The tried and true methods of recruiting - online job banks, help wanted ads, headhunting aren't going anywhere. But are they really netting you the quality candidates you're looking for? Perhaps; or maybe you're looking for a way to take your recruitment marketing (because it IS marketing) to the next level within the the digital and online sphere.
Today, as many as 46% of recruiters see their jobs as a marketing position, rather than just an "employee-finding-service." What's shocking is that other percentage that doesn't view their job from a marketing standpoint. This means that those that come to the table with the correct marketing mindset, have a significant advantage in today's uber competitive marketplace. With so much of today's job and employment marketplace residing the digital space and dependent on user reviews (or employee testimonials), social media interactions, or the ability for a recruiter and job seeker to communicate directly and in an effective manner, it's become essential for recruiters to assume more marketing-esque roles in order to fill their positions with the right candidates.
What's essential here before we move on, is this: it's not too late. For recruiters looking to take their recruitment process to the next level, there is still time to make a sizeable impact by adopting a more marketing and employer branding-minded strategy instead of merely waiting for a resume to hit your inbox.
It sounds straight forward. You want to start with something simple; a blog. You create an account with a blog platform or content management system, open a new template within that system, bang out an article, click publish, and you're done. Suddenly, your applicant tracking system is flooded with qualified applicants, and you have your pick of the top talent to fill your vacancies, grow your company, and emerge as a powerhouse within your industry. While we'd all like this to happen, it's not reality.
This process of creating content that is relevant and educational is what we call Inbound Marketing. - This is the process of drawing in prospective customers with targeted, relevant content, and turning them into leads. But strategies take time to develop and prove a return on investment, content needs to be approached with consideration and care, and messaging and narrative should be carefully constructed to ensure potential candidates feel your company is authentic, honest, and operates with integrity for candidates to see themselves as part of your organization.
But how do you accomplish this? What principles or best practices should be aware of when starting a recruitment marketing blog? With these questions in mind, let's examine 6 seemingly simple (yet extremely powerful) tips for starting a recruitment marketing blog that will guide you on this journey and provide guidance in your blog's early days.
To define your recruitment marketing goal, examine your motivation to start down the blogging path in the first place. Are you looking to enhance your employer branding or drive more consistent engagement with the passive jobseeker? Are you aiming to fill current positions in a more dynamic way than merely publicizing links to online application portals? Or, are you hoping to establish your company as a thought-leader in your industry by leveraging in-depth pieces based on extensive research, experts within your organization, and gathered content from various sources outside of your organization?
Consider this: 75% of professionals are passive job seekers. according to CareerArc. This means that ¾ of the applicant pool relative to your industry is A) not actually looking for a career change, and B) needs to be heavily persuaded or enticed to learn more about your company and learn what you can offer them in terms of incentives, empowerment, work-life balance, perks, or competitive advantages for their career track compared to their current employer.
Each of the impetuses listed above for launching a recruitment market blog are valid and worth pursuing, but identifying one as the prime motivator will not only help provide an overriding direction for the content you subsequently populate your blog with (as well as accurately judge how successful your blog becomes), but it will help address each of the following points of practice we discuss.
In any writing or content creation endeavour, you have to answer two basic yet critical questions: What is your purpose, and who is your audience? We addressed the point of purpose above, so now you need to identify your audience, both for your recruitment marketing blog in general but also individual blog posts. A passive job seeker needs to be engaged differently from the active job seeker. The candidate with 15 years of experience and in the middle of their career journey has different needs than the new college or grad school graduate.
Identifying who your content is for and what you want your audience to take away from your blog post is the heart and soul of basic marketing strategies and thus holds true for recruitment marketing and your blog. In order to demonstrate that you and your company understand what the job seeker values and desires in a place to work, you need to speak to them in a way that they can connect with.
Finding the right voice and tone of your blog is something that will likely come as you continue to create, publish, review, and refine your recruitment marketing content. But if you take notice of our first two tips, you'll find that discovering your voice and your tone will likely chart its own course and present itself to you rather you have to go hunting for it.
That said, you can make some very considered and metered moves to help find and establish the voice and tone of your blog.
For example, take a very basic question: What industry are you operating in? If you're in the health care industry, a space where your employees, brand, and image literally hinges on people putting their lives in your hands, a more wistful tone or voice is not going to be the style you want to leverage your content on. On the other hand, if you're in the tech industry, a space that is rife with big personalities and innovative approaches to problems and challenges, perhaps a lighter, more candid-driven approach to tone and voice makes more sense, especially given the kind of talent you're trying to attract.
The bottom line with voice: You need to speak your audience's language – let that be your guide.
Remember: a blog doesn't mean a 500-word article about your company culture or an informative piece about how X or Y passive job seeker with given credentials can be a good fit for your organization. While those certainly are worthy pieces to consider, it's essential to vary the content on your blog, and this means making an effort to incorporate video, audio, photos, dynamic photo presentations (slideshow), graphs, infographics, or other visual representations of data – especially given that much of your blog traffic will likely be from mobile devices where these kinds of content pieces are more readily received.
But within the realm of text, don't forget about the power of employee testimonials, profiles, or other narrative-driven blog entries that put your employees front and center and gives them a voice to help spread the gospel of your culture, brand, and overall candidate experience.
We assume by now you've noticed how much of this blog entry is devoted to strategic frameworks or solutions to the problem of how to effectively manage a recruitment blog – we're definitely not advocating that you jump in headfirst and see what happens. The same is true of how you roll out or curate content. This is where the concept of a monthly editorial or content calendar helps better strategize the kind of content you're publishing, when and how you're working to amplify your content, whether it's through automated email updates, social media posts, or other means of driving traffic to your blog.
Plain and simple, when conceiving your blog, don't just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks – create a plan for your content and see that plan to fruition.
Recruitment professionals know: Data tells the story, and numbers drive decisions. With your recruitment blog, it's essential to regularly review the reporting and analytics (page views, shares, link clicks, bounce rates, and other integrated dashboard metrics) to understand better what is resonating with your audience driving traffic and engagement on your blog entries. You also want to ensure that your ROI is worth it.
Don't be afraid to move off ideas, concepts, themes, or tropes that merely aren't engaging your audience in the ways you hoped or where the reporting isn't supporting the time and resources you're putting into the content. Similarly, do not turn a blind eye to happy accidents or opportunities presented by the data in terms of content you didn't necessarily envision as moving the needle but promoting robust engagement and hopefully, interest in your career opportunities.
As mentioned above blogging is not the only path in crafting or shaping your company's narrative or prompting passive and active jobseekers to explore what your company offers and ultimately apply for open positions. And in actuality, it shouldn't be your sole tool to communicate, position, and illuminate why your company is an important thought-leader and true disruptor in your industry.
Ask any sales or marketing team about the diversification of their strategic frameworks, and you'll get explanations about channel variance, A/B testing, and how different kinds of content can function or influence customers in different ways. The same should be true of your recruitment marketing content. Any recruitment team that leverages a lone source of content and messaging is essentially rubbing to sticks together while other companies are walking around with a Zippo lighter.
It's time to look beyond the blog, so let's examine different content media that today's hiring managers should be deploying.
Whereas an Inbound Marketing strategy via a blog and/or email platform is essentially its own little sandbox for conveying narrative and messaging career opportunities and an employer brand, the same goes for social media.
First, from a recruitment marketing perspective, it's essential to define what we mean by social media. Yes, social media, of course, means Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Still, if we take social media as a platform for companies to communicate with potential candidates and for candidates to commiserate with each other, then we must also include platforms like LinkedIn, but also sites with job board components like Indeed and Glassdoor.
Secondly, let's quickly dispel social media as merely a vehicle to post links to your blog posts, landing pages, or other Inbound Marketing content pieces. Yes, while you can and should be doing this to help amplify your content, you should also be using social media as a vehicle for exclusive, unique content designed to engage the passive and active job seeker in the language of that platform. You can click through to our specific blog on the topic to learn more about how to make your social media recruitment marketing stand out.
Some key things to consider:
- Photos: Social media is a visual platform - use that to your advantage. Photos used on social media should be authentic, genuine, and real. Whenever possible, they should showcase current employees, actual locations/facilities, or real processes your company conducts as part of its daily operations.
- Video: Brevity is not only the soul of wit, but it's also the soul of social media videos that drive reach, engagement, shares, and hopefully clicks and applies to your job applications. As with photos, you want your videos to be professional, but you also don't want them to be too polished. Today's technology can put quality video shooting and editing power in the hands of your recruitment team via an iPad, which is a reasonably low-cost investment, rather than investing in a videographer or marketing agency.
- Polls: Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, the use of a well-crafted question via a poll can not only drive people to engage and interact with your profile (which creates a captive audience that may be more apt to apply for open positions and at least keep you top of mind) but recruitment teams can – depending on the question – use responses or polling data to better understand what job seekers value and how you can incorporate those values into your processes, workflows, or subsequent content.
A recent survey conducted by Clutch found that 1 in 10 hires in today's job market came directly from content, engagement, or interaction between a recruiter and candidate on social media. This shouldn't be that shocking given the proliferation of social media in sales and marketing and employer branding strategy, but let's examine a couple of reasons why 10 percent of today's hires come from a social media platform:
- Ease and speed of communication between a recruiter and a candidate: Whether through DMs on Twitter or Messenger on Facebook, recruiters and candidates can not only communicate faster but also from anywhere in the world at any time. Gone are the days when 5 pm meant no more emails or messages to return. Today, potential job candidates (especially those in high-demand or niche industries) expect recruiters to engage them in platforms or digital spaces where they already are.
- Cost-effectiveness: Let's examine the cost for a recruiter or company to maintain an active social media profile – that's right, zero. Given the costs recruitment teams incur in other capacities to source and communicate with top talent, leveraging social media to engage makes more than enough sense in terms of reducing expenditures and increasing efficiency.
- Referrals: A friend on Facebook knows you're exploring the job market, so they tag you in a post from a company where they feel you would be a good fit. You explore the company's social media profile, view the job posting, and apply. From a recruiter's vantage point, that's about ¾ of the work done for them in terms of providing candidates a front door to walk through.
Yes, we just mentioned short, intimate videos specifically designed for use on social, but longer, more sophisticated video content for use in other contexts is also an important vehicle to reach different segments. Frankly, using video in your recruitment marketing strategy should be a given. As many as 78% of marketers believe that video content, whether it's on social media or on your website, should be a key component of your content strategy. It's easy to digest, it's engaging, and most of all, it's shareable. It also demonstrates to a potential job candidate that your company is game for adapting to technology, new ways of thinking, and the ways in which people are communicating and sharing ideas..
Before starting, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your company maintain a YouTube channel?
- Do you house videos on your website?
- Do you use videos in any email marketing campaigns?
- Do you make video content the focal point of a landing page?
Each of these questions represents a situation or context that is prime for video content as a functional variant on blogging or more traditional written content. Common push-back on the suggestion to incorporate video content into a recruitment marketing strategy stems from a place of budget and expenditures. In reality, it can be done at a reasonable cost by an in-house team.
However, one quick hack is simply repurposing existing video content but reframing how said content is prefaced. For example, say you're discussing how your organization is forward-thinking, progressive, and provides employees with the best tools and resources. Rather than creating content to explicitly demonstrate that it can be just as useful to pull a product, process, or solution demo video from your company's library. From that, you can craft a social, blog, email, or landing page post that reframes the angle of vision from a recruitment and employer branding vantage point.
Other video options can include employee testimonials, guided tours, or profiles of exceptional employees. We've got a comprehensive look at the best video types for recruitment over in our blog.
According to LinkedIn, employees are 3x more trusted than employers when it comes to messaging and how passive and active job seekers perceive a company. That means such recruitment marketing components as employee testimonials, employee reviews on site like Indeed and Glassdoor, and any referral-marketing-based strategy where employees spread the good word about a company's attributes or standing within the industry holds much more weight than anything your recruitment and marketing team can create. So use it. Any instances of employee feedback, reviews, ratings, and testimonials that are placed on those job sites or on your site are fair game, and can be leveraged in a variety of different contexts and channels. In addition, don't forget to make your own testimonials. Actively source and create testimonials from employees your recruitment team feels best to demonstrate or embody your company's culture, mission, and vision.
Testimonials can be applied or deployed in a variety of different methods and mediums – everything from regular blog posts or specific, dedicated pages on your website, to email campaigns and social media posts. Also, don't relegate employee testimonials to strictly text forms. This is where the use of short videos for social use also comes in handy. Putting employees on camera and having them respond to one question about what makes your company an excellent place to launch and develop a career can pay dividends down the line.
Food for thought regarding podcasts:
- 165 million Americans have listened to a podcast during the last month.
- 70 percent of Americans are familiar with podcasting.
- Podcasting spans more than 100 languages worldwide.
While some still believe podcasting is a niche content form, these statistics clearly show that podcasts are not on the rise but have arrived as a way in which people absorb information regularly. As such, this makes podcasting a potent tool in your recruitment marketing toolbox not only for the reach and amplitude but also because it's a content form your audience can engage with while completing other tasks – which is extremely valuable in today's multi-tasking world, especially if you're trying to reach the passive job seeker. Also, generating a podcast can be as easy as repurposing content you already have.
In addition, podcasting is still a form consumed primarily by today's younger generation. If you ask any recruitment team or hiring manager, it is a prime demographic that is often difficult to reach, given the sheer volume of competition and noise from other companies and industries.
After you've done all that - created a robust marketing plan comprised of blogs, videos, social media, and testimonials, what then? How do you know if it's working?
At the end of the day the concepts and/or principles of recruitment marketing and employer branding frameworks that we've outlines above tend to sound extremely attractive to talent acquisition managers and specialists because they demonstrate to candidates an acumen with technology and current thought-leadership. But all that means nothing if you can't track it and prove that it works with cold, hard data.
Data tells a story, reporting drives action, and analytics push how recruitment teams deploy strategies or tactics in applicant sourcing. This means that proving return on investment when it comes to recruitment marketing and employer branding must not only be defined but clearly communicating for recruiters to understand the value proposition in continuing to engage job seekers in a marketing-driven way.
But what are the key metrics in recruitment marketing? How can today’s recruitment specialists understand ROI? What data points should recruitment teams look to as proof of concept? With these questions in mind, let’s examine 5 key ways to measure ROI in recruitment marketing.
Perhaps paramount in a recruiter’s dashboard (perhaps overcome by one single metric that we’ll discuss in a moment) is time to hire, or time to accept depending on your industry and/or company’s verbiage. Regardless, we’re talking about:
- the number of days that elapse from posting a job vacancy to
- engaging in recruitment strategy, and
- having a candidate accept an offer.
In terms of a marketing funnel, think time to hire in the same realm as the buyer’s journey – the time from when a visitor to your blog or website became a lead, was nurtured, and then finally turned into a conversion via closing the deal of a sale.
It’s a simple question: Did a recruitment marketing strategy for a specific position in a specific market with a specific amount of resources allocated for the campaign result in a shorter time to hire than a similar position in a similar market without a recruitment marketing strategy?
That’s the question a recruitment specialist needs to answer to effectively evaluate whether recruitment marketing impacted the time to hire.
As referenced above, the cost per hire is perhaps the only other metric that can dwarf time to hire, especially given the restraints, constrictions, and increased agility companies across the board have to face in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The elements that factor into cost per hire can vary by industry, but essentially you’re looking at:
- Promoting the position on job boards like Indeed
- Utilizing outside search firms
- Leveraging a temp agency to fill a position while a long-term candidate is found
- Other methods of outreach and engagement such as posting a position to a professional organization or using a third-party to help funnel applications or mailing lists.
The costs of these avenues can range based on the depth at which recruiters deploy them. As with our time to hire example, it’s imperative to judge the ROI of recruitment marketing in an apples-to-apples fashion. You can’t judge how a recruitment marketing strategy fared with a highly-skilled position in a very competitive marketing compared with an entry-level position in a very feast-and-famine market.
If all things are equal and your cost per hire decreases when you execute a recruitment marketing strategy, then you have the ammunition you need in terms of proof of concept.
While the first two ROI metrics relate directly to recruitment, the idea of analytics and reporting with regards to social media help prove directly how well your employer brand, narrative, and messaging are being received by job seekers as a whole – both the passive and active job seeker. The key data points are impressions (how many viewed your content), engagement (how many people liked, shared, commented on, or otherwise interacted with your content), and your amount of spend per boosted post or ad, particularly on sites like Facebook and Instagram, but also on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
In addition, when it comes to Twitter, another valuable metric is re-Tweets or how many times your Tweet was copied and Tweeted on another users profile. And, hey, if you can get your content trending (as long as it’s in a positive way) then you’re most likely golden in terms of reaching the maximum number of eyeballs with your employer branding.
But social media platforms like Facebook can also help evaluate how effective content is when it comes to recruitment. The number of link clicks on a certain post (particular if you drive traffic back to a specific job post or landing page) can also help you better understand the number of job seekers who not only engaged with your social content, but actually engaged with your job posting as well.
Very similar to the social media engagement metrics, evaluating your web traffic reporting relative to your company’s main website, individual landing pages, pillar pages, and other digital destinations is another KPI to consider when examining the strength, depth, and reach of your employer branding strategy. The same is of course true if part of your recruitment branding strategy includes a blog (how many hits, clicks on links in your blog post, and the amount of time visitors stay on individual posts). These data points can also help drive editorial decisions in terms of the content you publish. If certain entries drive higher traffic rates than others, than your visitors are signalling the kind of content that matters most to them.
Part and parcel to web traffic analytics is video views either via your YouTube page or another third-party video housing service integrated with your website.
What search terms are job seekers using to find you? Whether via a search engine like Google or a job board like Indeed, the closer and more specific job seekers are in searching you by brand and brand alone is a good indicator as to whether your employer brand via recruitment marketing is strong or needs some attention.
How large is your social media following? How many contacts do you have via email marketing campaigns? How many unique visitors do you have to your website as opposed to returning visitors? These metrics are critical in measuring ROI in both recruitment marketing and overall employer branding frameworks and strategies.
Any and all metrics you can glean from your content marketing and recruitment efforts can help you develop your best practices and make your proposition stronger to recruit the caliber of candidates you're looking for.
But, much like any other marketing endeavour, there are certain pitfalls, potholes, and potential hurdles to watch out for.
Above, you've found the best practices, pathways, and points of excellence in recruitment marketing and employer branding to rise to the necessary level of competitiveness in today's job market. And while these are suitable lessons to move forward with your recruitment marketing strategy, they can't be fully realized until we discuss how they came to be, why they are critical in driving success, and how these various principles and concepts help you avoid wasting resources, time, and effort.
With this in mind, below you'll find some common missteps in recruitment and employer branding and how these potential slip ups can not only compromise your recruitment strategy but can also potentially damage your employer branding.
Perhaps one of the more damning (if not the most damning) missteps a recruitment team can make in terms of marketing and employer branding is establishing an unrealistic timeline for success in devising a recruitment marketing strategy. The same principle, of course, applies with sales and marketing strategies in any B2B or B2C context when Inbound Marketing is employed. Content marketing takes time. Inbound strategies are about playing the long game. Recruitment marketing and employer branding are no different.
Defining your voice and tone, building a captive audience, and moving that captive audience (both the passive and active job seeker) are tasks that may take many months actually to achieve or bear fruit.
From a pure recruitment standpoint, you wouldn't post a position to a job board or professional organization career center on a Friday and expect applications to be rolling in en masse by Monday morning, right? Sure, you may check your applicant flow tied directly to this position once or twice a week, but if you received 5 or 6 quality applications from such a post over the course of 60 days, you'd call that a success.
Same for recruitment marketing content. You're building a pipeline with this kind of recruitment strategy, and such a build requires nurturing, time, and patience.
Perhaps the second more egregious misstep a recruitment team can make in crafting and deploying a recruitment marketing and employer branding strategy is ignoring authenticity in favour of stock images, generic employee testimonials, or canned responses to social media posts and inquiries.
Ask today's job seeker what they value from an employer or what grabs and holds their attention in terms of marketing and its authenticity – job seekers want to feel potential employers are speaking to them honestly and candidly about the organization's narrative, goals, and how an employee can fit into their culture. Don't spin a story about your business that's untrue.
This is why engaging current employees in testimonial campaigns, utilizing actual employee photos and determining who your audience is and the messaging that will most resonate with them is so critical in creating an authentic brand identity. In short, if you're going to engage in recruitment marketing and employer branding, then actually do it. Today, job seekers are too shrewd, have too many resources at their disposal, and are being hit with so many different avenues for recruitment content and employer branding that spotting a half-hearted attempt is easier than ever before.
Effective recruitment marketing content knows its audience – it knows who it is trying to speak to, why it is speaking, and what the value proposition is of any given statement or idea relative to the audience it is attempting to entice.
Imagine you're a regional health care provider. Would you speak to a registered nurse with 20 years' experience about your organizational culture the same way you'd address a health care mechanic? Does this nurse care about the same benefits as the health care mechanic? Probably not. Thus, these two different audiences necessitate different messaging and perhaps even different distribution platforms to successfully be reached and brought into your application pipeline.
The same goes for job seekers at different stages of their careers. A registered nurse with 20 years' experience will care about different elements of your organization than a registered nurse fresh out of school and looking for their first gig.
It may sound elementary, but not properly evaluating the job seeker you're trying to attract and how you need to engage with that job seeker (messaging, tone, distribution vessel) can derail your recruitment strategy before it even gets off the ground.
Don't forget: even though you're a recruiter, talent acquisition specialist, or HR generalist, you're not alone in talent sourcing – your entire organization thrives and depends on the right person filling the right role at the right time. This means recruitment teams must not ignore opportunities for cross-organizational partnerships and collaboration in terms of content creation or curation.
Especially as an organization's size grows, the likelihood of communication and collaboration silos becomes more and more prevalent. Whether it's working with your sales and marketing team, compliance team, logistics, and supply chain team, or the C Suite, remember that part of a successful recruitment marketing and employer branding scheme is relying on the thought leaders within your organization to intelligently and effectively help you share your company's narrative and brand.
In any effective recruitment marketing or employer branding strategy, you're more than likely leveraging yourself across multiple platforms.
- A website and blog.
- Social media like Facebook and Instagram.
- Career and recruitment websites like Indeed and LinkedIn.
- Video streaming platforms like YouTube.
While the user-bases on some of these platforms may align with each other, the fact of the matter is many may not – for example, a LinkedIn user in their 40's may not be as visible or engaged on YouTube as a recent college grad. That doesn't mean that your visual identity and core mission values should change. Your recruitment content strategy needs to be consistent across all major platforms. Ensure that the content you're creating, and the narrative you're forwarding is aligned and unified across each outlet.
This works on a two-pronged approach: first, it ensures your company's narrative and value proposition is reaching the most extensive and most varied candidate pools possible, and secondly, it demonstrates to job seekers who may encounter you on multiple platforms that you're fluent and capable of creating consistency and stability in a multi-platform world.