A great reputation is the cornerstone of successful recruiting — especially in an industry as tight-knit as Senior Living. Glassdoor recently reported that 50% of candidates would not accept an offer from a company with a less than stellar reputation.

When they connect with a company with exceptional standing in their industry, however, 92% of professionals say they would be thrilled to change roles for the right opportunity. For Senior Living employers, the key to appealing to candidates is creating and maintaining a standout brand.

How can Senior Living operators build a positive brand image?

By being a better storyteller, says Max McNamara, CEO of Full Spectrum Search Group.

In “People, Passion, Purpose: ​​Connecting Recruitment to Brand Strategy,” a recent webinar hosted by Max McNamara and Katie Churchill in partnership with LinkedSenior, McNamara likened the candidate’s career to a storyline. “We have the exciting opportunity to act as a co-author on a candidate’s career journey,” he says.

This opportunity to influence someone’s career choice — to change their life — comes with immense responsibility. The career advice and projections a recruiter shares carries weight, and McNamara recommends wielding it with care.

“It’s important that we’re painting a very realistic picture for the candidate,” he says. “We need to create a vivid portrait of what the organization is doing and where it’s going.”

At Full Spectrum, McNamara and his team of recruiters are able to craft the candidate’s story and the employer’s story by asking a series of elucidating questions. Great placements happen when the team is able to pinpoint the aligned interests of both parties and tell their story in a compelling, persuasive way.

“If the story makes sense to us, we need it to make sense to the candidate and hiring manager,” McNamara says.

The next step of effective brand storytelling is identifying the key players. For Full Spectrum Senior Living Division Director Katie Churchill, that means appealing to the key decision makers in a candidate’s life: spouses, partners, and loved ones.

“One of the most overlooked parts of the recruiting process is pinpointing and recruiting those key decision-makers,” says Churchill. “When I’ve seen deals fall apart, the final conversation often starts with, ‘I talked it over with my husband or wife and…’”

Fortunately, both recruiters and employers can avoid this pitfall by taking an empathetic, inclusive approach to the recruiting process. Churchill has witnessed operators build a warm rapport with potential candidates by asking about the candidate’s family early on in the process — and even inviting key decision-makers to an introductory dinner or tour in the final stages of the hiring process.

Once recruiters and employers have successfully played “matchmaker,” the candidate’s story doesn’t end. Rather, the operator must continue to deepen their relationship with the now-employee over time.

To invest in retention, McNamara advises employers to imagine ways to “fill the cup” of their team members.

“It’s about staying ahead of the employee’s wants and needs,” McNamara shares. “People don’t just wake up one day and decide they’re going to quit.”

To circumvent this “fermentation process,” McNamara recommends keeping an open line of communication with valued employees.

“Autonomy and empowerment at the desk-level makes employees feel comfortable voicing their wants, desires, and concerns,” he says. “These rich conversations continue building on that storyline you established in the hiring process.”

In her long tenure on both the administrative and recruitment side of Senior Living, Churchill has seen positive outcomes emerge from robust training programs. When it comes to enriching the relationship between employer and employee, she advocates for “investing in training and understanding key metrics.”

Ultimately, as experts in both the recruiting and Senior Living industries, Churchill and McNamara can speak to the impact — positive and negative — can have on an operator’s brand. McNamara points to negative interview experiences, by either the candidate or a friend, as among the most common reasons offers are declined.

“The industry talks,” McNamara says. “Employers must work harder at maintaining a brand and reputation that does not work against efforts to recruit top talent.”

With many Senior Living operators working within a hyperlocal market with direct competitors, the “wreckage path” left by a sloppy recruiting process can be difficult to undo. Both McNamara and Churchill are avid advocates of understanding the aggregate reputation of the operator — and combating a tarnished brand with active communication, intentional recruiting, and authentic relationship-building. As McNamara and Churchill can attest, when the connection between recruiters, employers, and candidates are genuine, co-authoring the story comes naturally.

To learn more about aligning recruitment with brand strategy, check out “People, Passion, Purpose: ​​Connecting Recruitment to Brand Strategy.” To connect with Max McNamara or Katie Churchill, or learn more about Full Spectrum’s work in the Senior Living industry, visit Full Spectrum Search Group.