Organic And Paid Marketing Channels: How You Can Optimize Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy
Updated: Sep 2
When developing your recruitment marketing strategy, you need to consider all the things that fuel your funnel. There are a ton of options to promote your employer brand and share your available job openings, but have you missed key channels to reach your ideal talent?
If you’ve gone through the market research process, you should have a pretty good idea of the types of candidates you want to reach. With them in mind, you’ll craft more effective content and select the right marketing tactics to make the most impact. Although there are specific things you shouldn’t do without—like having a career site—there are a lot of marketing channels to choose from based on where your candidates “hang out.”
In this blog, we’ll cover the main channels to consider. Of course, there are other advanced options or new things popping up all the time, but these are tried and true. They’ll give you a great start when building your recruitment marketing strategy.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to do everything all at once. You can scale up and test new methods once you gain momentum on a few channels.
Download this cheat sheet to get you started.
Recruitment Marketing Channels
Building your organic presence is the first step you should take. It’s a great option for free marketing (or low cost depending on if you need to invest in a new site or email marketing tools).
Career site: Your career site is your most important asset and something you should focus on before you really invest time marketing. If you’re gaining the interest of candidates through other channels, you need them to land somewhere that has engaging information and makes them want to apply. This is where your career site comes in.
Here, you’ll share information about your company culture, details about your teams, photos of your people and offices, and your open roles. There are plenty of ways to share more on your career site, such as creating a blog dedicated to careers and culture or embedding videos, but at minimum, you want to have the basics to make sure people can envision working at your company.
Social media: Although you can ask your marketing team to post about your careers and culture on the corporate social media accounts, creating separate social media channels will be a better option. This way you know people who are engaging/following are interested in your careers rather than your product/service. Also, your message won’t get deprioritized or lost in the sea of consumer marketing messages.
Depending on your industry and the platforms where your candidates are most likely to be active, start with one or two and go from there. LinkedIn is usually a good option since many candidates use it for their job search. However, you want to find other ways to engage passive candidates. If people aren’t really looking for a new opportunity, they might not be active on LinkedIn. So, considering mainstream platforms like Instagram or Facebook might be worth throwing into the mix.
Email marketing/Talent Network: Depending on your applicant tracking system, it might have an option where candidates can opt-in to your talent network. This allows you to directly engage and nurture candidates about things going on at your company, and share career spotlights and job openings.
The beauty of email marketing is that your messages are more likely to be seen then organic social media (thanks to the algorithm), which will make conversions easier. If you have this option, definitely take advantage of it! Just make sure you tag people properly so you can create targeted campaigns designed specifically for them.
Content: Content is essential for your employer brand and will bring it to life beyond your employee value proposition statement. Look at the core elements that make your company exciting to work at and craft content that provides examples to illustrate that more effectively. It’s important to use your employee perspectives as much as possible! If you need help getting started, here are a few ideas.
And if you’re creating content for your blog, webpages, social media (especially things like YouTube), make sure you keep SEO in mind. There’s a lot to learn about the benefits of SEO and how to leverage keywords that organically improve your position in search results to drive traffic to your site, so be sure to check this out. Here’s a good resource.
Third-Party Career Sites (Organic and Paid)
Third-party career sites can boost your discoverability and increase brand awareness. The more often candidates come across your brand, the more likely they’ll take action or will accept an interview request from one of your recruiters. It’s all about that familiarity.
Job boards: Needless to say, you need to get your jobs out there so people can discover you. Job boards (both free and paid) help you get in front of candidates and increase your brand recognition. You can choose the popular boards, like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. But there are also plenty of niche (and free) job boards to leverage. For example, AngelList and Startup.Jobs are great for startups. Or FlexJobs could be good for your remote jobs. Additionally, there are job boards focused on specific roles, such as Behance or Dribbble for creatives or Stack Overflow and GitHub for tech talent.
Employer-branding focused profiles: A lot of job boards now offer options to upgrade your accounts, allowing you to create a landing page that acts like a mini-career site. Just like your own career site, you want to ensure you have videos, photos, and compelling content that showcases who you are and why people would enjoy working for your company. This is likely the first time candidates are discovering your brand, so this profile is a good opportunity to get them interested enough to learn more (and hopefully apply).
Sponsored jobs: Nothing’s worse than having your job postings get lost in all the other overwhelming job postings. With candidates’ attention spans being next to nil, they might not make it past the first few pages or they might only click on brand names they know. Sponsored jobs allows you to boost your position in the search results or get called out so they’re more noticeable. Plenty of job boards have upgrades to do pay-per-click sponsored jobs or you can use tools like AppCast to distribute your sponsored jobs across multiple boards.
Review sites: You can toot your horn all day long about how great of an employer you are, but people are skeptical. They want social proof to know it’s not just a bunch of marketing fluff. Encourage your employees to leave honest feedback on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Comparably. Their perspectives and ratings can be the tipping point of whether a candidate applies.
Sponsored Content (Paid)
Similar to third-party career sites, sponsored content is another way to get in front of candidates. The beneficial part is you have choices to target specific active job seekers on job boards or you can take a more traditional marketing route to engage passive job seekers off career-focused sites.
Sponsored content on third-party career sites: Sponsored content on third-party sites could include employer features, such as found on Built In. Or they can be informational posts to educate job seekers but show it’s sponsored by your company, like found on The Muse. The benefit of sponsored content is the site that publishes it will promote it to their social networks, newsletter subscribers, and through ads, which helps you reach new candidates and increase brand awareness. And since these candidates subscribe to this third-party, they’re likely to trust the source.
Sponsored content on industry-specific sites: For brand awareness, you can even consider sponsoring content on industry-specific sites. For example, you can partner with your marketing team to select relevant publications where you can pitch a topic, work with your employee(s) to act as a thought leader, and have them promote it to potential passive candidates who follow the publication. It’s a more indirect approach, but it helps get your brand out there and feeds into The Rule of 7.
Sometimes you need to spend a little money to give you that extra boost. We’ve talked about the benefits of sponsoring jobs, but your job description might not be enough to intrigue a candidate to want to know more. Instead, use ads to boost your employer brand and promote content that can easily serve up the information candidates need to make a decision.
PPC banners on job boards: If you want to give your jobs or company profile extra visibility on third-party sites, consider banner ads. For example, Stack Overflow allows employers to purchase banner ad space that shows up in the technical-forum, allowing you to get in front of tech talent.
Social media ads: Sadly, only about 10% of your followers will see your organic content. With the way social media is monetizing their platforms, it’s now pay to play if you really want that visibility. Choose important posts and use the robust targeting options to reach the right audience. Thankfully, you don’t need to break the bank to get decent results!
Paid ads on major sites: You aren’t limited to advertising on career-based sites. In fact, you should consider other means to get in front of potential passive candidates, especially to build brand awareness. Leveraging programmatic ad tools like Outbrain can distribute your content to other areas on the internet, selecting sites relevant to your target audience’s viewing patterns. For example, your ads could be distributed to sites like news, weather, sports, shopping, technology, and more.
Physical options: Sometimes digital isn’t the route to go, especially if you work in an industry where your ideal candidates aren’t living online. If that’s the case, consider promotion through other means such as billboards, bus wraps, magazine or newspaper ads, radio, and more.
These options might be a lot pricier than the digital ones and you don’t always have control over whether your target audience is seeing it, so keep this in mind. When reaching out to advertisers, ask them how they track the success of the ads to see if it’s worth the cost.
Events allow you to get in front of candidates who are actively looking! However, some events are more successful than others. Do your research to make sure your target audience will be in attendance and also get a sense of your competition. If you don’t have the means to compete at bigger events where major employers will have flashy, exciting booths, you might struggle to get candidates’ attention.
Hiring events: This shouldn’t come as a shocker, but hiring events are a good option to get your brand out there. As mentioned above, you want to make sure the hiring event is relevant to your job needs because the costs can add up.
Depending on the event, you may need to pay to sponsor a booth. Then, you’ll want to make sure you leave an impression on your candidates. This could require a tablecloth and banner with your logo, collateral, and swag.
Industry-specific events: Work with your marketing team to see which events they’ll sponsor. In some cases, these industry-specific events have career fair add-ons. If not, get a recruiter to go to speak to potential candidates at the booth and/or have some signage or collateral about your careers. Although people might not be looking for work, you’d be surprised how many reach out down the line or share it with their networks if they know people are looking.
Swag and collateral: If the event allows, always try to bring some kind of swag or collateral. Candidates might be overwhelmed at the event, making all the employers blur together. By giving them something to take with them, they can do research when things aren’t as hectic. For swag, consider doing something unique, higher quality, and/or useful. There’s a lot of swag everyone uses over and over, so candidates might not grab it or they might toss it when they realize they already have 20 of the same thing. Even if you have to buy a little less of the super cool swag to mitigate costs, you candidates might rush your table to get it. It's all about that FOMO.
As far as collateral goes, having at least one solid piece that talks about your culture, roles, teams, where you’re located, and benefits is worthwhile. However, it’s also suggested to create more targeted collateral. For example, if you’re at a women in tech event, consider crafting a one-pager that talks about women in tech at your company.
Sponsored promotion: At some events, there may be additional opportunities for sponsored promotion. This can include having a banner ad on the conference app or around the event space. Or this could even mean having your logo on things like coffee stations, lanyards, or gift bags. Again, the costs can add up, so keep that in mind or see if you can partner with your marketing team to split the cost if appropriate.
Referrals (Organic and Paid)
Referrals are one of the best recruiting tools you have. By having employees (former and current), partners, vendors, and clients advocating for your company, you’ll likely see more engaged and quality candidates enter your pipeline. Creating a referral program is well worth the effort and cost!
Programs: There are a lot of ways to activate your employee referral program. This could include hiring bonuses, contests with prizes, recognition, or just generally letting your employees know you need their help. If you have happy employees, they’ll do their part to share the word. However, you need to make sure they’re aware of your openings and how to pitch your employer brand, so share this information regularly.
Activation: To make it easy for your employees, partners, vendors, and clients to talk about your open roles, give them the information in a digestible and shareable way. This might mean providing a PDF to post on LinkedIn or through email, writing copy for a social media post, or giving them collateral to hand out on campus or at events.
Distribution tools: Investing in advocacy tools can also make it easier for activation. Your employees may love working for you, but they might not have the time or desire to write a post to share with their networks about it. If you can make it easy (copy and paste or a click to share), you’ll likely see more participation. Tools like GaggleAMP, platforms like Rolepoint, or even tools within your ATS can help you distribute the content.
The candidate journey now mimics the buyer journey. Candidates want as much information as possible before deciding whether to apply. When building your recruitment marketing strategy, consider all the relevant channels where you can engage your candidates and work to share quality content consistently to see better results.
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