Recruiting is Marketing

Marketing letters

Similarities Between Recruiting and Marketing

When you start your recruiting program, things probably feel pretty straightforward. You post some job ads on popular career sites, respond to emails, and set up some interviews. However, as you spend more time recruiting, you realize how much deeper you can go. If you optimize your recruiting pipeline much at all, you’ll quickly feel like a marketer. You learn to test job ad text, measure effectiveness of various recruitment channels, and start throwing around acronyms like ROI (return on investment) and CPA (cost per acquisition).

The reason recruiting feels so much like marketing is because it absolutely is a type of marketing. However, instead of pitching to future external customers, you’re pitching to future internal customers (employees). You are selling an idea of what it is like to work in your organization. Marketing is most successful when focusing on the benefits and results customers can expect after using your product or service. Similarly, recruiting is most successful when focusing on why your company exists and what kind of impact future hires will make.

Applying Marketing Lessons to Recruiting

Early Disqualification

Recruiting is, first and foremost, selling your company’s purpose and culture to people you want to work with. So many recruiters miss this. They instead focus on the “what” of the job: the requirements candidates must meet and the day-to-day tasks they must complete. This is a great way to disqualify job candidates, but a terrible way to attract top talent. Disqualifying people upfront is a reasonable thing to do in industries where there is low demand and high supply. For example, if you posted an ad for a photographer, you’d likely be inundated with amateur photographers who can technically do the job. Disqualifying the bulk of these people early is similar to disqualifying non-serious buyers. If you are running an enterprise software company, you probably don’t want to spend time talking to a bootstrapped startup whose annual revenue is lower than your software’s price tag.

Conversely, in high demand and low supply fields such as cybersecurity, disqualifying people early may be a bad idea. Many departments in the federal government are discovering this and relaxing restrictions around some past criminal activity such as misdemeanor drug use. Far too many cybersecurity experts were unable to meet government job requirements due to recreational drug use. This requirement created an artificial constraint on the available supply of qualified workers. In digital marketing, you see similar examples of companies creating artificial constraints on their customer pipeline. It is uncommon for companies to list enterprise pricing tiers on their website; almost all companies selling to that market send you to a person. This is because sticking a price tag on your website can disqualify small-but-desirable sales leads and undervalue your product to larger companies. Therefore, disqualification often comes later, after a short conversation.

A/B Testing Copy

Recruiting also benefits from ad copy tests. By making adjustments to ad text on similar job boards, posting duplicate ads with different headlines, and so on, you can determine what job ads are most likely to attract great candidates. If you have a pulse on the local job market and understand which companies are most desirable to candidates, you can also analyze their ad copy to determine what adjustments may be worth making to your own ads.

This approach is very similar to what you find in digital marketing. Competitors in well-defined spaces oftentimes end up with somewhat similar website optimizations, designs, and marketing channels. They’ve found what works with competitors and have emulated it. Of course, it’s a terrible idea to directly copy competitors. You want your copy to come across as genuine and in alignment with your organization. But that doesn’t preclude you from looking at the broad strokes of what successful competitors have done.

Devising Metrics

Recruiting and marketing can also have very similar metrics. As mentioned earlier, cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on investment (ROI) are common recruitment marketing metrics borrowed from traditional approaches to marketing. These metrics are critical to determining which recruiting channels are worth your time. You can use these simple metrics to compare the effectiveness of job boards, ad networks, ad copy, hosted events, and career fairs. For example, you may find that a $1,500 ad on StackOverflow yields 5 high-quality hires, giving you a cost per acquisition of $300 per person. Compare that to a typical employee referral bonus that may range from $500 to $5,000. That pricey job ad suddenly sounds very cheap, right?

It’s also worth measuring the time your leads spend in any one state in your recruitment process. In my personal experience, quick response times and short time-to-offer numbers are correlated to an increased offer acceptance rate. This is especially true of candidates actively searching for a new job and, similarly, to customers searching for a solution to a known problem. Having a human response to a lead gains you early mindshare and demonstrates the lead’s importance to you. Imagine how a response within the hour to your job application would make you feel, compared to the more frequent application experience: an opaque process where it takes days or weeks for a recruiter to respond. What an easy way to differentiate your company!

Conversion Funnels

Similar to the marketing funnel, the recruitment funnel is a concept that is becoming more prominent in professional recruiting. By outlining the steps a new job candidate takes—from brand awareness to application to hire—you can identify areas for improving your recruiting efforts. For example, you may find that you have a 50% candidate rejection rate after their first in-person interview. This will prompt you to ask the question “do our phone screens not disqualify these unqualified people?” Certainly you will not hire most people you talk to, but making good use of interviewers’—and interviewees’—time is necessary to keep high internal interest in the recruiting process. Determining why people reliably pass a phone screen and fail their first interview can give you valuable insights needed to make the most of everyone’s time.

Conversion funnels are also an effective way to build support for more investment in bottlenecks. For example, you may find that 10% of people who read your job ad will apply to the job. Theoretically, one way to increase the number of qualified applicants is to attract more eyeballs to your job ad. This may mean paying for ads on new job sites, sharing job ads on social media, or investing in some sort of early brand awareness campaign.

Need Help with Recruitment Marketing?

If you are just getting started with recruiting or need someone to assess your existing recruitment marketing process, Inventiv is here to help! We can help you find a recruiting message that resonates with your company culture, provide a consistently good experience for candidates, and increase the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts. Contact us to start a conversation.