Recruitment marketing is key to attracting top talent—but how has the pandemic changed the TA approach?
On last week’s episode of Talent Experience Live, Ashley Burns, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Newell Brands shared how her team continues to leverage talent marketing—particularly campaigns—to engage and convert best-fit candidates. Plus, the strategies and tactics that underpin a strong recruitment marketing program, as well as proactive shifts in message and focus that 2020’s curveballs have demanded.
How has recruitment marketing strategy changed as a result of COVID-19?
While recruitment tactics haven’t dramatically changed at Newell Brands, positioning and message have, Burns says. (Newell Brands may not sound familiar, but you probably have one of the company’s products in your home— Newell is the parent company of Calphalon, Crockpot, Sharpie, Marmot, FoodSaver, Yankee Candle, and several other household name brands.)
Past recruitment messages typically focused on product, but the current emphasis is on what each brand is doing differently in response to the pandemic and how it affects their employees’ day-to-day experience.
Before the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit, Burns relied on three key principles to power her recruitment marketing program. These tactics haven’t changed, although the pandemic has had some affect on the way her team uses them:
1. Leveraging analytics to optimize strategy and messaging. Campaign analytics are more important than ever—especially with the need to measure how changes in messaging are affecting response and conversion rates. For example, how did a product-centered campaign perform compared to a people-centered campaign? How does including a video impact performance? How many views and shares did a particular campaign garner?
2. Making on-the-fly changes to their career website in-house. The pandemic has underscored the value of Burns’ ability to make live updates to Newell’s career site. This allows her team to keep up with rapidly changing information related to company response to COVID-19. They can also keep content fresh, varied, and relevant.
3. Developing effective, data-driven email campaigns. Email messaging has shifted from focusing on jobs to “meeting candidates where they are” and providing content on what they’re looking for, Burns says.
The takeaway here is to align your email content and messaging with today’s evolving circumstances. Uncover what candidates really want to know about your company culture and what it’s like to be an employee at this moment. Be sure to guarantee that your recruitment marketing content answers their questions. Develop messaging that’s relevant, consistent, and unique to your brand—but also authentic.
How can recruitment marketers infuse authenticity into employer branding messaging right now?
Recruitment marketers face a daunting challenge today: Mass layoffs, hiring freezes and furloughs are affecting so many industries – and tarnishing employer brands. How can recruitment marketers cast their employer brand in a positive light while retaining authenticity and honest messaging?
Develop content that authentically communicates the employee experience under current circumstances – which is what candidates really want to know about, even topping job responsibilities, Burns says.
With onsite contact not possible in many cases right now, the key is to communicate your company’s culture through your site, creating an online experience that gives candidates a taste of what it’s like day-to-day on the job. (Hint: video is a key player here!)
1. Draw on top leadership to encourage authentic positioning. If you’re fortunate enough to have executive leadership that demonstrates a commitment to supporting employees, incorporate that in your messaging. For example, Burns shares employee testimonials that Newell’s CEO posts in which he thanks them personally.
2. Develop user-generated content that tells the employee experience story. As much as possible, include employee-driven content that reflects the current experience. Mine positive feedback to use in messaging. Maybe your company is providing additional resources for flexible scheduling options right now. Gather employee testimonials that reflect this support. Recognize how employees are making a difference; feature frontline workers on your career site … find ways to tell your company’s story at this moment from the employee perspective to truly connect with talent.
How can recruitment marketers respond to negative ratings?
In the current environment, negative comments and feedback on sites like Glassdoor may be more common. Collecting, analyzing and responding to feedback are so crucial to preserving the employer brand.
The biggest mistake organizations can make is to ignore negative feedback. People just want to be heard, Burns notes, and a lack of response to a candidate’s bad experience just generates more negative feelings toward a company.
Her team’s approach is to reach out to candidates who have reported having a negative experience. Apologize, be humble, and explain that their experience is not typical of your organization, Burns advises. Then describe how it should have been.
How do data and analytics shape decisions and direction?
A self-described “analytics nerd,” Burns emphasized throughout the podcast how integral analytics and data are to her recruitment marketing program. Newell Brands uses Phenom’s Talent Experience platform. Burns relies on custom data reports to guide day-to-day decisions, and uses the CRM for deeper dives into analytics.
“We can tell a story and back it up with data,” she says. For example, she’s been able to show managers that while currently there’s been a drop in the number of open jobs, the application rate has risen. Her team can better position themselves as recruitment experts, putting together impactful visuals of how a campaign has performed, or resources to educate hiring managers on writing effective job descriptions.
If you’re new to working with talent experience data, it can be overwhelming at first to confront a mass and variety of it. Rely on the expertise of your software reps to identify initial areas to focus on, Burns says. For example, a good place to start may be evaluating how web pages are performing – is the talent community set up intuitively? Are there strong calls to action? Reaching out to colleagues in similar roles to find out what they’re tracking and how they’re using data is also helpful, Burns says.
What role does the heightened importance of diversity and inclusion play in recruitment marketing?
Although diversity and inclusion (D&I) have taken center stage in 2020, it’s always been a focus at Newell, Burns says. She and her team are expanding D&I efforts in several ways:
- The recruitment marketing team is reaching out to employee resource groups (ERGs), asking members about their cultural experience with Newell. Feedback on direct questions like “Why did you choose Newell?” and “What can we do differently?” will help guide authentic content and messaging for upcoming virtual career fairs.
- D&I training will focus on helping managers break from the tendency to select a “typical” profile from the diverse slate provided by the recruitment team.
- The team has updated Newell’s behavioral interview guide to ensure legality of questions, and to better reflect values and culture.
If you’re in the position of needing to nurture D&I for an employer brand that doesn’t yet have a strong foundation in this area, doing some of these things can help instill it organically.
What does the future of recruiting look like?
Looking ahead to what 2021 may bring, Burns noted a few areas she’s excited to expand—with a particular emphasis on the employee experience. During the show, Burns shared their team plans to focus more on internal mobility (getting started with talent marketpaces), employee referrals, AI for internal job openings, and hosted apply to improve the candidate experience.
As HR teams continue to adapt and grow their recruiting and talent management efforts, remaining agile will be key.