The Hidden Power of Storytelling and Why It Matters in Recruiting

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VistaWhat do Coca-Cola, Chase Bank, global RPO leader Cielo, Harvard, UCLA, and Brown University have in common (aside from huge brand equity)? All of them value storytelling in business.

Storytelling is an ancient skill that is now in high demand in the workplace across industries. Today’s global brand leaders bet their marketing strategies on storytelling, so it’s no wonder that top MBA programs are adding it to their curricula.

Though the storytelling trend is being pushed largely by marketing, I think this skill is just as relevant to recruiting and talent acquisition professionals. Storytelling can achieve the very goals we struggle with in TA, like:

– Capturing candidates’ attention.
– Helping candidates understand and remember a lot of information in a short amount of time.
– Creating emotional investment and the beginning of engagement in candidates.

When we tell stories visually, we create an even greater impact. That old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words is true. There’s a reason Internet users will spend 88 percent more time on a webpage that features video. At least 50 percent of the surface of the human brain is devoted to processing visual information. This physiological fact is contributing to the explosion of video and multimedia technologies in marketing and recruiting, including the video interviewing technology we produce at Montage.

The good news is that the power of visual storytelling is available to everyone, not just the ace teams at global leaders.

A Practical Approach to Storytelling in Recruitment

When you consider storytelling for recruitment in the job market, don’t think about it as spinning a long tale. That would feel awkward and not necessarily authentic – plus, there’s rarely time for that kind of storytelling.

Instead, think about some short stories you could work into a conversation with a candidate depending on what is relevant to that unique individual. Candidates want to know:

– What kind of organization is this?
– What’s it like to work here?
– Where is this company going in the future?
– Will I be happy working here?

You want stories that can answer these questions and provide the information the candidate needs to decide if you are a good fit as an employer.

PictureThere are several sources of information you can draw on for your stories. First is your own experience as a recruiter. Think about both the star employees you’ve hired and the candidates who didn’t work out so well. If you can describe an (anonymous) employee’s success and the skills and personal characteristics that helped them reach their goals, that’s a story that will grab a candidate’s attention.

Your leadership team is another source of content for stories, especially stories that relate to the big picture about your organization. You could spend a few minutes talking to candidates about your founder’s vision, or how your leadership team keeps your company on the cutting edge, or the person who paved the way for a special perk or employee recognition program. This is the kind of information you might normally provide anyway, but when you add people to the story and tell it as a narrative, the info becomes more interesting and easier for candidates to digest and remember.

Another strong source is the people close to the role you are recruiting for – perhaps a current employee in the same role or a coworker. Before you start interviewing candidates, spend some time talking with these folks. Ask them about what this role takes and what it’s like to work in that business unit or department. This prep work arms you with information you can relay from an employee’s perspective, rather than the dry corporate spiel that may drive a candidate away (or bore them to tears!).

Appeal to the Imagination

As you develop your stories, keep in mind your end goal, which is helping candidates imagine themselves as employees of your organization. What information is really important to the candidate you’re talking to at the moment? What stories could you tell that would appeal to that individual?

Finally, good storytelling takes practice. As you gather your content, set aside time to speak your stories out loud and refine as you go. You’ll find that over time, storytelling will become a natural and powerful addition to your recruitment skill set.

By Michele Ellner