Tuesday November 21, 2017

Hiring? Think Like a Marketer to Improve Your Recruiting Campaign

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We recently helped one of our clients kick off a recruiting campaign after they landed a major new client that necessitated the hiring of 12 new employees in only two months (a great problem to have!).

Our client is an IT company, meaning it was critical candidates possessed both the technical skillset to do the job, while also demonstrating they'd be a good fit with the company's culture.

To help them find qualified and passionate candidates quickly, we looked at their previous recruiting efforts similar to how we would evaluate a marketing campaign. After breaking down our findings, we crafted a new recruitment strategy that adhered to our core marketing tenets.  As a result, we were able to increase the reach of their recruiting campaign, resulting in the hiring of new team members who are sure to make a positive impact at the company.

Here's how we tackled this major recruiting push on a short timeline, and how you can, too.

1.  Conduct market research to develop candidate personas

Market research is an essential first step in any marketing endeavor. Because you can’t sell to everyone, it’s important that you have a crystal-clear idea of who your target audience is. By understanding demographics, psychographics, goals and watering holes of the people you’re marketing to, you can better speak to them in their language on channels they actually use. 

If you think you can skip this step because you already know what your employees are like, think again. Remember that despite what you think the audiences of your campaign want, there's a good chance you're wrong. Interview a handful of great employees that are either in the position you are hiring for or in a similar role. The goal is to dig up insights about their career history, what their job search was like, why they decided to apply for a position at your company, and their opinions on their experience at their job so far. 

What we did for our client

We sat down for a handful of 45-minute one-on-one interviews with our client’s employees. Although we developed a list of questions to ask during each of these meetings, we made sure the interview was casual and conversational to get as much honest feedback as possible.

Here are some of the questions we used during our employee interviews: 

  • When you were looking for jobs, what qualities about a company or position were most important to you?
  • What convinced you to apply for a job at our company?
  • What was your interview experience like? Were there any signs that indicated to you that our company was a good fit?
  • What makes our company different for others you’ve worked for?
  • Where do you go to learn more about our industry or improving your skillset?
  • What has been your favorite thing about working here — whether it’s part of your job responsibilities, culture, job benefits, etc.)?
  • How would you convince a friend to work here?
  • How would you convince a potential customer to work with us?
  • If you could let a potential job applicant know one thing about our company, what would you tell them?

After conducting our interviews, we looked for patterns in the responses. As a result, we were able to develop candidate personas that represented the different goals and interests of our employees. By knowing what motivates potential employees, we were able to understand which messages would resonate best and what channels would be most likely to reach them. 

2.  What’s your brand message? Tighten up your recruitment messaging 

Any good marketing campaign starts with a strong message it wants to send to its audience. Recruiting is no different.

Before you think about where to post your job listing or what kind of marketing budget you'll need to pull off the candidate search, you should give the messaging surrounding your career opportunities a hard look.

If you've never hired before or have never gone beyond posting a simple job posting on a job board, you might be starting from scratch here. If you've hired before and have either a "Careers" page on your website or a presence on websites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn, now is the time to check in to make sure your messaging is still compelling and accurate. 

Review all of the copy that's used on any page a potential job candidate may look at and answer the following questions:

  • Does this offer a clear and concise descriptor of what your company does?
  • Does it explain why you're different from other companies that candidates may also be looking at?
  • Does it communicate the company's values?
  • Are readers able to get a good sense of what the company culture is like?
  • Does it outline benefits or opportunities that employees of your company have?

It's important to always remember that recruiting is marketing. You need to do everything you can to sell your company to job candidates. Writing a cover letter, updating a resume and filling out an application form are all time-consuming tasks that are, quite frankly, the worst. To be successful in your recruitment, you need to make readers so excited about the prospect of working at your company that they can't wait to submit their materials to you. 

What we did for our client

While our client's “Careers” page and online company profiles weren't bad, they hadn't been updated in a while. We revamped the copy to highlight the biggest benefits of working for them and underscored their great company culture, even throwing in a few real employee testimonials to offer a more personal approach to discussing life at the company. We also revamped the design of their "Careers" page, opting for a cleaner, more modern and visual look to help keep readers interested.

  Careers Page Refresh Example.png

Above: part of the “Careers” page we created for our client.

3.  Show, don’t (just) tell. Make it easy for prospective job candidates to get to know you

Marketers know that you can’t just rely on a single piece of great copy to win new business — prospects need to be convinced of how great you or your product is in many ways. The same goes for companies looking to hire new employees. 

Imagine you're job hunting. You're spending hours a day reading job listings, visiting "Careers" pages of different companies, trying to figure out what jobs are worth spending the time to apply for. After a while, they all start to blend together. 

It's important to give prospective employees a way to get to know you aside from reading a blurb about the job or your company. 

One way to do this is through video. Seeing is believing, and videos can turn potential job candidates into excited job candidates. Create videos highlighting employee testimonials, office tours or a "day in the life" look at a specific job. Your videos should be shared on your "Careers" page, company profiles on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn and social media. 

Another way to help job candidates get to know you — and potentially speed up the hiring process — is to host a recruiting open house, as explained below.

What we did for our client

Because our client was hiring multiple people for each of the positions they were filling, it made sense to bring candidates together to meet us and apply on the same day. We hosted an open house event that gave attendees a chance to talk face-to-face with the people they'd be working with, get a tour of the office and if they decided they were interested, apply for a job opening and take the required technical test. Our client ended up hiring four people as a result of the event. 

We promoted the event on our website, through LinkedIn outreach and targeted advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

4.  Take advantage of social media advertising to get in front of the right people

Social media advertising is popular with marketers because it allows us to get in front of people who may not be actively searching for what we’re selling, but who could convert after learning about our product or service. Looking to advertise to divorced women age 25-34 who have a doctorate degree, own a home, live in a major city and listen to NPR? Easy. Need to get in front of Desktop Support Techs with a degree in Information Technology who live in Chicago? Not a problem. 

We used social media advertising to promote our client's open house, but you can also use it to promote your actual job opportunities.

It's important here to know where your typical employee hangs out online so you can capture more people like them through your advertising. LinkedIn and Facebook are generally safe bets — there's a higher likelihood that LinkedIn users are actively job hunting and 79% of online adults use Facebook. Don't forget other social networks, however. Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest and Instagram — to name a few — could potentially be a great opportunity to find your next star employees.

What we did for our client

As we promoted our client's Open House, we ran ads on LinkedIn and Facebook. These ads targeted people who held positions similar to the ones they were hiring for, and drove visitors to a landing page where they could read more about the event and RSVP. While every industry and job will yield different results, it’s worth noting that we found more success with our Facebook ads in this campaign; about one-fifth of the Open House attendees found out about the event through a Facebook ad. 

We also recently began running ads highlighting the job opportunities on Reddit. Though this is our first time advertising on Reddit for our client and results of the campaign are still coming in, we decided to explore this channel based on feedback we received during our market research phase. A common watering hole of our candidate personas was Reddit; employees indicated that they frequently visited both Reddit and IT-related subreddits.

We compiled a list of subreddits that were frequented by IT professionals who held or could potentially hold a role similar to the ones our client was hiring for. We wrote three different ads, making sure that the copy we wrote made sense for the subreddit each ad would be displayed on. All of our ad copy emphasized at least one of the unique job benefits to help capture the attention of readers. We had our client’s employees review our ad copy to get feedback about how likely they would be to click on our ads.

It’s important to consider channels you haven’t used in the past during your recruiting efforts. If a channel is commonly used by your candidate personas, it’s worth testing to see if you can attract qualified candidates through it.  

5.  Increase your visibility by making sure your job posting is actually being seen

Great marketing can only be effective if the intended target audience actually sees it. The same goes for recruiting: if the world’s most well-written job post is on the 50th page of search results, does it even exist? 

Recruitment takes time; chances are you won't hire your next employee a week after posting the job listing. Because of the time that will elapse between the posting of the job and the hiring of a new employee, your original listing on job sites like Indeed, Glassdoor and Monster can get buried pretty quickly. 

Job search websites (including Google, which displays an aggregate of job board website listings right on the search results page) often display jobs in chronological order, with the newest opportunity displayed first. Even when they aren't sorted that way, someone job hunting every day will filter their search results this way to quickly figure out which posts they haven’t already seen.

If your job listing has been up for over thirty days, the likelihood of it being seen is a lot lower than if it's only a week old. That's why you should make sure to occasionally republish your job listing once every 14-30 days. Though some job boards may charge a fee for republishing, remember that your listing is close to worthless if a potential candidate has to get to the 30th page of job opportunities to find it. 

What we did for our client

We made sure that job postings were reposted after being up for 30 days so they could be more easily found during job searches. This allowed the opportunity to be seen by more job candidates browsing job boards.

By looking at recruitment as more than just a matter of publishing a job opportunity, but rather a process akin to a marketing campaign, you'll be able to better attract the right types of qualified people to apply for your job. While it may not happen overnight, you'll find that the effort put in now to reach great people will pay dividends once they join your team. 

Written by Brittney Lane

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