This article explores the ways in which corporations describe themselves in recruitment materials. Specifically, the study examines corporate descriptions provided to job seekers by firms advertising on the Internet site, Monstercom. The study also explores elements of corporate image presented in the descriptions and the way in which firms market their employer brands. The findings demonstrate how analysis of corporate descriptions reveals interesting insights into organizational recruitment tactics. Results suggest that firms focus predominantly on firm attributes and secondarily on employee advancement. Various industries approach recruitment advertising differently, with significant differences emerging between high-tech organizations, service organizations, and consumer product firms in the emphases of their corporate descriptions. Few firms present a distinct employer brand but tend to cluster together in brand types.
Keywords: recruitment; Internet; employer branding; content analysis; communication
The first step in developing competitive human capital in a firm is attracting the appropriate applicants. Unfortunately, applicant attraction is an inexact science, despite numerous studies examining the process by which job seekers choose an employer, and employers seek to attract viable candidates (e.g., Barber, 1998; Breaugh & Starke, 2000; Schneider, 1987). Attention to the issue of effective and appropriate applicant attraction is justified for a number of reasons. First, an appropriate match between the parties is critical to the well-being and productivity of individuals and organizations (Wanous, 1977, 1980, 1992). Second, organizations spend a great deal of money in the recruitment process and, without the right applicants, cannot hope to develop the level of competitive advantage necessary to compete in a volatile economy.
Recruitment advertising is one way in which organizations attempt to attract the right people for the applicant pool. For some firms, the right applicants may be those who fit the job in terms of a match between their particular skills, abilities, and values and those desired by the organization. For other firms, the right applicants may be the best and brightest from the labor market, regardless of specific person-organization fit issues. Either way, the task of business communicators is to find the appropriate words to pique the curiosity of the desired potential workers and encourage them to continue through the application process. Although we know that recruitment advertising content is vitally important in establishing the first link to appropriate potential employees, little, if any, systematic research has been focused on the nature of "real world" recruitment advertising content in the attraction process. This knowledge is important to the recruitment function in the same way an understanding of product attribute attractiveness is important to marketers. However, before meaningful research can examine the relationship between recruitment message content and intent to apply, there must be an accepted way of analyzing recruitment message content. Presently, there is no widely accepted method to classify or quantify the language used in recruitment documents. A search for studies in the areas of human resources and communication relating to recruitment messages yields only a handful of studies that have touched on the classification of recruitment messages (see Barber, 1998).
Assessing the effectiveness of recruitment messages is difficult in the absence of reliable methods by which to measure the presence (or absence) of particular messages. Thus, it is important to first have the tools to classify the recruitment information, and second, to then seek relationships between the classified content and recruitment outcomes. This article fills the gap in recruitment and business communication literature by creating and testing a recruitment message content analysis methodology and developing an initial taxonomy that will lay the groundwork for further study and application. …