Why Recruiters Need to Be Thinking Like Marketers

The way in which job seekers look for opportunities has evolved—and so, too, must recruiters.
By: | October 8, 2018 • 4 min read

The hiring landscape has changed significantly in recent years. With employment at an all-time high, today’s job market is more candidate-driven than it was previously, creating greater competition among employers. In addition, technological advancement has dramatically changed the way individuals seek out new jobs. Instead of taking a single path to employment, the journey has become extremely complex as job seekers conduct thorough research across multiple devices and platforms.

On average, employers now spend $4,000 to fill an open position, with the average time to hire falling around 52 days. In this environment, companies are more concerned than ever about minimizing costs as well as streamlining the hiring process. To keep expenses down, many employers and recruiters are beginning to utilize digital marketing to promote jobs and target talent. Incorporating a digital strategy makes it easier for companies to reach the desired demographic of prospective hires, track success rates and quickly make adjustments if necessary.


Looking ahead, Aptitude Research Partners estimates that 70 percent of organizations plan to increase their investment in recruiting and hiring. Far and away the best place to increase investment is in attracting customers. By using the following tactics, HR professionals can successfully attract job candidates via digital marketing and elevate their overall hiring system.

Active vs. Passive Job Seeker

Today’s job seekers are increasingly employed, and specifically, employed full time. Among the millions of Americans currently seeking a new opportunity, you need to differentiate between the active and passive job seeker. In a recent Scarborough study, just half of adults that searched for job information online said they plan to look for a new job, indicating a clear distinction between those actively looking and those passively looking. Moving forward, the new customer journey must take into consideration the active and passive job seeker. As time goes on, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate between these two groups, making it crucial that HR professionals apply adequate resources to convert both types of people into applicants—and eventually into hires. Fortunately, digital marketing allows recruiters to efficiently reach members of each group.

The New Customer Journey

To bring the value of their product to life—whether it’s the office culture or other benefits of the job—recruiters must think like marketers to influence or guide job seekers through their path to hire.

Job seekers most commonly turn to Google first when beginning their employment search. Then, as they get farther along in the process, they might look at social media, visit the careers page on the company website, watch videos and check with connections before deciding to apply to a job or remain dormant—and perhaps start the process over with another company. Viewing the job description alone is no longer enough; many steps are now taken after a candidate has seen the job description listed on a job board.

Based on this model, companies should focus on generic paid search (e.g. “nursing jobs”) to initially pique a prospective hire’s interest, and then brand paid search may become useful later (e.g. “The Children’s Hospital”), along with social. In addition, display ads are useful early in the marketing funnel as a method of influencing prospects, but then can also be used to retarget someone who visited the company’s website previously through brand paid search to get them to come back later and apply.

Video recruitment is another growing trend among HR professionals, who create engaging visuals highlighting the company culture and open positions to appeal to potential employees. Video can be used for reach, or more specifically for remarketing people that have visited a company’s career page to show them more about what the workplace is like. While YouTube is undoubtedly the largest platform job seekers go to watch videos, there are many other websites where pre-roll video advertisements can be targeted as well.

Ultimately, the goal of digital advertising is to greet the job seeker wherever they are at in their journey and drive them to take meaningful actions on the company’s website. It is the marketer and HR professional’s job to help create the combination of winning digital platforms that will influence a job seeker to complete an important action on the company’s website.

Tracking the Journey

Companies once faced a multitude of challenges with tracking conversions when an applicant would be sent to a third-party site to submit their application. Today, there are new ways that applications can be tracked all the way from the website through to submission.

In attracting new candidates, marketers should focus on the top three stages: Awareness, consideration and preference. This way, they can track specific actions that indicate job seekers are moving through the stages on the company’s website. First, they track how much traffic has been driven to the site through marketing efforts, and then specific engagements that mean the marketer is driving quality traffic from individuals that are interested in the open positions. Finally, the candidates take action and apply.

In the digital age, job seekers now use more than one device. For instance, of those using a computer, one-third also use a smartphone—and of job seekers using a smartphone, approximately one-fifth also use a tablet. Because of this, it’s imperative that marketers track users across all of their devices in order to gain the full picture of how people are finding or interacting with the company’s website. This is why marketers such as our firm not only track cross-device conversions, but also target users across devices—it lets us show the right user the right message at the right time, all on the right device.

Measuring and Optimizing Performance

Historically, companies have worked with too many different marketing partners for disparate digital platforms, rendering it difficult to objectively measure performance across campaigns and make solid, data-based business decisions. When marketers lack a cross-channel strategy in this way, they fail to pay adequate attention to the customer journey. Further, marketers who align bottom-funnel goals (e.g. getting a quality candidate to apply for an opening) with top-funnel platforms (e.g. generic search) are typically disappointed with results.

To circumvent these problems, omnichannel marketing creates a seamless experience for consumers in a non-linear journey. In other words, people may float back and forth between stages based on their urgency and personal needs, and today’s new talent set–a hybrid of active and passive seekers–may either apply for a position or remain dormant. The passive job seeker may engage, but revert back to the consideration phase as they look at other companies, whereas someone who is laid off and needs a job immediately may flow more quickly through the funnel.

When optimizing campaigns across channels, marketers recognize that consumers move to various strategic stages throughout their journey, and each channel should have its own designated budget that is optimized to the key performance indicator best representative of each respective stage. As a company progresses and acquires more applicants by nudging them appropriately, marketers can begin optimizing across channels by moving budget to focus on the highest-value customer segments with the best cost per action (CPA).
It is essential that creative messaging on each advertisement speaks to the job seeker in that particular stage. With a majority of job seekers using social media to research company culture, it’s crucial to segment the company’s prospecting message from the retargeting message once a job seeker has engaged on the site previously. Remember: First-time website visitors tend to convert less, so remarketing to them with a specific value proposition and your company’s differentiators is key to getting them to return and complete a higher-valued action–such as submitting an application.

There are multiple potential moments for marketers to guide or influence applicants dynamically across various channels. The more seamless the experience for the consumer, the easier it is for them to find job listings and in turn, the better chance the company has for increasing quality hire rates and decreasing time to hire.


Leveraging Data to Target Audiences

First party data–the data generated from site visits–is extremely significant to successfully reaching a desired prospect with a relevant, timely message on the appropriate platform and device. Analyzing this data and applying the findings allows companies to build an audience profile of a predicted site visitor, who can then be targeted with prospecting campaigns to find similar applicants. This strategy–known as predictive modeling or look-a-like targeting–is highly effective, and can be applied across search, display, video and social.

In addition, Facebook–which dominates the social media landscape–offers ad space well-suited for an in-depth message on company culture and benefits, with some of the best targeting options available based on users’ current job roles and business type. Marketers can layer in these core employment audiences to develop their own high-powered custom audience. Facebook is the king of predictive modeling, namely due to the high volumes of personal data that users willingly give to Facebook every day. Taking advantage of these unique targeting capabilities is a powerful tool for helping companies find and reach high-value applicants.

Thinking like a marketer as an HR professional will help propel your business forward. By implementing these strategies and best practices, you will be better equipped to reach top-tier talent at the right time, on the right device and with the right messaging, ultimately making the hiring process faster and more effective.

Michelle Vielma is vice president for digital at Adtaxi, an omnichannel marketing platform.