Heightened awareness has led to a marked mistrust in big companies. A recent survey carried out by digital marketing company Contently revealed that 54 percent of consumers don't trust brand-sponsored content. That's more than one in every two people to whom you're trying to sell.

Incidents like the BP oil spill or the VW emissions scandal have left a striking impact on the global psyche, and we're seeing consumers react outspokenly via social media. Believe it or not, there are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the United States every single day.

If you're a talent brand, that puts you in a pretty difficult spot. Here's where it gets interesting (and challenging).

Let's explore ten practical tips and prove these strategies work:

1. Get Real

There's no point sugarcoating the truth. If you want to affect change, it's vital to know where you stand. First of all, get real and listen to feedback. Your candidate experience is the gateway to future success.

If you can listen to pain points and frustrations, then you can take action to fix these areas for good. As they say, awareness is the basis of all change.

2. What's unique?

Learn from the best. Take a look at talent brand leaders and pinpoint what makes these companies successful. You'll be hard pressed to find any successful talent brand that doesn't have an element of all three of these traits:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Empathy
  3. Humanization

3. Start Small

You don't need to revolutionize your entire talent attraction strategy overnight. Start by taking small steps every day that will lead you down the right path.

This could mean taking action to define your Employee Value Proposition (otherwise known as the defined appeal of working for your organization), changing the tone of your social channels, or using existing employees as advocates for your talent brand.

4. Empathy and Persona Map

You need to understand your talent profile:

  • What interests candidates?
  • Where do they go for content?
  • What social channels do they populate?
  • Which thought leaders do they follow?
  • What inspires them?
  • What scares them?

This 360-degree approach lets you understand your candidate from their point of view.

5. How Do Your Candidates Feel?

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," Theodore Roosevelt.

It's true. You can have a wealth of knowledge about your candidates, but if you don't show them you care then it's worthless. Don't forget that people feel first and think second.

How many times have you heard someone say, "I didn't take the job. It just didn't feel right." Recognize this and you'll stay one step ahead of the competition.

6. Harness Your Tribe

What are you going to do if candidates don't trust what you say?

Take the time to harness your tribe. You need to give employees freedom, a platform and the trust to let their voices shine.

Career videos, blog content and social sharing can really help humanize your brand so you come across as genuine and authentic to applicants.

7. Be YOU

Tone, messaging and style are something that must be inherently unique to you. What worked for Cisco might not work for Nike or Apple.

Take the time to really hone in on your Employee Value Proposition. Once you identify the core values that make your company unique, you can let these shine through in all aspects of your talent strategy.

8. Tell A Story

Simplify messaging: What should candidates expect of your company and what should your company can expect of its candidates?

Use your Employee Value Proposition to promote aspiration-led thinking (i.e. what does your company culture want to be?). Stories shouldn't be, "I come to work and do X, Y, Z." They should reflect larger ideals: "I'm passionate about my work because it helps change the world."

Now THAT is a company I would like to work for. You already have the stories, now you just need to tell them in the right way.

9. Create a Social Conversation

The biggest social media mistake you can make is to focus solely on follower numbers. Engagement is much more important. As a talent brand, you need to focus and add value in ways your competitors aren't.

If you make time to engage with your candidates on social media in an authentic and human way, you'll build trust and connection at a much deeper level.

10. Have fun!

Last but not least, make sure you have fun with your talent brand. We're all human. With the way society and culture is shifting, people want (more than ever before) to feel part of something greater than themselves.

When you combine passion, purpose and play, you sow the seeds for a successful company, productive employees and a happy candidate.