Recruiting is Not marketing...Well, kinda...

Apr 24, 2018 - Joe Matar
I started with goals. For marketing the goal is to attract more qualified leads that ultimately convert into profitable sales. For recruiting, the goal is to attract more candidates that ultimately convert into hires that add value to the organization. Pretty similar, so I put them in the middle. From a strategic perspective, marketing accomplishes this by investing in strategies and tactics that connect with the buyer at different stages of the buyer’s journey. The level of investment in each stage varies from company to company but the stages do not. At the very top (or beginning) is the brand awareness and brand building. In the middle is lead generation and at the bottom (or the end) is lead nurturing until the lead is passed to sales or converted to a customer. For recruiters, the funnel is similar. Build awareness for your company and your job openings. Convert those interested into candidates. And then hire great employees. On the surface, it would appear that all the contents of the recruiter / marketer Venn diagram would live in the middle. In the overlap. Where everything's the same. As if there were no differences. But there are. And the differences become really apparent at the end of that funnel. This is where the recruiter sheds his marketing and sales skin and becomes a buyer.

The flip

I’m calling this process “the flip” because it is when the recruiter takes off his selling hat and puts on his buying cap. From selling the company, the people and the position in order to attract only the best candidates to assessing and vetting the qualified candidates that do come through the funnel so that only the best get hired. From seller to buyer. Yes, some may argue that a marketer is also tasked with qualifying. As a marketer, my relationship with sales would not be sustainable if I sent them every last lead that came through the door. Why? Because not all leads are created equal. Just as not all candidates are created equal. That’s why recruiters have put in place certain steps to vet and asses candidates. Anything from applications to phone screens to interviews. Yet at the same time, a recruiter can’t do what she does best without attracting and finding really great talent and that’s where the marketing comes in. So recruiting isn’t marketing. But in order to do recruiting well, a recruiter needs to take those best practices from marketers and apply them to their trade to set themselves up for success. Oh, and did we mention recruiters are operating in that over-talked about term, “the candidate-driven market?” That puts even more pressure on recruiters. And makes more of a case for adopting marketing techniques. Let’s dive in to a couple.

What recruiters can learn from marketers

Before we jump too deep into marketing tactics, let’s start with the concept that transcends all marketing and recruiting: the message. That’s right, before you do anything else, focus on your messaging. Why? Because it is the only way to break through the noise. Plus, people are fickle. And distracted. And have really short attention spans. And they are always on their phones and tablets and laptops. And chasing squirrels. So no matter which channel you are using to target your candidates, you have to nail the message. But how? It starts with making it simple. Humans love to bucket things into categories. But if the message isn’t simple, the human mind will have a tough time bucketing your message and miss your bucket. That’s not good. So make it clear and simple. For example, if you want to be known as the company that gives your candidates purpose in their jobs then make that your message. Don’t dilute it and confuse your candidates by surrounding it with dozens of other reasons why someone should come work for you. Keep it simple, stupid.

The career site

Okay, so you have your message. Now what? Well there are dozens of recruiting channels you can amplify your message: social media, content, email, video, podcasts. I’d like to wrap things up with the career site because ultimately everything leads back there. I went into details on this in a previous post so I’ll keep this short. At the end of the day, close to 95% of your career site traffic is leaving your site before they even start to engage with you, according to Jobvite. And the reason they are leaving is because you aren’t providing them what they are looking for. I’m sure you’re thinking, “who’s ‘them’?” Good question. Well, in the broadest terms, it is the candidates. But thinking about all your site visitors as candidates is shortsighted because it is so much more. Some candidates come to your site because they are ready to apply. So offering them the ‘Apply Now’ button is fantastic. This works fine for this group of candidates. But not for the other 95%. How about the passive candidate that only recently heard of your organizations from a friend who wants to come check out what it’s like to work for you? Do you have content that answers this question? Or what about the active job seeker that is comparing your firm to your competitor’s firm that has specific questions about the job and the organization that she would like answered by a real person. Do you have an option for a site visitor to chat with your recruiters in real time or at a scheduled time in the near future? These are the type of candidates that make up that other 95%. And it is imperative that you provide this group with the right content and resources or else you risk losing them.

Recruiters carry the weight of the organization

As a recruiter or a talent acquisition professional, you carry a heavy load. You have all your recruiter responsibilities and now you’re tasked with all these marketing and sales responsibilities. That’s a lot and I get how tough this can be. But all this marketing stuff will become second nature. You just have to get out there and try it. So spread your wings and fly. I know you can do it. And for more marketing advice for recruiters, sign up for our blog below.

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