Whether you’re in-house or agency, recruiters today are more like marketers than salespeople. (Well. The effective ones are, anyway…)
Whether you’re a recruiter yourself or you’re looking for ways to make your team more effective, recruitment marketing is a strategy you can’t ignore.
So in this guide, we’ll talk about the what, why and how of recruitment marketing. So you can brush up your (or your team’s) skills, shore your defences against an ever-more difficult recruitment landscape and boost recruitment delivery.
We’ve even thrown a recent case study into the mix, for good measure.
You know the drill. Let’s go.
What is recruitment marketing?
Recruitment marketing involves the processes you have to complete before a candidate actively applies for your job. It’s the process of moving candidates from ‘never heard of them’ through ‘they sound interesting but I’m not looking’ to ‘hm, maybe I should apply’. (That’s your funnel.)
Recruitment marketing is a shift away from recruitment-as-sales to recruitment-as-marketing. A shift from late-funnel persuasion to pre-funnel engagement.
In other words, it means you’re engaging with candidates much earlier in their job-seeking process. Before there even is a job-seeking process.
Why is recruitment marketing so popular?
Recruitment has fundamentally changed.
Post-WWII, most businesses defined the role they needed, posted an advert, then chose candidates from the applicant pool. Some 90% of vacancies were filled internally, with many employees finding lifetime employment.
Recruitment was much more straightforward.
Today, less than a third of recruitment leaders say internal candidates are an important hire source. That means most hiring happens externally – recruiters need to recruit more people, with more experience, than before.
Then add a retention crisis – Harvard Business’ Review on recruitment processes say found that 95% of today’s hiring is done to fill external positions. Recruiters are under loads more pressure because they’re backfilling roles as well as recruiting for growth.
Then consider the US had nearly 7 million job openings in September this year, but less than 6 million placements happened. In the UK, there were 2.8 vacancies per 100 employee jobs across the country from December 2018 to February 2019, leaping to four and above in some industries.
So recruiters are under massive pressure to deliver – but battle serious talent shortages at the same time. With Brexit on the horizon, it is expected to have an impact on the recruitment industry in the UK, and recruiters need to be prepared (which is where recruitment marketing comes in).
It’s not an easy situation. And it’s why 77% of CEOs say the unavailability of talent is their biggest business challenge.
The blunt truth is, there are more challenges in recruitment making it harder than it used to be.
Recruitment marketing is the antidote, allowing recruiters to build long-term relationships with potential future candidates. Relationships that eventually convert into leads, candidates, applicants and then brand evangelists.
Let’s talk tactics.
What recruitment marketing tactics should all recruiters master?
Think of a simple recruitment marketing funnel like Awareness (candidates are aware of your business), Interest (interested to hear more…) and Consideration (considering applying…).
‘Never heard to this brand’ -> ‘this brand sounds interesting’
‘This brand sounds interesting’ -> ‘Hm, maybe I should apply’
‘Hm, maybe I should apply’ -> Application
Let’s look at the different recruitment marketing tactics that’ll help you throughout the funnel. Some overlap so don’t get too hung up on categories, but try to include a good mix.
1 – Content marketing
Content builds awareness of your business and brings your brand to life. Content marketing isn’t just aimed at customers. It can aim at prospective future employees too. Often they’re the same thing.
If you have the resources, create recruitment-centric content like… interviews with current employees, videos that show your office or press releases about socials and events. You’ll ultimately build an employer branding hub that helps raise awareness (increasing traffic through organic and paid channels), increase interest and persuade prospective candidates to apply.
If you can’t create your own content, leverage the content your business is (almost definitely) already creating. For example, brief marketers to add recruitment-specific call-to-actions into blog posts whenever appropriate.
2 – Recruitment and outreach
Content marketing is inbound marketing – it brings prospective leads into you. And it’s typically a longer-term approach. Combine with outbound marketing – where you reach out to leads – to fill your shorter-term pipeline too.
Good candidates are plagued by emails, InMails and recruiter requests, so those methods are generally less fruitful. Effective outreach stands out.
Get creative, with guerrilla tactics your competitors aren’t using.
For example, creative advertising agency BJL commandeered the Roses Creative Award night in the name of recruitment. Outside-the-box ideas like that can generate more brand awareness and create more interest than a million bland InMails.
3 – Better, brighter job adverts
Beige, boring job adverts do little to move candidates from interest to consideration to the all-important application.
First, your ads mightn’t even be found unless they’re search optimised.
SEO skills are some of the most important for recruiters to master. When you’re competing with literally millions of job postings, yours simply won’t be found unless you hit the right search terms.
(For particularly hard-to-fill roles, you might even consider PPC. This puts your ad to the top of results for your chosen terms, increasing your reach and giving more control over who you target – like passive candidates.)
Our latest research shows 49% of candidates use Google search as their primary source for finding jobs, so you’d better be on your SEO game. Plus Google’s now officially entered the rec-tech fray, so SEO’s only becoming more important.
Then, once a potential applicant lands on your ad, you get one chance to pique their interest. If your ad doesn’t differentiate your brand and sell your opportunity, that’s a missed opportunity.
If you’re still CTRL+C, CTRL+V-ing job adverts, you need to brush up your writing skills. It’s survival-critical for recruiters today.
4 – Social media recruiting strategy
Social media is a powerful weapon in your recruitment marketing arsenal, throughout the funnel.
One of the latest Tribe members approached us because he loved our social media and felt Tribepad would be a fantastic place to work, for example. This stuff really does work!
It helps you build brand awareness, create interest, nurture an audience and drive applications. But it can also be a total waste of time and energy. Way too many recruiters see social like a free job board – endlessly posting bland adverts that get little engagement.
At its best, social media is a tool for engagement. Share stories and interesting content but also ask questions; engage; interact naturally (shocker: like a real human) with your audience. Authenticity is the key word.
5 – Careers page mastery
Your careers page is a crucial element of the recruitment marketing process. It’s typically where you’ll drive top-funnel leads, to further stir their interest and encourage them to apply.
That means it should be bursting at the seams with cool, relevant content – preferably multi-media. It should feel consistent so wherever candidates come from, it feels like a coherent journey. It should include powerful, persuasive copy like reviews from current employees.
It’s also where many candidates will apply so it’d better make applications easy and painless.
Have you ever gone to buy something, but there’s a massive queue so you leave it? Or seen an interesting link that barely loads, so you quit before you read? It’s like that. Interest will only get you so far.
6 – Encouraging reviews
Reviews from current and past employees are a compelling form of social proof, helping potential applicants weigh-up your opportunity. Reviews are a crucial string to in-house recruiters’ bow.
At the least, review and monitor your company’s profile on review sites like Glassdoor. If any negative-leaning reviews appear, you can dilute their negative power by responding to them honestly and humbly. Regularly and actively ask current employees for reviews.
Even better, if you collaborate with HR to seek – and act on – employee feedback. You can’t ‘game’ employee reviews, not long-term. The best strategy is to build a workplace people genuinely love.
A recruitment marketing case study
Recruitment marketing isn’t about isolated activities. It’s about slotting these various tactics into a consistent, effective recruitment marketing strategy.
You often see examples from sexy B2C brands recruiting for sexy high-tech jobs – which is great but can be difficult to relate to.
Tribepad customer, Richmond and Wandsworth Council are a fabulous recent case study precisely because they’re doing great work, but they’re not Google or Uber. They used creative recruitment methods to bring an exciting opportunity to life with a fantastic campaign.
So fantastic they were finalists in the In-house Recruitment Awards 2019, in fact.
It started when Richmond and Wandsworth were recruiting for a Director of Children’s Services – an exceptionally hard-to-fill position in a very challenging market.
They knew they needed an engaging way to capture the role – so they created a recruitment video featuring young people from across the borough. The unusual video got nearly 4000 views: not bad for one of the toughest jobs in local government.
After creating an ideal candidate profile, they used their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) (Tribepad, of course) to make initial contact with candidates, linking out to the video. They also shared the video on social, embedded on their careers site and included in job adverts.
Finally, they backed all this up with a full wraparound cover in a leading print magazine that they knew was popular amongst their core audience.
Richmond and Wandsworth are a perfect example of recruitment marketing done right. And proof these tactics work for anyone; not just sexy start-ups and high-tech powerhouses.