If you write job posts or create social media posts with recruitment marketing or employer branding in mind, you are a talent marketer, no matter your job title.
You are a communicator if you are responsible for internal communications or keeping your employees regularly informed about HR processes and your company culture.
As someone who uses written or spoken words to inform and impact your talent target audiences, sharpening your copywriting skills is an important development area.
I’ve said this before, no amount of marketing budget will succeed in getting your audiences to act on your talent marketing messages if your messaging fails.
In this episode, we will focus on my favourite area of the entire talent branding, marketing and communications mix: copywriting. This is copywriting for HR.
Welcome back to the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast! My name is Susanna Rantanen, and this podcast is for those who want to learn how to use branding, marketing and communications in the HR industry!
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Copywriting for HR – Key things to keep in mind
Whether you’re looking to attract top talent or communicate better with the employees and team managers, there are some key things to keep in mind when writing for HR.
First, it’s important to remember that you’re writing for a wide range of audiences. From job seekers to current employees, you need to be able to speak to everyone in a way that resonates.
That means using language that is both professional and approachable.
Second, keep your messaging clear and concise. When it comes to HR, there is a lot of information that needs to be communicated. But that doesn’t mean you should try to cram everything into one piece of copy.
Be clear and to the point and focus on the most important information.
Finally, don’t forget about the tone. When writing for HR, it’s important to strike the right balance between formal and friendly. You want to come across as professional, knowledgeable, approachable, and easy to talk to.
Let’s dig into these three areas a bit deeper, shall we?
Copywriting for a wide range of HR audiences
Who makes up our audiences in HR?
I like to categorise our key audiences into the following four categories:
- Current employees
- Former employees
- Current job seekers
- Ideal and relevant job seekers
However, these four categories need to be segmented, as in split into further subcategories, because when we write for HR purposes, the more targeted our message is, the more persuasive it will be.
Subsegments of key HR audiences
Current employees are ideal to further segment into:
- new employees
- long-term employees
- team leaders and managers
- temporary employees such as trainees, part-timers and summer staff
- young professionals
- senior professional (as in experienced professionals)
It’s not that you necessarily need to communicate with each of them, but if you do, it matters that you consider the need and knowledge-based differences between your target segments.
Former employees are ideal to be categorized between those you may want to consider returning and the rest.
Your current job seekers should be segmented into potential future employees and those not considered ideal for the future, either. It is really important in employer branding to consider what is the image you leave about your organization with those who are not interesting for your business now or not even in the long haul. Bad candidate experiences are the most common area where we ruin all the employer branding effort we ever put in.
You’ll also want to segment your ideal future employees, which is your most important external employer branding target audience.
When it comes to communicating and marketing to your target audiences, you want to understand their role as members of your audience and what might be the natural topics and interests that tie you with your target audience. That information is key to good copywriting for HR.
Key writing skills for HR: Clear and concise messaging
I don’t think I can emphasise the importance of clear and concise messaging enough. How we write and what we say can make us look attractive, appealing, smart and welcoming or simply confusing.
Our communication style and tone in talent marketing can make us seem trustworthy, exciting, competent, fun or boring.
Based on my experience, organizations do not pay enough attention to how they approach job seekers and employees with their communication.
Our clients and customers expect a somewhat different communication style than employees and job seekers. Empathy is one of the most current expectations.
But nothing is more important in getting the intended message across than these three characteristics of a great communicator author Donald Miller has summarized so well:
- Great communicators are understood. They know how to articulate their ideas into a clear message.
- They are interesting. They have the skill to win attention and captivate their audience with their messages.
- They inspire change. A message that fails to impact is just plain fluff. Means nothing to the recipient, noise. Garbage for your ears or eyes. Great communicators know how to create messages that inspire change.
We can spend a few minutes or hours creating messages, but that time has no meaning unless our messages are received, and we get our audiences to stop and think about what it means to them. That’s what you want, and that’s why learning copywriting as an HR professional is very important to your professional sense of achievement, development and success.
A clear and concise message is understood, and interesting and inspires change in the minds and behaviour of the recipient.
I spoke about this in episode 82 of this podcast if you want to dive deeper into this topic area.
In that episode, I also share the key benefits of becoming a great communicator for talent marketing and what it takes to become one and excel in copywriting for HR.
The tone of voice in communicating and content writing for HR
When writing for HR, it’s important to strike the right balance between formal and friendly. You want to come across as professional, knowledgeable, approachable, and easy to talk to.
You don’t want to appear talking like a corporation to someone down there whom you don’t really care about that much.
Great talent communication in 2023 and beyond is the human-to-human conversation in the style and tone. As I teach in my Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️, you need to address your talent audiences as the heroes when your role is to position as their trustworthy, competent, caring and inspiring mentor. That’s exactly what your audience expects from the tone of your employer branding and recruitment marketing messages and content.
The times when it was okay for us employers to communicate our requirements and expectations for employees and job seekers are long gone. And you need to show that in your tone of voice too.
In my opinion and experience, your HR tone of voice needs to replicate your company culture so that the experience of talking to the people in your organization will be the same as reading or hearing your talent marketing messages.
If you are a fun and witty organization, your copywriting needs to ooze it too.
If you are a conservative and traditional organization, exhale that in your content writing as well.
The worst mistake when copywriting for HR is trying to sound like something your organization is not. When you copywrite as the HR professional, you must sound YOU, but when you ghostwrite for your organization, keep the tone to your company’s actual personality.
That’s why you should also stop copying the language your competition uses. Originality is what people look for, not copycats or fakes. It’s a different thing to become inspired by something or someone than trying to be and sound like them.
The thing is, if your employer brand sounds like your competition and your audience falls in love with it, their ideal workplace is your competition, not your company.
Five key rules of thumb when copywriting for HR
There are some specific key rules I always emphasize when copywriting for HR purposes.
These rules apply regardless of what you write. You can write job posts, blog posts, career stories, social media posts or scripts for your talent video marketing content.
Key rule 1: Make sure your content delivers what your headline promises.
Gosh, I despise clickbait headlines for content that is not about the headline at all!
You need to scroll until the end to recognise anything remotely related to what the headline promised. This is cheating attention from your audience and leads to not getting any attention in the future.
Your headline is a promise of what the content delivers.
Key rule 2: Start your copytext with the most important message of your entire content.
We don’t have time to read until the very end, or we may not even want to read any further if the beginning of your copytext doesn’t hit the interested-button in our brains.
Your most important message must always be at the beginning of your content to immediately let the audience know if they should give any more of their precious time into this content, and possibly miss out on something that would have been more valuable for them.
Also, putting the most important message at the beginning serves you too.
If your audience isn’t in the mood to concentrate on your entire content, at least they received your key message.
Key rule 3: Choose and fit just one key message for one piece of content.
It’s so tempting to cramp more than one key message into one content, but you know what? That would be a mistake. Congratulate yourself that you have more to share and write about and save the other message to your second piece of content! Two for one!
Key rule 4: Make it about the audience, not about you or your need. Unless you use your story in the message.
Remember, talent is the hero! If you want your message to get understood, captivate your audiences’ attention and inspire them for change, it needs to be about them and what they need. Not about what your company or what you need.
Key rule 5: Keep your language as simple and concise as possible.
Copywriters who use complicated language and terminology are lousy communicators. Their audience is likely to shy away very quickly and ignore their messages in the future.
Don’t be the copywriter and communicator who mistakenly believes using complicated words makes your message somehow more appealing to digest and you more professional. In fact, the opposite happens. People exit from content like that and never get to experience your skills and competencies at all. The fog of complexity was too thick.
Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to writing great copy for HR.
Ok, that’s all for this week my friends!
Come back next week for more branding, marketing and communications’ juice to keep you going with employer branding, recruiting and personal branding!
My name is Susanna Rantanen, and I teach branding, marketing and communications for the HR Industry professionals who want to build a successful career and get the life you deserve!
Thanks for listening, and until next time, happy writing!