Blog Post

Why Recruiters Should Take a Page from Consumer Marketing to Attract Candidates

Sarah Brennan

[formerly] Principal Consultant, Talent Acquisition

Today's talent market is increasingly competitive for companies trying to hire. The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening has decreased from a peak of 6.6 people per opening in 2009 to just 1.3 in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to less available talent, sites like Glassdoor allow a potential candidate to read what it’s like to really work for your company before they apply.

In short, simply posting a job online and expecting the right candidates to come in is no longer enough. Today, companies of all sizes are borrowing tricks from consumer marketing to attract candidates.

In today’s marketplace, social media, pay-per-click advertising, career websites and even retargeting campaigns, concerts and festivals are all fair game to entice candidates to apply to your roles. A recent piece from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) advocates for the use of a consumer marketing approach, sometimes referred to as "omnichannel," in today’s talent acquisition approach.

How can your organization recruit with a consumer marketing-style approach?

1) Build Candidate Personas

For marketing and product design, organizations have a clear understanding of the audience they are targeting and why. This takes a bit more time upfront, but understanding what kind of candidate you are trying to hire (and why!) allows you to be more strategic in the approach.

Take a look at the candidates you decline, interview and end up hiring. Reference that with the employees that succeed in your organizational culture and structure. Start looking at trends that are taking place between the schools, work history, background and goals of the most successful—all of these areas going to help you better understand who to target. That doesn’t mean you won’t hire people that don’t fit this persona, it just means that is where you will spend the most energy and marketing efforts. If you want more details on how to do this our friends over at Indeed have been helping educate companies on candidate personas for a few years.

2) Develop Your Brand

Recruiters are starting to engage with candidates early on in the recruiting process, rather than waiting for a response to a job posting or career page inquiry. In a similar way to evaluating your candidate personas, it is increasingly important to have control of your own brand. In larger companies, that is a pretty easy feat as there are brand guidelines and strategies in place for the consumer brand that you can use in your employment brand. However; in many organizations, they are starting from scratch at making sure they are representing their organization effectively.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in this area is not being authentic and trying to say what they think candidates want to hear. A good employment brand encourages the right candidates and discourages the wrong candidates from applying. A popular way to do this is with customized landing pages that exist for various candidate personas. Do you recruit recent grads? Military veterans? Nurses? Seasonal workers? You can have a unique "landing page" for each group you recruit that talks specifically about the things that matter to them!

3) Use Social Media Effectively

According to a SHRM study, 84 percent of organizations currently use social media for modern recruiting. Social media can be particularly helpful for passive job recruiting, where there's a wealth of high-caliber talent to be found. But keep in mind that the most popular social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are filled with competition for your same pool of candidates, so consider other online platforms that are more specific to your industry: These are your potential next employees.

Creating and sharing content that a job seeker would find useful, instead of simply postings jobs, is the best use of your social media channels and allows you to connect with people before they start to look. You don’t often see a company’s entire twitter feed saying "buy x" over and over. Instead, you see them sharing information and being more personal.

Small social media interactions, or micro-engagements, throughout the recruiting process can go a long way. Recruiter communication via LinkedIn messaging, Facebook, or a career site chat function can help ensure candidates stay fully engaged throughout the recruitment process. These micro-engagements can help to create a personalized and unique experience.

4) Go Beyond Social

Smart marketers (and recruiters) go beyond social to find other technologies that reach candidates directly, such as messaging apps, live video, and email. Two years ago, Old Castle, North America's largest manufacturer and distributor of building materials, started a monthly email newsletter to communicate with potential passive job candidates. The newsletter, which is now sent to more than 100,000 recipients, contains company projects, career advice and behind-the-scenes photos.

5) Build Off of Referrals

It doesn’t matter how hard you work on personas, social and brand if you don’t have your own employees out there as advocates promoting how great it is to work there. To seek out top talent that may not be actively looking for a job, consider leveraging the network of your current employees. Internal referrals can lead to increased employee happiness, and faster application-to-hire times.

As you implement or experiment with an omnichannel or consumer marketing style recruiting approach, consider what type of impact your efforts are having on candidates throughout each step of the process. By regularly evaluating your processes and adapting your approach, you can evolve a strategy that will work best for your company.

Photo: Creative Commons

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