January is usually a time for planning our Recruitment Marketing strategies to support hiring goals for the year ahead. But one thing we learned after 2020 is that we need to build much more flexibility into our recruiting plans so that we’re ready to adapt our strategy and our budget to changing business and market conditions.
One year, when I was running marketing at a start-up, I remember getting my budget approved in January only to be asked by our CFO in March to create a revised budget that was 50% less because some key deals were at risk of not coming through, funding was running out and we needed to conserve cash, fast. That’s the rollercoaster of a start-up, but it’s also typical of marketing, which always seems to get cut when times are tough. From that point on, I would create 3 budget scenarios — invest, steady state and reduced — to have at the ready. In addition, I would leave 20% of my budget “uncommitted” (meaning, not locked into a contract) so that I could be in a position to support new business requests, shift priorities or even make budget cuts without necessarily needing to reduce my team size, if faced with that decision.
I’ve worked at many start-ups and at a Fortune 100 company, so I’ve had budgets of all sizes, including no budget and no team. I understand that being expected to deliver results without the resources you really need is absolutely frustrating. But at the same time, some of the best work in my career has been done when I needed to out-smart competitors with much deeper pockets.
For all that our community went through last year, we just might look back on 2020 as the year when Recruitment Marketing did some of its best work, when collectively we learned that we don’t necessarily need a big budget to make a big impact. Because when practitioners were challenged in ways they never anticipated, they fell back on their fundamental role of authentically and transparently telling their company’s story as an employer and used whatever tools they had available to get their message in front of candidates.
Based on everything we learned in 2020, it’s a good idea for us to keep our Recruitment Marketing plans and budgets flexible this year. Even though 66% of RallyFwd attendees last month said that their companies were preparing to hire more this year, business leaders will still be cautious until there are strong signs of economic recovery.
So if you’re looking for budget-friendly recruiting approaches that can make an impact on talent acquisition at your company — whatever 2021 brings — here are 3 free and low-cost Recruitment Marketing strategies that work and the skills you’ll gain to boost your career along the way.
1. Tell employee stories through video
We know that employee stories can be a persuasive tool for attracting the right candidates to our organizations. Corporate marketers taught us the power of using customer testimonials to influence potential buyers, and we’ve shown that the same strategy works in recruiting.
While in the past, employee story videos were an aspiration for many talent acquisition organizations, one thing that’s changed this past year is that people are much more comfortable on video because of using tools like Zoom. So asking employees to capture their stories on camera isn’t a big ask anymore and it’s also a $0 cost strategy that you can use immediately.
The key here to getting a story that you can use in Recruitment Marketing is to provide employees with prompts and questions they can answer comfortably and on their own. These prompts should align with your employee value proposition (EVP) pillars and answer common questions that candidates have about working for your organization.
For example, if one of your EVP pillars revolves around your flexibility and work-life balance, you might ask employees the following: “Tell me how you’ve taken advantage of the company’s flex work program, and what has it meant to you and your family?”
Once you’ve got the video footage, you can use it as is or do some light editing like adding your logo and background music. (We use Audio Jungle for royalty-free music clips.)
Employee story videos can give you a big return on investment (your time is an investment too!) because you can sprinkle them across all your recruiting channels — on your careers site, Glassdoor profile, social media feeds and email newsletters!
One of my favorite examples of video storytelling this past year is the Nestlé U.S. Work BFFs video series that you can find on their LinkedIn channel. Liz Caselli-Mechael, Digital Communications Lead at Nestlé U.S., shared how she and her team executed on this strategy in her recent RallyFwd talk, available to watch on demand.
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Nestlé U.S. pivoted their Work BFFs series to showcase how their team members stay connected while apart.
Rally note: Want to learn more about capturing remote employee stories? Download our free ideabook to see 5 examples of compelling and authentic videos created by employees.
2. Increase organic traffic with a careers blog
One of the most cost-effective ways to attract more qualified candidates is to increase the right traffic to your careers site. Creating a careers blog is a free or low-cost opportunity for you to improve your organic website traffic through search engine optimization (SEO), which helps your blog posts to be found when candidates are searching online.
For example, you could work with your engineering manager to write a blog post about the company’s new product launch and the role that the engineering team played in making it happen. This blog post could feature keywords that your target candidate personas might be searching for, such as “agile engineering strategies” or “best practices for new product launches”.
Pro tip: Savvy recruitment marketers are using digital marketing strategies to convert those careers blog visitors into job applicants by embedding links to the jobs page or including featured jobs in the sidebar of the blog post.
The Capital One Careers Blog is a great example, and Madigan Cochran, Content Marketing Strategy at Capital One, recently shared her strategy for creating a careers blog with the Rally Recruitment Marketing community.
There are so many ways that you can leverage blog content for recruiting. Your recruiters can share the posts in their email and text candidate outreach, as well as share the blog post across your social channels with engineering-relevant hashtags to drive new engineering candidate leads back to your careers site.
While consistently creating long-form content can be a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be! Leveraging your employees is an excellent and efficient approach. You can tap into your employee base by interviewing them or sending them an email with questions to answer that you can then use to draft the blog posts for them. And if writing is not your forte, there are many affordable freelance copywriters you can hire to help out for a few hours each month. (Upwork is a great resource.)
Remember, you don’t need to go from zero to hero overnight. Even posting twice per month will yield results by increasing the organic SEO traffic to your careers site.
3. Use email marketing to nurture your talent database
Top marketers know that their most valuable asset is their email list because it enables them to have a direct relationship with their audience. More and more recruitment marketers are figuring this out as well — and I don’t mean using email for outreach, sourcing or to send automated job alerts from your ATS. I’m talking about creating a talent newsletter!
Think about it: The social media posts you share are not getting seen by everyone who follows you because you’re reliant on the algorithms of each platform. You have much a greater chance of your content being seen when you have an email relationship with your candidates.
And lucky for you, you’re probably sitting on thousands of email addresses! In fact, I believe that your talent database is one of the most important and valuable assets that your talent acquisition team has created for your company. So, the next step is to ask candidates to opt-in to receiving your talent newsletter. I’m confident that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people opt-in and by the open rates of your talent newsletter.
Susan Collins, Director of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at Talbots, explained how their monthly talent newsletter drove 199 hires on a $0 budget!
Some of the content themes that have worked for Talbots include:
- Career growth — how employees have progressed during their time at Talbots
- Leadership — what our employees identified as the best qualities in a boss and what they appreciate about the Talbots leadership team
- Career decisions — what types of decisions our employees have made to get to where they are today
Pro tip: Subscribing to other employers’ talent newsletters is a great source of inspiration to help you shape your strategy going forward. Great Clips and Cox Enterprises are both excellent examples of talent newsletters.
One thing to note is that while it’s free to create this content, you will need an email platform to execute this strategy. Check with your recruiting technology vendors such as your Recruitment Marketing Platform (RMP), Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) software or your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to evaluate their email marketing capabilities. If your organization has a corporate marketing team, it’s likely they’ve already invested in an email marketing tool, so be sure to reach out to them to learn about their platform’s capabilities to learn if it would be a good fit for your needs.
Having an email marketing strategy is critical regardless of your situation, but it’s particularly important if you’re not hiring as many people as you once were. You need to keep your talent base warm and keep your employer brand top of mind for when hiring ramps up again.
Rally note: Get more email marketing tips in this blog post featuring 5 tips to grow your candidate nurture email strategy.
The bottom line? Even without a huge budget, you have the most important resource you’ll need to create an effective Recruitment Marketing strategy — you have YOUR know-how, YOUR ingenuity and YOUR resourcefulness. Now you just need to get started!
I hope you can use these examples as inspiration to create your Recruitment Marketing strategy in 2021, no matter your budget or team size. While implementing these strategies, you’ll gain valuable experience and will develop the skills that will move your career forward too. Good luck!