Using job seeker insight to produce powerful recruitment marketing
As the race to win top talent intensifies, the importance of understanding how to command the attention of ideal candidates has become a mission-critical priority.
The secret to determining those compelling recruitment messages lies within the process candidates use to make the decision to pursue a position or an employer.
While every individual is different, the majority of job seekers are looking for one very important thing: fit.
Researchers studying organizational behavior and cognitive science often refer to this as Person-Organization Fit, or P-O Fit. It’s a measure of how closely a company’s standards, values, priorities and preferences line up with those of an employee.
This is an essential concept to consider when shaping an employer brand that has the ability to create an alluring and immediate connection with your ideal candidates.
Increasing applicant attraction
When your employer brand is perceived by a candidate to reflect that person’s self-identity (how they see themselves) and their social identity (how they want others to see them), they often develop a sense of loyalty and preference for your company as an employer.
P-O Fit researchers find that this early affinity can lead candidates to feel like “insiders” – as if they’re already part of the team. They say this increases the chances that the candidates will continue to pursue the position and stay loyal to that company even when they’re presented with other job opportunities.
According to a study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, this match among the personal values, beliefs and needs of the candidate with the purpose and principles of the company is “the strongest predictor of applicant attraction.”
Gallup reinforced this finding in their 2020 State of the American Workplace report: “Employees are willing to look and keep looking for a company that’s mission and culture reflect and reinforce their values.”
Why P-O Fit has such a powerful influence on a candidate’s attraction to a potential employer
For most people, where they work and what they do are two primary factors that define their identity. When a company is perceived to be a place where the ideal candidate believes she or he can thrive and belong, affinity is established.
At a non-conscious level, when candidates identify with an employer brand that feels familiar and similar to their own identity, they form perceptions about the work environment and the relationships they will have there.
When the P-O Fit is strong, they feel more confident that they will fit in, people will think they’re doing a great job, it will be easy to work together and that they will feel welcome and appreciated.
Impacts on employee engagement and culture
After the candidates with a high P-O Fit are hired, they tend to be among the most engaged employees in the workforce because they are more likely to experience a greater sense of fulfilment, shared purpose and familiarity with the company. For them, going the extra mile is natural because they feel personally connected to the work.
Hiring these types of candidates can also be a successful strategy for shaping a high-performance culture since these are the people who are deeply committed to helping the company win.
See how I helped Carlisle Construction Materials build a unique employer brand designed to connect with their ideal employees: achievement-oriented self-starters who are always up for a challenge.
Gallup (2020). State of the American Workplace. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
Griepentrog, B. K., Harold, C. M., Holtz, B. C., Klimoski, R. J., & Marsh, S. M. (2012). Integrating social identity and the theory of planned behavior: Predicting withdrawal from an organizational recruitment process. Personnel Psychology, 65(4), 723–753.
Kissel, P. and Buttgen, M. (2015). Using social media to communicate employer brand identity: The impact on corporate image and employer attractiveness. Journal of Brand Management, 22, 755–777.
Muondo, R. & Perkins, S. (2013). Organizational Behavior: People, Process, Work and Human Resource Management. Kogan Page.
Yu, K. Y. T. (2014). Person–organization fit effects on organizational attraction: A test of an expectations-based model. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 124(1), 75-94.
An earlier version of this article appeared on JPL’s website in March 2021.
About the Author
Jessica Walter, MS, APR, is a Communication Strategist and Certified Leadership Coach with a passion for inspiring individuals and companies to live into their full potential.
Jessica has been a strategist and consultant for a communication firm, a marketing executive for a regional bank, a communications director for a health system, a public affairs officer for a Dept. of Defense command, and the assignment editor for a TV newsroom.
She has recently been quoted in PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics, Training Magazine, Becker’s Hospital Review and the Central Penn Business Journal on accelerating business growth through culture and employee communication.
She holds a master’s degree in Leadership & Business Ethics from Duquesne University, a bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Towson University, and the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board.
She is also certified as a Lean Systems Leader and as a Professional Leadership Coach.
© 2021 Jessica Walter, MS, APR
All content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organization with which the author is involved. Although the author makes an extensive effort to provide a complete representation of facts, it is recommended to gather information from many sources. The author sincerely hopes that you find this information helpful and urges you to be inspired, to inspire others, and to be gentle with yourself as you continue on your path.