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Recruitment – Is it a marketing thing?


Recruitment – Is it a marketing thing?

It looks a lot like marketing. HR departments and recruiters are starting to bring the discipline into the recruitment mix, but is it really possible to blend HR, recruitment and marketing to create the ideal proposition for candidates?

First of all, what, exactly, is marketing?

There are all sorts of definitions including these:

  • Putting the right product in front of the right person at exactly the right time

  • The activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offers that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large

  • Communicating the value of a service or product to potential customers in such a way that they're inspired to buy

Let's take number three, just tweaked slightly and you get this: “Communicating the value of working for our business to job seekers, to sell the idea of working for us”. This sounds a lot like recruitment.

Human Resource Management is all about people, and the way we attract and inspire them plays a major role in kicking off the employment relationship, sets expectations and influences its long term success. But how do you go about creating a hard-working, successful campaign to attract the right kind of talent?

The first step is to establish some key objectives, ideally SMART objectives. Once you know what the objectives are you can kick off the planning process by building a coherent, practical strategy designed to support them. And then creating a solid plan of action to drive those recruitment objectives. Here are some useful tips.

A genuine understanding of the role's value
You can't sell a role to candidates unless you're fully aware of the benefits it offers. And they're very different from a job's features. A feature might be access to private healthcare. The benefit of that feature – the stuff on which all good marketing campaigns focus – is that your health will be looked after if you become ill, and you'll get the very best care fast.

Job seekers, just like consumers, like to hear clear, simple, descriptive messages about 'what's in it for me?’, and this is how you do it. Break down the role into a list of benefits and you'll stand a much better chance of building a proposition relevant applicants will find it hard to resist.

Knowing your audience
You understand the role from a jobseeker's perspective. Now you need to carry out a similar exercise with your audience, so you're aiming your carefully-crafted, benefit-rich sales message at exactly the right kind of candidates.  And it's all about people's demographics, attitudes and behaviours.

When you collaborate closely with hiring managers to scope out the real strengths and capabilities needed, not just those expressed in the job description, you start hitting marketing gold. It's also helpful to engage with people we already know who work in the organisation, who have a deeper and more detailed view of the way things work and who's most likely to succeed than outsiders.

Figuring out which media to harness  
Where does your target audience hang out? It's tempting to spread your recruitment marketing efforts as wide as you can so you don't miss out on any opportunities. But it's poor marketing. Direct response marketing is your friend. It means approaching the right people, at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer. Target your efforts towards the media you know your audience are involved with and take notice of, and you stand a much better chance of attracting more of the right people.

You might choose social networks or other digital platforms. But, depending on the role, you might use print media, email marketing, job boards, video, animation... even old-school face to face networking.

Keeping it short and sweet
People are busy. One of the key skills in direct marketing is to focus on the important stuff, prioritising aspects of the message that candidates will respond best to and leaving the fine detail out. You want to attract someone's attention, hit them between the eyes with an irresistible proposition, and give enough detail so they can make an informed decision, no more and no less.  

Waffle will drive your response rates down. Keep it too simple and people won't respond either. It's a balancing act.

Integrating your communications

Integrated marketing means delivering consistency across multiple media. If you're using more than one medium to reach your audience of jobseekers, make sure the messaging is consistent across them all to avoid confusion. When you get integrated marketing right, the impact of the whole is always bigger than the sum of its parts.

Decide what success means
You already know what your goals are: to attract 10 top candidates for the role, to identify the top three UK candidates to head-hunt or whatever. But you also need to figure out how to measure that success, or you won't learn a thing from the exercise. You should be able to get hold of these metrics easily, and they should be 100% accurate:

  • The total cost of the campaign

  • If possible, the number of people you sent the message to (perfect for email marketing, rarely possible when you're putting a flat ad in a printed publication)

  • The number of people who responded

  • The number of people who turned out to be suitable for an interview

Using these numbers you can work out the cost per response and cost per 'sale', which gives you an essential benchmark against which to gauge the success of future campaigns as well as something solid to improve upon. What are your thoughts? Do comment below!

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