November 13, 2020 • Mary Beaumont
Real estate agents say that an offer is imminent when potential buyers start talking about where they’d put their furniture in the home they’re touring. The reason? Emotions have kicked in. Buyers imagine what it might be like to inhabit this new environment — like where they’ll drink their coffee, how they’ll entertain guests or kids, where they’ll relax at the end of the day. It’s powerful stuff.
Agents sometimes juice that process with staging, when a designer dresses a home with furnishings to set an aspirational scene. Some will replace your belongings with neutral furniture and benign art; others will simply shop your home for gems to elevate in new ways. That coffee mug over there on the table? Careful strategy, encouraging a buyer to picture sinking with it into the plush chair nearby and feeling contented, entirely at home.
Short of setting up model offices for candidates to try out, companies have figured out that leveraging imagine-yourself-here tactics can bolster recruiting. Combining authentic voices and rich visuals can humanize a brand, helping HR forge connections and find the right talent. Especially as recruiting has become less one-sided, stories serve as a company’s staging: They highlight the people at an organization to make it more relatable and help candidates decide whether they want to move in.
It certainly worked on me. I’m one of the newest members of History Factory, having come aboard a few weeks ago to provide editorial support and direction across all of our projects. This company produces outstanding storytelling on behalf of its clients, and it uses those skills when searching for its own candidates. Despite an unusual, pandemic-induced hiring process, one in which I came to the company not having met a single colleague in person or visited an office (kind of like buying a house sight unseen), the story of History Factory and its people sealed the deal. I knew that from Day One, I’d get to work on a feast of different projects for a diverse roster of clients, alongside intriguing teammates, at a mature company that’s somehow retained its plucky startup swagger.
Our shop is a busy one, with no shortage of work waiting when I walked in the figurative door. Among the first client projects I touched was putting a final polish on a talent recruiting website that we’d created for a global firm specializing in financial data and analytics. After building a new digital home from the ground up — wireframing, design, copywriting — we got to work replacing stock images and video with original content featuring real employees to better showcase the talent value proposition.
Given that History Factory was involved, I knew there would be no starched and static talking heads, no limp confetti of corporate buzzwords. But what would these videos be like? The pandemic had upended this project like everything else, and our team had made a swift pivot from executing its typical video capture process to equipping each subject with software and in-depth guidance for shooting video of themselves, plus b-roll and other footage, entirely on their own.
Our team assembled the crush of assets into neat little packages, each featuring a different employee. As part of my task, I watched all of the completed videos several times over. And I was transported. I circled the globe and met incredible people. I saw their homes and hobbies, met their families and pets. They took me on journeys to buzzy cities and tranquil hilltops. And through them, I learned about how this company has asked them to always be exactly who they are and has nurtured their pioneering spirit, as it always has with employees over its long, storied history.
Dozens of videos. Each uncommonly personal. Unwaveringly authentic. And unequivocally appealing. While lingering on each word, ensuring that the captions matched the audio, I caught myself drifting momentarily. “These people are wonderful,” I thought. “Working alongside them would be inspiring, at such an interesting company. Wonder if this place hires people in my field?”
At that moment, I realized just how effective this effort would be. As a person only weeks into a new gig that she was very much enjoying, I experienced a brief moment of placing the furniture, based on how this potent content moved me. The client reports that I am not alone in that. Traffic to the site is spiking, and even current employees are experiencing fresh pride in their chosen home, now that it’s shown in such magic light. If you want to compete for top talent and build an engaged people team, take a page from the home-selling pros. Stage your site with stories.
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