Christmas Candidate Battles


Christmas Candidate Battles

Karen Lloyd employer, HR

Who doesn’t love a Christmas ad?  Whether it’s the big blockbusters of the likes of John Lewis or the risk-taking shoestring approach of Poundland, this time of year always gives marketers something to talk (argue) about!

Whilst we love that Christmas feeling as much as the next person, it did get us thinking this year and drawing some parallels.  With so many retailers competing to make an impact on consumers amid fierce competition and different strategies clearly in play – what did it really take for them to stand out from the crowd?  There’s no doubt this is a crowded market, much like we are currently experiencing in recruiting marketers.  

There is strong competition between employers to find and recruit the best talent on the market, which is in short supply thanks to the uncertainty currently looming over the country.  It isn’t uncommon now to find marketing candidates with more than one offer on the table.

So how do you as hiring managers, employers and employer brands take a leaf out of the retailer’s Christmas books and stand out from the crowd?

The Big Blockbuster 

The John Lewis of Christmas ads!  Some marketers will argue that it’s losing its impact amongst consumers and in some cases, this is true when recruiting new employees too.  Candidates are savvy, especially marketers!  Brand is very important to them as are the products that they work on.  However, just because you’re a big name or have a strong portfolio, don’t assume people will be drawn in.  If your wider reputation as an employer is poor, the blockbuster showpiece of your name won’t compensate in the long run!

Demonstrating Your Value

We saw the strong trend of product and value proposition continuing this year, especially with M&S’s food campaign offering.  Now, this is a strategy well worth adopting.  Your value proposition to prospective candidates is a key part of candidate attraction.  Make sure you’ve thought this through carefully and include the details when briefing your recruitment partner, especially in terms of those tangible value propositions such as  how you invest in your staff, training and development, progression etc.

Making a Connection

There was a marked change in strategy this year, with advertisers planning to spend a record £6.4bn according to the AA, but instead of TV, digital is the winner as advertisers seek to make an emotional connection with consumers.  This is where your employer brand can really make an impact, if you’re able to work with whomever in the business manages this it will prove no end of worth to your own recruitment.

Be sincere

Don’t be afraid to take a leaf out of Iceland’s book and wear your values on your sleeve.  Widely acknowledged as one of the most impactful ads of 2018 (helped in part due to Clearcast’s decision not to broadcast it), it drew over 70 million views on digital platforms and was picked up across the broader media.  Whether you view it as a cynical PR ploy or something more heartfelt, tapping into the current focus on palm oil and the environmental impact has meant that Iceland really was one to remember.  There are other employer brands that similarly wear their values on their sleeve and are always in demand amongst candidates.

Whilst the overwhelming view from the marketing community seems to be that retailers have put on a lacklustre showing this season, it doesn’t mean employers have to follow suit into 2019.  We are undoubtedly coming into some challenging and turbulent times, which will only increase the difficulties in recruiting outstanding marketing talent for your team.  Don’t take your eye off the ball, put in the effort and demonstrate your value and you’ll continue to attract the best marketing candidates we have to offer.