The job market was great in 2015, especially in the tech scene. According to a study from CareerBuilder, we experienced a significant compensation growth this year. Eighty-two percent of employers said that they were planning to raise salaries for existing employees and 64 percent of employers offered higher starting salaries. Many of my friends received solicitations from recruiters on a regular basis, touting sign-on bonuses, profit sharing and many other financial and non-financial perks. It was a great time to be a qualified job seeker.

I have never viewed recruiting as a form of storytelling. Perhaps it’s because recruiting is a function of Human Resources and not Marketing; it’s unfortunate that those two departments don’t collaborate nearly enough. In fact, this landed in my LinkedIn Inbox just the other day:

Recruiting Inmail

It’s obvious this is a generic message sent to an email group. The company that sent this to me is one of the largest airline operators in the world. Sometimes companies rely too heavily on brand recognition and not enough on personal connection.

A Compelling Story is Missing From the Recruiting Frenzy in Real Estate

Due to the national real estate market performing so well, it is also seeing a significant increase in new real estate agent candidates. According to the 2015 CoreLogic Home Price Index, home prices increased by 5.7 percent on a year-to-year basis in January—the 35th consecutive month with an annual rise in sales prices. As a Dallas resident, every tenured instructor in my pre-licensing courses repeated this statement: 2015 was the best market they’ve experienced in their entire career.

So many of my peers quit their W2 jobs because they were burned out and wanted to be business owners. You’d think that in front of such a pool of impressionable candidates, real estate brokerages would do a better job recruiting. Instead, so many of them led with statistics: the number of national offices they have, how they’re the official sponsor of the Dallas Cowboys, or how they have over 10,000 agents around the country. Why would any of those characteristics make a qualified candidate want to sign with them?

“Unlike other nation-wide brokerages, we are very verticalized in our scope, which helps us narrow in on our story,” explains the founder of Plano-based Moonlight Agents, a brokerage dedicated to corporate moonlighters.

Understanding who their target agents are was essential to building a strong messaging framework for Moonlight Agents, which has grown to include real estate agents who are currently employed as software developers, engineers and corporate strategists for Fortune 500 companies.

“Our message to potential new real estate agents is all about empathy. Not everyone has the desire to have a side gig to their W2 job, but if they do they want to know that there is a business model in place to enable their success. We’ve structured our training, commission plan and communication process around the lifestyle of a moonlighter. There is definitely an art to understanding the persona of a part-time agent and we feel like we do that very well.”

The number one thing I tell clients is: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. While many businesses understand that fundamental, few actually execute it well in their messaging and positioning.

Forming a Candidate-Driven Mindset in IT Recruiting

Candidates often chose employers not because of a higher salary base, but because the company “just didn’t get me.” In effort to better match candidates and employers, Zigatta provides value to their clients by educating them to adapt their pitch (i.e. job description and/or job offer) to the candidate’s profile.

For example, if a hospital wants to build a high-caliber IT team, Zigatta helps them understand how to position themselves to attract those types of candidates and compares that to similar offerings at, for example, a tech start-up. Contrary to what many would believe, not every techie wants to work for an agile tech company in growth mode. For many candidates, the job description often isn’t as alluring as the culture of the company, and that is where positioning is critical.

“We don’t fill butts in seats; we employ a white-glove service where we spend days with prospective candidates, qualifying them to ensure they’re a good cultural fit for the employer. It’s a very high-touch process, one where we work extremely hard to develop that meaningful connection with the candidate because we know they have choices,” explains L’Erin Hampton, Partner of this Frisco-based staffing consultancy.

Everyone Is a Recruiter in Some Way

To conclude, here are some of the key points I hope you’ll take away:

  • Marketing and human resources departments should form a stronger partnership to build a messaging framework for new hires. For the most part, companies invest in learning how to speak to paying customers, but not so much to potential employees.
  • Seek to understand who the candidates are and what is important to them, a similar process to building a buyer persona
  • Even though you may not have the title of “Recruiter” you’re still recruiting for something. If you’re a real estate agent, you’re constantly thinking about building your referral base. If you’re a W2 employee, you may also be thinking about referrals to expand the team (and to collect that referral bonus).

As stated earlier, 2015 was a great year to be a job candidate. If you were one, then perhaps you received a few good offers that were poorly positioned. If you were a recruiter, then you also probably learned that the traditional approach may not have worked as well as it did in the past.

Either way, the point is that storytelling is alive and well—both inside and out of the marketing department—and the name of the game is the same as it has been: know your target audience, know them well, and talk to them in a context that resonates.