Recruiting Best Practices

Creating a recruitment marketing strategy

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

October 11, 2021

It can take between 12 and 20 touchpoints to influence a career decision. Rather than engaging in one-and-done reachouts, best-in-class recruiting teams take this data point seriously. Recruitment marketing is a strategy for attracting and engaging the best talent through the same tactics marketers use to sell the value of their products: tailored content, personalized nurture campaigns, and long-term multi-channel engagement—through onboarding and beyond. A strong recruitment marketing strategy reduces time-to-hire, builds more diverse and more qualified pipelines, elevates candidate experience, and boosts employee engagement and retention. Here are first steps, along with a list of what to focus on, when it comes to building your recruitment marketing strategy:

Define your recruitment marketing goals

Of course, your goal broadly speaking is to attract talent to apply to your org. But what specifically are you hoping to achieve at this moment? (These more precise goals will change as business needs do.) Make your goals measurable: “a 10% increase in career site visitors by June”; “35% of Q2 hires through referrals”; “20% more engagement with our social content within 4 months”; “double the size of our talent community this month”; and so on. If your goals aren’t measurable, they’re not actionable. 

Define your employee value proposition

Your employee value proposition is the unique set of benefits employees receive in return for their commitment to your org. It covers everything from personal development, to company culture, to diversity, to social responsibility, to vacation time, and more. What can your org offer employees that your competitors can’t? Your EVP will be the centerpiece around which your recruitment marketing strategy, and its content, is built; so it’s critical to get this right (and to be honest about it!). Sit down with your employees and ask what they love about working for you. Craft your EVP out of those responses. 

Clarify your candidate personas

You can’t create recruitment marketing content unless you know whom you’re engaging with. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate: current role, experience, skill sets, career goals, core values, motivations, frustrations. You’ll craft your content based on this understanding. Segment your personas: engineering managers and SDRs may have different expectations about work; diversity hires may be compelled by different elements of your culture in your messaging. Personas help you get in your target talent’s heads; they also support more personalized messaging on exactly the right channels. 

Create recruitment marketing content

Newsletters, blog posts, videos, webinars, infographics, employee testimonials, podcasts, thought leadership pieces, and events can cover everything your EVP entails. Your marketing team has an archive of materials to draw from; employees can contribute through blog posts about projects they’re working on, or social posts about the career growth they’ve experienced with your org. Create content for each stage of the candidate journey (awareness, consideration, interest, decision). What does talent need to know to progress further into the funnel? 

Build (and nurture) a talent community

A talent community is a network of people who’ve expressed interest in working for your org, though current circumstances prevent them from entering the hiring process. With Gem’s help, prospective candidates fill out a customized form directly on your careers page; use the information you collect to nurture and engage with them through targeted campaigns over time. Of course, don’t limit yourself to active talent: former silver medalists and passive talent should also go into your talent community. Gem’s branded email campaigns allow you to personalize high-touch communications at scale, and get sophisticated analytics to understand what’s working and what isn’t.

Nurturing is great behavior that I feel is overlooked in our industry. Gem has been a huge part of cultivating that for me. A lot of people send out three messages in their little drip campaign, and that’s it. But I believe wholeheartedly that this is a relationship whether they’re responding to you or not; you’ve got to keep cultivating it. -Aaron Smith, Technical Recruiting @ Plaid

Optimize your careers site

All your digital efforts (social media, SEO, job posting platforms, etc.) will ultimately point back to your site. An “optimized” careers site is one in which visitors can quickly and intuitively find all the information they need about working at your org. It explains who you are, what you do, and why employees love working for you. It’s mobile-friendly, next steps are obvious, the application process is seamless, and it’s GDPR compliant. Put yourself in talent’s shoes and navigate your own site. Analytics will help you understand visitor behavior.

Implement an employee referral program

The power of The Referral is real: it decreases time-to-hire, leads to faster onboarding, and increases retention rates for both referrer and referee. Referrers deeply understand company culture and recognize what it takes to thrive at your org; they’ll be among the best vetters of talent for your open roles. Our customers use Gem’s forms for referral submissions; referred talent is immediately placed in a Gem project so the team can tee up outreach to them.

Host exceptional recruitment events

Consider meetups; educational events such as classes, workshops, or competitions; AMA (ask-me-anything) sessions with your CEO; VIP dinners; and more. Sponsor or co-host events with organizations you want to be associated with—around a shared set of values, for example. With Gem’s events module, RSVPs and attendees are automatically added to a Gem project for easy nurture down the road; our full-funnel analytics show you which events lead to which hires. (That’s a much better understanding of ROI than attendee count!)

With Gem’s events module, we can track success: Who opened the event invite? And ultimately, how many people did we convert into our pipeline from the event? The amazing thing about the full-funnel view is that now we’ll have an answer to the question: Did we hire any candidates directly from this event? - Lucy Tran, Senior Recruiting Program Manager @ Box

Have recruitment-specific social accounts

Any strong recruitment marketing strategy recognizes that vast majority of your prospective candidates are on social. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, and wherever else your target talent hangs out—establish a presence there to add depth and authenticity to your brand and its culture. Decide on a strategy for each platform you’re on; what works on one platform may not on another. Encourage employees to share employer branding and recruitment content, whether that means “taking over” the business account to post a-day-in-the-life at your org, or resharing content you’ve curated. Use @mentions. Use hashtags. Use paid social ads to target talent for current or future openings.

Consider both SEO and PPC campaigns

Both will increase your visibility in search engine results. SEO (search engine optimization) is a long-term strategy of focusing on organic keywords, link-building, and creating best-in-class content so you show up in search results for your target keyphrases. PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns are just what they sound like: you place keyword-specific ads in search engine results, and only pay if a user clicks in. Or consider a retargeting strategy, which shows ads to previous visitors to your careers site. The point is to get the most relevant content in front of precisely the talent who’s looking for it. 

Attend to your Glassdoor and Comparably reviews 

If you’re not on these review sites, get on them! And then manage your employer brand there by responding and engaging with reviewers.

Offer a best-in-class candidate experience (CX)

We don’t have to tell you how CX impacts your ability to market yourself as an employer of choice. This means more than a simplified application process; it takes your entire hiring funnel into account, from first contact through to offer-accept. It entails frequent and transparent communication, equitable processes, minimal time-in-stage, and a sense—from the candidates’ perspective—that their time was respected and well-spent. With Gem, you can analyze conversion rates to identify the weakest points of your pipeline and understand how to fix them. Slice by hiring manager, recruiter, job, gender, race/ethnicity, and more to spot biases and effect process change for a more equitable candidate experience. Where is talent dropping out of process? How can you optimize that stage for a better overall candidate experience? 

Measure and iterate on your recruitment marketing strategy

There’s an endless set of metrics you could follow down the rabbit hole; but return to the goals you’ve defined. More qualified applicants from a specific channel? More passive talent to your careers site? More diversity in your talent community? Better response rates to your email outreach? Whatever your goals, the data is there—every step of the funnel, and every candidate touchpoint, is trackable and measurable. Be empowered to conduct informed experiments where the data suggests your process could be better. It’s the only way you’ll improve.


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