Maggie BleharFebruary 28, 2024
Topics: Recruiter Experience

How to Think Like a Marketer and Create Content People Want

How do you craft compelling content that engages candidates and employees?
What’s the magic number of emails to send per week?
Which subject lines produce the greatest open rates?

A few of Phenom’s marketers joined Talent Experience Live to share tips and tricks for attracting and engaging your audience with content people actually want. From daily content creation that stays evergreen to email campaigns that are informative and not spammy, they shared best practices for creating successful marketing content at your organization.

Get your biggest recruitment marketing questions answered and learn how to think like a marketer!

Read on for the highlights or catch the whole episode below.

How can recruiters get into the marketing mindset?

Not much leaves the Phenom content machine without input and guidance from Monica Montesa, Senior Director of Content Marketing.

“When we hear the words ‘marketing mindset,’ it sounds scary,” Montesa said. “But at the heart of it all, it’s really pretty simple.”

For marketers, the potential buyer is always the main focus. For recruiters, it’s the job seeker. “Your main focus is people. Your job is to help attract new talent to your company. And that’s essentially what marketers are doing.”

Establishing a connection with your target audience is crucial, Montesa continued. “You want to keep them engaged, and so there are so many great parallels between what marketing professionals are focusing on and what recruiters and talent acquisition specialists are doing.”

It’s about forming a connection, engaging the target audience, and then nurturing that relationship — with the end goal being to make a hire.

What are the four principles of content marketing and how do they apply to recruiting?

Effective content is data-driven, conversion-minded, people-first, and on-brand. “These four principles really capture the heart of it all,” Montesa said.

Here’s how to put them into practice for recruitment content marketing:

  1. Be data-driven. Always track how content is performing. Looking at metrics can educate you on your audience (super-important!) and answer strategic questions like What should we continue? What should we stop? How should we iterate? “All of those different metrics become so critical to allowing you to understand who your audience is,” Montesa said.

  2. Be conversion-minded: Every piece of content should inspire action that’s tied to a goal. That could be to click “apply,” but it also could be to sign up for a webinar or to engage with a social post. “Having that focus, that thread back to your company and purpose for creating content is so important to everything you produce.”

  3. Be people-first: Keep in mind that there’s a real person on the other end of a mass email. “These aren’t just numbers, these aren’t just names in the database. They’re human beings, first and foremost,” Montesa said. Aim for conversational, high-value content — not jargon!

  4. Be on-brand: Recruiting content must align with the look and feel of your company in terms of visual attributes and voice. It’s a good idea to partner with your organization’s marketing department, Montesa noted, who are the keepers of a company’s brand.

How can recruiters apply Generative AI to content marketing?

Jenn Thomas, Manager, Content Marketing, sees it all on a daily basis: case studies, emails, blog articles, ads, event branding, and more. And with GenAI now at our fingertips, creating content is a snap — done in seconds, right?

Not so fast. “There’s a lot of content out there, and I think there is an opportunity for GenAI to help,” Thomas said, especially for basic tasks like dropping in boilerplate content. That leaves more time for recruiters to focus on strategic aspects of marketing, such as messaging and personalization.

But perhaps the most valuable assistance GenAI has to offer is eliminating the blank page by leveraging existing content — job descriptions, for example — to create campaign content. “I think it is a great jumping-off point that can save a lot of valuable time,” Thomas said. “It gets that fundamental content there instead of starting from nothing.”

Related: Learn how Phenom X+ saves recruitment marketers time with GenAI.

What is the key to compelling recruitment content?

“I think the number-one rule is that you have to be authentic,” Thomas said, especially when leveraging GenAI. Infusing brand personality and a conversational tone is a must. “People can see through you if you aren’t authentic.”

And part of authenticity is bringing real personality into [the content], she continued. For recruiters, that means using employee stories to help potential candidates really learn about your company.

In fact, many Phenom clients are pairing employee stories with videos on their career sites and embedding them in their chatbots as well, Thomas said. “They’re showcasing people on the job. They’re not just showing all the glamorous stuff, either,” she added. This is a great strategy that helps prevent new hire churn. (One great example of a company that gets this right: Southwest Airlines. Check them out!)

Related reading: The X Factor: How To Out-Hire, Develop and Retain Talent

What’s so important about a call to action?

In the marketing world, a call to action (CTA) is the all-star component of most content. Buy now, Sign up now, Register today, etc. The goal is to inspire action.

But how aggressive should the CTA be for recruitment marketing content? “It really depends on what you’re trying to get someone to do,” Thomas said.

CTAs have to meet the audience where they are. For example, university students are just starting to think past school to employment. Save the “Apply Now” for later, and instead focus on awareness of the brand and nurturing the candidate relationship.

There are a lot of options to build engagement:

  • Direct readers to your career site to learn more

  • Share your company’s blog for a deeper dive

  • Link to an outside source like Glassdoor or G2 to read company reviews

Bottom line? Opting for a softer CTA is best during the relationship-building stage. “Sometimes it’s just too much; you’re really almost ruining that relationship with too much of a hard sell,” Thomas said.

How long (or short) should content be?

Is less always more? Thomas shared three ways to determine length:

  • Quality

  • Channel

  • Visual presentation

For example, case studies will include a high level of detail to tell the story of a client’s success. But social posts promoting that case study need to be short, punchy, and served in bite-sized visual chunks.

And quality really does come first. “At the end of the day, if the content itself isn’t good, they’re not going to read it,” Thomas emphasized.

How can you ensure content is timely?

Some content has its own expiration date of sorts — anything tied to a year or an event will become outdated at some point. However, some of this content can be optimized or updated later on so that the material presented is still valuable to the reader.

Beyond that, every marketing team should create a content calendar to guide timeliness and relevance. “Planning ahead makes it a lot easier to execute across the board and be more strategic.”

How do you determine the best audience?

You’re nailing content creation, but now it’s time to focus on demand generation and email campaigns. Kaynat Nofal, Marketing Campaigns Manager, said that if you want candidates to pay attention to your content, audience segmentation — dividing recipients into groups that share certain characteristics — is crucial.

“When deciphering the audience, for any campaign, whether it’s going to be a very targeted one or something we send to a large audience… my cheat sheet is addressing the two Ws.” Nofal said.

That would be who and why:

Who: What are the demographics, skills, and needs of your target audience? What candidate persona are you campaigning to?

Why: What’s the reason behind choosing this target population? Why will your messaging resonate with them?

“Both of these Ws go back to your goal,” she said. “Are you just trying to make people aware or inform them about upcoming vacancies? Or are you actually trying to fill a role that’s time-sensitive?”

What cadence is optimal for content marketing outreach?

Or, when does nurturing become, well, pestering? Generally speaking, the formula is no more than one to two emails per week, Nofal said.

But the nature of your campaign will also help you set the appropriate cadence.

A goal-oriented campaign is designed to get recipients to take action quickly. For example, the campaign cadence for a series of emails promoting an event might go like this:

  • Announce the event

  • Encourage registration

  • Tease the last chance to register

But if a campaign is growth-oriented — you’re nurturing an audience that’s not ready to take action yet — go for the minimum amount of emails it takes to maintain engagement, Nofal advised.

“Both of these things also tie back to, over time, learning the behavior of your audience,” Nofal said. And then adjusting accordingly.

How heavily do you rely on analytics to adapt strategy?

Again, the answer depends on goals and intentions. An awareness-building campaign doesn’t require a daily analytics check.

Time-sensitive campaigns, however, are a different story. “You need to iterate quickly, and you need to learn and adapt, because those are the ones that are going to be successful,” Nofal said.

Here’s a quick breakdown of various metrics and how Nofal uses them:

  • Email open rates indicate the percentage of people who are opening your emails out of the total list you sent to. A high open rate indicates that your email was received in their inbox, and the subject line captured their attention and enticed them to open it to read what you sent. A low open rate can signal other challenges — such as a poor, disengaging subject line or poor deliverability. This is the first metric to gain insight on whether you’re meeting goals related to educating and building awareness with your target audience.

  • Click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates tell you the percentage of people who are clicking links in your emails. This can shed light on how well you’re doing in meeting time-sensitive goals (e.g., to fill an open role or boost event attendance).

  • Bounce rates and unsubscribe rates tell you how many emails aren’t landing in your subscribers’ inbox and how many people are unsubscribing from your email list, respectively. Both signal when you need to clean up your database, change up your email content to ensure your providing valuable information, or revisiting the amount of emails you’re sending to a specific audience.

Related reading: Metrics That Matter: How to Leverage Analytics to Make Data-Driven Decisions

What regulations apply to content marketing?

Content marketers should be aware of the federal CAN-SPAM Act, as well as the General Data Protection Regulation.

But Nofal’s number-one common-sense rule? “Don’t email people if they don’t want you to email!”

While additional regulations vary by industry and region, the following general tips can help recruitment content marketers play by the rules:

  • Only send emails to people who have opted in

  • Provide a clear unsubscribe option

  • Don’t go phishing — subject lines must be relevant to the content inside

  • The sender’s contact information must appear prominently in communications

  • Don’t share data, even within internal teams

Recruiting Content Marketing Tips & Tricks

In closing, Montesa provided a round-up of her best tips and tricks to get you started with a rock-solid recruitment content marketing approach.


  • Set up a calendar and plan at least a month out for emails

  • Define the “who” and “why” – who is your audience, and why are you reaching out?

  • Keep subject lines short and specific to the content inside

  • Keep content concise and to the point

  • Make your CTA very clear

Podcasts & Video Content

  • Be authentic: “Showing your people, at the end of the day, is going to be your golden ticket to really get folks interested and engaged,” Montesa said.

  • Go for bite-size content and messaging

  • Be entertaining

  • Don’t be salesy

  • Stay on-brand

  • Identify your purpose before getting started

Related reading: Employer Branding Vs Recruitment Marketing: What’s the Difference?


Marketing metrics abound — that’s why it’s important to focus on the ones that give you the most insight into the medium you’re using. “Whatever content medium it is — if it’s email, a blog, social — we always want to be looking at the most important metrics for the type of content,” Montesa said.

For example, are you seeing a low open rate on an email campaign? Consider whether the topic missed the mark for the audience, or test out different subject lines.

Get Started!

“Embrace the learning process, and don’t be afraid to get started,” Montesa concluded. So build out those content calendars, brainstorm ideas, draw inspiration from other companies and career sites, and take advantage of the wealth of marketing resources available online.

Want even more? Check out Phenom’s Definitive Guide to Recruitment Marketing.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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