Best Practices

What Recruiters Can Learn from Marketers

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

January 23, 2020

Great marketing can influence every decision we make as consumers. If recruiters can learn to think like marketers, that'll include what jobs we apply for.

If you’ve been in recruitment for at least a few years, you may have noticed that your job has gotten exponentially harder in that time. That’s what a recent recruitment survey conducted by Monster found: 62% of recruiters say their job is more difficult today than it was a year ago; 59% say it’s become tougher to get quality candidates. This increasing difficulty has prompted recruitment teams to start thinking differently about how they approach their jobs. And in fact, the best recruiting orgs are now borrowing strategies traditionally used by marketers to find and attract customers. After all, there’s a strong analogy there: Recruiters aren’t selling a product or service; but they are selling a company, a culture, and a role. And in our current talent market, in which candidates have fast access to social networks, a company’s Glassdoor reviews, and the power to “screen” you right back, recruiters have to meet sophistication with sophistication.

Here's where recruiters can learn from marketers. Consumer marketing experts have proven that great marketing can influence every decision we make—from what toothpaste we use, to what car we buy, to what university we attend. If recruiters can learn to think like marketers, that influence will extend to what jobs we apply for.This great thing for recruitment is that marketing is already a mature discipline, and many of the strategies recruitment needs to borrow from it are tried-and-true: value propositions, multichannel marketing, branding, segmentation, content marketing, nurture campaigns, storytelling, data-leveraging, and more. Below, we’ll cover some of the most important strategies your marketing department is employing on a daily basis. Replicating them will give you an edge in your own recruiting efforts.

1. Customer/Candidate Personas

In marketing, a customer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a company’s actual prospects and customers. Marketers create personas based on market research and insights gathered from current customers. While the persona is hypothetical, the intelligence it’s built on is not: The persona shares customers’ most common traits, in terms of both demographic information (age, education, income, location, relationship status, etc.) and psychographic information (interests, beliefs, values, concerns, etc.).

Personas help you internalize your ideal candidate. You’ll better understand their attitudes, what drives them in work and life, what they hope to accomplish in their careers, and more. You’ll remember that prospective candidates are real humans—and you’ll craft your outreach for them as such. Personas also allow you to segment your target talent more easily. Engineering managers and SDRs may have different expectations about work; executive hires will demand a different approach than evergreen hires do; diversity hires may require attention to different elements of the job in your outreach. Personas don’t only help you get in your target talent’s heads (and hearts); they also support more targeted messaging.

2. Customer/Candidate Journeys

Marketers map customer journeys in a number of ways. Maybe you’ve heard of AIDA (Attention → Interest → Desire → Action) or similar funnels that narrate a typical journey to purchase. They serve as reminders that prospects in each phase of the journey are of a different mindset and require different approaches. The same goes for candidates in your hiring funnel. Your candidate cycle probably looks something like Outreach → Phone Screen → Onsite → Offer Extend → Offer Accept; but you could map something like Attract → Qualify → Connect → Hire on top of it.

Your initial outreach should “attract” passive talent by alerting them to the fact that there may be something better out there for them, shaking them out of their indifference. “Connection” happens through nurture campaigns, where you’ll establish a relationship with talent by sending them exciting news and updates. (While marketers use tools like Marketo for these campaigns, TA pros use tools like Gem.) Messaging about and during the onsite will demand more detail about a specific role and a return to the “hard sell.” And so on. Breaking down your hiring funnel into stages helps you calibrate your outreach to each stage to move candidates into the next (again, TA pros use tools like Gem's Talent Pipeline to visualize the candidate journey & take action on their pipeline).

3. Candidate-Centricity

If there’s a consistent marketing mantra, it’s “you, not us.” Every good marketing message answers the question—from the prospect’s perspective—What’s in it for me? What recruiters can learn from marketers is to transfer that to their candidate interactions. It’s the candidate’s needs, not yours, that matter. Candidate-centricity at its finest means personalization. The quickest way to convince a prospect to buy a product is to speak to their pain points and facilitate a personal connection with them; the same goes for recruiting talent.

This means not sending out a single email blast to a hundred prospective candidates without personalizing first. It means putting in the extra time to record prospects’ personal details (talent CRM solutions are crucial for facilitating this). Congratulatory emails on their 2-year anniversary in their current role go a long way. So does logging the details they mention about themselves so you can acknowledge them in your next outreach.Match your messaging to the interests of every job seeker category as well. Research and close listening will alert you to who might care more about stock options, who needs comprehensive benefits that will support a disability or an entire family, who might be looking for student loan repayment assistance, and so on.

4. Multi-Channel Employer Branding

Marketers’ end goal is (positive) brand recognition. As a recruiter, you’d likely love for your company to be the first that pops into top talents’ heads when they’re ready to make their next career move. Marketers have to build a company brand in order to achieve that goal. Recruiters can learn from marketers how to build an employer brand. Employer branding occurs (whether you like it or not) through word-of-mouth and on employer review sites like Glassdoor. But you can take control of your brand by utilizing your careers page, as well as social media channels—from LinkedIn to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to Snapchat and beyond.

After all, while nearly one-third of younger workers will preemptively reject a company with poor employer reviews, 34% “do some social media stalking” to weed out employers—or to decide which ones they’re interested in. What’s more, going social is a low-cost and relatively low-effort way to connect with prospective candidates. So take another tip from your marketing department and get on those platforms to advertise your talent brand.

5. Storytelling

This follows from branding. Just as every product demands a compelling story that people can connect with, so does every employer. Your EVP will play an important role here. This is the “story” of the value you’ll bring to prospects’ lives should they choose to work with you. What benefits will they uniquely experience with your organization? What differentiates you from their other employer options? Your best “marketers” in this case will be your employees. After all, it shouldn’t be surprising that talent ranks current employees as the most trusted source of information about a company.

So use those social channels we just discussed to let employees tell their personal stories: where they came from, what their career trajectory has been like in your organization, what a day-in-the-life looks like, what they love about your culture, and so on. Every employee in your organization has an authentic, unique story that describes why they love working for you. Let them tell it.

6. Nurture Campaigns

This one’s crucial—and in a world where recruiters are engaging with talent months, and sometimes years, before they’re ready to apply, it’s becoming all the more important. Marketers use nurture campaigns regularly to stay top-of-mind for consumers. Not every prospective customer is ready to purchase a product today; but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to purchase next week or next year. The best marketing strategy keeps content flowing in the meantime.

Recruiters must do the same for talent pools. It will mean you’re not starting from scratch the next time you need a position filled, because you’ll have a pipeline you’ve been thoughtfully keeping in touch with. These emails may update prospective candidates on company news: your Series C funding, that recent award you won for workplace diversity, that employee who just transitioned into a leadership role. They may include links to blog posts employees write, or to the media mention your organization got for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. They might include invites to live events you host—talks, meet-ups, Q&As with your CEO. You’ll structure these TA campaigns like strategic marketing campaigns, segmenting them by job title, skill set, location, and so on.

7. Data

Marketers have become so adept at what they do because of data. From email open and reply rates, to social analytics, to website analytics, nearly everything has been made measurable for them. Tools now exist that give recruiters access to the same intelligence. With Gem, for example, you have access to open rates, reply rates, an A/B testing feature, and content stats for an overall idea of how your outreach is doing and what content is most compelling to passive talent. Our Talent Compass module displays pipeline analytics so you can observe passthrough rates for each stage of the hiring funnel, filtering by role, gender, hiring manager, and more. Our forecasting calculator predicts how many candidates you’ll need at the top of the funnel to make a single hire (or as many hires as you enter into the calculator).

The quality and integrity of a TA team’s data is directly proportional to the candidate experience it can offer. Marketers already know this about their marketing efforts. It’s time for talent acquisition to jump on that bandwagon.So there you have it: 7 strategies recruiters can learn from marketers. Our action item for you? Sit down with your company’s marketing team and dig into the above strategies that interest you. They’ll have deeper insights into how you can go about it… and you’ll want a strong collaborative relationship with them in the long run. After all, you’re both selling different aspects of the company.


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