Talent leaders, HR Managers and Recruiters today need to think like their friends in Sales and Marketing. While their jobs are quite different in terms of daily tasks, the desired outcomes are quite similar: to attract, convert, and close new prospects (or hires) through varied but complementary channels and nurturing techniques. This similarity is particularly evident when you consider the growing popularity of the recruitment funnel and its impact on hiring organisations around the world.
We have gathered some key research pieces from Gem, LinkedIn, Brazen and Recruitee to bring you this blog on what the recruitment marketing funnel means for you. Understanding how recruitment marketing can benefit your talent acquisition strategy throughout the funnel will help you attract more and better candidates, keep them engaged, and eventually lead to making better hires.
Recruitment marketing refers to all the strategies and tactics you might use to find, attract, connect with, and nurture qualified talent before they apply for a position at your organisation. As the term suggests, it’s not entirely unlike marketing a product or service but is more complex when you consider motivations, desires, and culture. From the outset, it’s key to acknowledge that job seekers, like consumers, have a lot of options and they are unlikely to pursue a relationship with a company that doesn’t deliver the experience or the results they desire. Recruitment marketing strategies help you grab job seekers’ attention initially, and then build their interest through the different stages of the recruitment life cycle, ending in their decision to apply or engage with one of your open roles.
A recruiting funnel is a similar concept to what you’d see in sales and marketing. It’s just applied to potential employees instead of potential customers. It is a defined framework that takes you through the entire recruitment process and incrementally narrows the candidate pool after each step until a hiring decision is made.
As Recruitee put it, the overall goal of defining a recruitment marketing funnel is to create a repeatable, scalable, and systematic process for attracting, nurturing, and hiring talent.
A strategic, structured and well managed recruitment marketing funnel can help you to:
- Simplify the recruiting process into defined stages, each with its own marketing strategies, goals, and actions.
- Break each of those stages into functional tasks.
- Optimise each stage of the funnel to ensure that candidates stay interested and engaged with your brand.
- Easily flag and remove channels or tactics that aren’t working at any stage of the process.
Each stage of the recruitment marketing funnel will demand a different kind of content. Talent in the ‘awareness’ stage may discover your org through SEO or PPC efforts, as well as university recruiting or passive talent sourcing. Talent in the ‘interest’ stage will have their attention held by your social feeds, newsletters, and nurture campaigns. Talent in the ‘consideration’ phase will be transitioning from thinking about the company and looking more to the company brand, and more on the role, its benefits, and its impact.
The map of your candidate journey will be as complex as you want to make it and will likely depend on your company size and capacity of your Talent team. However, as Gem outlines in their ebook, the point is to map the journey first so you can strategically plan content and campaigns. When you can recognise and appreciate how candidates feel at each stage of the journey, and what information they’ll need in order to move on to the next stage, you can craft your messaging around those decision points.
This stage describes a prospective candidate’s first contact with your company. Here, you’re garnering name recognition – talent is discovering that you exist, and learning what you do. The key word for the awareness stage is “discoverability.” This discoverability happens in two primary ways: talent will either uncover you through active search (which is why SEO and PPC are big components of recruitment marketing) or discover you because you’ve put yourself in front of them (think university recruiting, social media campaigns, and passive talent sourcing). Making a great first impression in these channels will move talent from “I’ve never heard of your org” to “your company sounds interesting.” From here, you want them to engage in active research – visiting your careers page or seeking out employee reviews, for example.
You might think getting as many eyes as possible on your job postings is what you want, but while volume is great that’s not as valuable as connecting with job seekers who potentially match your candidate personas. At this stage, recruitment marketing strategies should be created to reflect your ideal candidates’ interests and behaviors, and your tactics should be designed to connect with them. This means researching and experimenting to determine which channels your ideal candidates are using and showing up there. This could be meetups, conferences, or across social channels like Reddit, GitHub, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
By the ‘interest’ phase, you’ve captured the potential candidate’s attention. Now they want to learn more, not just about your company and its brand, but about what it’s like to work there. This is a stage that demands richer content and more intimate engagement. Interested talent may be following you on socials by now, and will be expecting more targeted, personalised messaging. Components of this stage include newsletter opt-ins and nurture campaigns. Ultimately, you’re moving them from “this company sounds interesting” to “maybe it’s interesting enough to work for?”
You have to work to increase their interest so you can convince them to apply. This is all about building curiosity by sharing more detailed information about your organisation. This stage offers a great opportunity to share content about your company’s culture, mission, and social responsibility as well as employee testimonials and other behind-the-scenes content that helps give job seekers a better idea of what it’s actually like to be on your team.
Sharing content via email, on social media, and through your careers site that consistently tells the story of who you are helps build interest that motivates prospects to engage with your recruiting team, keeps them in the pipeline for present and future hiring needs, and helps to strengthen your employer brand.
Consideration / Desire
At the end of this stage of the funnel, prospects are applying and officially becoming candidates. In the meantime, they’re researching you, asking questions, and diving deeper into your career content. They’re comparing you to your competitors. They’re asking not just what it’s like to work for your company, but what it’s like to work on their prospective hiring manager’s team. How does the team embody company values? They want the opportunity to connect with their future coworkers.
Put yourself in your ideal candidate’s shoes and imagine what it would take to get them really excited about the possibility of joining your company. Don’t be afraid to dive deeper into behind-the-scenes content that reinforces the messages you shared in earlier stages, and helps them envision themselves working at your company.
At this point, you’re having one-on-one conversations, getting to know them personally. Here, good recruitment marketing means providing ready answers to their questions (i.e. why are you a better fit for them than your competitor is?) and digging into the nitty-gritty details. You’re not “selling” them on a brand at this point, you’re providing authentic information on a role, its day-to-day tasks and expected impact, and the benefits that would accompany it were they to sign an offer letter.
There are some really useful direct tools you can use which we have tried and tested ourselves and would recommend like an internal podcast, technical breakdowns, and hiring manager conversations.
If your recruitment marketing efforts have been successful, this is where the candidate applies and is interviewed – And ideally turns out to be a great fit because your persona was spot-on, and accepts your offer. Recruitment marketing doesn’t stop at hire, however. For your strategy to succeed in the long run, you need employee ambassadors and alumni promoters, as well as referral programs to generate new leads. It’s all about leveraging the voices and experiences of your employees, and former employees, from here. You should strive to provide exceptional experiences to candidates who don’t apply, and those that are unsuccessful in the process too.
When you approach talent acquisition with these marketing methodologies, you can prioritise your relationship with candidates and improve their experience throughout the recruiting process. This is what top talent expects from their employers of choice. By breaking down your recruitment marketing strategy and looking at each stage of the funnel individually, you can identify opportunities for improvement and make simple changes to create a better candidate experience that attracts your ideal job seekers and converts more of them to qualified candidates for your open positions, now and in the future.