The Weeping Woman: A Candidate’s Experience

Katrina Kibben candidate experience, Communication, Culture, Employment Branding and Culture, HR, Innovation, Job Market, Recruiting, Recruitment Marketing, Social Media and Talent, Talent Acquisition

There’s something really special about an art museum. The way it demands silence and reverence. The colors. The ideas. Their allure isn’t only in the silence but the unique experience found in each and every museum around the country. Whether in Cleveland or Chicago the collections of art are so vast that in every new country or city, you can find inspiration in a piece you’ve never seen before.

I didn’t grow up in some fancy art family and frankly, I don’t know a damn thing about art. But I still remember my first art museum experience. I was 18, peeking around corners and feeling like I was in a maze of really beautiful things for the first time in my life.

While the other kids laughed, giggled and whispered I found myself taken away. I would imagine what it was like to paint. To model. To sit in a warm room in Venice creating this art and wondering what their conversations must have been like, if they spoke at all. Looking at brush strokes. Trying to read into the secrets and smirks.

That’s what I love about the museum in the first place– the curiosity it inspires. The surprises in every corner. It’s mentally stimulating in a way so few things we experience daily can be – digitally or in real life.

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

There’s a lesson here for employer brand and recruitment marketing teams who want to “stand out” and even more importantly, a question we should be asking: how do we create these curiosity-driven experiences in a digital framework? Memorability, of course, is the ultimate recruitment marketing tool. That’s what most companies are aiming for after all– simply for you to think of them when the time comes for a job, aspirationally for you to apply. Yet the current state of affairs leaves a lot to be yearned for.

The disturbing bottom line is this: we’re all working from the same mold. We clone and replicate the templates, tailor and customize headlines instead of rewriting them. How do you really think you’re going to stand out if you’re just doing what everyone else is doing? How do you consider yourself best-in-class for doing the bare minimum?

Yet creators and leaders are led to believe that best-in-class recruitment marketing is a process and success comes with templates. They A/B test their winner against a nuanced version of the same thing. They liberally borrow from their competitors. They assume that a candidate experience journey is linear but the fact is, much like the art museum, it’s really a lesson in nuance, creativity, and curiosity. Lessons we seem to have forgotten as we’ve templatized and replicated instead of being creators.

The challenge with translating something as inspiring as an art museum experience into a digital medium is that we have a series of biases and assumptions going into every digital interaction– both on the side of the consumer and the candidate. We’ve “been there, done that” and there’s not much that’s truly extraordinary when it comes to a web page or online video.

This bias translates into how we react to materials that market jobs. We can sniff out a templated headline from a mile away. That’s why recruiters started sneaking “re:” into the subject lines– all to try and beat the bias. To convince us that this was worth opening. At volume, we see these tactics at least 40 times a day from marketers. Candidates have built digital immunity.

How To Stand Out In A World Of Abstracts

I believe we’re rapidly approaching a time where our typical tactics won’t work. We might already be there. Here are some basic ways you can shift the tides and get a response in a world full of templates:

  • Be Simple. Stop using the HTML template. Write to people. About yourself. The most powerful words in the world are “me, my, you and I.” I’ve tested it. I know.
  • Focus on People. Instead of writing a 300-word email, let your people do a 1-minute video. Let your people shine, not your copywriters. They’ll tell your story in a way that connects.
  • Value over Features. Instead of focusing on some new widget or gadget, tell people a story. Show them how you can change lives.
  • Change The Medium. Use video, use text, use direct mail. Email isn’t the only way. That means we need to figure out how to get people subscribed now and ID what engagement means in a text if we actually want to be best-in-class.
  • Take A Risk. If you’re a little nervous about it, it’ll probably work.

In a world where everyone is cloning to create, be the artist.