Recruiting At Scale: The Medium Matters When Connecting With Job Seekers

employees Employer Branding HR HR Perspectives job seekers Media Richness Theory Recruiting

There’s a disconnect I’ve noticed.

Despite the fluctuations in the labor market, job seekers have made it very clear that they want to work for company cultures that align with and reflect their values. They’re not going to compromise anymore or go back to pre-pandemic paradigms. They want to know where a potential employer stands on key non-negotiables like DEI, employee well-being, or career development.

The problem is, most companies don’t stretch out to connect with job seekers in a meaningful way. Sure, they may list their “values” in a bulleted list on their website. But these are just words on a screen, and frankly, most of this verbiage is bland, corporate boilerplate and sounds the same from one company to the next.

Using Media Richness Theory (MRT) as our springboard to a solution, let’s consider how video should become a key element in communicating your values as part of your employer brand (or employee value proposition) to prospective employees.

What is MRT? Media Richness Theory is an academic construct going back several decades. In my admittedly non-academic interpretation of it, it simply means that the more complex a topic or subject, the more robust, or “rich,” the medium needs to be in order to effectively convey or communicate it.

A simple example: You’ve created a bold, new strategic vision for your company, and you’ve been scheduled to present it to the executive team. You’d just send this to the team via text message, right? No, of course not! You would do this in person, face to face, so you can answer questions in real time, and read body language. So you can accurately and fully communicate and deliver complex subject matter.

So how does MRT relate to recruiting, or attracting job seekers to apply for open roles? Obviously, you can’t have face-to-face conversations with everyone who wants to work for you, but you can do the next best thing: convey your employee value proposition with video and connect with those seeking to work for you in more impactful and meaningful ways.

When I have questions about anything related to video, I turn to my colleague, NYC-based Aris Federman. In addition to being our firm’s webmaster and creative director, he’s also an actor, author, and director, and he just started a production company as a side hustle. At heart, though, he’s a storyteller, and he really, really gets the medium we’re discussing.

I sat down with Aris for a virtual fireside chat to dig in on video as a medium in employer branding and recruiting contexts.

Q: Why does video work to convey complex subjects? What’s better about video than pictures, graphics, and copy we typically see on company websites?

A: Videos are composed of two elements, audio and visual, and both are really essential in communicating your message. Audio, be it a soundscape or narration, is simple enough. Narration directly communicates your message in a way we’re all familiar with.

Visuals, however, can reinforce your message subliminally. The subject of the video communicates a tone & mood, even if this is entirely unintentional. What is your subject wearing? Where are they? Are they lit with cold light, warm light? What kind of person are they? What activities am I seeing on screen?

If I wanted to do a recruiting video for a new employee at a coffee shop, I’d want someone who radiates positivity. If they weren’t in a specific uniform, I’d want to put them in a cozy sweater. While none of this overtly declares, ‘Hey! This is an approachable environment!’ the idea is communicated nonverbally. In contrast, for a state-of-the-art tech company, I’d want my subject to be standing somewhere sleek, sporting a sharp outfit.

Your subjects also speak to the different demographics of employees, recruits, and customers you may be trying to communicate with. Keep this in mind. Ask yourself, who is my audience and how am I trying to portray my company? Come up with a few adjectives and manifest those into a person. That’s who you want in your video.

Q: What role should text play in a video message?

A: It can be easy, when wanting to communicate an idea through video, to add supporting text to the visuals. This instinct makes sense, given that you want to appeal to your viewer through a variety of communicatory tactics. However, you have to be careful when superimposing text on your videos. Do it sparingly, as too much text can actually distract from your message. People can read or listen, but unless the text is absolutely identical to your voiceover, your audience has to focus on one or the other. Consider adding titles or generally thematic headers, or the occasional key bullet point. Subtitles are fine, too, if they are word-for-word transcriptions of your voiceover script. Plus, captions or subtitles can really expand your messaging to the broadest audience to include those with hearing-related disabilities, for example.

Q: Should you add music?

A: Think of your favorite, most gripping movies. Do their iconic musical scores come to mind? What would Jaws be without that iconic bum-bum? We all know the opening crawl from Star Wars. The music in those films was integral to communicating the mood. You may not be in the business of creating blockbusters, but you can still leverage background music as a powerful communication tool.

Background music can do wonders for setting the tone. Generally, you want background music to be non-distracting and ambient. A few ways you can achieve this: find music without lyrics (lyrics can distract from your narration), and music that fits the proper ‘mood’ featuring the right instruments. Try to keep the music from being too busy or loud. The key word is background. If you did your job right, people won’t even recognize that it is there.

Jumping back to our coffee shop example, I might choose something warm and acoustic to help build the mood. If I was doing a healthcare video, I might go for something reassuring & elegant, like a piano. Check to see if your company has access to a stock music library. Whatever you do, make sure you have the rights to use whatever music you pick out!

Q: Okay. All this sounds great. We do this all day for our clients. And big companies, of course, have either the staff or budgets to create professional, high-quality video content. But what about a smaller company that wanted to juice their recruiting efforts or polish up their employer brand with video on their own – what programs or software should they consider?

A: There’s a variety of video editing software out there, of varying complexity. Depending on what you’re doing, here are some recommendations:

  • Final Cut Pro. A really robust program capable of creating powerful video content.
  • iMovie, Final Cut’s little brother. Less expensive, less powerful, but gets the job done for basic editing purposes.
  • Adobe Premiere. Like Final Cut, an industry standard for video editing.

Of course, if you’re not looking to get your hands dirty, hire a professional editor. They’ll have access to these programs (and more!), as well as the expertise to leverage your video’s full potential. Happy creating!

The elephant in the room: The most compelling video messaging in the world won’t help you attract, engage, and hire great candidates if your systems are clunky or you ghost candidates. If you have front-end system problems like these, fix them now. And then, get busy creating high-quality video content to communicate the fullness and richness of who you really are to a very important group of people: those who would like to work for you or those exploring that possibility. And even if your efforts aren’t perfect, you’ll stand out against competitors who continue to rely on vague, stale website copy and tired career pages in attempts to convey rich, deeply complex, and emotional subject matter.

Michael Bruno is Strategy and Growth Leader at PerformancePoint, LLC, and Co-Founder of Aspire Talent Advisory

Aris Federman is the Creative Director at PerformancePoint, LLC.

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