Earlier in the week we wrote about Mercedes Benz’s big budget approach to recruitment marketing, in the form of a high profile TV advert combined with an online careers hub packed full of content.
The effort Mercedes is putting into finding the best talent is a clear indication of where the recruitment industry is at right now. Businesses are recognising that it’s no longer enough to produce a standard job advert and expect the brightest candidates to come flooding through the door. Today’s enlightened companies are taking a new approach that blends HR with marketing strategy to showcase the firm and engage candidates in open, honest conversation.
Southerly here to help
We know that businesses are interested in recruitment marketing, but we also understand it’s a new concept for many firms. That’s why we spent last Tuesday morning running a workshop in partnership with Veran Performance, in which we shared the ‘7 tips for successful recruitment content marketing’ with a group of HR and talent professionals.
Representing a wide variety of companies, from an international high street retail brand with over 60,000 employees to a small London-based charity, the attendees were united in a common goal: addressing the challenge of recruiting the right people.
No matter the size of the organisation, finding and attracting the ideal employee is tough. We heard stories of high-pressure recruitment drives and vacancies remaining unfilled for months. Everyone was keen to learn how they could do things differently.
Recruiting in 2015
After a lively warm up exercise, in which people were asked to share two things they’d put in Room 101 – if you’re wondering, unnecessary bureaucracy, over-use of jargon and London buses were just a few irritants that have now had the door firmly slammed behind them – we got into the swing of things.
We kicked off with an overview of the current recruitment landscape and a few sobering statistics. Did you know that 68% of job seekers would accept a lower salary if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process, but 29% think employers fail to do a good job of reinforcing why their companies are a good place to work, according to research by Software Advice?
It’s essential to define exactly what the recruitment marketing strategy should achieve
What HR can learn from marketing
It’s fair to say that marketing hasn’t always had the most glowing reputation. It’s an activity that’s been associated with persuasion and sleight of hand, of enticing consumers to spend their money on things they don’t really need. But change is afoot, and content is leading the way to a brave new world where marketing is designed to be helpful, honest and address consumers’ needs.
The Content Marketing Association (CMA) defines content marketing as “the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Swap the phrase “driving profitable customer action” for “attracting talented employees” and immediately you see why content marketing has a lot to offer recruitment. By applying a few simple techniques, HR professionals can open up new avenues to finding and attracting the right candidates, even those who may not be actively looking for fresh opportunities.
Start with the strategy
As with any effective marketing campaign, the key is to make sure the strategy is right before being distracted by bright, shiny tactics. There’s no point in creating a whizz-bang employer brand video if you haven’t clearly defined what the business stands for and how those values should be conveyed. This is the time to take a good, hard look and ask where the organisation is right now, where does it want to be and how it’s going to get there.
It’s the time for challenging conversations about the company’s ethos, and whether the message being delivered externally matches the reality of life as an employee, customer or other stakeholder. If the answer is no, then changes may be required in order to truly address any recruitment roadblocks.
Only a third of our workshop attendees felt their company values were well defined
Having clear values is an essential element of successful recruitment content marketing, so we spent some time discussing this as a group. Interestingly, only a third of our workshop attendees felt their company values were well defined and understood across the business, with the remainder saying there’s work to be done in that area.
Set measurable goals
Before getting stuck into content creation, it’s essential to define exactly what the recruitment marketing strategy should achieve. Are you looking to grow your workforce, plug a particular skills gap, attract certain personality types or increase diversity? The more accurately you can define the criteria for recruitment success, the more your career-focused content will help you to achieve those goals.
Think about how to evaluate the outcome of all your hard work
Once you’ve identified your objectives, it’s time to think about how to evaluate the outcome of all your hard work. Clients often ask us what they should be measuring when it comes to content marketing and, while we’re happy to advise, the answer is that it depends on what’s important to the business. In the context of recruitment that could be anything from number of applications, cost per hire or time to fill a vacancy to less tangible factors such as the quality of candidates or the company’s image and reputation.
Whatever route you take, the most important thing is to measure something so you have an idea of whether your activity is working or not. Try out a few metrics, and if they don’t feel right then try something different. It’s a case of trial and error, and being comfortable with parking one idea and moving on to the next.
There is obvious value in defining the needs, characteristics and behaviours of those who might be interested in a given role
Know who you’re talking to
Having spent a while chatting through the issue of measurement, and discussing the various approaches in use within the different organisations, we moved on to look at the concept of candidate personas. Once again, we linked firmly back to marketing strategy and the idea of segmenting the market in order to understand who to target and how.
While it goes without saying that every candidate is an individual with their own interests and motivations, there is obvious value in defining the needs, characteristics and behaviours of those who might be interested in a given role.
This is about recognising that many roles require a particular skill set or are better suited to certain personality types, and that different tactics are required to reach different people. For example, LinkedIn can be a great way for recruiters to find potential candidates, but only 13% of 15 to 34 year olds are on the site, making it an ineffective channel for targeting a younger audience.
Time for the whizz-bang content
Having spent a fair bit of time thinking about the nuts and bolts we moved on to look at companies that are ahead of the game when it comes to recruitment content marketing. From Dropbox’s seriously impressive (and very amusing) employer brand video to SASS Software’s Instagram channel, there are plenty of examples of businesses that are using content to stand out and show candidates what they’re all about.
And, of course, once you’ve produced this great content you need to amplify it, so we discussed the best way to publish and promote career-focused content, from the role of paid-social to getting employees involved in sharing content with their networks and peers. As suspected, this stimulated a lot of questions about the best way to manage social media and ensure messages are being distributed far and wide, which could be (and may well be) the topic of a whole separate workshop.
And on that note we wrapped up with a reminder that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It won’t change things overnight, but by taking a strategic, sustained approach you will affect how candidates think about and interact with your company, which can only help in today’s competitive recruitment environment.
We’re doing more workshops…
We’ll be more running more workshops on recruitment content marketing, so if you fancy coming along and hearing more about these topics then keep your eyes peeled for details in the New Year.
Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be kept up to date about a future recruitment content marketing workshop.