No matter your business, you’re in the business of people. People are key to the growth and success of any company, and building a team comprised of diverse yet complementary personalities, passions and skill sets is one of the most challenging aspects of any business.
It’s no surprise that traditional methods of recruiting are growing obsolete as Millennials and Gen Zers enter the workforce (those pesky kids). Today, the people you need to drive success aren’t looking for jobs like they used to. In fact, with 73% of the talent pool comprised of passive candidates, most of them aren’t looking at all.
The process of finding great candidates and convincing them to apply is complex and requires a team-wide effort. It’s actually quite similar to how marketers attract and convert clients. That’s where recruitment marketing comes into play.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve helped thousands of companies connect with millions of passive candidates, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons about recruitment marketing along the way. We’ve created this guide to share our findings and provide you with plenty of inspiration for your own recruitment marketing efforts.
Read on, or jump ahead to the information you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
- What Is Recruitment Marketing?
- Recruitment Marketing vs. Employer Branding
- 20 Recruitment Marketing Lessons
What Is Recruitment Marketing?
Recruitment marketing is the process of applying marketing methodologies to the recruitment life cycle in order to find, attract and nurture relationships with qualified talent. It combines principles of inbound and outbound recruiting with the polish and scalability of modern marketing to significantly improve hiring outcomes.
The modern recruitment process begins long before a candidate applies. Job seekers have access to more information than ever, and often their opinion of you as an employer is established before they ever read a job description. Recruitment marketing allows you to take control of the conversation and influence those opinions by proactively providing candidates with information and content of your choosing.
When properly implemented, recruitment marketing allows you to accomplish four main goals:
- Increase Awareness - Ensure prospective candidates are aware of your company as a potential employer.
- Generate Interest - Provide prospective candidates with information that will increase their interest in your company.
- Generate Desire - Provide prospective candidates with information that will increase their desire to work for your company.
- Drive Action - Provide prospective candidates with motivation to apply.
Recruitment Marketing vs. Employer Branding
Now that we’ve defined recruitment marketing, let’s take a quick look at how it relates to a similar concept — employer branding. If you need a quick refresher, go ahead and check out this article on the basics of employer branding. It’s ok, we’ll wait.
For everyone else, let’s get to it.
Recruitment marketing and employer branding go hand in hand.
- Your employer brand is your reputation as an employer among job seekers, employees and key stakeholders (investors, board members, etc.). It is shaped by core assets like your employee value proposition, culture, values and more.
- Recruitment marketing is the process of communicating attributes of your employer brand to potential candidates.
Recruitment marketing is entirely in your control while your employer brand is not.
- With recruitment marketing, you have complete control over the content you produce, the audiences you target and how you position your company in the public eye.
- Your employer brand, on the other hand, is shaped by a number of internal and external factors, some of which are beyond your control. Everything from third-party company reviews to candidate experience will influence your reputation as an employer.
Recruitment marketing is ever changing, while employer branding remains fairly consistent.
- Your recruitment marketing plan will change frequently to reflect the behaviors and interests of your target candidates. This is perfectly normal, and provides an opportunity to test new tactics over time.
- Once established, your employer brand will evolve at a slower pace. While it should be regularly audited and cultivated, constantly redefining your employer brand can lead to confusion and a lack of alignment.
With 95% of candidates considering a company’s reputation before pursuing a career opportunity, it’s crucial to ensure your brand maintains a positive and accurate reputation. Creating an excellent employer brand is only part of the challenge. Controlling the message and promoting your brand is the other.
20 Lessons to Take Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy to the Next Level
When it comes to recruitment marketing, we’ve seen it all. There’s a lot that goes into creating an effective plan, so we’re sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years to ensure you benefit from our past experiences. We’ve broken things down into five categories: content, social media, email, events and video.
Content and Recruitment Marketing
Content is the cornerstone of a recruitment marketing plan. Well-crafted content can greatly impact a candidate’s first impression of your company and may even be the determining factor as to whether or not they apply.
Lesson 1 - Content will always have better engagement rates than job descriptions.
Creative content captures the attention of active candidates and gives passive candidates a reason to further explore your company like nothing else can. Don’t believe us? On average, our users spend 250% more time engaging with content than with job descriptions.
Think about it from their perspective. If you were a candidate, would you spend more time with this article full of tips about applying to specific companies…
Or this list of poorly formatted bullet points?
Lesson 2 - Always write with the candidate in mind.
Your first instinct will be to create content about yourself. After all, you’re trying to convince people that you’re a great place to work, right? Don’t do it. Your results will always be better when you create content tailored to the reader.
This simple article was created with sales professionals in mind, and it’s attracted thousands of targeted job seekers since publication. The headline is catchy and captures the interest of both passive and active candidates, and beyond that, the topic is unique and provides concrete advice from real people.
Lesson 3 - Work-life balance, perks and office space are always popular topics.
You want your content to be unique and original, but getting started can be frustrating and time consuming. Remember that some topics are always popular (and effective), so if you’re at a loss for where to begin, start here…
Flexible work hours are a popular topic of conversation, and employers and employees alike are realizing the benefits of this approach. This article, highlighting companies that allow candidates the flexibility to define their own schedules, generated a 28% conversion rate.
The modern office space is a thing of HGTV-inspired beauty, and with good reason. We spend approximately one third of our life at work, and companies know candidates will look elsewhere if they’re forced to spend that time in a cube farm. We always see great results when we feature cool office spaces, and this article was no different — to date it’s generated a 25% conversion rate.
People are drawn to companies that share and support their beliefs because it makes for a more fulfilling work environment. We featured five companies with pet-friendly policies and readers were so stoked to discover businesses offering this perk that the article generated a 32% conversion rate.
Lesson 4 - You have to create content for every stage of the application process.
Candidates rarely apply on their first visit, so you have to create a library of content that speaks to them throughout the job search. Here are three articles that demonstrate the full lifecycle of recruitment marketing, from awareness to consideration and conversion.
Awareness content is designed to drive awareness of your company as a potential employer. It’s not about pitching your jobs, so focus on subject matter that will be interesting to the reader. With this article, we joined in on an important and timely issue and introduced thousands of readers to the featured companies. No hard pitch, just useful information.
Consideration content provides job seekers with more context about your company. It nurtures them toward an eventual application. Our Insider Spotlight articles are a great example of consideration content in action. They delve deep into the culture of specific companies, helping readers better understand what it would be like to work for them.
Conversion content is about making the ask. You’ve attracted job seekers and provided them with the information they needed to consider your company. Now it’s time to ask them to apply. Our take on this format is pretty straightforward (and effective).
Social Media and Recruitment Marketing
Social media is one of the most efficient ways to get your message out there, but with so many platforms to choose from, getting started can be tricky. Whether you’re actively present on social media or it’s a totally foreign concept, these four lessons will help you build out your social media marketing for recruitment.
Lesson 5 - Dedicated recruiting profiles are a must.
When it comes to recruitment marketing, piggybacking on your company’s corporate social media accounts simply won’t cut it. Your corporate accounts are designed to appeal to customers, not candidates, so you’ll need dedicated social media profiles for recruiting. Developing a community of followers isn’t easy, but it pays off in the long run.
We’ve put in the work to build out large (and engaged) social communities, and as a result our organic posts typically reach 1,000+ potential candidates, for free.
Still don’t think it’s worth the effort? Check out the Facebook community Microsoft’s talent acquisition team has created. That’s half a million extra candidates in their pipeline, whenever they need them. Not too shabby.
Lesson 6 - Speak like a local.
Every social media platform has its own unique nuances and culture, and what works on one may fall flat on another. We always consider the platform when crafting social media posts, and while creating two or three separate versions may add a little time, it’s well worth the effort.
These two posts (one on Facebook and another on LinkedIn) lead back to the same content, but each one features unique language and imagery tailored to the platform. Conforming to the norms of each platform only took a few minutes, but it allowed us to see success one each.
7. Better imagery = better engagement.
You know what they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. These days, however, we’re suffering from so much sensory overload that your imagery really needs to stand out from the pack. Remember that most social media users are scrolling as fast as their thumbs will let them, so make sure your pictures pop.
This relatively simple post ended up driving a 7.70% engagement rate thanks to an attention grabbing image.
On the contrary, this post pointing to similar content utilized a less impactful stock image, and it only generated a 3.96% engagement rate. Lesson learned — always stand out from the crowd.
Lesson 8 - Paid social ads are your friend.
Sure, organic posts are free and they have the potential to yield great conversions, but a little paid boost never hurt. You’re probably already spending thousands on HR tech tools and job boards, so why not spend a few hundred on social ads to reach a highly targeted audience?
This content proved popular when posted organically, so we decided to spend a little money to get it in front of even more people.
For less than what many people spend at Starbucks each week, we connected with another 4,000 highly targeted potential candidates and drove several hundred of them back to our site. That can be the difference between making a great hire in record time and a never-ending process that goes nowhere.
Email and Recruitment Marketing
Email is an oldie but a goodie. Over the years email has never ceased to be a major contributor to any company’s communication efforts, recruitment email marketing included. Because it’s so important, it’s our biggest section on this list with five mind blowing lessons.
Lesson 9 - Newsletters are always more efficient than one-to-one emails.
Sending personalized, one-to-one emails will always be part of a recruiter’s job, but even with the best automation it just isn’t scalable. Creating recruiting newsletters allows you to build a list of subscribers and communicate with all of them with a single click.
Our weekly newsletters allow us to share valuable content with tens of thousands of passive candidates at a time. As a result, we’re able to spend more time creating great content and less time managing our inbox.
Lesson 10 - Don’t propose on the first date.
Building a list of email subscribers isn’t easy, so you don’t want to scare people away by coming on too strong in your first message. Remember that email-based recruitment marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Start out simple, and modify your message and group people together based on similar actions they take over time.
When a job seeker subscribes to one of our newsletters, we don’t beat them over the head with open roles. We welcome them to the community and provide them with helpful links to get them started. As a result, we establish a productive relationship with our email subscribers and they remain highly engaged.
Lesson 11 - If it isn’t measurable, it doesn’t count.
Email-based recruiting can drive huge results, but if you can’t measure your impact you’re wasting your time. At a minimum, you should know the open rate and click through rate of your recruiting emails. Open rate will tell you how many people are actually opening your emails, and click through rate will tell you how many clicked a link to keep reading or take an action.
Every email marketing provider includes basic analytics on the performance of your campaigns, so start here. As you gain comfort with the channel, your tracking and reporting will grow more sophisticated.
Lesson 12 - Use separate lists or list segments.
We help our members recruit in seven markets across the country, so we know the importance of segmentation. Someone in Seattle probably doesn’t care about what’s going on in NYC, so we maintain separate lists to ensure our message is always as relevant as possible.
These are just a few of the separate lists we maintain. We also create sub segments within those lists to ensure that readers are only receiving emails that pertain to them, thus improving engagement, open rate and click through rate, and avoiding the dreaded unsubscribe button.
13. If you don’t stick to a schedule, you won’t do it.
Even with the best intentions, email based recruiting can fall through the cracks. Creating a calendar and setting deadlines will make your life much easier, especially if you have multiple people contributing to a single email campaign. We’ve found that Thursdays work for us, but test what’s best for you.
As with analytics, every email marketing provider has a scheduling feature, so make sure to take advantage of this tool. Most automation platforms are also adopting tools that compute the best times to publish to improve open rates, like commuter hours when people are likely on their phones.
Events and Recruitment Marketing
Recruitment events are nothing new, but they’re a lot more challenging to get right than you may think (trust us, we’ve hosted hundreds of them). That being said, events can be a hugely impactful part of your recruitment marketing strategy, so don’t overlook this option.
Lesson 14 - Give people an event worth coming to.
People have plenty of options for how they spend their free time and hosting a traditional job fair or boring networking event won’t open the floodgates of top talent. Creating a killer event will not only leave a lasting impression on attendees, but it will reverberate throughout their personal and professional networks via the best source — word of mouth.
Our Built In Brews event series lets attendees get a behind the scenes look at some of the coolest office spaces around while learning more about potential job opportunities. It also features a lineup of local craft brews, and if there’s one thing better than free food, it’s free beer. This format may not be right for you, but taking the time to plan an event people actually want to attend will pay off in huge attendee numbers.
Lesson 15 - When it comes to recruitment events, a rising tide lifts all ships.
It may sound counterintuitive to host recruiting events with other companies — after all, they are the competition. But we’ve found that events featuring multiple companies typically draw bigger crowds. This gives candidates and employers more options to find the best employment opportunities for their needs.
Our Top Companies Hiring event series is like a job fair on steroids. Hosted at trendy night spots, they feature numerous companies and attract massive crowds. You’ll find yourself very willing to host recruitment events with other companies when you have the opportunity to connect with an extra 687 or 860 qualified candidates in one night.
Lesson 16 - Use the right tools.
Hosting a recruiting event requires a significant amount of time and resources, so you don’t want to risk things falling apart because you aren’t properly equipped for success. From registration and ticket sales to RSVP management and post-event communications, the right tools will make your life much easier.
We use third-party tools like Eventbrite and Meetup to help manage our events, but there are plenty of options out there so make sure to poke around and find what works best for you.
Lesson 17 - Events don’t promote themselves.
Hosting an event is only half the battle. Getting people to actually show up is the real challenge. People aren’t going to attend an event that they don’t know about, so it’s crucial that you promote your event in a thoughtful and strategic way. We put as much effort (if not more) into promoting our events as we do in creating them.
You don’t need an elaborate plan to promote your recruitment events. We typically lean on our email lists and social media profiles to get the word out.
Video and Recruitment Marketing
Whether you embrace it or dread it, it’s best to stay ahead of trends and join the video movement. The popularity of video is through the roof, and if executed well, it will immensely boost your recruitment marketing efforts.
18. People expect video to be part of your recruitment marketing mix.
A younger, media savvy generation is hitting the job market, and they prefer video content for its diversity and digestibility. Rather than sifting through multiple articles about a certain company or topic, people expect to find well-crafted, informative videos, and you have to be equipped to meet their demands.
Research from HubSpot found that video is the form of content people are the most interested in seeing more of. It’s certainly intimidating for any company to initiate a video content strategy, but there are a lot of tools available to create cost-efficient videos that will engage candidates.
Lesson 19 - Quality always trumps quantity.
Not all videos are created equal. Just like written content, candidates don’t want to sit through poorly produced videos that don’t answer their questions. It’s much better to create a few well-thought-out videos that will keep viewers attention and satisfy their curiosity.
We invested in a dedicated team to ensure that every video we create reflects each company in an authentic and high-quality manner (you can click the image above to see the fruits of that labor). Keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable on camera, so it’s important that you feature willing participants in a relaxed atmosphere.
Lesson 20 - Get more bang for your buck by sharing your videos everywhere.
Congrats! You created a sweet video that candidates are excited about. That’s great, but you aren’t done yet. Now it’s time to share and promote your video content across all channels, including your careers page, social media platforms and email campaigns. We always cross promote video content to ensure candidates can easily find and engage with it.
We were able to significantly increase exposure of this video by featuring it on our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The best part? It only took a few minutes. The heavy lifting is over, and we have a great piece of content that will engage viewers and remain relevant for much longer than most written pieces.