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As processes and technologies evolve, recruitment marketing is taking an important new place at the intersection of HR technology and marketing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
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One of the highlights of the recently concluded Talent Acquisition Technology Conference was the emphasis on recruitment marketing as an emerging new recruiting discipline. The definition of recruitment marketing is pretty straightforward: "the strategies and tactics an organization uses to find, attract, engage and nurture [sought-after people] before they apply for a job, called the pre-applicant phase of talent acquisition." (As an aside, you know a new concept has "arrived" when it has a Wikipedia page for its definition.)

In some ways, recruitment marketing is just the natural extension of the widely discussed "HR should act more like marketing and/or sales" argument that has become popular in recent years. While that argument has indeed proven durable, it may not always be appropriate in all cases, as George LaRocque from HRWINS, one of the conference speakers, pointed out. LaRocque correctly showed that, while most consumer marketers serve only their ultimate external customers, recruiting leaders and recruiters often serve several kinds of customers: candidates, hiring managers, and even HR and organizational leaders.

But even if there is not a perfect analogy between recruiting and sales/marketing, many progressive organizations and talent-acquisition leaders are successfully using consumer-marketing strategies, tactics and approaches to more effectively "market" their organizations and employment opportunities to potential candidates. This discipline of recruitment marketing has indeed emerged and grown more prominent in just the last few years and since not all HR leaders might be completely familiar with the concept and approach, I'd like to explore at least a few important points and share some thoughts on how HR and organizational leaders can begin to incorporate these ideas into their talent acquisition strategies.

Why is recruitment marketing different than just posting job ads?

In her closing keynote at the conference, Stacy Zapar presented a comprehensive review of the many strategies organizations can and perhaps should employ to more effectively define, communicate and market their unique employer brand and employee value proposition to the candidate marketplace. While posting specific job ads on the company careers page and ensuring these ads are distributed to additional outlets such as Indeed or LinkedIn are certainly part of most organization's candidate-attraction strategies, Zapar correctly emphasized that these efforts are only a small part of the optimal overall recruitment-marketing strategy.

What are some of the important components beyond simple job posting of an effective and more complete recruitment-marketing program and strategy?

Zapar pointed out several elements, probably the most important and fundamental being content, i.e., articles, images, videos, social-media updates, etc., that serve to help communicate information about the organization and its people, mission, values and culture. Just as consumer-marketing organizations spend plenty of time developing and distributing content to their targeted audiences, recruitment marketers also place significant emphasis on creating and sharing content designed to appeal to their potential candidates.

Just some ideas for the types of content that recruitment marketers can create and distribute are employee spotlights and interviews, company culture features, community and social causes, and open and honest discussion about the company mission, culture and values. Once content in its various forms and manifestations is developed, it is important that the recruitment-marketing efforts study, test, measure and revise how, where, when and by whom this content is propagated to the candidate market. Just some of the options for content distribution that Stacy mentioned in her talk are company blogs, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or professional communities such as LinkedIn or GitHub, among others. But content and job-ad distribution are not the sum total of comprehensive recruitment marketing.

Beyond content, what else should HR leaders understand about recruitment marketing?

At the Talent Acquisition Technology Conference, as well as at the recent Smashfly Transform event, an event dedicated to the recruitment-marketing category, several examples of the additional or supplemental components of an effective recruitment-marketing program were discussed. Chief among these is the more intentional adoption of the communication and nurturing strategies that consumer marketers have used for years, and their application to candidates and/or talent pools. The familiar prospect funnel from consumer marketing is often adopted by recruitment marketers, and used to better classify, message and nurture potential candidates along the recruiting path that hopefully results in having the most qualified candidates become active applicants.

Much of the success or failure of organizational recruitment-marketing programs depends on whether the talent-acquisition function is able to effectively match and communicate the program's content with the members of its potential candidate audience. The goal, simply, is to match or align the various forms of content, described briefly above, with the audience members -- who are at different stages along the candidate funnel or journey -- with the goal of serving the most appropriate content and message to the potential candidates at the optimal time, and through the most effective delivery mechanism, e.g. email, phone call, SMS message, etc. If this sounds like recruitment marketing has suddenly gone from simple to complex, I think you're right. Creating, managing, deploying, measuring and refining all this content, and making sure it is driving the desired outcomes with the candidate pools, can become extremely challenging for HR and talent acquisition leaders to manage. All these moving parts and elements can present a problem for leaders who often, at least at the start, attempt to manage all of these efforts on spreadsheets and email/calendar applications.

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New technology is driving recruitment marketing.

In both LaRocque's's talk on deconstructing the "Recruiting = Sales" analogy and in Zapars's closing keynote on strategies and tactics to power advanced employer-branding efforts, time was spent by each presenter talking about some specific technology solutions that have emerged to help HR and talent-acquisition leaders with their initiatives. Many of these technology solutions have taken traditional consumer-marketing-technology capabilities and principles, and have enhanced them in a way that supports the specific type of lead; i.e., the person who is interested in employment opportunities, with the designed goal to turn these leads into as many hires as possible.

Smashfly, Talemetry, Phenom People, Clinch, Beamery and Yello are just a few specific technology solutions supporting recruitment marketing that were referenced in these presentations and are likely ones that HR and talent-acquisition leaders should be aware of as they begin to research technology partners to assist in these recruitment marketing programs. Each of these solutions is a little different, in both the kinds of customers that it fits, and the specific capabilities it provides, but they all (and others), sit in that space of helping HR and talent-acquisition leaders identify, engage, align, nurture and convert interested potential prospects into qualified and active candidates.

Recruitment marketing may be fairly new, but a tight labor market, combined with heightened competition among companies for scarce talent, portends a long and bright future for the discipline and for the talent-acquisition leaders who master it.

Steve Boese is a co-chair of HRE's HR Technology® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications. He also writes an HR blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at


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