At the strategic level, decision-makers need to have a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of their institution in order to form a realistic picture of brand penetration. Asking the tough questions is crucial to that process:
“What is our employer brand? To what extent are we able to reach a global audience for talent? Does the best researcher in China know that a job advert is coming? Do they have any aspiration to work with us?”
Data from both internal and external sources can provide the answers to these kinds of questions.
“That’s one of the things that I try to do,” says James, “use data in a more actionable way in recruitment. Rankings data and publications data is really important.”
And data can turn up some really interesting findings. For example, James frequently uses performance indicators like citations and h-index rankings to find the top-performing individuals within extremely narrow fields of research interest.
“The other side is the data around who’s seeing our brand, what interaction are we getting with our brand on different platforms. When you overlap those two you can create a really clear picture of where there’s fertile ground to try and recruit.”
But this kind of insight really can’t exist without close involvement with stakeholders and faculties. Transparency can be a key barrier to leveraging brand assets on a level that prospects can engage with.
“Often institutions don’t have visibility on the kinds of work that’s happening within their faculties. They may have 2000 academics all doing their own thing – they can’t keep track of it.”
That’s when the synergy between brand and process becomes really apparent in recruitment. Leaders should be looking to create a process whereby these two elements recognise, feed off and support one another.