Top 3 Recruitment Marketing Priorities for 2019

 

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 26, 2019
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​The labor market has tilted. There are more open positions than job seekers. How will companies find and attract applicants? By using the same marketing tactics that big-name brands use to attract consumers and create personal connections.

The start of a new year brings new hiring goals, a new budget and a fresh outlook, said Lori Sylvia, founder and CEO of Rally Recruitment Marketing, an online community that helps practitioners learn skills and strategies to find, attract, engage and nurture talent before they apply for jobs. "We need to remain agile, scrappy, creative and—above all—ultra-focused to achieve our plans and demonstrate our value."

Here are three recruitment marketing priorities that deserve your attention in 2019.

[SHRM members-only platform: Recruit4Talent.jobs ]

Better Content

Sylvia said there's not only more recruitment marketing content—blog posts, e-books, infographics, podcasts, social media posts and videos—being created, but, more importantly, it's getting better, in craftsmanship and in reflecting employers' values and striving for authenticity. "I've been seeing some seriously strong recruitment marketing content being pushed out," she said. "I'm talking about recruitment marketing content that rivals what product marketing teams are creating."

Adam Glassman, senior manager for employment brand at Cox Enterprises in Atlanta, agrees that content is improving and added that the content drives the marketing and branding efforts. "If your content is terrible, your recruitment marketing will be terrible," he said. "We're starting to get to a point now of understanding what many candidates are looking for, what they're evaluating when they go from job to job and company to company."

The increased investment in content has led to more interest in analytics that can prove its effectiveness, said Shane Gray, executive vice president for business development at Clinch, a recruitment marketing platform based in Dublin. "We see a huge improvement in apply-to-hire ratios in the pool of candidates who do engage with quality recruitment marketing content," he said.

An important shift Sylvia has noticed is organizations deploying content to support recruiting for values fit instead of the popular but more problematic culture fit. "More companies are explicitly stating their values early on in the process and assessing whether candidates align with what the company stands for," she said.

"When you tell an authentic company story about who you are and what you stand for as an organization, you can better attract candidates who are the right fit, and you can demonstrate why they should take a role with your company over another," said Lauren McCullough, senior director of marketing at The Muse, a jobs board, careers site and employer brand consultancy in New York City. "One of the most effective ways to do that is to lead with your values or communicate your principles in a way that shows candidates these are the kinds of people that we want to work with. Nike's Colin Kaepernick campaign is a perfect example of that."

It's also important to remember that your employees are your best storytellers. Showcasing specific employees living the company's values through written content or video stories is very effective at attracting values-fit candidates, Sylvia said.

"If your company story sounds like it comes straight from your marketing department, it won't be as effective in capturing interest," McCullough said. "The messaging should ideally be coming from your employees themselves. They are the ones experiencing and shaping your culture every day, they are the face of your employment brand, and candidates trust what they have to say. By empowering your employees to tell your company story, you can deliver authentic and emotional messages about your values as an employer."

One problem with the rise of recruitment marketing has been an explosion of formulaic content. "We need to avoid the stereotype of 'a day in the life,' where it looks the same across every company and job function," Glassman said. "Whether it's professionally produced or employee-generated, it must be authentic."

The Cox Difference Makers series doesn't show employees at work at all but instead focuses on how they give back in their communities, reflecting the values of the company.

Sylvia said that while "video continues to gain momentum as an incredibly effective media and content form, we need to take a tip from our B2C [business-to-consumer] and B2B [business-to-business] marketing peers and prioritize video content even more. The good news is that we have more resources available than ever to produce great video content, from recruitment marketing agencies to any employee with a smartphone. Organic video content captured on someone's smartphone typically performs just as well on social media as professionally produced videos."

She recommended that HR explore using paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter "or wherever else your audience is spending time online" and consider programmatic advertising and remarketing strategies to get video in front of a target audience.

Gray added that, ideally, video content should be accessible directly from job posts and not siloed on the careers site.

Improved Communications

Implementing candidate communication tools such as texting software for recruiters and chatbots for careers sites that respond to questions about the hiring process are important goals to accomplish in 2019. "The candidate experience is a communications experience," Sylvia said.

"We're seeing that employers are focusing on how they communicate with candidates at every stage of the hiring process, from how intuitive their application is to how they greet prospects who come into the office for an interview, all the way through onboarding," McCullough said.

Sylvia added that "if your organization isn't providing a highly responsive, highly humanized candidate experience, you'll find that top talent will quickly bounce from your careers site, abandon their application process, unsubscribe from your mailing list, or, worse, create negative word of mouth and online reviews."

That means recruitment marketing practitioners need to be improving candidate communications at every touch point in the candidate journey. "Transparent communications will keep your employer brand strong with candidates so that they will do business or apply to more roles with you again in the future, even if they don't land the job this time," McCullough said.

Improving candidate communications begins by mapping out the typical candidate journey and auditing candidate experience at each stage. "Consider all of the touch points that candidates will have with your talent brand, anticipate the questions they'll need answered at each stage and build a plan to provide the information that will help them choose if they should apply or accept your offer," Sylvia said.

Nurtured Talent

Recruitment marketing experts believe that the squeezed labor market will shift talent acquisition strategy more in the direction of talent nurturing—engaging and re-engaging with leads, applicants and previous candidates in the company's databases.

"Until now, recruitment marketing has been focused on talent attraction," Sylvia said. "We advertise jobs, try to drive new candidates to apply and amass huge talent databases. But the focus on filling the top of the funnel with new people is very expensive. TA [talent acquisition] leaders need to prepare for recruiting to get even harder, and we think TA teams will take control over their talent databases—one of their biggest assets they've been building for years."

Sourcing from your applicant tracking system (ATS) or candidate relationship management (CRM) system can help reduce cost-per-hire and decrease time-to-hire.

"Nurturing existing candidates delivers huge value, as they can be hired with much less effort than soliciting new applications," Gray said. 

Sylvia pointed to a few signs of this trend:

  • The growing number of tools to better search talent databases.
  • More ATSs boosting CRM capability.
  • The wider adoption of CRMs.

"CRM systems are becoming as widely adopted—and as essential—as the ATS, but they are terribly underused," she said. "A big priority for this year is that we learn to use our CRMs to their fullest potential. While many have purchased these platforms, it's time to truly invest in them and gain the skills needed to use all of the features and automation that they can provide."

She added that recruiters can use e-mail marketing and text messaging through a CRM to deliver targeted, recruitment marketing content to candidates at each stage in the company's hiring process. The systems can also be used to re-engage inactive leads, applicants and previous candidates who have gone cold.

"Creating a lead nurture strategy is a cost-effective way to re-engage people who already know your employer brand, rather than always depending on attracting new talent," she said. "But first you must warm up your cold database using marketing best practices. Once you do, you'll be ready to share new jobs, invite previous applicants to a recruiting event or ask your talent network for referrals."

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