As recruitment and talent acquisition become more competitive than ever, positioning your recruitment tools effectively takes on paramount importance. After all, you want to improve your ROI and make sure you’re getting the best possible people for your open positions. You may think that particular clock starts running once you make contact with potential applicants and hires, but in reality, it starts way before that. Recruitment marketing strategies are the steps your organization takes when (or even before) there’s a job opening to fill.
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What is recruitment marketing?
Recruitment marketing is the suite of strategies and tools you use to build and maintain your employer brand, connect with potential hires, and manage outward messaging about your company. It’s not quite the same thing as standard marketing—you’re not selling your product or service, but rather your company. It’s also not quite the same as talent acquisition. Recruitment marketing consists of the various activities an organization uses to find, attract, engage and nurture talented prospects before, during and after they apply for a job.
Recruitment marketing is picking up steam as a part of a comprehensive recruitment strategy, but many organizations just aren’t using it to its full potential. According to a recent survey by HR.com, only about one-third of respondents said that their organizations had a “high” or “very high” understanding of recruitment marketing, and only about a quarter of the respondents said that their organizations had a “power user” of recruitment marketing. Together, these stats show a huge growth potential for adapting recruitment marketing as a best practice for engaging and retaining top talent in your talent pipeline.
What are the fundamental components?
If you’re one of those people who are would-be power users of recruitment marketing but aren’t yet familiar (or you’d like a refresher), let’s review its core concepts. Think of recruitment marketing as a two-sided coin. One side is job marketing, or making people aware of your opportunities. The other side is employer branding or the employee value proposition (EVP) you’re projecting to potential candidates. It’s a little different from the talent acquisition process—both have the same overarching goal (get someone great in your open position), but recruitment marketing is more about the journey to get to that point, and the steps an organization takes to keep candidates engaged at every step of the process. That being said, let’s take a look at the funnel and its stages.
The recruitment marketing funnel is a handy visual aid to picture how a candidate moves through the recruitment process—or rather, how an organization guides candidates through the decision to apply. In the first, broadest phase, the candidate becomes aware of the company and the open job. At this part of the funnel, it’s the organization’s job to ensure that they’re publicizing jobs in the right venues for the candidates they want to reach.
The next phase takes awareness a step further: attraction. At this point, the candidate is engaged, and interested in learning more about this specific job and your organization. The organization’s obligation is to make sure that the EVP (benefits, unique aspects of the company, most appealing aspects of the opportunity) are clear to the candidate via public branding (company website, social media accounts, etc.).
The next phase is interest, in which the candidate is actively considering applying for the job. The organization should be keeping the candidate engaged—interacting, providing information, ensuring that the candidate has a good experience at all outreach points.
And finally, there’s applying—which we know isn’t the last phase of the hiring process, but is the crucial step at the bottom of the funnel. At this point, the organization still needs to ensure that the candidate is having a high-quality experience with the process.
At virtually every phase of the funnel, employer branding is key. It’s also the part that requires the least individual tailoring. Your employer branding is all about you as a hiring company—not necessarily the brand you cultivate with your end product or service. Potential candidates are your customers here, so the focus is on what you provide as an organization. Presenting a clear vision of who you are as an organization, and what you value, is essential. This is something you can do fairly simply by updating your public-facing content, like your website and your social media presence.
And don’t forget the other side of the coin: job marketing and advertising. Recruitment marketing is all about finding the best ways to reach potential candidates, not just posting everywhere and hoping that the right candidate finds you. AI-enabled programs like PandoLogic’s can help you mine essential usage and engagement data from your job advertising in real time, allowing you to refine on the fly to make sure that you’re spending your precious recruitment budget in the places that are most likely to yield good results.
What are the benefits?
According to a recent survey conducted by HR.com, 73% of HR professionals said that the most tangible benefit of adopting data-driven recruitment marketing is the quality of candidates who ultimately come through their door.
There are additional bonuses as well, like the efficiency of targeting your job ad spends and streamlined resources that are required to reach high-quality candidates, but the most important effect is one you’ll see when you get great candidates. Other benefits of data-driven recruitment marketing include:
- Better marketing and word-of-mouth. Conscious attention to your branding on sites like Glassdoor can help improve your image. Targeting specific aspects of your public persona, using analysis software, can help you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing and what you’re putting out there.
- Reducing time-to-hire. Filling jobs more efficiently often fills them faster. AI-enabled recruitment marketing software can help you save time on once-manual tasks that get people in the door more quickly.
- Improving the quality of hires. Using data to target people who meet a certain standard helps ensure that you’ll get better candidates.
- Getting better ROI for your budget. Analysis of your job advertising spend can help you figure out where your money is most effectively spent, what’s not working, etc., and reallocate resources as necessary.
Recruitment isn’t just about the job you’re filling now, but also about setting yourself up for the future with better data and more insight into what works best with the information you’re putting out there. By embracing recruitment marketing best practices now, you’re helping to ensure better, smoother hiring in the future and an improved candidate experience.
What is driving organizations to use recruitment marketing?
Recruitment marketing is becoming a hot priority in organizations of all sizes, largely due to three main factors:
- Competition for the best talent. It’s a seller’s market right now for high-quality candidates, and organizations are keen to get any possible hiring edge.
- Social media’s growing role in the hiring world. People are sharing real-time opinions and insight on everything online. It’s as important for an organization to maintain their brand as an organization in addition to their main corporate branding.
- Millennials joining the workforce. With a new generation coming of age in the workplace, standards and expectations have shifted. Millennials are often more plugged-in and brand-aware than past generations and are more likely to navigate social media and other online-only avenues to find and vet their next job opportunities.
With technology improving over time, particularly with the evolution of AI-enabled programs, organizations feel obligated to take advantage of these tools to streamline and improve their hiring.
What are the barriers to successful recruitment marketing?
Adopting data-driven recruitment strategies as a best practice may seem like a no-brainer, but there are some barriers to doing so successfully. S biggest challenge can be getting started at all. Many organizations feel like they just don’t have the resources in place (either financial or staffing) to devote to a specific recruitment marketing program. This is especially true for small organizations that rely on proven data and business cases to fund HR initiatives. And that’s a bit of a catch-22—you need to invest resources to see a return, but to get the initial buy-in you need to prove the ROI factor. This results in tentative, or delayed, investment in recruitment marketing best practices. To get past this hurdle, organizations may want to start with the less resource-intensive strategies, like refining the messaging on your website and social media and making the application process simpler. Solid recruitment strategies can also reduce longer-term costs, like cost-per-hire and cost-per-applicant by streamlining those processes, so the cost savings should also be considered as part of an initial investment.
The other factor that can hold back recruitment marketing strategy implementation is right there in the survey results we’d mentioned before—nearly two-thirds of organizations just don’t feel like they have a strong understanding of the mechanics of recruitment marketing. Broadening the knowledge base and educating HR teams on the importance of embracing these strategies can smooth the implementation process.
Automation, or using analytics programs and AI platforms to do the heavy lifting with recruitment marketing, can also lower those barriers. They take potentially overwhelming amounts of data and corral them into actionable metrics for an organization.
Like any other strategic initiative, recruitment marketing best practices do involve an investment time and careful analysis, but with training and holistic consideration of the upsides, it’s a challenge worth accepting for organizations of all sizes.
How is tech evolving in recruitment marketing?
You’ve heard this one before: automation, automation, automation. AI programs are making recruitment simpler and allowing machine learning to make decisions based on the data that comes in. Pandologic’s platform, for example, analyzes data from job advertising placements dynamically, showing how potential candidates are interacting with particular posts or platforms, evaluating whether the ROI justifies continued ad spends. An organization can set budget allocation strategies, and enable the program to follow those programmatically as data comes in. For example, AI algorithms know if you’re spending money for more LinkedIn spots than you need, and can reduce that spending to reallocate it elsewhere.
AI can also work on the candidate engagement piece as well, with automated candidate outreach throughout the process (sending reminders, check-in emails, scheduling) to make sure candidates feel informed and engaged as early as possible in the process.
The end goal of automation is optimization—making the process more seamless for both the organization and the candidates it’s trying to reach. Ideally, the fancy algorithms and dynamic feedback are making sure that the talent sourcing process is evolving and relying on information, not manual touchpoints that can bog down the process. When the process runs more efficiently on the organization’s side, it leads to a better candidate experience as well.
Recruitment marketing vs. talent acquisition
One of the most common missteps in developing a recruitment marketing strategy is lumping it together with talent acquisition. Again, the ultimate goal is similar—hiring the right people for the job—but there are differences between recruitment marketing and talent acquisition. In recruitment marketing, you’re focusing on the infrastructure around the hiring process, not necessarily the process itself. You’re making sure that all the necessary tools are in place right now—employer branding, job advertising, and predictive analytics. Recruitment marketing is what you’re doing in the present to make yourself visible and appealing as an employer.
If recruitment marketing is the “now,” talent acquisition strategy is more future-facing. The talent acquisition pipeline is about making sure you have access to qualified candidates to fill current and future openings. Recruitment marketing is about getting people to the start of that pipeline. The process as a whole is made up of specific decisions and steps that you take to make sure the right people are seeing the EVP your organization can offer. Talent acquisition is more of a long-term strategy to engage candidates.
Embracing recruitment marketing best practices is among the most beneficial things you can do for your organization’s hiring health. It’s about continually improving all of the baseline qualities that attract potential candidates (brand, EVP, visible advertising in the right places), and doing so in a targeted, efficient way. By making recruitment marketing a permanent strategic priority alongside its talent acquisition strategies, an organization is giving itself a much-needed advantage in an increasingly crowded, chaotic recruitment field.