How to attract new employees through storytelling

Mark Oliver
Learning and development consultant | Octopus Professional Development
22nd November 2021
Member roleChamber member

In the UK, job vacancies have rocketed past one million, the highest level since records began1. The top three sectors hit by the hiring crisis are human health and social work, hospitality, scientific and technical professions. But many more find themselves struggling to recruit new staff.

If you’re recruiting, it’s likely your competitors are too. You need to find a way to cut through the noise. You need a way to convince recruits that they should work for you. You need to tell stories.

How can stories help you attract new employees?

Stories have many advantages over other types of communication.  First, they work on an emotional level. When we hear stories, we step into the shoes of the protagonist and feel what they feel.

They are mental simulators. This is key, as research suggests emotions drive the decisions we make. First we feel, then we think.

Second, stories are memorable. Research suggests that when we hear or read a story, we use different parts of our brain. They activate the part of the brain that processes language as well as those parts we would use if we were the story’s hero.

When something engages more parts of our brain, we are more likely to remember it. To use the Velcro metaphor for memory, there are more hooks to it.

Finally, stories are meaningful. A list of employee duties and benefits lacks meaning. But a day-in-the-life story of one of your employees does. People relate to people, not bullet points.

 Which stories can help you recruit staff?

As a recruiter, you have a range of story types to choose from. The type of story you tell will depend on what you want to achieve. It will also depend on where you are telling this story: on social media, at a graduate fair, in a job advertisement.

Here are four stories which you can tell to attract new employees.

Day-in-the-life story

A list of duties will leave your reader cold. Instead, pick an employee and tell their day-in-the-life story. They could be real or hypothetical.

What joy do they find in their job? What challenges do they overcome? What do they learn?

Telling this story gives the prospective employee a clear picture of what the job involves. In a memorable, emotional way, it shows them how they can benefit from the job beyond their salary.

Career story

Perhaps it’s your career opportunities that set you apart from the other businesses fighting for your recruit. But simply saying there are opportunities to advance isn’t enough. Every business says this.

Instead, pick an employee who exemplifies this. Tell their story.

Where did they start? Where are they now? How did your company help them get there? What challenges did you help them overcome?

Let the recruit picture themselves in this person’s shoes.

Values story

People want to work for businesses that share their values. But people often perceive a list of values as a list of buzzwords.

Show you are genuine about your values by telling a values story. If you value inclusivity, tell a true story about a time you showed this.

What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them? What impact did it have on you, your staff and the wider community?

A values story shows the potential recruit how your business makes the world a better place.

Founding story

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how founding stories can set you apart from your competitors and enhance sales. They can also help you recruit new staff.

Every business has a founding story. It answers these questions: Who created it? Why? What challenges did they have to overcome? And it answers them in a memorable, engaging way.

A founding story humanises your business. Instead of a faceless organisation, you become a community, a group of individuals striving to achieve shared goals while staying true to your values.

Going forwards

In this current job market, being able to stand out from the crowd is more important than ever. Stories can help you do this.

Fortunately, your business is already chocked full of stories. Your job is to find them, polish them and get them out there.

References

1.       N.K. Job vacancies surge past one million [online] bbc.co.uk.  Available at: Job vacancies surge past one million in new record - BBC News

Originally posted on: Blog | Octopus PD

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