The HR Essay: Recruitment advertising – Bridging the gap to modern marketing strategies

TLNT's launched a new series: The HR Essay. Here we invite the best HR brains to do a deep-dive into an HR topic. Today, how can recruitment advertising get as targeted as consumer advertising?

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Feb 13, 2024

If we’re all being honest with ourselves, we would probably admit that recruitment advertising has typically been seen as the ‘laggard’ activity compared to the thrills of the much more exciting world of consumer marketing.

Why is this? Well, for far too long these job/recruitment ads have seemed to stay wedded to the format of old-school newspapers and, even when things went online, the text-heavy world of the job boards.

However, I believe that if we take a fresh perspective, not only can we challenge this notion, but I would suggest the gap between recruitment and consumer advertising isn’t as vast as is typically believed.

In fact, I believe that not only has recruitment advertising simply been catching-up on the ground left by the dynamic world consumer advertising, (it has typically lagged five or six years behind), for some time now our running to catch-up has actually come to an end.

The changing landscape

The bigger problem is that this catch-up hasn’t been universal or across the board – leaving many still grappling to bring their recruitment advertising up to speed.

So, how can human resources professionals that are still behind the curve able to bridge the gap between their own HR strategies and those leveraged by their marketing cohorts who live and breathe consumer advertisers? This essay will attempt to explain how.

Broadening perspectives

First (and perhaps most importantly), HR professionals must understand that the transformation they seek is already taking shape. They just need to broaden their perspective in a timely manner.

For example, drawing parallels between recruitment and consumer advertising emphasizes that job candidates are also consumers. As such, they should be approached through consumer marketing channels.

The notion that job candidates and consumers share common interests gives insight into the foundation for a much-needed transformation in recruitment advertising.

By identifying these shared interests, human resources executives can tailor their strategies to create engaging and compelling recruitment advertising campaigns that resonate with potential job seekers.

Actionable tips for meeting candidates where they’re at

While recent headlines suggest job seekers are elusive, and hiding out somewhere as unconventional as dating apps, these aren’t the first places savvy job advertisers are dipping their toe into consumer channels.

The notion that job seekers are somehow a distinct side category is the beginning of where traditionalists go off the rails when it comes to thinking creatively about ways to promote their employer brand and advertise their jobs.

Job seekers, potential candidates, passive candidates, active candidates, talent pools are all terms used to describe them, but in the end they are humans.

What comes along with being human is being unique and special. With these people having their own interests, needs, motivators and hobbies comes the challenge of getting to know your future employees.

Companies need to understand that each person or job seeker will have a moment or even many moments when they want to seek out something new. For too long, companies have sat back and left that moment alone and waited until the person goes to a job board to search for new opportunities.

By being more proactive, employers can dial up their engagement with potential candidates so they can be present and available where consumers habitually read, watch, swipe, scroll, and chat. .

Once organizations accept that the recruitment advertising and job search landscapes are evolving rapidly into these avenues, it’s pivotal that they connect with candidates where they naturally spend time.

Strategically targeting social media platforms, where people spend a significant portion of their time, or targeting popular content sites (whether its news, sports or video content), will be the game changer for companies who get proactive with their recruitment advertising efforts.

Innovative recruitment advertising agencies are already harnessing the power of platforms like Spotify, Hulu, and TikTok to target potential job seekers proactively, and we expect these numbers to only grow larger.

In fact, recent HireClix data found that while consumers are mainly seeing or hearing job ads on Indeed (47%), LinkedIn (33%) and Google (31%), other popular platforms for job ads and employer branding include Facebook (30%), ZipRecruiter (29%), YouTube (18%), Amazon (14%) and TikTok (13%).

This approach contrasts with the traditional stance of waiting for candidates to stumble upon job listings on conventional job boards.

Of course, the obvious question may then be, “Which platform proves the most popular for candidates in my industry?

Firstly, it’s largely true that a professional’s consumer platform of choice varies based on their industry. For instance, technical professionals are often found on Reddit or Youtube.

Fortunately, with innovative advertising strategies, talent acquisition teams can find the right talent on these unique consumer facing platforms.

The data supports this proactive approach, highlighting the high level of engagement from candidates on platforms like Reddit versus the lackluster response rates seen when recruiters approach technical talent on traditional platforms.

By creatively leveraging these media channels, recruitment advertisers can increase their visibility and reach among potential candidates, ensuring that their job opportunities don’t go unnoticed in the sea of content.

Embracing employee influence

A shift predicted in recruitment advertising is the blending of employees with substantial online followings into recruitment strategies.

Previously, companies used to set forth social media policies and guidelines dictating what employees can or cannot express online.

These policies emphasized the need for a clear distinction between an individual’s social media presence and their affiliation with the company.

However, with TikTok emerging as the preferred platform for Generation Z to showcase both their personal and professional aspects, a growing number of companies, such as Cisco Systems, Ericsson, and United Airlines, are now enlisting their employees to serve as internal corporate influencers.

This concept involves realizing the potential of these employees to spread recruitment messages and enhance the corporate brand, with some companies even nurturing their own pool of influencers from within.

Employee influencers are often seen as more authentic and relatable, making them valuable for conveying company culture and job opportunities.

This strategy could reshape recruitment advertising dynamics by harnessing the power of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age.

Closing the gap as the future calls

The notion that recruitment advertising lags five years behind consumer advertising prompts a paradigm shift in the industry that is to be challenged.

Combining modern marketing strategies with technology will transform how companies attract and engage potential candidates.

As job seekers continue to evolve in their preferences and behaviors, recruitment advertising must adapt to meet their expectations.

Amid these transformative changes, a unique opportunity arises for marketing and human resources professionals to engage in discussions about the future of recruitment advertising.

This conversation will pave the way for innovative strategies, methodologies, and technologies that can reshape the way companies connect with potential candidates.

By embracing the change and considering new possibilities, recruitment advertisers can set the stage for a future where creativity and innovation reign supreme.

The future of recruitment advertising holds promise, inviting professionals to envision a landscape where smarter advertising strategies and strong creative assets drive success beyond job boards.

As the industry evolves, embracing these changes will be paramount for staying relevant and effective in attracting top-tier talent in the competitive job market.


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