“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” Indian Proverb
People have always been fascinated by stories. For millennia, storytellers have used them successfully to influence, teach and inspire us. One of the reasons stories are so powerful is that they turn information into emotions. That’s why we remember information better when it’s communicated through a story and why stories motivate us to take action. When you want to really engage a target group, storytelling is the most powerful tool in your toolbox.
When it comes to academic recruitment, storytelling is a way to reach out to desirable potential candidates who aren’t looking at your job ads. Sharing a story with them is a way to capture their interest and increase their awareness of your institution as an employer.
Here’s why stories work:
Get on their radar
Not all candidates are active job seekers. Studies indicate that up to 70% of all job seekers are passive, meaning they’re not actively seeking out new opportunities. Traditional job advertising won’t reach them, but exciting stories will. A first-hand account from an employee at your institution is a way to get on the radar of candidates who don’t visit job boards.
Stories also allow you to reach a group we call future candidates. These are candidates that aren’t able to apply to your institution right now even if they saw an appealing vacancy, such as first year PhD students or new tenure-track faculty. Using stories to reach out to future candidates now will save you time and effort down the line. Plant a seed of interest by sharing stories about why your university is worth considering and reap the benefits later when these candidates are finally able to apply.
Show, don’t tell
Do you want to receive more applications from women or international researchers? Sharing the story of a successful female or international researcher who has been supported by your institution is far more inspiring to potential candidates than a bullet point saying that your university values diversity. A story allows you to show candidates, rather than tell them how you foster diversity. It will also help them recognize and remember you when they come across your job postings.
Help the candidates see themselves in the role
A job ad tells the candidates what they need to know about the role, but it doesn’t offer the same personal or emotional connection that a story would. A story gives a candidate a more nuanced view, beyond the bullet points, about what it’s like to work in a particular lab or what the culture of a certain department is like. If candidates can start to picture themselves working at your institution, they’re more likely to seriously consider your job ads.
Now that you know why storytelling is a good tool for academic talent attraction, download our talent attraction guide to learn more about how to use storytelling in different phases of your recruitment journey. Next week we’ll cover when to use storytelling. Subscribe to Recruiter Advice so you don’t miss it!