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What’s your talent brand and how can it help with hiring?

Rikka Brandon Recruit + Retain

In this labor market, job candidates have the upper hand—and the luxury of being picky and holding out for the job and company they truly want. And that means you need to work harder than ever to make your business more appealing.

Pay and benefits are critical elements to attracting top talent. But they’re not everything. To be a company people want to work for means defining and nurturing your talent brand.

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What is your talent brand? Simply put, it is the reputation your company has in the market. It is driven by the experiences your employees have with company leadership and managers. It helps candidates understand why they want to work for you and whether they’ll fit in and belong.

But it’s important to note that talent brand is something that you  either  intentionally  create or it will just happen on its own. Which means if you aren’t intentional, you’re not in control of this important element of your hiring ability.

How to be intentional about your talent brand

Getting intentional about your talent brand requires some forethought—determining what your organization and culture represent and stand for. Once you’ve crafted your talent brand, you then must “tell and sell.”

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The “tell” answers what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for. The “sell” is the way you demonstrate how you live those core values. In other words, you tell job candidates that your company is family friendly. But do you sell that value by giving employees flexibility to leave an hour early for their kid’s soccer game? Or are you only family friendly to those with their names on the door?

The way you sell your talent brand isn’t always directly to current candidates. For example, your community involvement demonstrates your values, as well. If your business is sponsoring Habitat for Humanity or the local softball team, you’re landing on the radar of those who find these values important.

How to use your core values in hiring

Your core values don’t just attract great candidates—they’re part of the criteria you  should use to hire employees who will fit in with your company culture.

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To do this, you need to apply your core values to your interview process. In previous columns, we’ve discussed different types of interview questions—functional, behavioral, and situational. Situational questions, which require job seekers to respond to a specific hypothetical situation they may face on the job, are an ideal place to ascertain how the candidate might fit in with your talent brand. These questions are designed to help determine what the person you’re interviewing will really be like on the job and if their approach to dealing with challenges matches your company’s core values.

Having core values that mesh with the company’s is also critical to helping them succeed and to stay. If you make it easy for them to show you how they will work on a day-to-day basis, it will provide a better idea of how they will fit in long term.

Here’s an example of a situational question for a new salesperson and how their response might determine how they’ll fit in: “How would you go about building your book of business in the first 90 days?”

We’re not looking for them to give the exact answer they would if they had already gone through your training, but what we are looking for is their ability to think on their feet and show how they would solve the challenge if left to their own devices.

Situational interview questions like this then set you up to ask follow-up questions and have a deeper dialogue about the work they’ll be doing and how they would approach it. These responses and  the  nuances  within  can  help you ascertain whether they are a fit for your company and needs.

Your talent brand is an important tool for recruiting and retaining employees. It’s how you attract great candidates—and it’s how you ensure they’re a fit that lasts.

Rikka Brandon is a leading recruiter for the LBM industry. She’s the CEO of and founder of where she helps business leaders solve their recruiting and retention challenges.

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