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Robust brands can drive strong recruitment, says Recruitment and Employment Confederation

A report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has highlighted ways of using an employer brand to address one of the biggest challenges facing UK Plc – attracting staff with the skills and attitude to help drive businesses forward.

A key conclusion of the report is that recruitment providers and other intermediaries can become genuine brand ambassadors, in order to amplify the values and philosophy that businesses want to project as part of their candidate attraction strategy.

One of the main drivers for looking at new models is the need to appeal to a new generation of 'brand-cynical' jobseekers. The report, published yesterday, found the millennial generation are much less likely to take what a company says about itself at face value, in favour of what they read on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or what they hear from friends and family.

REC's Employer Branding report makes a series of recommendations on how employers can develop their employee value proposition (EVP) through using recruitment partners. These include developing narratives around the employer's brand, adding incentives to help recruitment partners build a genuine talent pipeline, rather than a 'cold headcount' based purely on numbers, and agreeing robust metrics to measure the employer brand performance.

The report also argues that recruitment agencies can provide powerful consultancy support to help their clients create a 'signature' proposition and reach candidates across multiple demographics. It profiles a selection of blue-chip companies, providing a practical insight into how closer working relationships have succeeded in attracting new talent.

Traditionally, many businesses would use recruiters to sift through high volumes of CVs and arrange candidate interviews, but times are changing. One new approach includes inviting recruitment partners to take part in brainstorms to help articulate the employer brand to the outside world.

When writing job specs, for example, this can help both parties determine what makes that organisation attractive and unique to a workforce with continually evolving demands and expectations.

Another approach includes facilitating focus groups with recruiters and jobseekers across a range of different ages and levels of experience to understand current perceptions of the brand, in order to develop a strategy to tackle any negativity. Recruiters are also offering advice and insight into how to create brand awareness in all the right ways.

With the increased use of Web 2.0 by the millennial generation in particular, brands need to ensure their own messaging reflects reality, and recruiters and candidates are well placed to provide them with honest feedback. When it comes to targeting specialist groups across a range of different ages, regions or industry sectors, an increasing number of employers are depending on their recruiters to advise on the best approach.

Recruiters are on the front line of the UK labour market and daily contact with both employers and jobseekers enables them to keep a fresh grip on expectations among both these groups. Recruiters are also playing an important role in helping to manage the expectations of candidates. Well-known employers are often inundated with applications for jobs, with the consequence that rejection letters are often late or never sent. This could do significant, long-term damage to their brand, but is easily avoidable.

Roger Tweedy, the REC's director of research, said: "The UK labour market is certainly not out of the woods yet, but employers are preparing for the recovery and are already reporting shortages of suitable candidates in many sectors. The competition for high-potential staff will hot up as recruitment activity increases and more fluidity returns to the jobs market.

"In advance of this, it is vital that employers consider the best ways of positioning their brand across the UK and global jobs market. It is clear from the wide range of experts that we spoke to as part of this in-depth report that harnessing the relationship between recruiter and brand can go a long way to making this happen."