It’s rare for top talent to search for job openings and submit cold applications. Instead, new opportunities usually come to them.
That’s because smart recruiters have learned to apply marketing principles to their talent acquisition process, helping them fill and nurture robust talent pipelines they can hire from at a moment’s notice.
This approach, known as recruitment marketing, is how employers stay fully staffed and ahead of the pack despite an admittedly weird labor market. Here are the key components your talent team should have in place to make recruitment marketing work for them.
What is Recruitment Marketing?
Recruitment marketing requires talent acquisition professionals to think like marketers, applying inbound and outbound marketing tactics to promote not just open positions, but their overall employer brand.
This approach widens the top of the recruitment funnel to attract anyone who may be interested in your brand or your job openings — not just people who have already applied.
“People are looking for employers that offer good career opportunities and a proven track record of respecting and valuing their workforce,” says Chloé Rada, senior director of talent attraction ZoomInfo.
Recruitment marketing helps promote your business as a strong workplace, and can draw in top talent that you otherwise wouldn’t have connected with through traditional recruiting channels.
Why Invest in Recruitment Marketing?
Today’s hiring market presents significant challenges for companies looking to find and keep top talent. According to the Talent Board, 75% of companies found it difficult to hire in 2022.
If your talent acquisition team is feeling a similar squeeze, recruitment marketing makes hiring the right people an easier, more streamlined process.
Great candidates are usually on and off the market in a matter of days — if they even enter the market at all. Shortening the time it takes to hire new employees is one of the best ways to make sure you create a talented team.
Recruitment marketing helps your company build a pipeline of potential candidates that are warmed up and conversation-ready. By starting the sourcing process with people who are up to date on your company news and opportunities, you can speed up your time-to-hire.
Creating talent communities is a great way to ensure access to potential talent when you need it. After all, these are the candidates who are already being nurtured down the funnel with candidate-centric messaging about your company.
Reducing turnover can save significant time and costs associated with hiring. The Society for Human Resource Management found that the average cost-per-hire comes out to $4,683 per employee ($28,329 for executives), including recruiting, hiring and onboarding costs. But a longstanding estimate from the U.S. Department of Labor says the average cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of their first year of earnings — as a result of lost recruitment time, higher retraining costs, low productivity, and damage to customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
When talent acquisition teams rush to fill openings without a pre-qualified pool of candidates, costly, ill-fitting hires are inevitable. However, with a talent pipeline built by effective recruitment marketing, talent acquisition teams will be able to make well-vetted hires that fit your company culture and goals with speed and efficiency.
As with marketing, word of mouth matters when you’re competing to recruit top talent for your company — and the word can go either way. Over half of job applicants share negative hiring experiences with their inner circles, but over three-quarters share their positive stories.
With social media and online professional groups, inner circles can be quite large, allowing candidates to amplify any good (or bad) feelings from your hiring process to their network.
“People trust people more than they trust brands. But as recruitment marketers, you have the ability to convert candidates through sharing purpose-based employee stories that offer proof of culture,” Rada says.
How to Build an Effective Recruitment Marketing Strategy
Building a recruitment marketing strategy that improves key hiring metrics requires six key steps, and starts with outlining your goals and your ideal candidate personas.
1. Outline recruitment marketing goals
S.M.A.R.T. recruitment marketing goals will help your team create quantifiable steps and success metrics to guide different elements of your recruitment marketing strategy.
Here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal that outlines how recruitment marketing will help grow a company’s customer support team:
- Specific: The recruitment team will replenish the customer support team hiring pool by growing inbound traffic to content related to customer support. They will achieve this by working with the content team to create new materials and refresh existing ones.
- Measurable: Create 12 pieces of new content and refresh 30 pieces of existing content.
- Attainable: 4 new and 10 refreshed pieces per month is reasonable based on the past performance of the content team.
- Relevant: Creating more and better content that engages ideal customer support candidates will make for a larger and higher quality hiring pool.
- Time-bound: Meet this goal by the end of the quarter.
Notice how we keep zooming in on each quarter as a measure of time? The labor market and your business needs will shift regularly. Working with shorter timelines ensures your recruitment strategy goals stay up to date.
2. Define Ideal Candidate Personas
A candidate persona, also known as a career persona, is a description of the person who would be an ideal fit for an open position. The persona should include desired skills, education, work history, and anything else that is relevant to accurately fill the available role.
The point of candidate personas is to guide the search process to quickly find the best leads. In addition, a detailed persona helps you create more inclusive job descriptions, identify and advertise on the best channels, and cater your brand content to the right readers — all of which leads to fast, lasting hires.
“Personas can help recruiters and managers better understand the talent that thrives in your company and what motivates them both professionally and personally,” Rada says. “This will also help you craft your candidate-centric messaging.”
3. Create an Employee Value Proposition
Think of an employee value proposition (EVP) as a type of persona, but for your brand. An EVP works to sell your company as a desirable employer by describing your core features, benefits for workers, and what sets you apart from a candidate’s other options.
A strong EVP should include details across five key categories:
- Opportunities: Chances for career advancement, training options, and personal development classes.
- Work: Challenging yet fulfilling roles, alignment with personal interests, work-life balance, and impact of the work on business success.
- Benefits: Health coverage, retirement plan, paid time off, remote work allowances, education coverage.
- Business: Your position in the market, reputation, quality, mission, values, and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- People: The culture at your company, how your teams collaborate, relationship between employees and executives and management, team-building events.
Then, share it with your audiences. Consider publishing your EVP to your careers web page, include it in marketing emails, post it on your company’s social channels, and incorporate it into internal messaging and employee referral documentation.
To keep your EVP accurate and up to date with candidate expectations, we recommend staying on top of hiring industry trend studies, surveying your team, and meeting with new hires to see what made them choose your company.
4. Promote Your Employer Brand
The HR Research Institute defines an employer brand as “the identity and reputation of an organization, as perceived by employees and prospective candidates alike.” According to its research report, building a strong employer brand and recruitment marketing strategy will attract candidates and improve the employee experience.
The study also found that 49% of companies agree that their employer brand is “good” or “excellent” at attracting quality candidates. Raising awareness through employer brand promotion across all your digital and social channels is a key strategy that can boost your recruitment and retention efforts.
Employer branding on your careers website
An excellent careers website should be user-friendly, clearly communicate your employer brand, and provide helpful hiring information.
List current openings prominently with clear guidance on how to apply for each. To capture the attention of potential applicants, include up-to-date details on your team and key elements of your EVP, including mission statement, employee benefits, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and anything else that illustrates why people enjoy working for your company.
To be effective, keep the application process via the careers page simple — with as few clicks and as little extraneous information as possible. Work with marketing to set up user experience testing and marketing analytics to see how users interact with the careers page and identify where to make improvements.
Employer branding on third-party sites
This third-party research is another opportunity to partner with your marketing team and ensure that you have ownership over how you show up across all platforms, accurately reflecting company facts and your employer brand narrative. For online profiles with review capabilities, visit regularly to manage reviews based on your marketing guidelines.
5. Manage Recruitment Marketing Acquisition Channels
Talent teams should tap into the same acquisition channels their brand is using to market to potential customers. While the mix of channels you choose will depend on your company, your target audience, your budget, and the roles you’re hiring for, here are some core recruitment marketing acquisition strategies and channels we recommend.
Keep recruiting content current
Your website and social media sites shouldn’t be static billboards. Update them regularly with fresh marketing content that ties into your brand story and resonates with your core candidate personas. To present content that potential hires will want to engage with, think of them as you would potential customers.
Follow the basic phases of the customer lifecycle to inform and inspire action:
- Brand Awareness Stage: For ideal candidates who don’t know about your brand yet, create content that provides engaging answers, insights, and data to pull them into your recruiting funnel.
- Job Consideration Stage: For candidates who are considering but not yet committed to making a job change, share content that shows what you offer as an employer so they know whether they’re a good fit when the time comes.
- Decision-Making Stage: These candidates are poised to make a move and want to know exactly what they’re getting into if they join your company. Content at this stage should be laser-focused on sharing your EVP, testimonials from current employees, and similar closing arguments.
In addition to blog posts, get the same fresh content out via email newsletters, short-form video platforms (like Instagram), interactive webinars, infographics, guest posts on third-party sites, and even podcasting — cast your net wide and connect with the candidates you want to win.
Control your budget with pay-per-click ads
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads run on social media and search engine results pages, only charging a buyer when users click on them.
Boost your content with PPC ads by paying to get your links displayed closer to the top of the results when people enter a related search query. For example, if you published an amazing 2023 healthcare industry report, paying to be displayed for the search term “2023 healthcare industry stats” helps get more eyes on your content.
Consider deploying ads on social platforms targeting specific audiences based on demographics, hobbies, and, in the case of LinkedIn, identifiers like occupation.
Consult with your marketing or sales team to explore targeted ads, as they’re likely to have turnkey systems in place to deploy them.
Recruit talent through employee referrals
Recruiters hire as much as 40% of their workforce from employee referrals.
Creating a system that rewards employees for good referrals, even when they recommend folks who are passive candidates, is a great way to build a talent pool of warm leads.
6. Invest in Modern Recruitment Tech
A vigorous recruitment marketing system can bring new life to your talent pipeline, but it also gives your hiring team a lot of moving parts to handle.
This is where tech brings it all together. Seek out a recruiting database and management platform that includes nearly everything you need to manage the entire talent acquisition process.
It’s important that your talent intelligence platform runs on the best quality data possible: comprehensive, in-depth, and granular enough to make a difference in your sourcing strategy.
It sounds like a tall order, but the good news is that there are easy-to-use extensions and integrations designed to nest into your existing workflows. For example, tools like Comparably enable you to build and amplify employer branding content and measure your reputation.
Today, smart recruiters are learning from their marketing colleagues and using go-to-market motions to identify and prioritize outreach, build relationships, and cultivate a strong pool of talented candidates to support the next wave of growth. If your recruitment marketing plan could use a boost, find out how ZoomInfo’s TalentOS can help.