How to Build a Recruitment Marketing Strategy
Updated: Jul 1
Have you heard of inbound recruiting? This method leverages your employer brand and recruitment marketing strategies to build awareness with passive candidates, engage active ones, and convert them into applicants. These days, it's not enough for recruiters to cold call/email candidates and expect good results. That might have worked during the recession, but it's a candidates' market now. You have to do more to stand out and make them take notice.
That's where recruitment marketing comes into play. By leveraging marketing strategies to build content to generate awareness and consideration, you'll do your recruiters a solid. Did you know that people who are already familiar with your brand are 81% more likely to reply when contacted? Crafting an engaging recruitment marketing strategy can give them a reason to be interested.
Want to get started? Here are eight steps to help you build your recruitment marketing strategy.
1. Define your goals.
Before you get on the bandwagon of launching a bunch of social media channels or a blog to showcase your culture, think about the purpose of your recruitment marketing strategy. Of course, it could be assumed that your goal is to attract more candidates but can you dig deeper?
For example, while I worked at Carbon Black, our corporate goal was to improve diversity and inclusion, specifically to attract and hire more women. Although the high-level goal was to attract more candidates, this specific goal narrowed it down so we knew what to create, who our audience was, and what defined success.
2. Identify your target audience(s).
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is trying to speak to everyone. The truth is, working at your company isn’t for everyone and you don’t want to clog up your applicant tracking system with a bunch of candidates who won’t be happy a few months after they accept your job offer.
Narrow it down. With your goals in mind, think about the types of people you'd be talking to. What are their values? What are their career aspirations? What do they want from an employer? By identifying these personas, you'll create a message that speaks directly to them, one they'll want to hear!
Don’t be afraid to get specific. It will weed out people who don’t fit and engage the ones who do.
3. Create core themes and subthemes.
Now you have your goals and your ideal candidates in mind. How are you going to capture their attention? Use your messaging. You may have already developed your story and/or employee value proposition while establishing your brand. This is a great jumping-off point and something you want your themes to support.
For example, if you say you offer flexibility, how can you tie that into your marketing strategy and break it down further? Will you show how you support working parents? That your culture embraces remote work? That you're focused more on quality work than the number of hours someone's sitting at their desk?
Create your core theme message and think of a few sub-themes that speak specifically to the target audiences you've identified.
4. Secure your budget.
Before you can figure out the channels and content you need to share this message, you need to know what resources are realistically available to you. For SMBs, you might have a limited recruitment marketing budget (or maybe you don’t have one at all).
Fear not! You can create a lot of free content, leverage free tools, and share on free platforms. If your budget is teeny tiny, knowing this can help you cut out the pricier options so you can focus on what truly can be done.
If you have a bit of a budget, you’ll want to consider your goals, audience, and channels to know how to spend it. For instance, would it make more sense to hire a designer for gorgeous asset creation? Or to bring in a video production company to create an engaging video? Or maybe you feel confident about the content you create on your own and want to amplify its reach through ads. Considering this upfront will help you focus on specific channels and content.
5. Select channels to share your message.
I’ll tell you right now that trying to juggle a bunch of channels is a time suck. If you’re a team of one or moonlighting as an employer brander on top of your full-time job, you don’t need this unnecessary stress. Not only will you be killing yourself trying to be everywhere, but you likely won’t have enough bandwidth to dedicate to each channel to do it well.
With goals, audience, and budget in mind, select the top channels to focus on. Maybe your audience is more into Facebook than Twitter. Perhaps they’re not cruising the Internet and prefer content to be served up to them in an email. Maybe they spend all of two seconds scouting the job boards, only clicking on the sponsored employers that pop up in the first few spots.
Start with your top channels and build traction on them. Once you feel you’ve gotten a good grasp on them, then consider expanding your reach through new channels. However, you could find the ones you leverage make enough impact that you might not need to explore other options.
6. Develop your inbound content.
First, do an audit of the content you already have. Does it align with your goals? Can it be tweaked a bit to fit your strategy? Once you identify that, plug it into your content calendar. From there, see where your content gaps remain.
Your content needs to make sense for your target audience. In considering where they “hang out” (AKA on social media, at events, through newsletters), build content that works best for those channels. There are a ton of options for content, such as:
● Landing pages on your career site
● Sponsored articles
● Social media posts
● Collateral for events
Just to name a few. If this list seems overwhelming, narrow it down to the content pieces you have the bandwidth to create. You don’t need to do all the things right out of the gate to get going. Work on the low-hanging fruit first and figure out a plan for some meatier content later on.
Remember, you’re not in a silo building your content. You need your employees' voices to create authentic messaging. Be sure to tap different employees or program managers (i.e., diversity & inclusion, HR, etc.) to get a full picture and those little details that create a stronger story rather than fluff.
7. Design your assets.
Your visual brand is just as important as your messaging. In a world where attention spans are nil, you still want to plant the seed even if people are scrolling by at breakneck speed. This means consistent aesthetics, colors, fonts, and so on. For example, if someone’s scrolling through Instagram, the bright splash of yellow that passes them by could trigger recognition associated with Harlow. Maybe they didn’t read the message right then, but it’s still top of mind.
The more “touches” you make with your candidates, the easier it is to get them to take action.
Also important to note is who you’d need to tap for help to do this. Do you have a design team in-house or do you need to leverage free tools like Canva? Will your web developer need to design a new landing page or is it templated enough that you can do it on your own?
8. Launch and measure.
Marketing is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s about being at the right place at the right time. What we assume candidates might care about may be different in reality. Using your goals, determine what you want to measure. For example:
● New followers
● Engagement on posts
● Link clicks
● Completed applications via specific sources
● Hires via specific sources
● Website traffic
● Demographic percentages
Success doesn't happen overnight, so give your strategy ample time (at least three months) before you consider making changes. By giving it a few months, you'll see trends of what's working and what isn't, which channels yield better results, if specific days or times are better for posting, and more.
In identifying these trends, you’ll optimize your strategy more efficiently. Get in the mindset that your strategy will constantly evolve because candidate and marketing trends are always shifting.
Feeling fired up now? Ready to tackle your recruitment marketing strategy? Here’s a free worksheet to get you started.
Download it here.
Did you know Harlow Creative Co. helps companies create their recruitment marketing strategy? Let’s work together. Learn more here.
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