July 20 , 2018

Successfully Marketing Employment Products (Part Two)

Over the course of the last three weeks, we have laid out a model for managing the portfolio of job opportunities an organization produces similar to that used by organizations to manage their product/service portfolio.

 

This model repositions the employment opportunity as a product, one that can be defined, engineered, packaged, marketed, and sold just like any other product.

If you missed the first three installments of this series, here’s a quick recap of the major points made:

  • To be capable of hiring top talent an organization must first be perceived as a viable employer by top talent;
  • Just as the labor market has become more transparent/accessible to employers, so too has the employer to the labor market (i.e., each party can learn about each other from a multitude of perspectives almost instantaneously);
  • Employment branding is about a lot more than recruitment advertising and employee communications. It is the science of creating a predictable response from targeted talent based on manipulation of the collective snippets of information amassed about an employer from a multitude of sources by the targeted talent;
  • Successful employment branding requires managing the experience of the target talent and those individuals who influence the target talent with the organization at every touch point;
  • Most employment branding initiatives fail because they focus on advertising the existence of a single value proposition, that of employment with “the company.” Unfortunately, few organizations present a work environment that is consistent across the enterprise, because work environment is influenced by a multitude of factors, many of which are difficult to homogenize. Because of this, organizations do not have one employment value proposition. They have hundreds or even thousands, some of which are very similar and others of which are radically different;
  • Successful organizations have long used product managers to ensure that products produced meet the needs and expectations of the consumers for which the product or service was designed. The time has come to apply the same model to employment opportunities;
  • The employment marketing function must be reorganized around the product marketing model. Product marketers analyze product offerings, measure their value, develop positioning strategies, develop product packaging, and promote the product through communications to a target audience.

Having recapped the last three weeks, it’s time to turn our attention to constructing a new employment product profile that can be used in marketing employment opportunities. As you read through the sample profile template, notice how many of the elements focus on the longer term attributes of employment, and draw upon attributes influenced/inherited from the industry, the organization, the function, the department, the team, and the job itself.

Most current communications focus solely on the organization and a generic description of the job. By focusing on such mundane elements, recruiters drive all discussion regarding employment down to the here and now.

In Lou Adler’s recent article on Defend(ing) Your Candidate From the Competition and Dumb Decisions he pointed out that “when first discussing a job, recruiters and candidates alike over-emphasize the tactical reasons for considering moving forward, rather than the strategic ones. Compensation, titles, location, and the company’s public reputation are tactical issues. Job stretch, career opportunity, the leadership skills of the manager, and the importance of the job to the overall company’s business plan are strategic issues.”

Hopefully, you will see how this new profile format directly addresses Lou’s point.

Building the Employment Product Profile

In the first installment of this series, we identified that the defined feature set for any employment product should be expanded far beyond its current pitiful existence to include fact-based characterizations of:

  • Management quality
  • Leadership quality
  • Peer quality
  • Nature of work
  • Development opportunity
  • Project responsibility
  • Performance-based compensation
  • Standard benefits of employment
  • Work-life balance
  • Company reputation
  • Innovativeness/progressiveness
  • Market position

In reality, the categories of information presented in an employment product profile should be determined through market research. While a formal career planning process may be an important feature for entry-level marketing professionals, it may be less so for senior-level finance professionals.

When building out such a profile, it will be essential to understand what attributes your primary talent competitors are stressing, so that you can include fact-based characterizations that enable a direct side-by-side comparison.

While we would not advise providing candidates with a side-by-side comparison developed internally, providing candidates with a framework for conducting a side-by-side comparison with your information already provided would be a great influencer.

Sample Employment Product Profile

Employment Product Family: Finance (Band 5/6)

Employment Product: Financial Analyst

Product Summary: Financial analysts are aligned with specific products and partner with line management to evaluate and forecast the impact of tactical and strategic business decisions. This role is project-driven, meaning that primary job activities change frequently depending upon current market conditions and the company’s strategic plan. Recent project initiatives have focused on:

  • Product pricing and promotion schemas
  • Capital and factory capacity analysis
  • Industry benchmarking of product prioritization
  • Budgetary planning and dashboard development

Nature of Work

  • Employee engagement on factors relating to work challenge and job responsibility in this department score 4.8/5.0. This score ranks in the top fifth percentile within the organization and the industry, according to the Boston Consulting Group. (Complete engagement scores for all factors related to this department, the organization, and the industry comparison sample are available from any employment specialist for review.)
  • Seven practices developed here within the last four years have been identified as industry best practices by leading authorities. (A complete listing of leading management practices and the external validation of them is available from any employment specialist.)
  • 87% of the employees in this department agree or strongly agree that their work plays a “significant” role in ensuring the success of this organization.
  • In the previous calendar year, this department received more than 100 process benchmarking requests from other organizations and accepted 27 from a mixture of both public and private companies.

Management Quality

  • Employee engagement on factors relating to management quality in this department score 4.2/5.0. This score ranks in the top tenth percentile within the organization and in the top fifth percentile within the industry, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
  • Average tenure of managers within this department is 5.4 years.
  • 69% of managers in this department were promoted from within the organization.
  • Employee retention of new hires generated by the management of this department is 89.6% at two years.
  • 57% of managers within this department have been recognized by professional associations for promoting excellence in the profession. (A complete list of awards and distinctions earned by the management of this department is available from any employment specialist for review).

Leadership Quality

  • Employee engagement on factors relating to leadership quality score 4.57/5.0. This score ranks in the top fifth percentile within the industry, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
  • 84% of employees strongly agree that “senior leadership demonstrate through action that employees are important to the success of this organization.
  • 91% of employees agree or strongly agree that “senior leadership both support and act in accordance with high ethical standards.”
  • Average tenure in role of vice-presidents and above is 3.1 years.
  • 89% of the executive committee has received awards of excellence by national professional associations governing their respective expertise.
  • Over the course of the last three years, the senior leadership of this organization has met or exceeded 96% of the performance targets established by the board of directors.
  • 100% of the executive committee sits on the board of directors for non-profit organizations in their respective communities.

Peer Quality

  • Employee engagement on factors relating to peer quality in this department score 4.17/5.0. This score ranks in the top twenty-fifth percentile within the organization and in the top tenth percentile within the industry, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
  • 86% of the employees in this department agree or strongly agree that their peers are committed to and capable of completing quality work.
  • Average tenure in role of employees in this department is 1.6 years.
  • 78% of employees hired into this department receive a promotion or lateral transfer within 36 months of service.

Development Opportunity

  • 93% of employees within this department are supported by a personal development plan that includes formal training, on-the-job development through project and role rotation, and interpersonal development activities such as mentoring or coaching.
  • Average number of training hours made available to employees in this department is 112 hours/year. (Average number of training hours actually utilized in this department is 87/year.
  • 79% of the employees in this department agree or strongly agree that stretch assignments are consistently made available.
  • 96% of the employees in this department agree or strongly agree that individual managers are invested in developing their employees.

Performance-Based Compensation

  • Target cash compensation for this role is set at 110% of market. This includes base compensation ranging between 65% and 80% of market based on experience and performance based compensation of 30% to 45% based on achievement of individual, team, and departmental objectives.
  • The pay differential between top and average performers within this department over the course of the last three years has averaged 49.7%, ranging between 41% and 56%.
  • 74% of employees on average have met or achieved their performance targets within the past three years.

Work-Life Balance

  • 83% of employees in this department agree or strongly agree that the company’s policies and managers make it easy for employees to balance their personal and professional lives.
  • 63% of employees in this department are utilizing an “alternate work arrangement” that allows for telecommuting or job sharing.
  • 71% of employees in this department utilize company benefits that support their personal interests outside the organization including affinity groups, corporate discount programs, educational opportunities, etc.

Standard Benefits

  • Not defined in this example.

Conclusion

While building out employment product profiles may seem time-consuming and difficult, they are becoming essential in attracting top talent. To ensure that your employment products are perceived as viable, you need to counter and support perceptions in the labor market using facts that differentiate your opportunities and position them ahead of those afforded by the talent competition.

We can already hear conservative HR types screaming that providing such information will create a liability. It’s time to stop whining and start acting. Communicating facts help establish realistic expectations and eliminate the impact of numerous uncontrollable opinions being offered by influencers outside your span of control.

If the information communicated is factual, and you indicate that it is historical, you have nothing to worry about. You have been collecting data for years; it’s time to start using it.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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