The one and only Tom Peters once said that the way to success in any market is to establish a value to the customer, because only a fool compares on price.

He said these (paraphrased) words at a time when American automakers refused to understand that the reason Americans wanted to suddenly buy a Honda or Toyota wasn’t because it was a cheap alternative, but because the Big Three had lost their way, forgetting that their one and only product wasn’t a big gas guzzling car, but value.

Later, as Apple started grabbing huge chunks of market share, PC makers seemed to scratch their heads as to why anyone would pay more money for a laptop that had fewer features or a PC without a floppy drive. But those moves helped Apple grab big chunks of marketplace, while all the PC makers could do was try and lower prices.

In a strange way, this story is happening again in the recruitment space. I assume you’ve noticed that the market for hiring a great programmer in San Francisco is a daunting one as it sometimes feels like there’s a six-figure salary waiting for anyone who can spell C#.

But again, companies in this space are forgetting that only fools compete on price. Or in this case, on salary.

Find the territory that works to your advantage

Let’s assume you need to hire a team of developers for your company and have an average salary to offer. You might assume you’ll be left hiring fourth-stringers and people who just finished reading a book on cloud development.

But even in one of the tightest job markets, you can compete, but just need to find the territory that works to your advantage.

Not everyone’s motivation is to make every dollar they can as fast as they can. Some people want to work for a brand they feel is stable, a brand their moms know and love. Some people want to work for a purpose larger than themselves. Think of the earliest days of PayPal and their dreams of reinventing the nature of currency as a concept. Or SpaceX, who are advancing space travel faster than NASA. Or any number of B corporations who embed social good into their corporate charters. These people like paying rent, sure. But something else is driving them, something that Google and the like may not offer. These companies are offering value to their prospects.

I see a story almost every week indicating that Google is the company everyone wants to work for. So how would I know that your company is dedicated to making sure I’m home at a reasonable hour, or that my time will help achieve something huge?

This is why you tell your story, about why you exist, about why people join your company, and why I should consider applying. Talent joins a company because of the people in the company and these people need to tell their story.

Your story will set you apart

In our research of how content and stories influence candidate behaviors, we saw that people applying for jobs requiring ten or more years of experience were deeply impacted by content. For that audience, they were 2.87 times more likely to apply after seeing the content. And one powerful way to include content, is through visual media. Visuals, like photos and videos, can be easily gathered, personalized, and shared to tell your story and motivate candidates to engage with your call to action.

Our research suggests that the result is not a function of age or career stage so much as it is a function of selectiveness. As every recruiter knows, entry level jobs can see hundreds of applications, but jobs where people can afford to be more selective, they see far fewer. For these selective audiences, the story as to what makes this company different, what the company offers in terms of value to the applicant, increases applications by almost three times.

Suddenly, you can compete against Google, you just can’t do it on price and salary. You just have to craft a story that shows prospects what life will be like at your company.

About the author: As the Director of Inbound Marketing at TMP Worldwide, James Ellis has been a digital strategy thinker of the MacGyver/Mad Scientist school: hacking disparate digital ideas together to serve a strategic business objective. Whether it was bringing Bucky Badger to the social world or content marketing to the pharmaceutical space, James has pushed boundaries regardless of the industry. He currently helps Fortune 500 companies attract and retain the best employees. You can read more of James’ writing on or follow him on Twitter @TheWarForTalent.


Let's Talk Recruitment

Written by James Ellis
Guest Blogger, Director of Inbound Marketing, TMP Worldwide

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