See Bullhorn's Recruitment Software!
Let's start with a simple definition...
Recruitment marketing is the combination of strategy, tactics and touchpoints that impact the entire recruiting process including sourcing, engagement, hiring and on-boarding.
Modern marketers in staffing firms can deploy a number of tactics including job boards, email, text messaging or social media; all based in an organizational strategy to drive more hires through engagement.
In other words: intelligently communicating with candidates about relevant jobs when time is right
Recruiting has seen a pretty dramatic shift in the past few years. A new contingent workforce paired with technology advances has made some strategies and tactics antiquated and ineffective.
Candidates had long been seen as a commodity; always available and exceedingly easy to dismiss. But as the game has changed, so too has the dynamic between candidate and recruiter. Today we must reach candidates at scale, but remain highly personal while doing so. This seemingly impossible task is far more achievable than you might imagine, but can only be accomplished if a shift away from old school thinking is made.
This page will walk you through the strategies, tactics and technologies that new school recruitment marketing pros need to understand to pull ahead of the pack. While we aim to cover the basics and provide a framework to build upon, marketing is an ever-changing beast, and new methods, techniques and dynamics are being developed all the time. To stay at the leading edge, we’d recommend diving into resources like marketingprofs.com.
Learn More About Bullhorn
The term recruitment marketing is rather self-explanatory: it’s simply the marketing tactics and strategies a candidate will encounter during the recruitment process.
But what does that really mean?
It may be easier to think of recruitment marketing as all the touchpoints a candidate will have with your firm throughout their career lifecycle; every step from sourcing to assignment or redeployment.
A touchpoint is any interaction a candidate may have with your firm. It could be applying for a position, receiving an email or filling out paperwork during onboarding. Every touchpoint should align with the overall strategy that a recruiting firm has committed to.
A touchpoint is any interaction
a candidate may have with your firm.
It could be applying for a position, receiving an email or filling
out paperwork during onboarding.
Every touchpoint should align
with the overall strategy that a recruiting firm has committed to.
For example, a firm may decide their marketing strategy is to drive more placements from their ATS. To achieve this, the savvy marketer would think of the tactics involved and which touchpoints could affect change. In this case, tactics could include:
Email is a pretty obvious touchpoint, but others include the filling out of paperwork, and even a visit to the firm’s website.
Knowing how to approach these touchpoints is key to effective recruitment marketing. Developing a robust strategy and utilizing the appropriate technology can result in marketing that is the magical combination of scalable and personalized that we envisaged above.
But before we dive too deeply into the intricacies of strategy and tech, there’s another pillar of good recruitment marketing that must first be erected. Your employment brand.
It’s all about branding.
The modern day marketer’s catchcry highlights the fact that these days perception is just as important as reality. Think of Apple as an example. Their carefully crafted persona of cool, cutting edge and designer belies the fact that they are manufacturing their product in pretty much exactly the same way as the cheapest electronics brand.
But what does creating a brand mean in terms of recruitment?
What is an employment brand?
A recruiting or staffing firm’s employment brand can be described as how people outside of your firm perceive the experience of working with your firm. How do people - more specifically, potential candidates - judge the quality and effectiveness of your services? Anyone in the public eye can tell you that an outsider’s perception of a situation often isn’t reflected in the reality of that situation - gossip magazines have a lot to answer for.
"Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room."
While your recruiting firm isn’t likely to be featured on the cover of Us Weekly, you should nonetheless be working to narrow the gap between perception and reality, and making both positive. Key to doing this is to create a strong brand. Your employment brand should be one that clearly communicates your organization’s values and culture, and tells a candidate what makes your firm stand out from the rest. It should outline exactly why they should choose you for their job search.
Today the most successful recruiters are those that recognize jobseekers as their most important resource, and work hard to demonstrate that recognition. This focus on the candidate will, over time, see the reputation of a firm become synonymous with quality and effectiveness. Every recruiting and staffing firm has an employment brand, including yours. The effort put into curating that brand will have as big an impact as anything on your long term success.
The first step to developing your brand is to understand exactly what you’re trying to develop. You can’t draw an elephant if you don’t know what one looks like. What does your firm stand for? What are your long term goals? Answering such existential questions can be tricky, so begin by brainstorming the following:
What do you hope your firm will look like in 5 years?
Why is your firm unique? What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
If you were a candidate, why would you work with your firm? And why wouldn’t you?
How have potential candidates heard about your firm?
Use what you brainstorm to define your brand. This definition should be short and precise - an ‘elevator pitch’ - and should balance what you ideally want to deliver with what you will feasibly be able to. This elevator pitch will form the genesis of any brand communication that you produce.
While your employment brand is aimed at potential candidates, the type of jobseeker that you target will be steered by your clientele. So, who are the customers that you hope to work with?
Gaining an understanding of the industries that your ideal customers work within will allow you to align yourself with the needs of those customers. The recruiting requirements for different industries vary greatly (compare the retail, manufacturing and health sectors, for example), and building a brand that serves a certain type of customer is important for your firm’s credibility.
What are the core industries my customers work within?
What roles do they need filled?
Are the necessary candidates in my database?
Where can I find more of these candidates?
You’ve defined your brand and ideal customer, but now it’s time to take a step back, and remind yourself that you are but one of a galaxy of firms working within the recruitment space. How does your brand fit into the market at large?
Assessing where you fit into the market means gathering intel. First you must look inward, and analyze what your customers are buying. Check the most popular roles, and identify any trends in your customer’s needs. Perhaps an industry is crying out for a certain skill set, or is being transformed by automation. Using these trends to predict tomorrow’s needs will allow your firm to focus its attention on finding and supplying the right candidates into the future.
After this introspection, look outward. Who are your main competitors? And what do they offer? You can only stand out from the crowd if you know what they’re wearing. Identify your major competition and find out what they see as their USPs, then use this intel to either do it better, or do it differently. If you spot a gap in the market - a sector which is criminally underserviced - find out whether you could morph your brand to fill that gap.
When people talk ‘branding’, they inevitably talk about the visual stuff that customers use to identify an organization. And while these visuals are just a small part of the greater brand that an organization needs to put forward, they are nonetheless vital in conveying its message. As simple as the bitten apple or the sneaker swoosh might be, they have developed into incredibly powerful visual tools.
The choices made when creating your visual identity can have a surprising effect on how a potential candidate or customer views your organization. Certain colors, shapes and words generate different emotions, and understanding the underlying psychology of these choices is essential in getting your visual identity working for you.
Color palette: Your color choices should be made with color psychology in mind (green is peaceful and healthy, orange is friendly and cheerful, blue is strong and trustworthy, etc.). If your current color palette doesn’t align with what you want your brand to be, take the time to make the switch.
Typeface: Two fonts which encapsulate your brand and complement each other should be chosen. Again, your choice should be based upon what we understand about how typefaces will make your audience feel.
Logo: It’s likely that you already have a logo, but does it fit with your new color and typeface choices? A professional designer (like those found on Dribbble) will be able to guide a redesign that captures the feelings that you’re trying to generate.
Once your visual identity has been formed, a branding guide must be produced. This document is your brand’s bible, and ensures that your visual identity is consistent in every piece of communication you produce.
To many, that’s just one meaningless word followed by another, which, when combined, form something even more meaningless. So let’s break it down.
Think of strategy as:
The plan to achieve a big goal or company aim
And marketing as:
Promoting and selling your products or services
Recruiters have a fairly unique challenge on their hands, as they not only have to develop a strategy that speaks to potential clients, but also one that speaks to potential candidates.
So marketing strategy is the plan you set in place to promote and sell your recruiting services. Recruiters have a fairly unique challenge on their hands, as they not only have to develop a strategy that speaks to potential clients, but also one that speaks to potential candidates.
How do you go about developing such a multi-faceted marketing strategy?
When do you currently make contact with your candidates and clients? If this is a difficult question to answer, your current strategy should be seriously rethought. Good marketing strategy is built upon consistent, quality communication, and having clear contact procedures in place.
Making contact with prospects when they first engage with your organization or checking in with existing consultants every Friday should be processes that are written into the DNA of your firm, not tasks that your team can opt in on if they so choose.
Where do new candidates/clients come from? Where should they be coming from? Consider your target candidate and client, and how best to go about reaching both groups.
Depending on your ideal audience, the perfect marketing channel could be email, social media, print advertising, setting up a stall at industry events or encouraging word of mouth.
What are the marketing strategies used by your direct competition? Find out what sort of marketing material they send out into the world, and what communication they make with their candidates.
There are a myriad of ways to conduct a competitor marketing analysis, and the best for your firm will depend on what you hope to get out of your efforts. Once you have an idea of what other firms are offering, ask yourself - how can we do it better? Or differently?
Go into a jeweler without a budget and you’ll inevitably fall in love with the most expensive diamond on the shelf. Likewise, that luxury model at the car dealership looks pretty tasty without an upper limit in mind. Without a budget, boys and girls, you’re destined to overspend.
In order to be wise with your money, outline what you’re willing to fork out before forming your recruitment marketing strategy. It’s also important to develop a timeline for implementing any new tools or processes, as these things have a habit of falling down the priority list, and pushing past their due date.
Which marketing tools do you need to help execute your strategy? As technology becomes smarter, previously time-consuming and laborious tasks are being made far easier, and in some cases are being entirely automated. The tools you choose will be guided by the scale of the strategy, and your willingness to innovate. We’ll take a deeper look at marketing tech in the next section, but for now, ask yourself:
As the last dot point above notes, the proof is in the pudding. There’s no point in committing to a marketing strategy if you can’t figure out how effective it is. As such, your strategy needs to be measured and analyzed, and clear goals must be put in place from the outset.
Exactly how you measure the strategy’s effectiveness will largely be up to you, but may be steered by the tools that you choose to use, and the analysis they offer up. The most important question however, is relatively simple: What would you see as a good ROI?
Good recruitment marketing relies on the use of good technology. With digital marketing now making traditional marketing all but obsolete, it’s important that a recruiting firm educates itself on the best tools to use, or brings in experts who can put the right tech and processes in place.
A 2015 study by Verisign found that 9 out of 10 consumers relied on the internet to locate and evaluate goods and services, while Profitworks noted that 93% of all business purchase decisions begin with a search engine. According to those numbers, without a website popping up on that search engine you’re left selling to just 7% of the market.
The key to gaining access to that lucrative audience is to build a professional website that has been search engine optimized (SEO). Hiring a professional to construct or reconstruct your site is an investment that will pay itself back handsomely in time.
It’s also vital that you use a website tracking tool, like Google Analytics, that enables you to measure and analyze the performance of your site. Keep your website professional around to act on the insights that are generated.
So which marketing-specific tools should your firm be looking at? The aim of any tool should be to minimize the amount of laborious, repetitive work that a recruiter has to do. Instead, your recruiter should be focusing on providing unmatched service to their candidates and customers, allowing them to build meaningful and lasting relationships.
With that in mind, your marketing tools should automate the small stuff. Provided your ATS is well managed, basic communications like emails and text messages can easily be personalized to each recipient and sent out automatically. In fact, even highly personalized content can be automatically constructed for individual candidates if you use a smart system like Herefish.
These marketing tools can be boiled down to three broad categories
Email and Text Messaging
It's worth noting that sourcing is a critical step in the entire recruitment marketing process.
Below are some obvious choices and perhaps a few you haven't thought of when trying to source niche candidates.
Job boards and career site databases like Monster, Career Builder and Dice are absolute goldmines for recruiters. With millions of resumes spanning every different professional field, it’s likely that the ideal candidate for your next job sits somewhere within their archives. The downside is that many of the candidates found will be particularly passive, having uploaded their CV on a whim.
LinkedIn offers ease of use that job boards simply can’t match. Searching by professional field, education or work history is super simple, and the fact that you can contact people who aren’t actively looking for jobs means that potential competition is minimized. With almost every professional worth their salt now offering up a public profile, LinkedIn will only get more important to recruiters in years to come.
Ignore niche job boards and sources at your own peril. While LinkedIn and the more renowned job boards give you plenty of options, this embarrassment of riches can become a drawback. A simple search will produce thousands of results, many of which may be in the wrong industry or location. Niche sources offer smaller and more relevant candidate pools, and the specialization will see candidates uploading resumes that are more detailed.
Paid ads are another great option for recruiters, particularly those who are hoping for active jobseekers to come to them, rather than having to scour the job boards in search of the perfect candidate. Digital ads - particularly those on LinkedIn and social media - allow you to hyper-target your audience, making them far more effective than the old ad in the paper ever was.
While it is criminally overlooked by many recruiting firms, your own database is as good a source of talent as any. The major benefit of pulling candidates from your own ATS is that you already have a relationship with them - and if you’ve been executing your recruitment marketing properly that relationship will be good! While achieving a well-functioning database is only possible by setting down rigorous structures and procedures, doing so can be a windfall for your firm. A well maintained database can result in over 60% of an recruiting firm’s placements coming from their ATS.
As we’ve already noted, perhaps the most important step in recruitment marketing strategy is to measure and analyze its performance, and adapt the strategy based on the insights generated. This must be done both before you develop your strategy (to form a baseline from which you can aim to improve), and after the strategy has been put in place (to develop and adjust to change as required).
Three different aspects of your performance must be measured in order to form a complete picture of your situation.
Recruitment, like most other industries, is undergoing a period of massive change. Perhaps the difference for recruitment is that the level of change is amplified, as it must navigate all the changes of every other industry it deals in.
But by understanding the value of good branding, the importance of solid strategy, and the role of technology in delivering both, your firm will be perfectly placed to not only adapt to this continual change, but thrive in it.
Reaching candidates as scale, but remaining personal all the while. It’s not impossible. In fact, it’s more achievable today than it has ever been before. It simply requires a commitment of resources, a pragmatic approach, and a willingness to innovate.