An Introduction to Talent Research

“Research is about creating new knowledge” – Neil Armstrong

It should go without saying that before you hire, you need to know – through detailed research – who you are attracting and the value propositions you are attracting that talent with. The aim of talent research is to help businesses move towards a more consistent, analytical approach to their people data. Subsequently, this analysis enables businesses to have better people management and retention, informs their investment decisions and this ultimately drives productivity and sustains growth and development.

In this blog, we’ll share the key components to ensure you’re identifying what it takes to conduct Talent Research, and how that information can help your business goals.

Before you begin, you need to understand your digital and social experience. How is your employer brand experienced today? It’s likely that when talent is looking for a new role that the first place they start will be with a little online digging. They will look for:

  • The internal talent perceptions and employee experience, via references or having a point of contact within the organization or employee review sites like Indeed or Glassdoor
  • External talent perceptions, behaviours and awareness – target talent, candidate, and alumni perceptions through web search or network marketing
  • The organization’s digital and social experience – what does it feel like to work at this organization and how is it conveyed on social media channels

Your first step is to look within your organization through Internal Research. What data could you review today that would give you initial feedback on your employer brand strength and opportunities? Developing a SWOT based on the following data is a useful way to do this. Your organization can use:

    • Employee experience data (engagement surveys, exit interviews, eNPS)
    • Client experience data (stories, feedback, NPS)
    • Employer review sites (Glassdoor, Indeed)
    • Google search (Reviews, articles, feedback on Reddit etc.)
    • Recruitment marketing materials
    • Corporate brand guidelines
    • Corporate vision, mission and strategic objectives

The Internal Research conducted should include executive interviews as well as EVP workshops and surveys. This is vital because it ensures the insights you yield are quantitative and not based on assumption, and getting employees involved in shaping the EVP is great for benchmarking. If you plan on running a stand-alone survey, keep it short and focused, and add a few questions to current surveys and questionnaires to capture what employees value most.

The next step is to conduct External Research. This can be done through interviews or surveys, as well as internal and competitor social, digital and SEO Analysis. Looking at the competitive landscape and identifying talent competitors is critical in assessing what makes you different from the competition. Being able to identify the future-state vision of your employer brand will also help you create your corporate brand guidelines and tone of voice.

Next, you will need to communicate this vision of culture to your existing and future employees. This can be done:

  • Internally by:
    • HR & Leadership Training
    • Employer Brand Ambassador Programs
    • Assets & Alignment with Employee Lifecycle
  • And externally by:
    • Careers Site Banner/Copy
    • Social Banners & Pop Up Ads. Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn
    • Career Booth, In-Store, HQ, Candidate Brochures and Giveaways
    • Billboards, Transit, Elevator Wraps, Truck Wraps, Employer Brand Ambassador Program, TV Commercials

The last step is to Measure your findings

This process should go beyond the typical employee engagement survey questions. It will help you understand what people value most about their workplace, including what might cause them to leave. It can also be grouped and categorized (ex. employer brand attributes) to summarize the key elements of your employer brand – the more you collect data on, the greater the opportunity for differentiation. Your organization can:

  • Create an Employer Brand & Engagement Scorecard
  • Establish Baseline Metrics
  • Benchmark Against Competitors
  • Measure every 12-16 Months min 

Based on as much real data as possible, along with educated projections about talent’s goals, motivations, behaviours, interests, and more, personas help you better understand your talent and their personal needs in the workplace. 

Over the next few weeks, we continue to share a series of key insights and learnings from our Employer Branding and Engagement Professional (EBEP) Certification Program. For additional information on how to create and maintain your Employer Brand, or to sign up for this exclusive program, please contact Jennifer “Jenni” Lamb at 647.535.5318, or at

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