Talent Strategy

How to Incorporate the Art of Storytelling Into Your Recruiting Strategy

The concept of brand storytelling comes up a lot when discussing sales, marketing, and branding strategies. But, the major tenets of storytelling can also be applied to your recruitment strategy.


In today’s candidate-driven market, securing high-quality talent is more difficult than ever before. It’s no longer feasible to post a job opening and expect quality candidates to come pouring in—because they won’t. And, to complicate things further, popular job boards and networking sites like LinkedIn have become saturated with recruiters vying for the same handful of candidates.


Fortunately—recruiters who incorporate storytelling into their day-to-day staffing responsibilities have an advantage. So, if you’re ready to recruit more high-quality candidates, keep reading. Today we teach you how to use storytelling to improve your recruiting strategy.


What is storytelling?

Although it may seem obvious, we’re still going to start with the basics. Storytelling is an age-old communication tactic that essentially refers to the telling or expressing of stories. Storytelling is innately interactive and uses words and actions to evoke the listener’s emotions.


In recent years, storytelling emerged as an effective communication tactic with many different business applications—and, the best part is, it’s effective! Here’s why: People like stories because they make sense of things. They provide context to complex situations and facilitate interpersonal connections.


Yet, just because someone’s a good storyteller, doesn’t mean they’re a good recruiter. To use storytelling effectively, recruiters must understand how to apply the communication tactic to candidate sourcing, job descriptions, and so much more. Let’s get into specifics.


Storytelling Tips and Best Practices for Recruiters

Although you may not realize it, there are countless ways to use storytelling in a business environment. Here’s what we recommend:


Leverage the right types of stories:

The channels you use as a recruiter don’t matter as much as the communication tactics you use—in this scenario, the stories you tell.  Here are a couple quick examples:


  • Use metaphors: A story doesn’t need to be long to be effective. A simple metaphor can convey your key points and invoke emotion just by comparing a foreign concept to something your candidate is more familiar with.

    For instance, a recruiter talking to a recent college graduate compares an entry-level position with a first car—not totally glamorous, but reliable. Both a first car and a first job provide a new level of independence and are often looked back on fondly. From there on out, the candidate will associate this particular job opportunity with the feel-good emotions the recruiter drummed up with this metaphor.

  • Tell your brand story: If you’re feeling hesitant about storytelling, start with something simple, your brand story. Brand storytelling is the story of your company’s beginning—the journey your company has taken to get where it is now. Keep it concise and don’t shy away from hardships or struggles. This will establish trustworthiness and authenticity. Plus—everyone loves a comeback!
  • Make your candidate the hero of your story: Use storytelling to paint a picture where your candidate becomes the hero. Talk about their bright future with your company and discuss the many ways in which they’ll help “save the day.” Don’t forget to include key selling points and growth opportunities.


Although these are only a few ways in which storytelling can be incorporated into your recruiting strategy, these are all easy places to start.


Be authentic:

When executed correctly, storytelling is innately engaging and relatable. But, often, we confuse these qualities with authenticity. Here’s the issue: If something seems manufactured, too good to be true, or exaggerated, it’s usually pretty obvious. There’s no way to fake authenticity—the only way to appear authentic is to be authentic.


This means, as a recruiter, you can’t gloss over less interesting details or sterilize certain aspects of your company. Your candidates will notice and your storytelling will have the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of painting a picture of the ideal role or company, we recommend you paint a realistic picture. Yes, this may mean admitting certain aspects are boring or thankless, but high-quality candidates appreciate honesty.


Consider your audience:

The key to successful storytelling is to understand your audience and craft a tale that relates to them on some level. Your candidates want to hear stories that pertain to their particular life story, not someone else’s.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, this is particularly important. Think about your business website, career page, social media accounts, or any other recruiting platform you utilize. If you only use images or language that speak to a particular demographic, department, age group, or gender, you immediately cut certain groups out of your story. Take a long hard look at your recruiting strategies and ask yourself, “Who do my stories speak to?”


Always be mindful of your audience.


Know there’s an appropriate time and place for storytelling:

Storytelling is an effective tactic in almost any scenario, but only if you read the mood correctly and tell an appropriate story. Again, your candidates don’t want to listen to a story that doesn’t apply to them. A poorly timed story will tell the person on the receiving end that you aren’t listening, you don’t understand, or even worse, you just don’t care.


Let’s look at an example: A recent college grad applies to a manager role within your company. Although he seems extremely bright, he lacks the managerial experience you’re looking for. When it’s time to reconnect with the candidate and let him know he didn’t get the job, it would be inappropriate and condescending to tell the story of how you landed your dream job after only one interview.

Instead, it’s appropriate to tell the story of a current employee who was originally turned away by hiring managers, but subsequently hired in a different, more appropriate role. This second story leaves the candidate hopeful and keeps the door open for future opportunities—preserving his opinion of your brand as an employer.



Key Takeaways

Recruiting is all about human connections. Fortunately, storytelling facilitates human connection in a way no other communication tactic can. So, if you’re struggling to recruit and retain top talent, try out some of these tips and tricks and let us know how they work for you!


About the Author: Molly Clarke is a Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, where she writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading USA business database which helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. In her free time, Molly likes to write about topics related to marketing and business.




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