As a recruiter, you already know that job posts aren’t enough to attract skilled talent.
Similarly, a career website packed with pictures of fun break rooms might drive a few applications, but it won’t set you apart from all the other organizations that have the same strategy.
Maybe you’ve even tried to impress candidates with company statistics during interviews, but those numbers didn’t help you score top talent, either. So, what’s the best way to stand out and attract the right people? The answer is simple: storytelling.
Sure, other organizations might have similar job descriptions, break rooms, and company stats, but nobody else has the same story. Believe it or not, your company’s story can be your best weapon in the war for talent—as long as you have an attention-grabbing strategy to back it up.
Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s how to attract, hire, and retain qualified candidates with impactful storytelling.
Why Does Storytelling Work?
Everyone loves a good story, so it only makes sense that storytelling should be a key piece of your recruitment puzzle. It can help you fill your talent pipeline with qualified talent, whether you’re working with an in-house team or outsourcing your needs with a recruitment agency.
So, what’s the catch?
Well, you need a captivating, relevant, and unique story to set yourself apart from the competition. Here’s how recruitment storytelling can drive tangible results for your organization.
- Stories are memorable. According to the London Business School, information retention varies depending on how you deliver facts. When you use storytelling elements to your advantage, you can boost retention rates by 25-30 percent. And when you tell stories through visual mediums (think: video marketing), you can make your story even more memorable.
- Stories are engaging. The best stories hook your audience and keep them engaged. To keep your audience interested from start to finish, you’ll need a powerful opening and interesting context. Then, you’ll need to top it all off with an irresistible call to action.
- Stories capture emotions. How can you tell a memorable story? It’s simple: You need to strike an emotional chord with your audience. When you connect with candidates on a personal level by appealing to their pain points, you can position your company as the #1 solution to their problems.
- Stories strengthen your employer brand. When you tell your brand’s story, you’re taking control of the narrative. You can impact candidates’ perception of your brand by explaining the how, what, and why behind your brand—and that can make all the difference in your employer brand.
At the end of the day, stories can be more powerful than plain facts. Why? Different parts of the brain are activated when strong emotions are associated with memories, and that can help you stay top of mind with qualified candidates throughout their job search.
How to Use Storytelling for Recruitment
In times of low unemployment, when the best candidates have complete control over the hiring process, you need a standout narrative with an attention-grabbing beginning, page-turning middle, and conversion-worthy end.
Don’t get us wrong—storytelling is harder than it sounds. You need to know who you’re talking to, what they’re looking for, and where they’re searching to pique their interest with a powerful narrative. Here’s how to upgrade your recruitment strategy with an amazing company story.
1. Go Beyond Your Mission Statement
If you’ve already crafted a powerful mission statement, congratulations! You’re on the right track. Now, it might be tempting to just reuse your mission statement instead of writing your company story, but you need to go beyond your mission statement to boost your bottom line.
What does that mean for your recruitment strategy?
Well, it’s not enough to just slap a 20-word mission statement on your careers website and expect top talent to come rolling in. Instead, you need a powerful narrative that shows potential candidates why they should choose you over the competition.
You can’t copy and paste your mission statement across every job description and blog post, but a good story can help you reduce your time to hire. With minimal editing, you can tell the same story consistently. This way, you won’t have to start from scratch every time a new position opens up.
Ready to get started? It’s completely fine (and even encouraged) to start with your mission statement. From there, you’ll want to create a detailed roadmap—complete with an overview of your organization, company impact, strategic initiatives, and workplace culture.
Make sure to include information about your ideal candidates, from their skill set to cultural fit. It’ll take some time to complete your recruitment roadmap, but when you put pen to paper, you’ll be one step closer to attracting top-trade talent. And if you need some help, don’t be afraid to lean on your marketing team for ideas.
2. Convey Your Company Culture
Your company culture matters. Sure, you can tell prospects that you’re cultivating an inclusive, respectful, and employee-centric culture…but your competitors are probably already doing the same thing. With so many organizations fighting for talent, it’s not enough to just talk the talk anymore. You also need to walk the walk to leave a long-lasting impact on potential candidates.
Not sure where to start?
Your company culture should trickle down from the top. In addition to interviewing your current employees (more on that later), consider asking leaders to share their experiences with your company.
Most leaders have an interesting story behind their success. That’s where career journey stories can help you craft an accessible, engaging, and human narrative for prospective candidates. You can share “leader origin” stories through Q&A blog posts, social media posts, or short video interviews on your careers website.
According to Harvard Business Review, many leaders link their current leadership style to their professional development. Use leadership stories to show potential candidates the type of experience, workplace culture, and leadership style they can expect if they join the team.
3. Highlight Your Current Employees
Storytelling sets you apart from hundreds of other organizations fighting the war for talent. It humanizes your brand, makes you relatable to candidates, and gives you a key advantage over the competition. The best form of storytelling? Social proof from your employees.
Think about it: Most of us read reviews before trying new products.
And more often than not, positive reviews influence our purchasing decisions. More candidates are taking a consumer-minded approach to the hiring process, and they want to know how current employees feel about their employers before joining the team.
When you use employee case studies as a storytelling tool, you can give potential candidates an inside glimpse into your company culture. Satisfied, motivated, and engaged employees are the best ambassadors for your employer brand. At the same time, positive words from real employees make your overall story more credible and authentic.
If you’re struggling to drive applications for certain roles, take some time to interview your current employees. Ask employees to share their experience with your company, their favorite part of the job, and what their day-to-day looks like. Case studies, which go more in-depth on specific employees, are a powerful tool to engage candidates—especially if the employee shares similar traits with them (think: career path or background).
4. Communicate Your Social Values
Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Your candidates crave a sense of purpose and mission, and you can show them exactly where your company came from and where it’s going with great storytelling.
To communicate your social values, you need to create a shared sense of purpose throughout your organization.
By taking a transparent and honest approach to communication, you can strengthen your company values and show potential candidates what really matters.
Before you dive in, you’ll need to identify your social values. What’s the root of your company’s values? What’s the deeper meaning behind them? How can candidates see your values in action? Most importantly, how can candidates make an impact with your organization?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can illustrate your employee’s purpose within the company and beyond. For example, if you’re dedicated to community service, you might share social media posts on a recent volunteering project. Meanwhile, if you’re committed to diversity, you might share resources about your company’s diversity-focused business resource groups to show potential candidates how they can make an impact.
5. Showcase Your Employee Benefits
Think about your employer value proposition. What types of perks do you offer? Every company offers employee benefits in some form, so you need to think about specific ways you can tailor those benefits to impress your potential candidates.
Here, you can focus on benefits targeted to specific demographics you’re trying to attract.
For example, a generous parental leave policy could be a major benefit for some candidates. Even simple benefits, like a few extra paid holidays or mental health support, can help you stand out from the competition by highlighting your empathy for blue-collar workers.
When you know exactly what your ideal candidates want from their new position, you can write personalized content that speaks directly to them. Storytelling can help you convince candidates to choose you over the competition by connecting abstract benefits to real human experiences in a way that bullet points never could.
On the other hand, if you take a cookie-cutter approach, you risk sounding like every other company. Not only that, but you’ll also lose out on an important opportunity to differentiate yourself from other recruiters.
Take Control of Your Brand Narrative
When you’re fighting the war for talent, storytelling can be a powerful weapon. If you’re just getting started, it’s completely fine to start with a single story—whether you’re interviewing employees, sharing a blog post on community service, or posting reels about employee benefits on TikTok.
Over time, you can build on existing stories and add new stories to attract different types of candidates depending on the role you’re hiring for.
It’s a good idea to have an overall sense of where your company stands and what your employer brand looks like so you can highlight your company’s best side with storytelling.
When you’re ready to tell your brand’s story, download our internal self-audit and set up a discovery call with our team. We’re here to help you craft a powerful narrative to attract, hire, and retain top trade talent.