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Don't Fake it Until You Make It: Authenticity and Recruitment

In today’s marketing landscapes, brands strive to seem authentic while also presenting their products in an appealing manner.  Authenticity has rapidly become a hot topic in marketing with the rise of social media. Social media has shrunk the distance between companies and consumers. It’s common for people directly communicate with brands on Twitter or Facebook. Tech-savvy millennials view social media profiles as consumers of past generations looked to testimonials. Personalization is important and savvy marketing departments should target their audience according to demography and interests.

What does it mean to be authentic today?

Authenticity is about transparency but not oversharing. It’s about admitting your mistakes, but stopping short of showcasing your flaws. It’s about engaging with your audience while also knowing your place. The antonym of authentic in the digital sphere might be cringeworthy. A cringeworthy strategy is when a brand tries too hard to be authentic and appears disingenuous. This often occurs when companies try to pander to millennials through dated memes and lazy appeals to a hipster aesthetic. Digital natives are quick to sniff out dishonesty and once they catch a whiff, they are ruthlessly dismissive. When in doubt, honesty is the best policy. You’re a company—don’t try to be their best friend, but do try to help them out. As Ashley Deibert notes in Forbes, sometimes the best way to be authentic is to stay in your lane.

Authenticity and the recruitment process

Authenticity in recruitment begins with outreach. The language of your job posting should reflect your brand but should also be personalized according to your target demographic. Consider using colloquial language and talk about the cultural aspects of the workplace. Authenticity in recruitment also means being present. Showing up to jobs fairs, pop-up-events, and mixers for recent college graduates goes a long way. Dress casually and answer questions candidly. Candidates will appreciate that you went the extra mile to talk to them instead of simply blitzing them with emails. There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation. When using photos in your outreach materials, don’t use stock photos or stock footage. Bad stock photos are the laughingstock of the millennial generation. Consider sourcing images from social media or better yet, hire a photographer or a videographer and shoot your own.

If you’re not using social media to access specialized candidates and passive candidates, you’re missing out on top talent in your field. With the rise of social HR comes increased communication between you and potential candidates throughout the application process. Each exchange via social media is also an opportunity to further your brand and authenticity. You should genuinely produce value for your candidates. Offer tips and tricks, respond on time with concise information. Use humor but don’t pander. Recently, companies such as DiGiorno Pizza and JetBlue have made a name for themselves for being the perfect balance of funny, helpful, and authentic on social media.

There’s no quick solution for coming off as authentic in your recruiting process. Successfully achieving authenticity in recruitment marketing requires a multifaceted approach. Authenticity comes with its own visual vocabulary—cut down on the stock imagery and generic graphics. It also comes with its own social media etiquette—be empathetic, helpful, and don’t pander to generic “meme” humor or stereotypes. Showing up in person where you can and finally, when in doubt, be honest.

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