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Understanding the differences between our talent audiences in the wider context of HR can get confusing. Learning how to approach the topic of talent audiences correctly is key to getting our messages across.

There seems to be a logical reason for our confusion. We are using the same profiles for versatile needs:

  • setting goals
  • evaluating performance
  • organizing professional development opportunities
  • writing job posts
  • and attempting to employer brand

The application of talent and talent target audiences changes depending on our message and the objective.

We simply need to get our head around how to work with talent audiences.

Why are we getting confused about our target audiences in the wider context of HR?

The people operations of an organization are responsible for acquiring, keeping and developing people.

At the core of this business function are the people the business needs today, tomorrow and in the future.

We are confusing ourselves with target audiences when we use the detailed position descriptions as a base for all targeting.

Let’s look at how we typically define our talent target audiences in the wider context of HR.

The people we need today and want to keep for the future

Our workers, employees, staff, management, leaders; they all make up the people we need today and most likely want to keep in the future.

We use role or position descriptions to define and communicate the skills and competencies we see important in these roles.

These position description form the basis for hiring, setting goals and evaluating the performance of our people in those roles. They are also used in communicating professional development paths in organizations.

When we want to talk about a role, we dig out the role description and use it as our talking point.

This works really well and is exactly the right way to use position (or role) descriptions.

Blog post image different target audiences in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method

Those people our business needs tomorrow

Many hiring managers still wake up to the hiring need at the last minute. The hurry of hiring someone at the last minute leads to the most common reason for hiring mistakes: failure to assess what skills and competencies are beneficial in the role and which type of a character has the best potential for success in this role, team and in the working culture.

What this hurry looks like is “we need this person tomorrow so let’s just dig out the old job post or the position description and add the deadline for applications on it”.

In other words, we often hire for the roles in the future with descriptions and requirements that made sense sometime in our business history.

When we continuously hire for the history, or at most for tomorrow, we prevent ourselves from learning what the business needs in the future. And that skill and knowledge is what you need in employer branding.

Those people our business needs in the future make up our target audiences for employer branding

Employer branding is not about who we hire today.

The best value from employer branding comes from making it about who we need to keep and hire for the future of this business.

And for that, we must know where this business is going, what type of skills, experiences, insight, networks and attitude our business success requires from us in the coming years.

Success in employer branding comes from positioning on the talent market in such way that creates us competitive business advantage.

Success in employer branding comes from positioning [as an employer] on the talent market in such ways that creates competitive business advantage.

Susanna Rantanen

Using position descriptions in employer branding makes little sense

It makes little sense to use your current recruitment profiles and position descriptions as your target audiences in employer branding.

The target audiences for the employer brand simply aren’t everyone we hire and employ.

To create competitive advantage with the employer brand, you only want to choose those target audiences that make strategic sense for your business.

And here’s a novel suggestion: Instead of looking at your position descriptions and recruitment profiles, think about the people. Think about who these people are beyond their professional skills and experiences.

The problem with all marketing is, when we try to target everyone, we end up targeting no one.

When we attempt to position as everyones place to work, we fail to position as anyone’s preferred place to work.

The competitive business advantage created by employer branding is based on our unique promise and the proven ways we are delivering that promise.

To sum up, when we are focusing on working with profiles for internal purposes we end up losing sight of our own role and position on the external market.

Defining organizational positions and roles, setting up goals and expectations, evaluating performance and filling vacancies is simply a different practice than employer branding.

Even though employer branding is often expected to have a positive impact on hiring success, success in hiring is not about the roles, it’s about matching your mission with the minds of your target talent audiences.

Talent audiences in modern employer branding

Listen on Soundcloud on the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast: What is a talent audience and why does it matter?

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