When it comes to hiring quality candidates, employers and recruiters rely on a variety of sourcing methods. These methods are not always part of a cohesive plan, so success rates are often spotty. Recruitment marketing can turn it around.

Recruiting quality employees is not easy.

According to the 2018 Jobvite Recruiter Nation study, 67 percent of recruiters say their biggest challenge in hiring is the lack of skilled and high-quality candidates, intense competition (52 percent), and a lack of budget (36 percent).

Is there a shortage of talent?

Recent numbers from the Labor Department stated that the U.S. has 1 million more job openings than unemployed workers.

What this surplus means for recruiters and employers

The implications of this surplus are obvious. The economic climate that began in 2017 continues to grow. And yet, recruiters continue to struggle with attracting the volume of skilled and high-quality candidates they need. A large part of this struggle boils down to the fact that many employers and recruiters aren't confident about the ins and outs of recruitment marketing.

Some are not convinced they know what recruitment marketing is.

It seems prudent that we define recruitment marketing first, then cover the ins and outs of a successful campaign. So, what is it? Here's how Jobvite defines recruitment marketing.

"Recruitment marketing is the strategy and tactics used by an organization in order to source, manage, and nurture passive talent — before they apply to your job."

Recruitment marketing, which includes structured hiring methodologies like Topgrading, is crucial for your organization. It enables you to get the right team - employees, managers, and executives - on the bus.

Why does that matter?

A research study entitled The Impact of Systematically Hiring Top Talent: A Study of Topgrading as a Rigorous Employee Selection Bundle makes a compelling case for hiring top talent. If you are consistently able to attract the right candidates to your organization, you create value across three major categories.

1. Improved individual employee performance. High-quality candidates are engaged and more productive than low-quality candidates who are far more likely to be actively disengaged. According to Unrove, happy employees are typically more engaged.

2. Increased financial and operational performance. The more productive your employees are, the more revenue and profit your organization can generate. Ideal candidates produce more due to increased efficiency. This efficiency translates to improved productivity across your organization.

3. Reduction of your mis-hire rate. Many recruiters take a shotgun approach to recruitment. They sweep candidates up into their databases, regardless of their quality. Applying hiring methodologies like Topgrading during the recruitment phases of your campaigns ensure that you attract a large pool of exceptional candidates from the start, and at a lower cost. How? A player candidates attract other A player candidates. Treat your ideal candidates well, and their network becomes your network.

This is the power of recruitment marketing.

If your organization is consistently able to attract high-quality candidates, you can transform your company from the inside out. This kind of success begins and ends with a simple mantra.

First the who, then the what.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, explains:

Organizations should first focus their attention on getting the right people on the bus (and in the right seats). Next, they should get the wrong people off the bus. Doing this means your organization has the workforce needed to determine a successful course of action and accomplish specific goals.

Which recruitment strategies work best?

When it comes to hiring quality candidates, employers and recruiters rely on a variety of sourcing methods and recruiting strategies. These methods are not always part of a cohesive plan, so success rates are often spotty. SHRM's Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report identifies the tools and resources used to source candidates.

Employee referrals topped the list at 90 percent.

What does that tell us?

That most organizations rely on their employee connections and their own website to promote available positions. There are more than 18 different channels represented in the chart above. Which channel should your organization use?

All of them.

Your organization may not be able to use these channels all at once, but that doesn't mean a phased rollout is out of the question. You can begin with the elements that are most within your control (e.g., employee referrals, your company website, networking, social media, direct (on-site/virtual) recruitment, etc.). You should expect a degree of variance around these channels.

Paid job boards may not be as effective at delivering the high-quality candidates you need, as say, on-campus college recruiting. You will want to measure the effectiveness of each of the marketing channels you have access to. If you're going to use these channels (and more) you'll need a few simple tactics to ensure your recruitment marketing delivers consistent and high-quality results.

Cost of communication in recruitment marketing

The Cost Of Poor Employee Communication

A survey from The Holmes Report surveying 400 companies in the US and UK with 100,00+ employees outlined the cost of poor communications.

  • $37 billion due to employee misunderstanding. This figure includes errors of omission by employees who misheard or misunderstood company policies, job functions, business processes, or a combination of the above.

  • Communication barriers cost organizations an average of $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.

  • $26,041 loss per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communication barriers. These losses had a cascading effect on the organization, spreading from one person to another.

  • On the other hand, Holmes found companies with good communication had 47 percent higher returns to shareholders over four years when compared with firms that have leaders who are poor communicators.

Small businesses aren't immune to these communication challenges. Debra Hamilton, in her article "Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money" states that miscommunication costs small businesses (100 employees) an average of $420,000 per year.

Improving communication begins with trust.

In his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni shares the root cause of poor communication.

Here's how these dysfunctions impact an organization's ability to communicate:

1. Absence of trust, which leads to an unwillingness for employees and teams to be vulnerable with each other. This lack of trust leads to a breakdown of interpersonal relationships, silos, cliques, and tribalism; developers vs. sales, customer service vs. marketing, etc. An absence of trust eventually leads to...

2. A fear of conflict as employees avoid telling the kind truth and begin tiptoeing around each other. Teams in this environment struggle with artificial harmony, which decreases productivity and employee referrals. This behavior hurts the employer brand, increasing mis-hires as employees warn their network off and look for opportunities to leave.

3. A lack of commitment and disengagement across the workforce. These actively disengaged employees are not simply unhappy. They're acting out their unhappiness, sabotaging their engaged coworkers, degrading morale, and working against the team as a whole. This creates a devastating cycle of failure as productivity begins to drop and performance begins to suffer. This produces...

4. A lack of commitment. Goals, objectives, and KPIs are ambiguous. Teams set broad standards and vague objectives, anything to avoid specificity which becomes a full-blown...

5. Avoidance of accountability. If there's no commitment, there's no buy-in. As a result, employees avoid ownership of failures and successes. There's an unwillingness to rely on any performance standards at an individual group level. All of this eventually leads to...

6. Inattention to results. No one wants to set performance standards, so individuals default to their own self-interest. Organizations become filled with individuals looking for their next big break instead of teams working towards a common goal. Productivity and performance drop precipitously.

Can you see the solution?

These problems are also the solution to these common communication problems. Create an environment where employees experience psychological safety, and trust develops naturally. Trust sparks conflict as employees, teams, and leaders begin telling the kind truth.

All of this builds strong, healthy relationships - the kind of relationships where employees are heard, where individuals go out of their way to take care of each other.

Why the emphasis on communication?

Communication is the backbone of your recruitment marketing campaign. Your advertising, employee branding, and review management campaigns, networking, and advertising forays - none of that matters if you can't keep your employees.

Communication is the best chance you have at attracting and retaining your top-performing employees.

Your employees talk.

Workplace dysfunctions are typically driven from the top-down and the bottom-up. Your employees are cultural ambassadors, disclosing the verbal and nonverbal messages that communicate culture. If your organization is a healthy one, this is a very good thing.

Not so for unhealthy organizations.

The success of your recruitment marketing campaign depends entirely on what your new recruits see when they arrive. Everything hinges on this one important detail.

Fix these five dysfunctions and your returns from each of the subsequent activities mentioned below will compound.

Communication is the best chance at retaining top employees

Compound Recruitment Marketing With Employer Branding

According to LinkedIn's ultimate guide to brand statistics, 72 percent of recruiting leaders worldwide agreed that an employer's brand has a significant impact on hiring. An employer's brand makes it easier to attract and retain high-quality candidates.

Employer branding produces:

  • 50 percent increase in qualified candidates

  • 50 percent cost-to-hire reduction

  • 1 - 2x faster time-to-hire

  • 28 percent reduction in mis-hire and employee turnover

Here's why this is so significant for candidates.

Interested, A player candidates don't know what it's like to work for the companies under consideration. According to LinkedIn's report, this is the number one obstacle employees face. What's the best way to relieve prospective candidate's fears?

Employer reviews.

Employee reviews, via sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and others, provide employees with the objective, third-party data they need to verify a company's experience ahead of time.

  • 75 percent of candidates assess an employer's brand before they even apply.

  • 52 percent of candidates spend time on a company's website, monitor their social media profiles (and often key employees) to get a sense of a prospective employer.

  • Prospective candidates trust employee reviews 3x more than company statements.

Data from Employer Brand International’s (EBI) Global Research Study shows there are a few common ROI metrics and data used to analyze an employer's brand. These metrics and KPIs enable brands to measure performance across a variety of data points and include:

  1. Number of applicants

  2. Cost of hire

  3. Quality of hire

  4. Employee retention rate

You can read more about recruiting analytics in this post.

See what I mean about communication and dysfunctions earlier? It's incredibly difficult to attract the right candidates when you don't have the right interpersonal structures in place. Are there ways to improve the status and reputation of your employer brand quickly?

Absolutely. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create an employee review management campaign. Send review requests to employees, asking them to write a review about your company. It's important that you give them the opportunity to opt-out, and the trust needed to write whatever they want.

  • Focus on social good. Find a social cause to support, one that your organization is legitimately passionate about. This cause could be supporting the homeless or needy, your local blood bank, an environmental cause or something else. Whatever it is, work to align that cause with your employee's expectations whenever possible.

  • Use prestige hooks to boost reputation and company status. If you're a consistent presence on the Inc. 5000 list, you're a part of the fortune 500, or your organization has won numerous awards, boosting your employer brand is fairly straightforward. Share those accomplishments with potential candidates. Just be sure to do it in an appropriate and verifiable way. What if this isn't you? You can still boost your reputation on command. You make your employees happy, then ask them to share their reviews on the platforms of your choice. It's a simple, compelling and notable way to boost your organization's reputation fast.

  • Do what competitors cannot or will not do. This is all about making a stand. Does your organization stand for something unique, something your competitors cannot or will not do? Use that as fuel to attract attention. Think Domino's pizza: 30 minutes, or it's free, Hertz We're #2, we try harder, or Google's search algorithm. These details are easy, but they're not simple.

  • Build an audience via thought leadership. The channel or format isn't as important as the consistency and quality of the content you provide. Building an audience of likeminded fans, followers, and subscribers who admire and love your business is an easy way to attract new clients. If you've built a customer database, you can also mine that customer network for new hires.

There are many more ideas you can use to boost the employer brand at your company.

Here's the point.

Employer branding is an extension of your reputation.

It answers three important questions that are difficult to answer.

  1. What's this company about?

  2. Am I safe here at this company?

  3. Will I be treated well?

These are the key questions lurking behind the scenes of the objection: what is it like to work here?

Here's an example from Gramercy Tavern, the restaurant featured in the book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny.

Danny Meyer is the legend. His Union Square Hospitality Group is the company behind Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, and others. He’s fostered a culture of above-and-beyond customer service at each one of his restaurants.

In fact, each of his restaurants have been listed in the top 40 of Zagat’s ratings of customer service since they’ve opened. They achieved this by cultivating a culture where employees are eager and willing to take good care of their customers. Danny asks them to create "extraordinary experiences" for each customer. And, if you work for him, this is the standard.

The following true story is a great example of the lengths his staff will go to protect their brand of excellent customer service.

One day, a woman enters Gramercy Tavern. She's very upset. She has just realized that she left her purse in the taxi that dropped her off for lunch. She has no way to pay for her meal, and no way to get back to work.

Panic sets in.

Carlo listens to her predicament then quietly seats her with the rest of her party, Don't worry, lunch is on the house.

Meanwhile, he asks his co-worker to call her cell phone number until someone picks up. Finally, after 30 minutes, the taxi driver answers the phone. Carlo arranges to meet the taxi half-way, goes there himself to retrieve her purse, pays the driver for returning her smartphone, and heads back to the restaurant.

He returns just in time to present the purse to his stressed out customer, just as she finishes her lunch. She's understandably overcome by relief and gratitude and bursts into tears.

Danny Meyer wants employees willing to serve creatively in ways like this. If an employee isn't willing to support the organization's brand in this way, they shouldn't apply.

Authenticity Is An Extension Of Communication

Authenticity, while often mistaken for vulnerability, is focused on simply telling it like it is.

Authenticity can only come from an environment with psychological safety and trust. The more you focus your attention on taking care of your employees and providing them with the tools and resources they need, the better your employees will be at recruiting new candidates.

Good marketing departments understand this. It's time HR did as well.

What does this mean for recruiters?

  • Simplifying the application process

  • Creating accurate, compelling and educational job descriptions

  • Courting candidates via follow-up campaigns and lead nurturing (more on that below)

  • Maintaining your website or careers page

At this point, you should be ready to take advantage of your existing marketing channels. If you find you are having success with one or more of these tactics, you may want to consider layering your recruitment marketing campaigns with more than one of the strategies.

  • Employee referrals. Incentivize employees to share and promote your organization. Provide them with relevant yet helpful tools you can use to attract more employee referrals. Create an autoresponder sequence to request employee reviews.

  • Job boards (free/paid). Provide clear job descriptions. Be sure to focus your attention on creating content that reflects your place in the industry. Great content that explains what your organization is about.

  • Social media networking: Use social media to test various forms of short-form content. A good example would be sharing ten pieces of educational content on social media for every one job related-pitch. You're looking to provide value to your audience, without focusing entirely on the details.

  • Temp-to-hire: This arrangement is a fantastic way for you to try new candidates before you buy. Just be sure to provide your organization with enough time to properly evaluate each of the clients under consideration.

  • Advertising (e.g., pay per click (PPC), advertising, guest posts and thought leadership). If your organization is already adept at promoting your marketing campaigns, you will want to make sure your business is ready for the extra attention and scrutiny this will bring.

  • Thought leadership. Content is the backbone of your organization. Without it, you won't be able to attract the kinds of high-value candidates you need. This is an important step that encompasses employer branding, employee reviews, thought leadership, blogs, ebooks, and copywriting. This gives you a chance to create content that resonates with your audience and attracts more people.

Your recruitment marketing campaigns depend on the same kind of sourcing, advertising, and marketing you're used to. It's just that the messaging is different.

Optimizing candidate selection with lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of building and developing relationships with prospective candidates, anticipating their needs and wants ahead of time.

Why is this important?

According to Gleanster Research, 50 percent of the leads your firm generates are qualified but not ready to take action right now. Twenty-five percent of the leads you generate are completely unqualified; they won't ever commit. In fact at any given time, only 25 percent of your candidates are ready to commit.

Lead nurturing enables you to stay in touch.

You are able to cultivate your virtual bench, and any of the marketing channels you've used to generate employee traffic, leads, and new hires. You can take employees through their journey one step at a time. Here are a few lead nurturing tactics you can use to attract and convert more candidates.

1. Create targeted content. To create targeted content, you'll need to understand your target audience. Create content that's dependent on your candidates' ideal scenarios. Use demographics and psychographics data to target your content to the right candidates.

2. Rely on multichannel lead nurturing. Many lead nurturing platforms focus on one channel (i.e., email). Multichannel lead nurturing should include email, social media, search and possibly reviews.

3. Create multiple touchpoints before the application process begins. Create alternate points in the communication process where you can check in with candidates (via opportunities, thought leadership, and review request communication).

4. Follow up in a timely fashion. The faster you follow up with employees, the more likely you are to win their attention, interest, and desire over to your organization.

5. Personalize your messages. Your employees don't want to see {insert first name here} in their email list. Personalizing your messages at scale is something your lead nurturing platforms should be able to handle on their own.

6. Use lead scoring. Lead scoring is a methodology that is used to rank prospective candidates against a predetermined standard. This lead scoring, tells you which candidates are the most serious/viable. It enables you to qualify/disqualify candidates who are waste of time.

Lead nurturing gives you a sense of who to contact and when. It doesn't tell you what not to do. Lead nurturing, and the strategies I've mentioned thus far require that HR recruiters act like marketers.

Recruitment marketing mistakes to avoid

Recruitment marketing mistakes are easy to make and difficult to repair. Here's a shortlist of the recruitment marketing mistakes you should avoid.

  • Failing to track the quality of candidates from a particular source

  • Ignoring unpleasant source data

  • Assuming that candidates want the same thing in a role

  • Relying on boilerplate content and materials

  • Failing to court candidates

  • Failing to qualify/disqualify candidates with lead scoring

  • Ignoring candidates

  • Focusing on the quantity of candidates rather than the quality

  • Sending candidates through a complex and convoluted application process

  • Creating poor content (e.g., poor descriptions, no visuals, poor offers, negative employee reviews, etc.)

  • Poorly written job ads

Do you see a pattern?

These poor recruitment marketing mistakes are really just recruitment mistakes. The vast majority of these mistakes boil down to treating candidates like a number, rather than a person with their own set of individual desires, goals, fears, and frustrations.

How do you implement this?

How do you create a concise recruitment marketing plan that attracts, converts, and retains top candidates?

1. Fix team dysfunctions and communication problems. Fixing these problems improves authenticity across the organization.

2. Use reputation boosters, e.g., employee reviews, awards, to improve employer branding. Work consistently towards building a strong reputation.

3. Improve candidate experiences. Don't make the application process harder or more difficult than it has to be.

4. Use lead nurturing to screen-out acceptable/unacceptable candidates; And spend time with the right candidates, upfront.

5. Increase visibility across all sources/platforms. If you are relying on job boards, make sure you are visible for your target keywords and phrases.

Here are some tools you can use to manage your recruitment marketing campaigns.

  • LinkedIn talent solutions are the recruiting arm of LinkedIn offering recruiting tools, best practices and talent acquisition news

  • CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com are both well known online job boards

  • BreezyHR recruiting software & applicant tracking system

  • Zoho recruit is built for staffing agencies, corporate HR, and a temporary workforce.

  • Indeed.com job boards

  • Glassdoor job boards and employee review management

  • MeetEdgar no-hassle social media management

  • Salary expert, global salary and cost-of-living data

This list is by no means comprehensive. But it is a helpful start for recruiters and HR managers.

Conclusion: Recruitment Marketing Is Simple, But Not Easy

According to the 2018 Jobvite Recruiter Nation study, 67 percent of recruiters say their biggest challenge in hiring is the lack of skilled and high-quality candidates, intense competition, and a lack of budget.

Is there a shortage of talent?

Not at all, it just requires the right kind of marketing. Recruitment marketing is all about sourcing, managing, and nurturing passive talent well before they apply to your firm. Recruitment marketing is focused on answering one simple question.

Who should be part of your organization?

First of who, then the what. Just because recruitment marketing is simple that does not mean it is easy. With the right approach and a careful list of details, you'll have the surplus you need to attract high-quality candidates to your firm, no shortage needed.

  • How do you approach recruitment marketing in your business?

  • Is there a way to improve it?