Talent acquisition and recruiting is no longer a linear process. In today’s market, all talent acquisition, HR, Recruitment Marketing and employer branding practitioners need to be focused on how they’re going to gain a competitive advantage over other employers.
At the recent CandE’s Virtual Conference, Rally’s Lori Sylvia presented a session entitled, The Next Competitive Advantage in Talent Acquisition is Knowing “What”, not “Where.” She shared practical steps to optimize content and messaging on social media and digital channels, core skills that every talent acquisition and HR team should have in order to seize industry shifts and tools needed to track and measure a Recruitment Marketing strategy to know “what” works best for your company.
We sat down with Lori after her presentation to discuss the shifts taking place in talent acquisition and how recruiting practitioners can refocus their energy and attention (not to mention skills) on Recruitment Marketing strategies that will give them the competitive advantage.
Rally: To begin, can you share a bit about the changes you’ve seen in Recruitment Marketing over the past 10 years that you’ve been in the field?
Lori: Absolutely! I started as the CMO at one of the first Recruitment Marketing technology vendors, and I came from a marketing background, not a recruitment background. One of the biggest things that I noticed early on was that everyone was using the term Recruitment Marketing when actually they were talking about advertising.
Recruitment advertising strategy focuses on promoting a job and asking people to apply. Only active job seekers are paying attention to that message. But with a Recruitment Marketing strategy, you’re promoting an employer and everything that would make someone want to work for you, and intentionally trying to reach both active and passive candidates.
Over the 6 years since founding Rally Recruitment Marketing, and supporting thousands of practitioners in our community, I’ve seen Recruitment Marketing become very much a content marketing strategy. They might not realize it, but the TA teams with a mature Recruitment Marketing function are content marketing machines creating tons of content. Some of these teams are creating dozens of pieces of content each month over many different Recruitment Marketing channels in order to tell the story of their company and their career opportunities.
Rally: To jump into Recruitment Marketing and content, let’s start with channels. You’ve said before that recruiting channels have become democratized. Can you explain that?
Lori: We all know about the same recruiting channels. There are no secret places to advertise your jobs or to market your employer brand that your talent competitors don’t also know about.
Every employer recruits by writing a job description and posting that job description over the same job boards and websites and social media platforms that every other employer can use. Some employers can spend more money to get their jobs and their brand in front of more people, but the world of recruitment is changing rapidly and a bigger budget isn’t enough to give you a competitive edge. You cannot spend your way to talent acquisition success.
Also, I’d also argue that you don’t need expertise with this approach. There are now programmatic job advertising platforms that will do this for you. They know where to put your jobs in front of job seekers based on who you’re trying to recruit and whatever budget you can spend.
Rally: So… having a bigger budget for job ads isn’t the answer to attracting more of the talent you need? (we know the answer 😉!)
Lori: Not at all. 85% of people in the labor force are not actively looking for a job. This data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. It factors in the number of people reported to be unemployed, the number of quitters and the average length of time that it takes to find a job.
So right now, only 15% of the labor force are active job seekers. These are the people regularly visiting job boards and who are paying attention to job ads. So if your talent acquisition strategy is only relying on job ads, and spending even more money on them, you’re wasting your time on the wrong channel and the wrong message for the majority of the talent audience.
Rally: What about using your personal or corporate social channels to share available jobs? Does this work?
Lori: To be competitive today in recruiting requires a shift in strategy and approach. If everyone is using the same channels for recruiting, then the future of talent acquisition needs to be about the content and messaging that you publish on those channels that break through the noise and are effective at attracting the best talent to your organization.
We all need to remember that the demographics of the labor force are changing. By 2030, 72% will be Millennials and Gen Zers. They’re digital natives who do their homework, researching an employer’s mission, culture, reputation and diversity before deciding to apply or accept a job offer.
I believe that this industry shift, from knowing “Where” to publish jobs to knowing “What” talent is looking for from an employer, is going to be the center of every company’s strategy to attract and retain great teams.
Understanding “What” content and messaging attracts talent to your company will help you expand your recruiting efforts beyond job boards, particularly when trying to attract passive talent, because they’re not paying attention to jobs content. The most effective Recruitment Marketing strategies are ones that intentionally reach those passive candidates, not just the active job seekers, using organic strategies.
Rally: Just in case someone isn’t clear, can you explain what organic Recruitment Marketing content is?
Lori: Organic Recruitment Marketing content is any content, messaging, images or videos you create and put into the world on channels that you didn’t pay to be on. Some examples are:
- An employee story about career progression shared on Facebook
- Posting company news on LinkedIn about winning a diversity award
- Photos shared by your employees on Instagram that showcase team culture
- An article with career advice from one of your leaders that you include in your talent newsletter
Rally: So how should someone start developing their Recruitment Marketing content strategy?
Lori: I’d start by asking some questions. The first is which regular marketing channels should we be on in order to reach our talent audience.
Here’s a list of 38 channels that are being used right now by the practitioners who use our Rally Inside Recruitment Marketing tool. These are organic and paid channels – but not job boards.
Ask: are you using these channels proactively and strategically to reach your talent audience, in particular, passive talent?
And if you are (and this is the most important question), what is the content, messaging, the images and videos, that you’re publishing on these channels that are effective in attracting candidates to your employer brand and jobs?
Remember, pretty much every employer is using the same recruiting channel, so the content, messaging, images and videos are what’s unique to your employer brand and employee value proposition.
Rally: So, how do you know what content to publish and then what is actually effective?
Lori: You can’t guess. You need data. And that starts with tracking! How can you know if what you’re doing is effective (or demonstrate your effectiveness to leadership and stakeholders?) if you aren’t tracking every single strategy, campaign and piece of content.
This is one of the reasons I created our Rally® Inside™ Recruitment Marketing & Analytics tool. It enables you to track your Recruitment Marketing strategy all in one place, so that you can see what’s working and what isn’t working. There’s nothing worse than your leader asking you for a report and you’ve got zero data to show, or having to spend hours and hours in spreadsheets trying to create analytics.
The advantage that I see with the most successful TA teams is that they track every Recruitment Marketing tactic so they know how to communicate with a talent audience through all their channels, especially the talent not actively looking for a job.
Rally: What can practitioners learn from data that can guide their communications and messaging to boost engagement?
Lori: So, this is always my favorite thing to talk about!
Let me first say, getting engagement on your Recruitment Marketing content is difficult. We’ve been tracking this for 2 years, and we have found that 1/3 of organic Recruitment Marketing content gets no engagement. Meaning, you might include a link back to your careers site or back to a job description, and no one clicks. I know it’s frustrating!
But through the data, we have learned how you can strengthen your recruiting content for each channel and improve your chances at engaging talent.
For example, with Rally Inside, we looked at keywords that are commonly found in recruiting content on LinkedIn and analyzed them to discover which words were used in posts that got the most impressions and the most clicks.
The biggest takeaway we found was that, when you post to your company’s LinkedIn or Facebook channel, you should avoid the word “Apply”. This word sends signals to the social algorithms that you’re sharing jobs content. Our Rally Inside data shows that social media audiences are on social media platforms to be entertained and informed, and scroll past posts that say “We’re hiring” or “Apply now”.
Rally: Can you explain why this is and how the algorithms work?
Lori: Right, so social media platforms monetize their audience through advertising. They want you to pay to advertise your jobs. Being very data-driven, they also know that this type of job content gets very little user engagement on organic feeds. The social media companies want to keep people on their platform with highly engaging content, and they know their audience generally doesn’t engage with job content organically.
Rally: Got it! So what’s your recommendation?
Lori: You can optimize your recruiting content with messaging that works better for the channel and the audience that you’re trying to attract. The LinkedIn post [below] on the left is clearly asking people to apply to a Construction Project Manager job. It uses a stock photo that doesn’t even represent the persona that this company is trying to attract and engage on LinkedIn.
On the right, we helped this client rewrite the post to talk about the importance of the Construction Project Management team, the work they do with clients and the role they play in a project’s success. It Includes keywords that signal storytelling, like mission.
Caption: 2 examples of LinkedIn posts with recruiting content: the first asks people directly to apply for a job. The second is rewritten to use words that signal storytelling.
Making this strategy shift isn’t hard. But it is intentional. You have to use the channel in the best way possible, creating content that the channel wants, and creating content that the audience on this channel wants.
Rally: How can practitioners get these insights and access this type of data regularly to improve their strategy?
Lori: I’ll say it again… Creating a data-driven strategy like this all starts with tracking. I often have practitioners ask me, when it comes to Recruitment Marketing, “what can I track and what should I track?”
I recommend that you and your manager, together, start with a question or questions. This will guide you on what you need answers to, and therefore what type of tracking and measurement you need to put in place to get the information that can help you answer those questions.
What you track will be different based on the Recruitment Marketing tactic you’re using.
Rally: Can you give us an idea of what metrics we should be considering?
Lori: There are many types of metrics to track, and they’re different based on the channel.
Generally, your goal with email, social media and digital ads is to bring potential candidates back to your careers site and jobs pages. Because of this, I think measuring clicks is super important.
Clicks are a universal metric across all your social and digital channels that shows interest, engagement, effectiveness. Are people clicking on your content? If so, can you influence them to take the next step in their candidate journey?
Rally: So talent acquisition practitioners really need to acquire more skills about data and analytics?
Lori: Absolutely! When you begin putting your focus on “what” content attracts potential candidates, and not just “where” do your applicants come from, you’re using more marketing skills than traditional recruiting skills.
I believe that every talent acquisition team needs marketing skills as a core competency. With the shift that’s taking place in the channels you use to reach talent and the content you need to engage talent, these skills aren’t something you can outsource to an agency or depend on your Marketing department for.
My recommendation is to assess your team right now and assess your own skillset as a professional, see where there are gaps and make a concrete plan to learn the skills needed to make Recruitment Marketing a competitive advantage for your company and your own career. And this includes people in all areas of talent acquisition and recruiting.
According to surveys of the Rally Recruitment Marketing Community, 70% are the first person at their company to do Recruitment Marketing, and they have to learn about it on their own because only 10% work for someone who can teach them how to do it.
Rally: Where can people start to develop these skills?
Lori: Well, anyone that reads this interview will most likely have found it through our website, Rally Recruitment Marketing 😁. I strongly encourage everyone to explore our site to access all of the free resources we have, including our How To Guides and Templates. Across all our resources and programs, there are hundreds of practitioners who contribute their strategies and examples that you can learn from (thank you to all of them for sharing their expertise with our community!!).
Rally: And to start tracking?
Lori: A good starting place is our free webinar, Track Your Way to Recruitment Marketing Success. By signing up you also get an account of the Free version of Rally Inside.
If you just want to start tracking right away, any practitioner working in house to recruit talent for an employer can sign up for the Free version of Rally Inside directly. The Free version comes with 5 social media templates that are based on best practices and data about what works to attract and engage talent on social media.
There are currently 1,500 practitioners who use our tool to track and analyze their Recruitment Marketing strategy, outside of job boards. And they’re learning how to successfully promote their companies and their career opportunities through the social media platforms and websites where people already hang out online.
I should also mention that, in Rally Inside, you can access benchmark data of all the users. If you’re just starting out, you won’t have to guess “what” content and messaging works best, you can access that data who are recruiting for the same job functions.
Rally: Excellent! Do you have any final advice or takeaways?
Lori: Probably just to remind everyone reading that you’re not alone, and this entire community is here to support you!
I’m also always happy to talk with people more about their Recruitment Marketing strategy if they just email me or contact me through LinkedIn.
It’s time to start rethinking how you’re going to gain an advantage in this competitive recruiting and hiring market. Remember that 85% of the labor market is passive talent – if you want to reach them, you need to use regular social and digital marketing channels that they’re hanging out on, not just job boards. And, remember Lori’s advice, every employer is using the same channels so you need to differentiate yourself by how you tell your story through those channels to attract and engage an audience.
And if you want to start tracking and measuring your Recruitment Marketing content today, sign up for a Free account of Rally Inside.