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Recruitment Marketing 101: Communicating Culture to Attract Top Talent

Between the pandemic and social unrest, company mission, culture, ethical leadership, and job stability are more important to talent in 2021 than ever before. Recruitment Marketing is how you communicate these things. Here's how.

In a recent survey of over 500 talent acquisition professionals conducted by Gem, 62% of talent leaders ranked employer branding as a top priority for 2021. In fact, employer branding came in at #3 on talent leaders’ lists of top initiatives—just behind pipelining and diversity hiring. What’s more, of all the elements we asked respondents to rate on a scale of 1-10 in terms of its importance in 2021, employer branding scored highest, with an 8.7 out of 10.

If you’re in recruiting, these probably aren’t surprising data points. Our post-COVID world remains a candidate-driven market. In some ways, it’s even more candidate-driven than it was prior to 2020. Between the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, some company elements—mission, culture, ethical and approachable leadership, job stability, work-life balance—have become more important to talent than ever before. Candidates are asking about diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as early in the process as phone screens. They want to know what public statements your CEO made last year as protests erupted in the streets, and how employees feel about the leadership team’s follow-through on those statements. They want to know what top-down efforts were made for employees in the transition to working remotely. They want to know how teams continue to collaborate and support each other, and how your org continues to foster equity and belonging, as remote work continues. 

Recruitment is no longer solely about filling a role with talent with the right skill sets; it’s about finding alignment between companies’ and candidates’ values, needs, and motivators. What recruitment marketing fundamentally does is define and communicate the organization’s mission, purpose, and culture through all the right channels, creating awareness for talent who not only meet the role’s requirements, but who also share the company’s vision and values—meaning they’re not only more likely to apply to your org, they’re also more likely to remain with you, as company ambassadors, for the long-term.

Recruitment marketing is the combination of tools, strategies, and activities used to help define—and then communicate—an organization’s employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP) in order to attract, engage, hire, and retain best-fit talent. Its overall strategy is rife with marketing principles and best practices: creating candidate personas; building and/or amassing high-value content that revolves around your EVP; and engaging in targeted, omni-channel distribution of that content (web, email, social, mobile, events, etc). Other strategies it’s leveraged from marketing include SEO, PPC, engagement through personalized content and tech-enabled automation, social media advertising, nurturing and retargeting with CRM, and analytics. You’ll often hear recruitment marketing described as the “pre-applicant phase” of talent acquisition (as opposed to late-funnel persuasion); but it also considerably influences the bottom of the funnel. After all, candidates who’ve fully grasped your EVP are much more likely to accept your offer when it comes in.

Like traditional marketers, recruitment marketers are storytellers, crafting strategies to tell elements of the company narrative to promote their workplace rather than their product or service. Of course, there’ve always been elements of marketing in the best of recruitment processes; but recruitment marketing is now emerging as both a specialized discipline and a core recruiting competency. Specialized talent acquisition roles (Recruitment Marketing Specialists, Employer Branding Specialists, Talent Brand Managers, etc.) focus on things like brand awareness, competitive positioning, social engagement, reputation management, amplifying employee ambassadors, career website management, and event management. But in 2021, every recruiter should be employing elements of recruitment marketing in their strategies. 

So whether you’re interested in recruitment marketing as a full-time career or as a part-time strategy, we’ve written Recruitment Marketing 101: Communicating Culture to Attract Top Talent for you. It covers the candidate journey along with the branding and messaging elements worth attending to along that journey, so you can complement the content about your open roles with your brand story. Find out: 

  • How the funnel model, used by marketers to track the customer journey from product awareness to purchase, can be mapped onto the hiring process so that prospective candidates get exactly the kind of content they need depending on where they are in the candidate journey (awareness, interest, consideration, action)
  • How to define your employee value proposition (EVP) to demonstrate your company’s commitment to employees’ growth and development, and to meeting their needs in exchange for their day-to-day efforts (hint: it’s a bottom-up exercise)
  • How to perform competitive analysis to understand how your competitors’ talent acquisition teams are positioning their companies, and what their recruitment marketing materials highlight. (Which benefits are table stakes? Where do you have clear competitive advantages in terms of what you can offer employees?)
  • Where to get the data to create your candidate persona/s 
  • What types of content to consider and amass for your recruitment marketing efforts 
  • A step-by-step look at the kinds of channels you should be paying attention to—from your website, to paid ads, to job boards, to referral programs, to talent communities, to social, to SEO efforts, to review sites, and more
  • How to analyze, evaluate, and optimize your recruitment marketing efforts 

If figuring out how to communicate culture is at the top of your list right now—and the data suggests it isthis resource is for you.