Walk It Back: The Content Value Litmus Test

Editor’s note: Most of our content focuses on candidate identification. This piece is for our readers who also hold employer branding responsibilities within their organizations. 

Everybody (and I mean everybody) is talking about content and how it can impact business, especially in the talent acquisition space. People talk about it like it is the cure for everything that ails your talent sourcing practices, with an easy-to-swallow tasty bacon coating.

Companies bet big on content. They bet big like a guy in Vegas with “a system” and end up walking out the same way: poorer, and rarely wiser.

Now I believe in content, but I don’t believe it will cure baldness. It can help organizations tell their story and make a compelling case as to why someone should want to work for them, but it can’t just be applied like pixie dust, making everything it touches magically better. You need to do it right.

There is a simple content litmus test you can use to determine if a big bet on content will pay off or lead to making excuses to the boss. This test has the benefit of being simple, as well as easy to understand and apply. No need for a specialist; you can administer it on your own. And if you’re honest, it can spare you a great deal of heartbreak in the end.

It’s called the “Walk It Back” test. Look at the content you are about to publish (or have already published) and ask, “Is there a way for someone who reads this to quickly apply for a job with us?” Maybe you can find the path from your content to the job, but can you do it in reverse? Can you walk back from the application process to this content?

Let’s presume that you have the greatest piece of content in the world on your hands. Having read or watched it, what will a user do next? Will they be able to immediately apply for a job? Will they be able to sign up for your talent community? Or will they get excited by it, share it with people, and then walk away?

Proximity to the job is a great way to pass the Walk It Back test. If your jobs are right next to the content, you can easily see how content might lead to an application. And you can see how you can get applications from that content.

There is an addendum which makes this test even more effective: You aren’t allowed to use the word “aware” or “awareness” in how you walk it back. Good content will generate awareness, but awareness for its own sake is easy to create and not useful unless you tie it to a call to action that your audience can easily make.

Don’t believe me? Go put a chicken costume on. Get a co-worker to put a turkey costume on. Now go to the grocery store and start a fight while wearing t-shirts with your company’s logo. Will you generate awareness? Well, you’ll be soaking in it. But, so what? That awareness won’t do you any good in trying to attract hot, new talent.

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So use the Walk It Back test before publishing that content. Or before you launch your content strategy. By forcing you away from content that isn’t doing you any good, it will move you towards content which will reap real returns.

Content that connects your audience to job opportunities is the real cure. A doctor’s prescription is not required. Side effects include lowered costs, more engaging recruitment marketing, a higher ratio of top-notch applicants, and occasional hand pain (from too many high fives).

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