In his blog, ‘How the Concept of “Purpose” Can Make a Huge Difference in Attracting Talent’, our Chief Sourcing Ninja Johnny Campbell talks about the purpose revolution and the profound effect it’s having on the recruitment process.
In essence, people are no longer happy to clock in, clock out and get paid. Candidates these days need to feel they are achieving something and working towards a greater goal when they come to work. They want to do work that matters to them, and they will prioritise work that matters to them over money or advancement. As a result, it’s no longer enough for us to focus on the responsibilities of a job to sell it to the candidates we want to attract to our roles. To attract the people we need to be successful in our open roles, we need to tell them how working for our company will help them do something meaningful and greater than themselves.
And the following companies are great examples organisations who are harnessing the power of purpose to attract the best people to come and work for them:
1. Teach First
Purpose Proposition: “Change their lives.“
Teaching. They say it’s a calling. But a good teacher is hard to find. Which is why Teach First decided it was time to take a different approach to attracting people to choose teaching as a career. The resulting campaign is one of the best examples we’ve seen of purpose marketing in employer branding.
In this excellent video they “sell” teaching as a career by focusing not on the responsibilities of a teacher or even the environment of the school, but on the impact one teacher had on one troubled boy, told in a rhyming rap to camera by that boy. It’s moving. Heck, even I wanted to be a teacher after I watched it! This is the standard you should strive to meet and then exceed when it comes to purpose marketing for your organisation:
Purpose Proposition: “Impact the world. Work on things that matter.”
Last year, GE was faced with a big problem. How does an old company attract young technologist talent? In order to inspire a new generation to choose to work for an elderly giant like GE and not a cool, new startup, they decided they needed to appeal to their sense of purpose and let them know that working for GE will give them the opportunity to do valuable, cutting-edge work. So, the “What’s the Matter with Owen?” campaign was born.
The campaign tells the story of Owen, a young guy who has just secured a new job as a developer with GE. But while Owen understands how the work he’ll be doing at GE will have a significant impact on the future of the coding of machines, his friends aren’t as convinced – they perceive GE to be nothing more than an industrial manufacturing company (the perception most young people had of GE at that time).
The series of ads are very clever and brilliant at reintroducing this already well known company as a place where young technologists can do meaningful work:
Following on from the TV campaign, GE redesigned their career site so that their mission was front and centre, telling us that working at GE Digital means that you’ll not only transform markets, but you’ll also help to transform lives. The site also contains plenty of articles describing the work that GE are doing, how they’re doing it and (most importantly) the impact it’s having on the wider world:
Following in Owen’s footsteps, GE have just introduced a new character in Sarah – a lady who works at the GE Aviation factory, helping to build world-class jet engines. In her TV campaign, Sarah keeps meeting people who are now familiar with the fact GE do great digital work, but who seem to have forgotten that GE also have 125 years experience in the industrial sector and still do very meaningful work building complex world-changing machines.
Sarah’s series of ads are just as clever at reinforcing GE’s industrial legacy as Owen’s ads were at reintroducing GE as a digital company, and showcasing GE as a company where those with hands on, mechanical skills can also do really ground-breaking work:
Purpose Proposition: “Wishes delivered.“
When you think about meaningful work, I bet driving a postal truck isn’t the first occupation that springs to mind, is it? Well, that’s the challenge UPS were facing when it came to attracting the caring, dedicated people they needed to deliver the mail. So, in an effort to speak to those people (and in a beautiful piece of purpose marketing), they decided to tell a story – the story of a little boy who’s sole purpose in life is to become a UPS driver and how his life has been impacted by his special relationship with UPS driver, Mr. Ernie:
In this wonderful little piece, it’s clear that Mr. Ernie understands that by delivering the mail to Carson’s house he’s not just delivering letters and parcels, he’s delivering the wishes of a little boy who wants nothing more than to be a UPS driver and deliver parcels to people. And that’s exactly what UPS want in a driver – someone who understands that they deliver wishes, not just the mail.
4. Foundation Medicine
Purpose Proposition: “Transform cancer care.”
As a purpose in life, wanting to cure cancer is probably one of the most meaningful. But the problem is, most people believe that in order to help cure cancer they need to be a doctor, a medical professional or to be able to donate money regularly. So, when it came to trying to attract the right people to join their organisation, Foundation Medicine wanted to make it clear that everyone in their organisation (regardless of their role), contributes to fighting cancer by providing the best cancer care possible.
So, they created the FM “I” Am campaign and asked their employees to tell them who they are as a person and how they are transforming cancer care by performing the role that they do in the company:
It’s a simple, yet highly emotive video that proves how each and every individual from accounting to recruiting marketing, is contributing to taking the best care of those with cancer. It’s also a testament to Foundation Medicine’s mission that every employee is able to pinpoint exactly how what they do makes a difference and contributes to that goal.
Purpose Proposition: “Help transform the way the world communicates.”
The magic of Hootsuite’s use of purpose to attract candidates is the fact that it’s done primarily through their job advertising. Yes, not in a clever or emotive video, but through their job ads. Every single Hootsuite job ad is written to appeal to the purpose of the person needed to do the job the way it needs to be done, to help Hootsuite transform the way the world communicates. Take this ad for a Creative Director for example:
The person that is right for this role will know that this job ad was written for them and no one else. They will relish the opportunity to “shape the creative brain of the entire organisation”, and crave being able to “evolve Hootsuite’s brand identity” and in doing so help this organisation achieve their goal of transforming the way the world communicates. Hootsuite have told them how they can play their part and allowed them to visualise themselves playing it.
These job ads are a fantastic example of a company who knows what they are trying to achieve, the people they need to achieve it and how to encourage those people to help them achieve it. They are a joy to behold!
In time gone by, only certain jobs were considered to be a vocation. Now, in order to attract and keep the very best talent, every job needs to be sold as a vocation. It needs to matter. A job is no longer just a job, it’s an opportunity for a person to grow and to contribute to something bigger. Or, as Fred Kofman put it, “Your job is not what you do, but the goal you pursue.” Purpose is transforming the recruitment industry and the way our candidates think about our open roles. It’s time you started using it to your advantage.