Recruiting top talent has changed a great deal in the last decade. Gone are the days of posting a job, running an advertisement or sharing an opening on social media, and hoping that it lures job seekers in to apply.
Technology has transformed recruitment. Now, HR teams can rely on artificial intelligence, automation, and HR technology to connect with candidates, hire talent, and build relationships faster.
However, technology alone isn’t enough. If recruiters want to attract, engage, nurture, and convert job candidates, they have to act — and think — like marketers. Marketers are trained to influence and engage an audience and convince that audience to take action. To hire and retain top talent, recruiters need to adopt a marketing mindset and marketing strategies.
The challenge: Marketing and talent acquisition teams traditionally operate as distinct entities. However, recruiters can use many of the same marketing tactics and strategies to improve talent acquisition practices through recruitment marketing.
Recruitment marketing can help talent acquisition teams reach top talent, establish a positive employer brand, and provide a fantastic candidate experience from initial engagement to hire.
Here at Phenom, we created The Definitive Guide to Recruitment Marketing to help recruiters and talent acquisition professionals understand how to reach top talent, create an ideal candidate experience, and bolster their employer brand. This guide will help you:
- Understand exactly what recruitment marketing is
- Build an effective recruitment marketing strategy
- Tap into the best marketing channels and tactics to find and attract top talent
- Establish a strong employer brand that reflects your mission, values, and culture
- Measure and optimize your recruitment marketing efforts
And much more!
Table of Contents
- What is recruitment marketing?
- What is an employer brand and why does it matter?
- How to Build a Recruitment Marketing Strategy
- Career sites for job seekers and employees
- Social media for recruitment marketing
- Short Message Service (SMS) for recruitment marketing
- Email marketing for recruitment marketing
- How to track and optimize your recruitment marketing campaigns
- Summary of recruitment marketing strategy and tactics
- Optimize your recruitment marketing with Phenom
What is recruitment marketing?
Recruitment marketing refers to the strategies and tactics an organization’s talent acquisition team can use to find, attract, engage, and nurture talent before they apply for a job. Traditionally, marketing is used to raise brand awareness, drive engagement, and convert leads into paying customers, but talent acquisition teams can apply similar practices to find the best talent and culture fit for their company.
Chelsea Eaton, Knowledge Management & Marketing at Phenom, says effective recruitment marketing is about proactive and reactive job sourcing.
“Recruitment marketing is not just about posting potential jobs and hoping to find your purple squirrel — your one-in-a-million, dream candidate. Recruitment marketing is about creating a strong magnet that draws talent to you. But to do that, you need to be sourcing above the funnel.”
Proactive campaigning happens before the immediate need to fill a role presents itself, like in the case of preparing for seasonal or cyclical hiring. Reactive campaigning, on the other hand, happens as the result of an unplanned departure.
Recruitment marketing tactics are also relevant for both external candidates and internal candidates. While external recruitment marketing focuses on bringing new talent into an organization, internal recruitment marketing educates current employees on different career paths available in the organization, and helps them progress and build skills to move their career forward.
Regardless of whether the recruitment is proactive or reactive, internal or external, the recruitment marketing funnel can be used to illustrate how a job seeker moves through each stage of their candidate journey.
1. Awareness. A candidate’s first impression of your employer brand. They likely encountered your brand through their job search on a third-party site or social media.
2. Consideration. This is the time introduce your value proposition as an employer. The candidate researches the role and your organization more thoroughly to consider whether or not they are interested.
3. Interest. The job seeker has a positive, personalized experience through various recruitment marketing channels which encourages them to apply.
4. Application. During this phase, job seekers apply and interview for the role. Applying to a role should be a seamless experience so candidates can apply quickly and are left with a positive impression. A difficult or confusing application process can increase friction and decrease your applicants. On top of that, hiring managers, recruiters, and others participating in the interview process should "sell" working for the company. Explain the value, benefits, and skills the job seeker will get as an employee.
5. Selection. A candidate is selected to fill a position. They use all of the information at their disposal, including their perception of the employer brand, salary, benefits, and more to decide whether or not to join an organization.
6. Hire. Finally, if a candidate accepts the offer, they are hired as an employee. It is in this stage where they can post a review of their recruitment experience.
The recruitment marketing tactics discussed throughout this guide will help you move job candidates through the recruitment marketing funnel from awareness to application.
However, while many recruiters and talent acquisition teams use the terms “recruitment marketing” and “talent marketing” interchangeably, “talent marketing” is a broader concept which involves the entire talent lifecycle — including the awareness, hiring, employment, and post-employment stages — while recruitment marketing typically only includes the hiring stage.
For the sake of this guide, we will refer to talent marketing as the broader, entire-lifecycle strategy within which recruitment marketing fits. Our focus in this guide is to teach you about the successful marketing strategies and tactics recruiters can use up to the point of hire.
What is an employer brand and why does it matter?
Before jumping into the specifics of recruitment marketing goals and strategy, it’s important to define what an employer brand is. Building a positive employer brand is an important part of every recruitment marketing strategy, as it impacts your ability to attract and retain top talent.
An employer brand reflects the values of a company. It’s also a way for businesses to differentiate themselves from other companies in order to interest future employees and retain current ones.
On top of that, an employer brand is a company’s reputation. It affects how employees and job seekers perceive the company. It also impacts whether or not a job seeker will want to work for them. In fact, 86% of women and 67% of men in the United States wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation.
How to Build a Recruitment Marketing Strategy
Defining a recruitment marketing strategy helps talent acquisition teams and recruiters understand their goals and what steps they need to take to reach them.
Think of your strategy as a blueprint to attract top talent, establish your employer brand, and provide job seekers a positive candidate experience. Establishing your strategy upfront makes marketing recruitment much easier in the long run. Here are three ways to get started.
1. Set recruitment marketing goals
Having documented goals can help you more easily identify the best marketing recruitment channels and tactics to accomplish them.
For instance, if one of your main goals is to increase candidate engagement with your employer brand, then you may place high importance on optimizing your career site to include chatbots (more on that in a moment). Or, maybe you want to increase the number of job applicants received through social media. In that case, you may prioritize social media marketing over other tactics.
Other recruitment marketing goals you may want to consider include:
- Increasing the number of completed job applications
- Growing your job applicant pool
- Increasing web traffic to your career site
- Improving job acceptance rates
- Increasing employer brand awareness
- Improving quality of hire
Whatever your goals are, document measurable goals and set a time period within which you would like to achieve them. Share your goals with your team so everyone understands what you are working toward.
HR technology can help you track your progress towards your goals with analytics. We’ll talk more about analytics later on in this guide.
2. Define your audience and build personas
Identifying your target audience and building personas is a critical step to any recruitment marketing strategy. Marketers use the term “personas” to refer to their ideal target audiences. Personas let you attach a name and characteristics to a fictionalized person that mimic characteristics of your ideal job applicant. This helps you reach and attract them to your employer brand with targeted messaging.
Create a persona for each ideal job applicant you have. If you’re recruiting for a technology company, for instance, the persona for an engineering candidate will likely differ greatly from the persona for a marketing role.
Your different personas will include information, like:
- Demographics. What is the ideal applicant’s age, gender, marital status, number of children, location, and level of education?
- Behavior. Where does this persona turn for information about a company? What websites and blogs do they read? Who do they engage with on social media?
- Psychographics. What does this persona believe about themselves? What are the short and long term goals? What values drive them? What are their challenges and pain points?
- Geographics. Where are they located? What are their geographic preferences?
You can use worksheets like this template to help you build your ideal job candidate personas.
3. Select your marketing channels and tactics
When thinking about which marketing channels to use, first think about where your personas go online to seek information about jobs and employers. It’s likely there are generational differences across your personas, so keep that in mind when seeking diverse talent.
There are four highly-effective channels talent marketers rely on to optimize their candidate funnel and build their employer brand:
- Career sites for job seekers and employees
- Social media marketing for recruitment
- SMS marketing recruitment
- Email marketing for recruitment
We’ll cover each channel in detail in the next section of this guide. But, depending on your unique goals, know that you may choose a couple — or all of these channels — to support your recruitment marketing strategy.
4 recruitment marketing myths
There are a few persuasive misconceptions (or myths) that could hurt or misguide your recruitment marketing strategy. Below, we’ll briefly debunk them.
Myth 1: You should only promote your employer brand when you have job openings.
Recruitment marketing isn’t only about promoting open roles. It’s also about marketing your employer brand and building a large talent pipeline you can call upon once you do have an open role. Strong recruitment marketing strategies enhance the reputation of your employer brand, build your talent pipeline, and help you fill roles.
Myth 2: Job seekers only care about money and perks.
On the contrary, data shows that job seekers care about your employer brand and reputation. In fact, 84% of employees would consider leaving their current role for another company with an excellent reputation. A great employer brand is a benefit that can make up for a lower salary or fewer perks.
Myth 3: Just posting your opening on a job board is enough to fill roles.
While this is one strategic way to promote a job role, there are many effective recruitment marketing strategies and channels (as mentioned in the section above) that help recruiters build their employer brand and promote roles. To quickly fill reqs and build your talent pipeline, you should rely on multiple recruitment marketing channels.
Myth 4: Long application forms only deter uninterested applicants.
Sixty percent of job seekers quit the online application process due to form length or complexity. That 60% includes great applicants. High-quality applicants can be selective as they apply for roles. A long, difficult application process may stop them from ever applying, as they have other options.
Career sites for job seekers and employees
Career sites showcase employer branding and encourage job seekers to learn more about what it’s like to work at your company. They also keep recruitment efforts separate from a company’s primary website, which is often used for marketing products or services.
Effective career sites should highlight elements of your culture, core values, benefits, and more to resonate with your candidate personas and be consistent with your employer branding. It’s the perfect place for you to control your message and share your brand’s story.
There are six core elements to an effective career site:
1. Personalized job and content recommendations. Career sites that leverage AI and automation can deliver tailored jobs and information to candidates based on their skills, experience, and location. This ensures they find what they're looking for faster, ultimately leading to increased conversions.
2. Job postings. Job postings should be up to date and clearly accessible within your career site. Make sure your apply flow is optimized to ensure candidates have the smoothest journey to apply.
3. Testimonials. Gather testimonials from current, happy employees in various departments and display them prominently on your pages. This is an effective form of social proof — a form of influence that highlights how others achieve positive results — that contributes to creating a positive employer brand.
4. Videos. Show candidates what your employees love about your company, rather than simply tell. As attention spans get shorter, video content is more likely to capture candidates’ attention.
5. Glassdoor reviews. If your company has Glassdoor reviews higher than four stars, display your reviews on your career site. You can ask employees to write Glassdoor reviews, but make sure you encourage employees to leave honest feedback — whether it’s positive or negative.
6. Chatbots. Chatbots are a tool to build help grow your candidate pipeline, build quality relationships, and provide helpful information through automating conversations. “Chatbots should be set up to sound friendly and answer commonly asked questions. Job seekers should be able to quickly get answers to their most pressing questions, and chatbots are a great way to scale that part of the process,” says Eaton.
For example, Brother International Corporation incorporates a chatbot — which they named “Ays” for “at your side” — that makes it easy for job seekers to get quick answers and recommendations for potential jobs based on keywords they enter in the chat.
These six elements should appear on both internal and external career sites. Since internal job seekers and external candidates are ultimately different audiences, Eaton advises talent acquisition teams create separate career sites.
“Your internal career site or employee portal should be used to promote your company culture. If diversity, equity, and inclusion is a big part of your employer brand, it should definitely be top of mind within the site. This is also a great place to create employee resource groups and events for different demographic groups to share their experiences in the workplace and ensure their voice is heard.”
However, for a career site to effectively convert job seekers into candidates, potential candidates need to be able to find it online. SEO — or search engine optimization — helps to make your career site more discoverable in search results.
Following some SEO best practices, like setting up your metadata, indexing proper pages, using alt text on images and videos, and optimizing your URLs, can ensure your site is easily found in job searches. These SEO elements are managed within your career site’s Content Management System (CMS).
Mobile optimization is another key consideration. Glassdoor found that 58% of their users look at jobs from their phones. If candidates have a bad experience on your career site because it isn’t mobile-friendly, they are more likely to bounce and look for jobs elsewhere.
But, ultimately, one of the biggest elements to keep in mind when creating your career sites is accessibility and inclusion.
Having an accessible site not only ensures that you're compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, but also that you’re expanding your candidate pool as wide as possible and attracting diverse candidates, including those with auditory, visual, cognitive, and mobile difficulties.
To make your site WCAG compliant, you need to:
- Include alt text on all images and descriptive captions on all videos
- Make sure the site’s color contrast is set appropriately for those with visual impairments
- And organize the content on your site to be easily read from a sight reader
Having an accessible career site can make a huge difference for diverse job seekers.
Social media for recruitment marketing
Social media marketing contributes to creating an online employer brand that attracts and engages potential candidates. In fact, 92% of companies use social media for recruiting, and 62% of job seekers use social media channels to evaluate the employer brand of a company.
While LinkedIn is most commonly used for recruitment marketing, other channels include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Each platform serves a different purpose, so it’s important to only pick platforms that enhance your company’s brand.
Your candidate personas will determine which channels to prioritize. For instance, advertising job openings on TikTok is a strategic move to attract a younger audience for internships and entry-level roles, as 60% of TikTok users are GenZers.
Here are six things you need to consider before using social media for recruitment marketing:
1. Set up separate social accounts to support your recruitment efforts. Because your recruitment personas and marketing personas are likely very different, it makes sense to have separate social accounts to best communicate and engage with job candidates.
2. Include a link to your career site in your social bios. Make it as easy as possible for those who want to learn more about your employer brand and job openings to do so.
3. Create social content that reflects your employer brand. Content that engages potential candidates should be helpful, engaging, important, and memorable. It should contribute to the feeling you want followers to have about your employer brand.
4. Encourage employee referrals. Leverage your employee’s existing talent networks to reach your ideal candidate. Make sharing job postings and events easy by providing content for employees to post on social media and consider an employee reward for successfully referring a candidate.
5. Evaluate paid social ads. After building your social presence on your chosen platforms, consider allocating a budget towards paid media, which can help target your job postings to a more specific audience.
6. Measure results and adjust course. Nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to marketing recruitment. It’s okay to go back to the drawing board if you don’t see results. Measure, iterate, and try different tactics.
Your social media presence is a part of your employer brand and reputation. It’s also a key recruitment marketing strategy. With that in mind, it’s important to know what to avoid so you don’t negatively impact your employer brand or your recruitment marketing strategy. Here are four mistakes to avoid on social media:
1. Don’t be insensitive or careless. World-renowned brands have damaged their employer brand through careless social media posts that were insensitive or hurtful. To avoid mistakes like this, develop a consistent employer brand voice you can use across your social media channels. Also, educate anyone who posts on your employer brand social media accounts on best practices.
2. Don’t stop posting. Long periods of time where you don’t post on your employer social media accounts can leave a bad impression among job seekers. Above all, it’s difficult to build an audience if you don’t post regularly.
3. Don’t only post job openings. Instead, think about ways you can add value to your followers. Post content that’s helpful and interesting to them — like career advice, insights on the hiring process and interviewing, or even employee perspectives on your company and culture.
4. Don’t post the same content on all of your social media platforms. Certain types of content perform better on different social media platforms. For instance, images are the focus of Instagram, and without an interesting image, your posts are unlikely to perform well. In comparison, written copy tends to perform best on LinkedIn. To maximize your engagement, customize your posts to each platform.
Short Message Service (SMS) for recruitment marketing
It's no surprise that SMS — or text messaging — marketing is becoming so popular. SMS receives impressive open rates of about 99% — with 97% of those messages being read within the first 15 minutes of being sent.
Recruitment marketing is about creating personal relationships, and SMS is one of the most personal ways to connect. It’s meeting the candidate where they are — on their mobile device — and quickly communicating with real-time job status updates, event invitations, job postings, and interview appointments.
Here are four tips to incorporate SMS into your recruitment marketing strategy:
1. Personalize your text messages. SMS is a highly personal channel. Add a personal touch to texts by using the potential candidates’ first names and only sending them event or job updates relevant to their professional interests.
2. Strategically use one-to-many SMS messages. Not all texts need to be one-to-one. You can send mass text messages to a wide recipient base as long as the content is relevant.
3. Enable text-for-info. Allow your candidates to text a keyword to receive up-to-date information about your job postings and events, and even get answers to commonly asked questions.
4. Be mindful of timing. Consider your audience and text during your candidates' preferred time frames.
Email marketing for recruitment marketing
Email marketing helps you to stay in touch with and nurture job seekers in the recruitment funnel throughout their candidate journey.
However, whether job seekers entered your recruitment funnel through applying for a potential job, signing up for company updates, or attending an event, you need to get their permission to email them due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which dictates that sites clearly articulate how a visitor’s data is used. Getting permission can be as simple as a potential candidate filling out a form to hear about job updates from your company.
Thankfully, following a few best practices will ensure you won’t have any issue staying compliant with GDPR. Here are seven tips to get subscriber permission and set up an effective recruitment email marketing strategy:
1. Ask job applicants to sign up for updates. Add a checkbox or language to your application to let potential candidates know about the benefits of being a part of your talent community and what to expect from your email updates. This helps keep talent leads warm for positions that take longer to fill, and getting permission also helps you remain GDPR-compliant.
2. Create an email content calendar. Determine how often you want to reach out to your talent community and map out your email sends in a content calendar. Bonus points if the content in your email aligns with events, thought leadership content, and social content. Strategically set the email schedule as well, ensuring they're sent at the ideal time of day and at a standard cadence.
3. Add a signup form to your career site. A signup form on your career site is an easy way to collect job seekers’ email addresses to grow your email candidate pool.
4. Set up automated email campaigns. Automated drip campaigns keep candidates connected to your employer branding and informed of new job opportunities. You can even send candidates personalized, curated job listings based on what you know about their job preferences.
5. Write compelling subject lines. Subject lines are one of the main reasons a candidate will open an email. Effective subject lines are short — about four to seven words — and speak to your candidates’ motivators. Try asking a question and approach writing subject lines with a conversational tone.
6. Segment your email list. Send highly personalized emails to a clearly defined segment of your audience to improve opens, clicks, and engagement. For example, send personalized emails to segments based on job title or department, experience level, or location.
7. A/B test your emails. The best way to improve your open and click rates is by measuring what works and what doesn’t, and A/B testing is a great way to do this. An A/B test is when you send two variations of a nearly identical email to segments of your list to see which performs better. For example, you can test a short subject line against a long subject line to see which earns a higher open rate. You can test almost anything — like send time and day, content length, button colors, and more — to optimize your campaigns.
8. Track email performance. Monitor open rates and click through rates to determine what's working and what isn't — and make changes as needed.
How to track and optimize your recruitment marketing campaigns
Analyzing and tracking results and making data-informed decisions helps you optimize your recruitment marketing funnel and have more meaningful conversations with candidates.
Some key recruitment marketing metrics you will want to track include:
- Number of job applicants and returning job applicants
- Page views, bounce rate, time on site, number of pages viewed, and new and returning traffic to your career site
- SMS open and click rates (The average open rate for SMS campaigns is 98%.)
- Social media engagement — such as likes, comments, and shares
- Email marketing open and click rates (The average email open rate is 18% and the average click-through rate is 2.6%.)
- The number of completed applications
- Apply rate
- Cost per application
Ultimately, you have to test to see what works. That includes testing elements of your recruitment marketing campaign, like the best time to send email campaigns and what types of content get the most engagement on social media.
Checking the results of your tests along with traditional recruitment metrics will give you a holistic look at how your recruitment marketing efforts are paying off. This information will help you optimize your recruitment marketing strategy to attract, discover, engage, nurture and convert more top talent.
Summary of recruitment marketing strategy and tactics
Recruitment marketing is more than a means to hire top talent. It’s a strategic approach to attract, engage, nurture and convert candidates, as well as create an ideal candidate experience and bolster your employer brand.
An effective recruitment marketing strategy takes both external job seekers and internal job candidates into consideration. It includes reactive and proactive marketing efforts.
Set and document personas and goals to give your recruitment marketing strategy direction and inform which marketing channels and tactics will help your team accomplish them.
Review your career site(s) to ensure they are accessible to all potential candidates, optimized for search engines, and ensure the best possible candidate experience with automated conversations.
Personalize communication with your talent community through social media, SMS, and email marketing.
Track and measure results for all campaigns. Don’t be afraid to change course — no recruitment marketing strategy is ever written in stone.
Optimize your recruitment marketing with Phenom
Phenom’s suite of recruitment marketing tools will help talent acquisition teams and recruiters attract, discover, engage, nurture, and convert job seekers into high-performing employees:
Personalized Career Sites: Easily create and manage career sites to deliver recommended jobs and content to candidates, grow your talent pool, and stay engaged throughout the candidate journey.
Talent CRM: Build engaged candidate pipelines, easily identify top talent, and rediscover quality candidates with the AI-powered CRM.
Conversational Chatbot: Automate sourcing, screening, scheduling, and FAQs with a recruiting chatbot that's available to connect with job seekers 24/7.
Marketing Campaigns: Automate and optimize candidate conversations with email marketing, SMS, and 1:1 messaging technology. Nurture talent leads by cultivating and maintaining relationships for upcoming career opportunities.
Automated Scheduling: Conversational AI allows candidates to self-select their ideal meeting time based on real-time team availability.
AI Insights & Analytics: Get recruitment insights to discover and rediscover candidate leads based on fit.