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Your business has a brand, whether you know it or not

Think back to when you were young, attending a new school for the first time. Your nerves are on full alert, and you’re busy trying to read the new faces – to identify who might be a future friend, and to watch out for those who might be mean or even worse. All you have to go on is what you see and hear – how these new kids behave, how they talk and dress, what they say to each other (and you). Are they quiet? Do they tell jokes? Are they punching each other? Do they have their heads buried in a book (remember, this is before the age of smartphones!)? You’re busy making snap judgments and – if you’re lucky – you’ll make the right ones, because when you’re a new kid, you want to fit in and make friends. Over time, you may change some of your judgments as you get to know the other kids better. But first, you have to make those snap judgments – you have to get through the first day in one piece!

OK, so what does this have to do with running a job board or recruitment marketing business? Well…

Candidates and employers are making the same snap judgments about your business – and they’re labeling you. Maybe they’ve stumbled across you via a listing in the Google for Jobs box. Maybe a friend referred them. Maybe you showed up in a Facebook feed. But no matter how they found you, they are making judgments about you. They’re dropping you into a box in their head – perhaps it’s the one labeled ‘worthless site’. Or maybe it’s the one labeled ‘this is totally cool’. Or maybe it’s ‘save for future reference’. These ‘boxes’ are the first critical line of demarcation for your brand – essentially, are you relevant to the candidate, or not?

But how did the candidate arrive at this critical decision? Why did they decide that your site was worthless – even if you know you would have been incredibly useful and effective for them?

In a nutshell, it was your brand. Your brand communicated something to the candidate – whether you actively planned for it to, or (more likely) whether it just kind of happened.

Let’s unpack this a bit. What tools does the candidate have to evaluate you? Unlike a new school, there are no smells or interpersonal interactions that he/she can observe. The inputs are limited to what can be seen – images and text – and heard – audio. There is also the quality of interaction – in other words, the user interface.

So a candidate ends up at your site. What do they see? How does the color and image(s) line up with their profession? For example, do stock photos of corporate types work for candidates in the diesel repair industry? Probably not. And is it even clear what the site is or does? Is the candidate encouraged to interact – and if so, does that make sense? If there is video, is it relevant? Is it too long? Long enough?

In the 5 or 10 seconds a candidate is considering your brand, what is it saying? ‘We’re another anonymous job board that looks and acts like the other anonymous job boards you’ve seen, and who can’t be bothered to modify our content and/or UI to your specific needs.” Or… ‘We know you. We live in your world. And we can solve your problem.

A lot can be conveyed in a glance. So remember – your business is presenting a brand, no matter what – a brand that came about via a candidate’s snap judgement. Think about it.

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