Marketing for Recruiters: A Handy Dandy Guide

There’s an entire cottage industry of consultants, analysts, prognosticators and gurus out there with the sole raison d’etre of forecasting the future of talent acquisition and what businesses need to do to today to more effectively compete for the top talent of tomorrow.

Of course, this speculation is about as exact a science as phrenology, and since it’s impossible to predict the future, the consultants have, well, pretty much invented it.

Ostensibly meaningless jingo like “Talent Communities” and “Social Engagement” have become accepted business terminology (although no one can actually agree on a definition), obfuscating the fact that, beyond the buzzwords, the goal of talent acquisition remains pretty much the same as it always has: to find the best talent possible as efficiently as possible.

I kicked off last week’s ERE Expo and Conference by participating in a webinar with Sarah White and Susan Strayer, two innovators whose work is truly shaping the future of talent acquisition (click here to check out Susan’s take).

During our discussion, a key theme emerged, one that was continually reinforced throughout the conference:

The game hasn’t changed.  Only the tools.

Preparing for the future of talent acquisition, and overcoming the talent shortage (real or imagined), means rethinking the way we approach recruiting.  During the webinar, Sarah White looked at the top five trends shaping talent acquisition culled from her recently published white paper.

Among these trends was the increasing overlap between recruitment and marketing, a theme underscored throughout the conference, and perhaps the most significant – and seismic – shift in the landscape.

The Basics of Recruitment Marketing

Marketing and recruiting are becoming inexorably intertwined, with recruitment marketing emerging both as a distinct discipline and a core competency affecting every part of the talent acquisition cycle.

For recruiters, that means increasingly thinking like a marketer, and adding some core marketing competencies into their talent acquisition toolbox.

Here’s the good news: like recruiting, marketing ain’t rocket science.

Here are three key marketing concepts recruiters need to know:

1. Brand Marketing: Employer branding, while a relatively new discipline, used to mean creating slick collateral and creative campaigns created under the auspices of an outside agency, allowing organizations themselves to shape perceptions and employer value propositions.

With the rise of social tools and technologies, however, there’s been a democratization of information, and, as much as HR wants to believe otherwise, the organization no longer controls its employer brand.  Your current (and prospective), employees do – and people are talking about your brand, whether you like it or not.

That means ditching the generic smiling stock photos and platitudes about people being your greatest asset on your career site and actually developing a brand that shows what it’s really like to work at your organization, warts and all.

As Susan pointed out, not only does authenticity resonate more profoundly with candidates and current workers, but it also acts as an effective screening mechanism when it comes to ensuring culture fit and meeting expectations set forth in the hiring process, leading to better quality of hire and, ultimately, retention.

2.  Lead Generation: Another of the major trends outlined in Sarah’s whitepaper is the increase in proactive sourcing; increasingly success at recruiting, like marketing, has become incumbent not only on being able to create a pipeline of the right leads, but nurturing them, as well.

This means that applicant tracking systems, once designed to capture exclusively inbound leads, must now have the functionality to generate outbound leads as well, transforming once dormant databases into CRM systems.

The days of the proverbial “black hole” are rapidly disappearing, and it’s not too hard to predict that as these capabilities become more prevalent and more utilized, organizations will err on the side of over communicating with applicants, a significant shift when it comes to candidate experience.  Of course, there’s still a long way to go.

3. Lead Nurturing: Striking the right balance, and turning leads into hires, means not only generating candidates, but nurturing them as well.  Enter talent networks.

According to a recent Talent Technology poll, 78% of candidates will join talent network and share information with potential employers, but only about 19% of companies actually have one.  This represents a tremendous opportunity for employers to help close the talent gap while building an easy to engage pipeline.

Of course, when it comes to building talent networks, candidates do have expectations; it’s not the recruiting field of dreams: building it isn’t enough to make them actually come.  Creating a meaningful talent network, and the lead nurturing that goes with it, requires adding value, rather than simply trying to extract it.

That means not only blasting job postings, but also sharing information and insights on your company, the hiring process, and general job search best practices which create not only more engaged leads, but better – and more viable – candidates.

And ultimately, those qualified leads are what define success in marketing – and recruiting.

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