Why — and How — Recruiters Should Think Like Marketers

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Recruiters who think like marketers have the edge in today’s candidate-driven talent market.

That’s the belief at the core of recruitment marketing, the practice of developing and communicating a value proposition to job candidates in the same way marketers do to customers. Customer-journey mapping is a proven practice in the marketing field, and recruiters can adopt the same approach to map their candidate experiences.

The candidate journey is well worth charting, especially now that there are more open jobs than available workers. This imbalance creates a decisively candidate-driven market, so much so that hiring managers and recruiters are getting ghosted with alarming frequency.

From a recruitment standpoint, the challenge is to provide a truly differentiating experience for candidates. Nobody is debating that point: In a 2018 Montage survey of talent acquisition leaders, 99 percent of respondents rated the candidate experience as their top priority. However, far fewer talent acquisition leaders have successful strategies for delivering the modern hiring experience today’s candidates prefer. That’s where recruitment marketing comes into play.

Why Recruitment Marketing?

It is important to draw a distinction between recruiting basics and recruitment marketing.

Recruitment marketing doesn’t involve putting a job ad up on the usual job boards; that is simply a baseline expectation of recruiting. Instead, recruitment marketing — like external marketing — is about taking a programmatic approach. In the same way that enterprise marketers use the attention, interest, desire, and action (AIDA) model to trace audience engagement across specific stages of the marketing process, recruiters can adopt a phase-driven approach to attracting talent.

There are several key advantages to making recruitment marketing a priority. First, recruitment marketing helps you attract more qualified candidates. By marketing to prospective employees in a more personalized and specific way, recruiters are more likely to attract candidates whose values align with the organization’s.

Another key benefit of effective recruitment marketing is reducing time to hire. The hiring cycle — from job posting to accepted job offer and onboarding — is costly from a budget and resource perspective. By supporting the creation of a pipeline of more qualified candidates, recruitment marketing reduces the time spent on unqualified candidates and enables recruiters to get the right candidates in front of hiring managers more quickly.

Finally, recruitment marketing helps drive retention. When candidates have a consistent, personalized experience starting from their very first point of interaction with a prospective employer, it helps create goodwill that candidates carry with them into their new roles.

Recruitment Marketing Through the Hiring Cycle

Recruitment marketing starts with candidate engagement, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Here’s how recruiters can strategically harness recruitment marketing at every stage of hiring:

1. Engagement

Marketing-focused recruiters should focus on delivering engagement beyond what is expected to drive increased candidate awareness and interest. This begins with refreshing your company’s careers site. If it only features job postings, you are missing a huge opportunity. From a recruitment marketing perspective, your careers site should play a critical role in delivering and defining the candidate experience.

A well-marketed careers site is less a listing of open roles than a portal into the employee experience. This portal should include an accurate description of your recruitment process, as well as an engaging look at a day in the life of your organization and the culture the company cultivates. Don’t make candidates mine for this gold; give it to them right out of the gate. Your careers site should be a total recruitment marketing package that features employee testimonials, messages from company leaders, and illustrations of team-building and employee camaraderie. Take every opportunity to tell these stories via video.

2. Interview

This is arguably the most important phase in the recruitment journey. For employers, it is about finding the right fit and making smarter hiring decisions. However, in today’s candidate-driven market, interviews are also about selling your organization and role to your candidates. A big part of making that appeal involves engaging with candidates on their terms.

Consider, for instance, the communication preferences of the modern candidate. Generally speaking, today’s candidates are big on communication flexibility and prefer texting to phone calls. You can modernize the interview phase to suit these preferences by integrating on-demand text and video interviewing into your process.

3. Hire

Recruitment marketing doesn’t end when a candidate accepts your offer. Instead, it evolves. If the first two phases of the process are about marketing the job, this final phase is about marketing the long-term employment experience.

Transparency is the most important marketing strategy during the hire phase. It is important to approach onboarding as a time to communicate clearly and transparently what it’s like to work with management and the team.

Still on the fence about recruitment marketing? Imagine if a chief marketing officer suddenly decided to stop prioritizing external marketing strategies and instead focused exclusively on internal efforts. Objectively, they would only be doing half of their job. Recruiters should think about recruitment marketing in the same way: If they approach their roles with the traditional mindset, they’re not doing their jobs the way today’s market demands.

In 2019, you can’t just post a job — you have to sell it, too. Just as marketers guide customers through the buyer’s journey, recruiters should take candidates on journeys of their own to sell the job and lay the foundation for long-term satisfaction and retention.

Terri Hermann is vice president of marketing at Montage.

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