Hey, recruiters! Time to don your marketing hats.

HR expert Josh Bersin said it best: the war for talent is over, and the talent won.

Since the start of the 21st century, there’s been an inevitable and seismic shift in power between recruiters and candidates.

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In many of today’s recruitment markets, candidates can afford to be fussy. They want to know about employee perks, flexible working policies, company culture, and what it’s really like to work for certain employers.
How should recruiters respond? By donning their marketing hats.

Why Recruitment Now Equals Marketing

As with almost every business shift in the past two decades, we have the internet to blame (or thank?) for the emergence of recruitment marketing.

One of the great things about the internet is that we all have access to near-endless amounts of information on almost any topic you can think of. And we take it for granted.

With information on tap, it’s incredibly straightforward to find out what President Obama’s favorite food is or how many times Paul McCartney has played ‘Hey Jude’ in concert.

It’s also easy for potential candidates to discover what it’s like to work at your company — and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Candidates will check Glassdoor for reviews from former staff. They’ll scour your Careers page to learn more about your company culture. They’ll search for previous job ads and see when you last hired for a certain position.

Knowledge is power. Now, the best qualified candidates can start the application process safe in the knowledge that they’ll thrive in your working environment.

If they find terrible Glassdoor reviews and your corporate site leaves much to be desired, they probably won’t even bother applying.

Enter: Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment marketing is about managing your ‘employer brand’ and gaining the attention of potential candidates who are the perfect fit for your business.

Recruitment marketing has grown from a niche form of recruitment to one of the most important pillars of HR.

You’ll find examples of recruitment marketing in sectors that are highly competitive. Take Facebook’s careers page, which unashamedly shows off their employer brand. It features video endorsements from staff in different departments, a list of company values, and details of their generous and varied employee benefits.

Recruitment marketing also features in less glamorous sectors, too. Dixons Carphone (a large European electrical retailer) boasts a similarly punchy careers site, in an effort to appeal to potential candidates searching for retail roles.

Flashy careers sites like these are quickly becoming the norm — but they only form a small part of recruitment marketing strategies.

Recruiters Need to Start Speaking Like Marketers

To develop a complete recruitment marketing strategy, HR professionals need to step into the shoes of marketers.

That means adopting phrases and processes that are normally only uttered in the marketing department, including:

  • Content marketing. Recruiters need to create and share engaging content – from job descriptions to blog posts. There should be a strategy that pulls all your content together. Think about SEO, keywords, and social media.
  • Analytics. Where do visitors to your careers page go next? Which social media channels pull in the most candidates? How long do candidates take to fill in your online application form? Use data to learn more about the journey of the typical candidate and how to improve it.
  • Branding. HR professionals should know their employer brand inside out. All communications should be on-brand. Consider your company’s unique selling points and the types of candidate they appeal to.
  • Funnels. If you don’t already, start viewing an applicant’s journey as movement down a funnel — from passive candidates to applications to interviews to the final hire.

Send Help!

If you’re convinced that your recruitment strategy could benefit from some marketing know-how, it’s time to start talking to the marketing pros in your business.

If you work in a large business, this could present some problems. The marketing department might not think recruitment is their responsibility — can’t the HR team hire someone? Well, budgets are usually tight and the money just isn’t there to bring a recruitment marketer onboard.

The solution will vary depending on how the business is structured, but if you plan to visit your boss and ask for a bigger budget to pay for a recruitment marketer, it’s worth knowing how recruitment marketing earns a return.

How to Build a Recruitment Marketing Campaign That Actually Works

If you want recruitment marketing to be worthwhile, you need to tick these boxes:

  • Strong and consistent brand messaging
  • An understanding of target markets and where to reach them
  • All marketing content reflects the reality of working at your business
  • Methods to reach out to the passive job market as well as active jobseekers
  • Focus on culture and candidate “fit”

Remember, the goal of this type of recruitment should be to find a pool of candidates that are qualified for the job, fit with your company culture, and will stick around at your company for years to come.

Recruitment marketing cuts recruitment costs in the long term, and grants other benefits such as improved employee engagement.

To summarize, recruitment marketing is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses looking for staff to fill highly competitive roles.

In markets where there’s a talent surplus, marketing is a little less important for recruiters to master, but it’s still worth working on your employer brand so that you can make a winning first impression.

What are your thoughts on recruitment marketing? Share them below!


Anna Roberts

Anna Roberts is a writer and digital marketing enthusiast from York, UK, and is currently Head of Content at a software startup. You’ll find her thoughts on HR, business growth and software for SMEs over on the RotaCloud blog.


  1. Philip Russell

    Nice article Anna and some good things to learn from that.

    • Anna Roberts

      Anna Roberts

      Hi Philip, thanks for your comment.

      Recruitment marketing is a definite change in mindset for HR – we can all learn a few lessons from this approach!

  2. Charlene Rhinehart

    Charlene Rhinehart

    Great article! I love the idea of recruitment marketing. This type of training needs to take place in more corporate boardrooms.

    • Anna Roberts

      Anna Roberts

      Hi Charlene, thanks for commenting!

      I agree that more training is definitely required – many recruiters simply aren’t equipped with the marketing skills that companies will increasingly require them to have.

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