When you’re doing it right, recruiting the best candidates for your open salesperson positions can take weeks or even months. That’s not even factoring in the costs of not having someone close new business while the position is vacant, the money lost during onboarding, and the risk of losing the new hire if they or your team determine they’re not the best fit for the job.
That’s why it’s critical to both know your Employment Value Proposition (EVP) and make sure it’s clear to your candidates right from the outset, even if they’re not looking for a new job.
Before you go posting the contents of your website’s About Us page onto the nearest job board and calling it a day, it’s helpful to learn how to identify, create and promote your EVP so it can attract your next top salesperson.
What is an EVP?
An EVP is an important part of how you position your company as an employer. A good EVP demonstrates to candidates who your organization is right now in plain, transparent terms.
Finding the right job can be as uncertain for future employees as it can be for employers. An EVP takes the uncertainty out of that equation and demonstrates the benefits they get from accepting your job offer, beyond salary and 401(k) plans.
Your organization’s EVP cannot be interchanged with your tagline, slogan, mission statement, or even your long-term goals. Developing it requires soul-searching.
Sales directors think like their prospects during the buying process by using the, “What’s in it for me?” mentality. For candidates, the recruitment process isn’t far off. They want to be sure the relationship they’re forging with your company will benefit them as much as it benefits you.
They also want to see what makes you different from your competitors, who have also likely been courting your future employee for their own sales team.
Identifying What Makes Your Business Unique
What sets you apart from that other company just like yours a few towns or states away? This often includes a few core factors, such as:
Your Company Culture
To candidates, job hunting feels like you’re putting your hand inside a dark box—you don’t know whether there will be a plain old rock, an angry rattlesnake, or delicious chocolate until you’ve accepted the offer and put your hand inside.
Whether or not your employee benefits actually include a box of delicious chocolate, you need to be clear and upfront about what your culture is like. This is invaluable in the age of employer review sites, in which candidates will be scanning for signs of a hostile environment before they accept an offer.
Your Company Values
This might be in your branding and mission statements in some form, but it’s also essential to make your core values clear from the outset of the recruitment process.
For example, if you’re like us and your core values include quality, integrity, and responsiveness, mention that. Don’t rule out using examples or asking questions related to these core values during interviews, either.
Your Company’s Reputation
This one is tricky for some companies, especially if they’ve had difficulties with their reputation in the past. If that’s not an issue, great! Now’s your chance to flaunt your brand and showcase the work and team your new hire will be joining.
If your reputation has taken a hit in the past from former employees, use this as an opportunity to show what you’ve been doing to course correct with examples, if possible. The candidate will value your transparency, reducing the likelihood of them receiving a nasty surprise after they’ve finished filling out their paperwork.
How to Create an Effective EVP
Creating a good EVP involves multiple parties, including your hiring personnel and sales leadership, especially direct managers for the positions you’re trying to hire.
Here’s a breakdown for developing an EVP:
1. Identify your Ideal Candidates
This captures a range of specifications for the role and skills you need candidates to have in order to succeed and thrive. However, this should include more than a laundry list of the basic job requirements.
What would your ideal candidate be good at and have experience doing? What would you want them to enjoy? Factoring these into your EVP will make it easier to find a top candidate that will thrive in their role once you hire them.
2. Assess Your Current Employment Image
Review the applicants you’ve received within the past month, quarter, or year. What patterns are there? What skills have they presented, and which significant ones are they missing? Looking for the common threads among your applicants will help you determine how you’re positioning yourself to future employees.
Another reference point is your top-performing employees. Ask yourself, what skills do they possess that make them successful in their roles? The answers may be in the subtle ways they connect with prospects or in soft skills you might not have considered before they started.
3. Determine How to Set Your Employment Brand Apart
Take it from someone who spent the COVID-19 pandemic submitting 20 job applications per week: A lot of postings sound the same after the first five or six.
Use your job post to deliver a compelling, realistic message that shows candidates how they’ll be rewarded, the benefits of working for you, and an honest look at your culture. No matter how many times you use the buzzwords “wizard” or “Jedi” to show them how hip your company is, they’re going to look past that veneer and see what your company is really about, so it pays to be forthright about the expectations from both parties.
4. Determine a Strategy for Communicating Your EVP
This goes beyond the posting level. Your EVP should also be present throughout the interview process, when the candidate is meeting with top brass, and after they’ve accepted your job offer.
Consistency is key, and it should reflect every step of the journey as an employee. If everyone isn’t on board, it may be time to assess your culture and understand why some personnel might not be singing the same tune to your candidates.
5. Follow Through on Promises
It’s too easy for a job description to promise one thing, only for the new employee to be told something different once they’ve filled out the paperwork. Unless you want your newest hire running for the hills before they’ve gotten their business cards, make sure you’re honest about what you’re offering, and make sure it’s a promise you can fulfill.
After all, nobody likes to be strung along with the promise of benefits after 30 days, only to be later told they’ll be without insurance for 90.
Ultimately, developing an effective EVP is about honesty, both with yourself as an organization and with your candidates.
Unless you want that open sales position to stay open—or worse, reopen again in a few months, then a few months after that, and a few more months after that—it pays to be forthcoming about what you have to offer to your top candidates in exchange for what they can offer your business.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2013 and has since been updated.