The Complete Guide to Recruitment Marketing
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The Complete Guide to Recruitment Marketing

Remember the days before click to order was a thing?! If you do, you’ll remember that branding and marketing have mattered since the very first days of prehistoric commerce. Wherever competition exists, there will be a need for companies to increase their revenues by communicating what sets them apart and makes them stand out.

The speed, and information density, of ecommerce has helped us learn more about the art and science of marketing than anything that has come before. We know now that marketing can play a role not just in how many units of product you sell, but in all the ways you can potentially get a leg up on your competitors—and that leads us to recruitment marketing.

Let’s get academic for a minute, in Liquid Modernity, Zygmunt Bauman, one of the most influential sociologists of our time, would have us believe that we are all commodities and our CVs are our price tags.

Zygmunt Bauman Quotes

Tough words from Bauman. However, “talent recruitment” is behaving like a commoditized market with a supply side and a demand side. Representing the demand side are recruiters. Recruiting talented and knowledgeable employees is extremely competitive in the tech sector and other growing industries.

More than 80% of professional recruiters believe that candidates are the drivers in the labor market. According to the same study, nearly three quarters of employers struggle to find desirable candidates for their open positions. On the other side of the hiring desk, 73% of these candidates are passive job seekers, expecting to be approached and courted by interested companies. Once again, when you are a thought after commodity, you can afford to do that. So, when demand for a certain commodity is high and supply is low, recruiters need to market their offering better and start thinking of themselves as marketers.

What is Recruitment Marketing?

The simple definition of recruitment marketing is that it’s marketing for the company itself—its values, benefits, culture, and other positive attributes. The job of a recruitment marketer is making their product (the place of work) desirable to candidates. Preferably, a recruitment marketer will create a “hard demand” for their product or company, and this means more than just throwing money at a candidate.

Employer Branding

The end goal of these marketing activities isn’t to sell a product to a customer, but to get qualified job candidates to apply, get interviewed, and subsequently hired as employees in the organization.

While recruitment marketing can involve the use of traditional marketing techniques and strategies, it is a completely different beast. It requires its own messaging, channels, and unique approach. You can’t just piggyback recruitment marketing on top of sales marketing. How many companies can you think of that have great products or captivating ads, but you know you wouldn’t want as your employer?

Recruitment marketing is what you do when you want people to think wow, I’d really love to work there when they think about your company.

Why Use Recruitment Marketing?

Don’t assume that recruitment marketing is just a clever or more media-friendly way to spin your usual recruitment efforts. If you want to hire top talent, you need to place yourself in front of those candidates, and they’re not sitting around refreshing the listings on Craigslist and It’s on you to actively pursue those candidates instead of waiting for them to fill out an online application, write a cover letter, and humbly request an interview.

Need convincing? Just look at the numbers. As many as 86% of your best potential candidates aren’t actively job hunting – they’re already employed. Candidates at this level are typically only available and recruitable for ten days on average before some other company snaps them up.

As for the ones who are looking—what are they looking for? More than half of them are reading online reviews of potential employers on sites like Glassdoor. Obviously, they won’t apply to a company with a bad reputation, even if it means a pay raise.

Increasingly, social media is where head-hunting and recruiting happens. It’s easy to see from a quick look at the stats—73% of millennials found their last job through social media and 84% of businesses are using social media for recruitment purposes.

Social Media Recruiting

This is good news for recruitment marketers, as social media is an ideal platform for the kind of engaging content that successful recruitment marketing campaigns consist of. These include content like memes, videos, employee testimonials, and brand narratives.

Recruitment Marketing in the Recruitment Funnel

Just like “regular” marketing, recruitment marketing has a conversion funnel. The funnel is a metaphor for the journey that takes a job candidate from disinterested to hired. It’s divided into four parts.

1. Awareness

At the top of the funnel is the awareness stage, where the candidate first becomes aware that a) your company exists, and b) it’s hiring people with their skills and qualifications. Just about any marketing activity can create awareness: advertisements, products on shelves, events, you name it. The candidate’s initial research into your company happens here. This means that the more you can front-load the kind of information and content that will spark interest, the more likely you are to shepherd them further down the funnel.

2. Interest

Next is the interest stage. The candidate knows about your company, but what makes them want to go a step further and explore the possibility of working there? To guide candidates through this stage, it’s not enough to just put your brand identity out there. Richer content and engagement is called for here.

3. Consideration

The third stage is where the candidate gives your company serious consideration and makes a decision whether or not to apply. At this stage, good recruitment marketing means actively nurturing your candidates’ interest, providing answers to the questions they might have, and getting into specific details about why they should want to work for you. It’s not about vibes and image at this point—this is the time to bring compensation, benefits, and perks into the conversation.

4. Action

The final stage is the action stage, the end of the funnel. If your recruitment marketing efforts were successful, this is where the candidate is interviewed, accepts your job offer, and becomes an employee.

10 Steps to a Recruitment Marketing Strategy

1. Build and Maintain an Employer Brand

Before you can highlight and promote your employer brand to potential new hires, first you have to establish one. Your brand is the sum of various parts of your corporate identity: your mission, your values, your company culture, and the specific benefits and advantages you have to offer your employees.

Employer Branding

2. Define and Understand Your Target Audience

You won’t get very far with a recruitment marketing strategy that doesn’t know what kind of people it’s trying to recruit. Determine the universal criteria you would have for anybody who wants to work for your company, then build candidate personas specific to the positions you need to fill. Don’t just wing it—leverage any relevant data you might have to help define and target these personas as accurately as you can.

3. Create Engaging Recruitment Content Across Channels

Multichannel marketing is still your best friend when it comes to recruiting. Creating excellent content is essential, but it’s useless if you don’t publish it through the right channels. Be sure to choose the ones that put your content in the right context and display it to the right audiences.

4. Update & Upgrade Your Corporate & Career Site

One of the most important resources for a recruitment marketing campaign is a site that is more than a landing page. You need a dedicated webpage that shows off what your company is all about, who works there, and why it’s an environment in which candidates will thrive and succeed. Testimonials, photos, employee profiles, and an emphasis on positive values will show candidates what they can expect when they come to work for you. This is where proactive candidates will end up when they start doing their own research on your company. Make sure they like what they find.

5. Employ Social Recruiting to Establish Relationships with Candidates

Whether you’re publishing content to elicit interest or reaching out directly to possible candidates, social media is one of the most important areas to let your recruitment marketing tactics play out. If you’re holding a job fair, expanding hiring programs for students or veterans, creating new roles within your company, or just want to show off the cool and interesting things that have been happening at corporate HQ? Post it and look for opportunities for further engagement with anyone who likes, comments on, or shares your content.

6. Utilize Employee Advocacy with a Referral Program

Did you know that candidates are three times more likely to trust information from a current employee of a company than the “official” word of the company itself? Employee advocacy, especially on social media, can be one of the most effective ways to get a credible and resonant message out there.

7. Decide on an Advertising Strategy

Creating awesome content that demonstrates how rewarding it is to work for your company is only half the battle. Building awareness among the right audiences, generating interest from people who match your target personas, and following up in effective ways still requires some strategic planning. In addition, advertising is a critical (albeit often expensive) part of any marketing campaign. Recruitment is no different so be sure to employ an efficient advertising strategy that includes retargeting of key target audiences.

8. Capture Candidate Leads

The rule of thumb is that only one out of ten visitors to a career site will end up submitting an application. Try to brainstorm ways to get candidates to volunteer some contact information and stay connected even if they aren’t ready to apply just yet. Forums, newsletters, downloads – whatever makes sense for your business and helps you build more detailed profiles of candidates.

9. Nurture Candidate Leads

Possibly the most important step is the nurturing of your candidates when they’re at the “consideration” part of the funnel. Being too solicitous and overbearing can backfire. However, you definitely want recruiters to engage with candidates at this point and discuss positions they might be able to fill within your company. Don’t be afraid to get creative—even AI chatbots can help keep a candidate in the pipeline!

10. Go Offline with (and to) Events

While much of the recruitment marketing we’ve been discussing has been strictly digital, you can (and should) do it offline as well. Whether company events are hiring-specific, promotional, or geared toward community betterment, they can be a great way to make connections and establish a positive reputation.

3 Examples of Recruitment Marketing Done Right

1. Cisco’s “Be You, With Us” Employee Advocacy Campaign

Cisco demonstrated straightforward and effective employee advocacy by having their workers participate in a video campaign that emphasized individuality in the workplace.

2. Volkswagen’s Hidden Messages

When Volkswagen was looking for highly skilled mechanics, they sent broken automobiles to various repair shops in Germany with a recruitment ad hidden on the engine block. That’s some smart and accurate targeting!

3. OgilvyOne’s Search for the World’s Greatest Salesperson

When you’re one of the most highly regarded advertising agencies in the world, what do you do to find candidates on your level? OgilvyOne created a contest that was promoted over social media and challenged the world’s greatest salespeople to create a video of themselves delivering a sales pitch for a brick. The winner got featured in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—and OgilvyOne undoubtedly got some great candidate leads.


Digital marketing has been a huge influence on recruitment marketing. As the job market continues to shift toward becoming more candidate-centric, the role and responsibilities of HR departments keep changing too. HR is becoming more and more digitized, with greater use of data and marketing automation tools to create a perfect end-to-end recruitment experience.

The superstars who can help take your company to the next level are out there, but you can’t just wait around and expect them to come knocking on your door. A digital recruitment marketing strategy that can identify the top talent you need and deliver the content that will lead them your way is key to growing a business in 2020. When done right, it is the best way to ensure that you’re just as excited to onboard your next hire as they are to be working for you.

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