What is it about storytelling that can help you recruit new candidates?

Good storytelling can help you attract potential candidates to your open positions and help to retain your current employees. If you can get potential employees to care, and we mean really care about your company, they’ll be more likely to want to start working for you or continue working for you.

Storytelling helps you to engage with candidates and employees on a deeper level.

We’ve all bought into a story at one point or another. Have you ever been really engrossed in a story and put yourself in the shoes of its main character? That’s the power of a great story.

So imagine you’re telling a compelling story about your open positions. Candidates will picture themselves inside your company before they’ve even set foot in the door.

However, the operative word here is compelling.

And creating a compelling story is easier said than done.  

You’re convinced. You want to tell a compelling story but you’re not sure how. Don’t worry— that’s what we’re here for.

How to tell a great story to potential candidates

  1. Think about who you’re telling your story to: sure, potential candidates— but the magic happens in specificity. Your story would be different if you’re trying to recruit a software engineer vs. a receptionist, right? They’re different audiences, so you should make sure you think specifically about who you want to reach with your content. Figuring this out will help you ground your storytelling. You can also tell a broader story about your company in general, but get clear on who will be watching it.  
  2. Storytelling elements: Think about almost any story you’ve ever heard, read, or seen. ALL good stories have certain elements. Let’s look at a universally known story, how about “Rudolph: the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? The story has a protagonist: Rudolph. A setting: the North Pole. A conflict: The foggy skies. Resolution: Rudolph uses his bright nose to guide the sleigh and gains the favor of the other reindeer. Now certainly this is a simple example, but most good stories have a similar structure to them. Certainly, some stories end up breaking these rules and are successful but you need to know and understand the rules before you start breaking them.
  3. How will you tell it: There are so many different ways you can tell a story. Though, if you’re recruiting you’ll likely be utilizing the written word or video to tell your story. Apart from just the medium that you use to tell your story, you’ll want to think about the tone and tenor of your story.
  4. Who will tell it: Really think about who in your organization is best equipped to tell the story you want to share. It’s probably not the recruiter, but a hiring manager may have important stories to tell about their team or what the new hire might be doing.  But if you're telling a story for employees, it makes sense to feature employees in the storytelling process. Are you currently letting the people who should be telling your story tell it? Storytelling for recruiting can be as easy as asking existing employees why they find their work and your company compelling.

As candidates’ attention spans get shorter, it is more important than ever that your content be engaging. The best way to do that? Grab someone’s attention with a compelling story. It’s worked for centuries to sway people to a cause, teach them something, or just to connect, why would it stop working now? The next time you’re writing a job post, consider telling a story to reach and engage with candidates in a way that’s much more compelling.

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