Making Recruitment Marketing Work for You

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Now every recruiter wants the best talent on board or have a reputation for being the best recruiters in the industry but does that come down to company branding or recruitment technology? I’ve spoken to Lisa Jones from Barclay Jones to find out why the key to all of this and more is recruitment marketing and it’s not as complex as it sounds.

Have a listen to the episode below and make sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast so you’ll never miss an episode.

Tell us about Barclay Jones and what you do there?

We work on recruitment technology projects so at any given time our project managers will be in a recruitment agency helping them improve their technology whether it’s CRM, job boards, time sheets etc. We also have a recruiter’s success model where we work with recruiters on effective use of systems such as social media marketing, or we might be doing LinkedIn training, adverts training, all that kind of thing as well as Bullhorn, Bond, Broadbean. And we have a recruitment marketing academy where I myself mentor and coach marketeers of all levels, from global heads of marketing right down to the teams that they run, on how to deliver ROI back into the recruitment.

What is recruitment marketing?

Very briefly, it’s the thing by which you sell more. So as a recruitment consultant you will market your brand, your personal brand, your profile. It’s absolutely critical because I think at the moment when you look at the average recruiter, certainly in the U.K. and obviously around the world, they are far too busy selling talent into businesses whereas I do think the new age of recruitment marketing has to be about solving problems within businesses using humans.

So absolutely critical right now is that recruiters get their head around what marketing is in order for them to understand that they’re not just selling talent from LinkedIn into a company, because that’s how most business processes work within recruitment and that’s why so many employers are trying to do a lot of this for themselves and rightly so. And I think recruitment marketing, whether or not you’re an employer or a recruitment consultant, is all about “Am I a great place to work for, great person to work with?” Or “Am I a great recruiter who’s going to find me your next ideal role, and the one after that and the one after that?” So I think we’ve got to move away from ‘you’ve got a CV and you’re trying to pitch it’ to ‘there’s a problem within a business and it needs solving with talent’ and recruitment marketing is key to that process.

At what level does recruitment marketing sit, at individual or brand level?

Well, I think if you look at Netflix, for example, and the guy that runs it, they’re regularly taking images of him with quotes and therefore he’s a very inspiring individual. “There’s no brilliant jerks that work at Netflix” I think was a big one that ran last year. I even remember the background colour because it was like a bright pink and it was very visual, so that’s a piece of recruitment marketing as far as I’m concerned. Right down to, if you’re working in an employer brand, you’re looking at the HR department and they rarely brand themselves, which I always think is a real shame. They’re almost like the mummy and daddy to bring someone in to the bird’s nest but they regularly focus on the brand rather than the individuals. If I’m a person looking to work for Netflix I want to know who’s going to be the person to bring me in there? That’s an employer. When you’re looking at recruitment consultants they often abdicate or devolve recruitment marketing to a company that’s responsible for the branded accounts, which I think again is a massive mistake. When I speak to recruitment consultants, that’s my main 9 to 5 role, when they’ve actually had a massive impact on a candidate and that candidate has remembered them and a couple of years later have said, “You know, I remembered what you did for me, it massively improved my life chances,” that’s when you see a recruitment consultant’s eyes magically light up. That’s when they’re really proud to do what they do, but the interesting thing is the average recruitment consultant has no strategy to do more of that.

What’s your guide to success in recruitment marketing?

We’ve got to look at two elements to this. There’s the brand, which is you know, “I’m Aardvark ABC business and I’ve got to get my brand online so at least there is a home,” and there is a brand to aspire to work with and for. And obviously marketeers, within any given business, should be focusing on that and if you are an employer, please start getting your marketing department to focus employer brand and not just the brand of the things that you sell. I often work with businesses who say, “Well, I’m an HRD,” or “I’m a recruitment manager within said business and my marketing department do nothing for me, they just try and flog the product because that’s where the money is.” And I kind of respect that but at the same time you still need people on the shop floor and that’s where the HR and recruitment department come in.

When it comes to recruitment agencies that’s when again, we’ve got the marketeers developing the brand and rightly so, but what often happens again is the practices that are sector specific and/or the sales teams devolve or abdicate marketing back into the marketing department, and that’s when you often see very busy brands and very quiet recruiters. So I think from a step-by-step perspective we need to get the brand up and running first because then that’s something to aspire to and something to inspire recruiters. We need really effective and practical content plan with themes threaded through that content plan to allow the brands to be known for something which the marketeer drives, but the recruitment consultants also have to have something to do with that. So I was with a company yesterday, I’m going to make up some data to protect the innocent. Let’s pretend they’re automotive recruiters and we do these content workshops for recruiters to get them really engaged in not spending all day blogging because they don’t make any money from that. They’re definitely thinking about what they can talk about in sales meeting and how they can inspire marketeers to develop content on their behalf. And when I ask the question, “Tell me about the awards in your sector, tell me about the event that really turn people on in your sector,” I got blank looks.

The recruitment agency world are so busy transacting and dare I say sourcing, that they’re not spending enough time getting under the skin of their niche. They claim to be specialists but when I say to them, “What events are your automotive candidates and clients likely to be at?” That’s when they get blank looks and that’s when they look at the marketing team. So for me, marketeers need to set up the brand and get it working extremely hard to get a branding guide and getting really decent content planned. And the recruiters on a daily basis, not just Friday at 5pm when they think that’s the best time to post, need to be engaging with that content as well as inspiring marketing to come up with said content. So, “My name’s John, I’m an automotive consultant, I’ve found five really cool events for automotive candidates. Marketer go away and create me a neat little graphic on that so I can then stick it in my LinkedIn publisher and market that extremely effectively under the brand of my automotive company.” And to me, that’s where it all clicks in really nicely to produce regular and practical content-driven marketing from both marketeers and recruitment consultants.

Give us a pitfall that recruiters must avoid.

Recruitment-led content. I call it junk food content and here’s why. So you’re out on a Friday night, you’ve had a few too many drinks and then you get the munchies and you buy yourself a big fat greasy kebab. But if you did that every single day you would not be able to sustain yourself. You’d probably get quite fat and spotty and eventually you would have a problem. I look at junk food content as being the same thing. You can have it every now and again but if you do it too often it’s not going to make you look good. I prefer going back to the automotive example. I go to a blog that an automotive recruitment company runs that’s about me. I’m an automotive candidate, these are the challenges that I face, this is what makes me laugh, these are the TV programmes I’m likely to watch, these are the things that stress me out, these are things that I’d love if they were fixed within 2017 within my industry. These are the top things that have happened in my industry in the last 20 years. This is another candidate just like me that’s got into the industry and these are… and these are the typical kinds of questions maybe that you’re asking me right now. I mean, why aren’t recruiters creating more podcasts? You know, you’ve not had to go to the moon with a satellite to create this thing. You’ve dropped me an email, we’ve got onto Skype and I don’t want to make our job look too easy but you’ve come up with some very intelligent questions and you’ve hopefully got someone relatively intelligent answering them. And as recruiters, we seem to think it’s all about us, and that is the biggest pitfall. And I’m not convinced that you’re going to get a date from your ideal hot date by talking about yourself all day long and I call that junk food because it’s not self-sustaining.

What technology should recruiters be using, especially on the marketing side?

Genuinely, the ultimate tech that recruiters should be using on the marketing side, is your recruitment CRM. We don’t use it enough. We’ve done lots of studies with our client for the last two years which tell us the following, and this is terrifying, that 80% of the placements made by recruitment consultants in the U.K. in the last two years were made with candidates that were already on their internal systems. So why are we spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on job boards? Why are we spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on LinkedIn? Why are we spending hundreds of thousands of pounds sourcing, spending days sourcing talent that was on our original CRM? I’ll tell you why we’re doing that because we’re dumping them on our CRM two or three years ago and then not doing anything to market to them, not doing anything to keep them warm, not creating any content about them to keep them looking back, and also we’ve not made enough demands of the recruitment tech space to allow our CRMs to be really effective candidate nurturers. I’ve done lots of studying of recruitment CRM, especially in the U.K, and very few of them will allow me to keep talent warm unless I sit there almost like on a bike pedalling all day in order to make the generator work!

So I think the tech market needs to step up to the plate. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend money on job boards because you do need a journey for candidates to go on it. It does begin with adverts, often it does begin with great content and I do believe LinkedIn Recruiter is a great bit of tech because again, it allows me to take kind of a journey but the destination has to be the recruitment CRM. And that goes back to the pitfall. Often the pitfall is we spend all day searching for people that we have neglected to stay current with but got in touch with us two or three years ago. And it costs us a fortune in the U.K. to make a placement, it costs us so much that the average recruiter dare not tell me how much they spend making a placement.

What’s your preferred tools for finding content and scheduling content?

I think Feedly is a fantastic piece of content, I think Buffer is a fantastic scheduling tool. You’ve got the usual suspects like Hootsuite, you’ve got things like Flip on your mobile phone, depending whether or not you use Android or iPhone. There’s lots of different things that you can use. We wrote a blog about feeder platforms. So Twitter is a feeder platform, Pinterest is a feeder platform, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pulse. These are things that feed you content and you can literally spend five minutes a day turning them all on, a bit like having like three or four screenings in a newsroom and just saying, “Right, I’ll have that, I’ll have that, I’ll have that.”

I was with a recruitment consultant yesterday who said, “Well, I don’t have time to read all this stuff.” I said, “Well, neither do I but I’m still known for sharing great content.” So what I do is I find it from reputable sources, I’m assuming if it is from “The Guardian” or “The Times” or “Wired” or “Recruitment Weekly” or whatever it’s going to be, I’m assuming there’s no boobs or any swear words in it or anything like that. I’m assuming it’s intelligent. I might look at who the author is and I’ll recognize them and then I’ll send it out and say, “I think some doctors in my network might like this.” Or, “I think some recruitment consultants in my network might like this.” I think that recruitment consultants think marketing is complicated but ultimately it’s nothing more than opening your mouth and stating an opinion or asking for other people’s opinions if they’re frightened of maybe getting a bit too political.

Give us some examples of brands, people or organizations that inspire you.

I am a massive, massive podcast fan and I’m not saying that because I happen to be on one but I’ve written blogs about these years and years ago because I’m a big fan. I had client yesterday who’s a global head of marketing and he was stuck in a traffic jam for three hours, and I said, “What did you listen to?” And bless him, he listened to the radio. And I was like, and I didn’t say this to him and if he’s listening this is not meant to offend, but that to me is three hours of wasted time when you can listen to podcasts. For example, I absolutely love the Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review podcast that happens every Friday and it’s about movies. I love the way they do it, I love the way they interact, and I love how they’ve engaged with other platforms, even Snapchat to bring their communities together. And I religiously listen to that and the reason I love podcasts is that because I can listen to them in traffic jams, in bed, going for a run, doing the cooking, it’s pretty much engaging no matter where I am. There’s also a really good podcast called WTF with Marc Maron who basically speaks to people within culture and one of his ones which was massively engaging was with Barack Obama, if that gives you an idea about where we come from.

If I’m also honest as well, and I don’t mean to sound too liberal, but I’m a bit of a Desert Island Discs fan and when you get people like Bruce Springsteen and Davina McCall and Nicola Adams and Yotam Ottolenghi talking about stuff, you can listen to stuff like that. But going back to more recruitment-led content I am a fan of the Undercover Recruiter and I’m not saying that for effect, I wouldn’t put my content somewhere that I didn’t trust to market it effectively. I think when it comes to really good content platforms I’m a massive fan of the U.K. Recruiter blog as well as Recruiter because Recruiter tends to do stuff across various platforms. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn groups as much as people tend to kind of poo-poo them. I think you’ve got to put in what you get, what you want to get out. Obviously, I would speak very kindly about Barclay Jones platforms because we have a really good YouTube channel, we love our Instagram as well because we have a bit of a giggle with that and I’d like to think our LinkedIn company page, etc. is pretty engaging. We’ve also got a recruitment leaders podcast where we regularly get recruitment leaders around the world, would it be Greg Savage or senior marketing people within big recruitment firms talking about the recruitment space.

What’s the next big thing in the recruitment marketing space?

I think for me, and it’s not the next big thing per se but I think the next big thing that recruiters need to start doing is getting recruiters more in contact with content. We’re doing a load of content right now around what to stop within 2017 and I’ve got a webinar happening very soon around what to stop with marketing in 2017.

The one thing I think we need to start doing just generally is asking recruiters to blog. Because when I speak to recruitment leaders and they say to me, “Yeah, I’ve got a blog.” And I read it and I go, “Yeah, it’s pants. How long did that take?” “Oh, it takes a recruiter about three or four hours to write a blog every month.” And I’m like, “How much money could they have made in that time? Seriously, I don’t want to be on your side. Can we pull them out of this? Can they please let us know what they want to write about and we’ll get some copywriters in and/or your marketeers should be able to string a sentence together and/or why the hell is it taking three to four hours?” Would it take that much time for a recruitment consultant to get that content across verbally to a client? Let’s hope not.

So I’m a big fan of getting recruiters back at their desks, understanding how to market using the phone, understanding how to come up with soundbites really, really quickly and also for marketeers to get really thematic with their content. Let’s imagine our next big theme is contract. So how can we work with contract recruiters, to be more effective? Are we going to have a podcast, an infographic, a blog, a video? Making sure we’ve got content around all of those different platforms and that for me is a big thing for 2017, if that helps at all. So I think often the end doesn’t justify the means with me. The goal is never to create content, the goal is to make money, sorry. The goal is to place a candidate within a business and solve a problem. And the content is a tactic, not a strategy and definitely not a goal. So to me, I think recruiters need to create content but it could be a two-minute conversation with a marketeer to inspire that content as opposed to a three hour bleeding over your keyboard, lack of ROI-led content strategy. And it’s more, “Oh, it’s part of my KPI so I’ve got to do it” and you’d be surprised how many recruitment consultants think they’ve got it nailed but don’t ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” I think that’s a real shame and that’s what I think needs to change. If they can do it quick and they make the money from it then absolutely we need to bottle that, that’s brilliant.

Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaMariJones and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.


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