The Recruitment Marketing and Consumer Marketing Comparison (And The Strategies You NEED To Steal)
Updated: Aug 6
Similar to consumer marketing, recruitment marketing focuses on attracting candidates to your offer. In your case, your job openings. By sharing your employer brand, company culture, and employee value proposition, the goal is to help candidates envision themselves at your company and get them to apply.
However, unlike a lot of consumer marketing, there’s a limit to your offering. With only a set amount of jobs available, you need to get specific in your messaging to get the attention of the right talent for your jobs.
Working to attract the right talent isn’t the only challenge you’ll face, you’re also battling consumer marketers for your audience’s attention. That’s right. Somehow, you have to break through the noise of TikTok, dog videos, Pinterest DIY posts, and restaurants sharing photos of their most delicious dishes.
To be effective, you need to consider how traditional marketers approach their marketing strategy and how you can emulate similar activities to boost your reach.
Recruitment Marketing and Consumer Marketing Comparison
Let’s take a quick look at the marketing funnels for each.
Recruitment Marketing Funnel (from PandoLogic):
Consumer Marketing Funnel (from Wix):
As you can see, the funnels are pretty similar. What you don’t see on the recruitment marketing one are the steps after the application, which would line up more closely with the consumer marketing funnel.
After a candidate applies, the recruiters evaluate the candidate’s skills to see if they match. If so, they’ll move through the process to interview, whittling down the number of people to that one person for hire (listed as purchase on the consumer marketing).
That’s a lot of work for your recruiting team only to end up with a single person for hire (and that doesn’t guarantee the person will accept the offer which is a whole other story).
Looking at it from this perspective, recruitment marketing doesn’t solely exist to attract candidates, but to also engage the right ones who will make it through the funnel faster. It doesn’t do your recruiters any good if you engage everyone and their mother if they aren’t even remotely relevant to your job requirements.
The Benefits of Focused Recruitment Marketing
Years ago when employer branding was just gaining traction, many people were excited about sharing their company story with the masses. Technology allowed them to reach far and wide, and with more HR/recruiting technologies popping up over the years, the possibilities were endless.
Every company was trying to get super fans. They wanted to be like the Googles and Apples of the world where they’d never be in want of applications. They hired photographers and videographers to show how cool their people and offices are. They wanted to be the darlings of their talent markets and beyond.
The downside of this is that by attracting everyone, you’re basically creating extra work for your recruiting team. This means more resumes to slog through. More employee referrals that need personal outreach. More phone screens where they talk to people who are applying for the wrong reasons.
You’re even causing extra work for those managing your employer brand. Those social media messages and email marketing responses don’t answer themselves!
To offset this, your recruitment marketing needs to get specific about the good and the bad of your company. You have to make sure you’re “talking” to the right talent directly. You can start by separating yourself from all the buzzword bingo companies use when talking about their culture and perks. It might feel a little scary because you’ll probably see a decrease in applications, but the goal isn’t about getting the most applications. The goal is to get more of the right ones.
Strategies to Steal from Consumer Marketing
There’s a chance you stole general marketing tactics and applied it to your recruitment marketing. Or maybe you stole some strategies from other employer brands who might have stolen it from the consumer marketers.
But have you checked to see how marketing has shifted over the years? Being in talent acquisition, you might focus more on the talent side of things, but you need to focus on the marketing aspect too.
For example, everyone suddenly realized that having a zillion followers shouldn’t be the goal of social media anymore. Now, it’s about engagement. Rather than having 5,000 followers with only 3% (150 people) kinda caring about what you share, you’re better off having 500 followers with 35% (175 people) of them being engaged. Less maintenance and chasing followers, yet more impact. They’re usually quicker to convert too!
In our experience, these are the consumer marketing tactics we’ve stolen that made the most impact for our employer brands:
Market Research to Craft Specific Messaging
You can’t build your employer brand in a vacuum. If you’re just building your story and messaging based on internal insights, you’re likely not speaking to candidates directly. Instead, everything will be about you and your company’s needs. What you need to do is market research and look at:
What your direct competitors are doing
What your talent market competitors are doing
What your ideal candidates' drivers and wants are
In doing this, you’ll not only see how the market responds, but you’ll also differentiate your message so you stand out. Additionally, by understanding the challenges, wants, and hopes your ideal candidates have, you’ll craft messages that directly address those things.
Rather than just saying, “We’re hiring senior software engineers with cloud experience,” you can instead elevate the benefits and interesting aspects of the job that align with what your candidates are looking for. By headlining the specific benefits first, you’ll have a better time capturing their attention.
Create a Candidate Journey Through Storytelling
Before you create content, think about how it all lines up and builds upon itself. If you’re creating sporadic posts about one thing and the next second you’re talking about something completely different, you’re not spending nearly enough time getting to the core of each thing you’re talking about. It will be surface-level and not very memorable.
When you’re creating content, you want to focus on the emotion it will create. People remember how they felt more than recalling quick facts. In planning your content, consider starting with a three-month theme and build your content calendar around that. In digging deeper for these themes, you’ll have more opportunities to tap into those candidate drivers in a more meaningful way.
How many times have you created something, shared it once or twice, and then moved on to the next thing? You’re only creating more work for yourself and there’s a chance the thing you created didn’t even get seen in the first place.
Back in the day, marketing was all about churning out fresh content ASAP. With the algorithm changes and the constant competition for attention, you need to share your message about seven times before people actually see it and take action.
Rather than creating content and moving on, think about it a little differently:
Identify what your macro content is (i.e., blog, video, podcast, etc.).
Break it down into micro content (i.e., social media posts, a testimonial on your website, a graphic).
See how the market responds to your message and pull out top resonating themes.
Build new content using the foundation from the resonating content.
And, for the love of God, please remember to post more than once! Look at that handy content calendar and see where it’s relevant to reshare.
Audit & Measure
Your time is precious, so don’t waste it spinning your wheels. When you’re planning your marketing strategy and content calendar, take a beat to audit and measure your previous efforts.
What seemed to get the best results?
What content was a dud?
What affected the impact of my marketing strategy (i.e., seasonality, product launches, holidays, current events, company news)?
What are our upcoming talent acquisition goals?
What changes will happen at the company (i.e., new products/services, a conference, awards, office openings, leadership changes)?
What trends are we seeing in the talent market?
What trends have changed in marketing?
Is our employer brand story still relevant or has the company changed enough that we need to reevaluate?
These things are incredibly important to optimize your recruitment marketing strategy. Again, you can’t do this in a vacuum. It might feel like an extra step, but it will help you focus your strategy so it’s more impactful.
Recruitment Marketing Can’t be an Afterthought
Your recruitment marketing strategy is one of the most important things you can do to attract, nurture, and convert candidates.
However, you need to remember that you aren’t just competing against other companies that are hiring, but you’re competing with marketing as a whole. By looking beyond employer branding and recruitment marketing strategies and seeing what consumer marketers are doing, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Regularly evaluate what’s working for consumer marketing and adjust your strategies to go with the trends. Tweak what they’re doing to work best with your employer brand, your bandwidth, and budget.
By doing this, you’ll find your efforts are making more of an impact and you’ll reach the right candidates more effectively.
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