Clients regularly complain to us about not being able to attract the candidates they want. Sometimes the issue is hot competition, sometimes geographical location, sometimes it is a thin candidate market. We advise clients on how to attract more and better candidates, and our experience is that very few employers do it well.

One of the most useful approaches an employer can develop is the Employee Value Proposition. An EVP is a summation of the key reasons an employee would want to work for you. The benefits of a job fit into two key categories:

1. Conditions – money, hours, flexible work practices, proximity to public transport, offices, etc.
2. Meaning and purpose – a learning environment, great colleagues, work which makes the world a better place, opportunities for advancement, etc.

Employers often emphasise number one above, but number two is far more powerful. Conditions are not irrelevant, but what really matters in your job is whether you are working with great people, developing your skills and doing a job which matches your value set.

EVPs can apply at an organisation level – the reasons you should work at our company. They can also apply to a subset – Accountants, Policy Developers, Engineers, etc. Do you have a cohort – say a certain age group – which is underrepresented in your organisation? Create an EVP for this cohort and you will be far more effective in attracting them.

Here is a step by step approach to developing an EVP. We have done this many times for organisations and we find that meaning and purpose items come up far more often than conditions do.

1. Pick a group of employees whom you consider to be high quality employees and who love their job. I like to get colleagues to nominate people who are good examples of this – it works better than asking for volunteers. The group could be representative of the organisation or a subset. Twenty is a good number, but it can be more or less, depending on nominations.
2. Get them in a room and split them into small groups – say four to six people.
3. Give them flip charts and ask them to write down things they like about:
a. The organisation
b. The job
4. Stick the flip charts on a wall and ask people to vote for the things they care most about. You will usually get between six and twelve benefits which get markedly more votes than the others.
5. Take the benefits and write them into statements about the organisation which are clear, simple and use the material generated by the staff.
6. Use these in ads, on your website, your social media posts etc.

If you do this I guarantee that the group will come up with some things which you will not have thought of. You will probably also find that what you thought was important may be actually unimportant to them and vice versa. The entire exercise should take an hour or two at the most – a very positive activity.

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Andrew Marty
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