I’ve spent my career working in tech, higher ed and professional services. I’ve worked at fast-growing startups and huge established institutions. I’ve worked on both coasts. Every successful organization I’ve worked in has one thing in common: top-notch talent.
At the time I’m writing this, the unemployment rate is 3.9%. That makes it incredibly hard to recruit and retain A-players.
Every HR leader and hiring manager I know has struggled to get the caliber of resumes they need. It’s even harder to get top candidates to come onboard. Top talent doesn’t even need to look for jobs. Aggressive recruiters are swarming with offers that provide high salaries and attractive benefits.
Meanwhile, talented employees in basically every company in America are contemplating whether they should seize the moment and jump to another organization.
That’s not a pretty picture for HR. All of this leads to one conclusion. HR leaders just can’t rely on the same recruiting, hiring and retention strategies they’ve always used.
It’s time to think about applying some of the tactics sales and marketing teams have been using for customer acquisition to your HR processes. In other words, it’s time to embrace recruitment marketing.
Recruitment marketing refers to HR teams applying marketing strategies and tactics to the recruitment process. In the same way companies had to refocus and re-center their sales and marketing efforts around customers, those companies now have to put their prospective employees at the center of their recruitment efforts.
Companies can’t simply post open positions, advertise on a few job boards and have their recruiters look around for prospects anymore. Too many other employers are competing for job seekers’ attention. Companies have to get creative to attract and engage the candidates who are going to help them grow.
As my friend Alex Shubat, CEO of Espresa, puts it, 2019 could very well be the year of employee experience. Add candidate experience to that list, too, and you can see HR teams are facing some pretty daunting odds.
Still, most HR teams are relying on the same old tactics. You can get a competitive edge in talent acquisition by applying inbound marketing strategies and demand generation tactics to your recruitment processes.
Here are tactics that some of our enterprise HR team clients are having success with.
What are the most common positions you’re trying to fill? What are the personality traits of the best people you have in those roles? What are their professional and personal goals? What do they value most about working at your company?
Start answering these questions and applying some demographic data to different prospective employee profiles. In sales and marketing, we call these buyer personas.
Create documents that paint a clear picture of your ideal candidates. Distribute these documents to your team, your recruiters and your hiring managers. Whenever you create anything designed to attract prospective employees, refer back to these documents to confirm that your prospects will find it compelling.
Look at your current job listings and the careers section of your website. What are you saying about your company? Would your ideal talent prospects find these stories compelling? Would they find them genuine and authentic?
Does your recruitment messaging really demonstrate what makes your company a remarkable place to work? If not, it’s time for an overhaul.
Interview some of your best employees working in the types of roles you’re trying to fill. Find out what they love about working in the organization and what makes them stay. Analyze what’s different about your corporate policies and culture from your competitors.
Then draft messaging guidelines around how you should talk about your company in your recruitment documents. Use the talking points you have in these in your job listings, in your one-on-one conversations with candidates and on the careers section of your website.
One other thing: It’s really important that your recruitment messaging is authentic. Be honest about your company and your culture. If you’re a quirky company with a CEO who’s a little bit abrasive, own that and be open about it with your messaging. Otherwise, you’ll end up onboarding new employees who churn quickly and leave a scathing Glassdoor review.
Whether they find you on a job board or through recruiter outreach, your candidates are going to visit your company website and hit your careers page. If that page isn’t telling the right story, you’re probably not going to get the candidates you need.
Update the design and copy in the careers section of your website with your new talent personas and recruitment messaging in mind. Make sure your visuals will be attractive to your talent prospects while also authentically representing your employee experience. Align the copy with the value propositions and story you outlined in your talent-oriented messaging.
You should also ensure that your careers page is offering the most seamless user experience possible. If you can give candidates the ability to apply directly through your website, that’s great. If you need to route them through an applicant tracking system, be clear before they enter that system what steps they’ll go through and how long it will take to apply.
OK, here’s where what I’m going to recommend really starts to go beyond what HR teams typically do. You should start blogging and publishing about how to create a great corporate culture and, even more importantly, a remarkable employee experience.
Spend some time thinking about what most companies get wrong regarding employee experience and corporate culture. Then spend more time thinking about what your company gets right. Turn those thoughts into articles and blogs that provide guidance for HR and corporate leaders who aspire to deliver great employee experiences.
Then publish them. You can publish on a dedicated HR blog on your company website and on LinkedIn. There are upsides to both.
Publishing on your own site really doubles down on the idea that a great employee experience is essential to your corporate culture. It also provides an opportunity to attract traffic from people who find your blogs through search engines.
Publishing on LinkedIn offers a broader reach, and job seekers are more likely to discover your content. Even if your content primarily speaks to HR leaders, it will still be of interest to job seekers who are looking for information on what companies are doing to deliver great employee experiences.
Those job seekers may discover your company’s listings when they wouldn’t have otherwise. They may also strongly consider applying for relevant positions at your company once they understand everything you do to make it a great place to work.
If your organization is large enough, you and your recruiters likely connect with a lot of great prospective employees with whom it just doesn’t work out. Either you hired a candidate who was a slightly better fit, or they chose not to join your company for other reasons.
That doesn’t mean they might not be great candidates for a different position at another time. So how do you remain at the top of their minds for the next time they’re looking for an opportunity?
Simple: Create an email list with addresses of high-quality former candidates. Send the people on that list a monthly newsletter about what’s happening at your company, how you’re working to create a remarkable employee experience and open positions. This keeps them engaged, and it potentially motivates them to send their contacts links to your job listings.
At the end of the day, the talent you’re hoping to onboard has a lot of options. Their decision is going to come down to which company has made the best offer and which company seems like the best cultural fit for them.
You can make sure your company is one of the finalists they’re considering and shape their perception by applying some of the marketing strategies and tactics outlined above. You’ll get a bigger pool of quality candidates than you would have just checking the normal recruitment boxes.