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How to Recruit Like A Marketer

How to Recruit like a marketer2

by Mark Heidelberger

Human resources personnel can learn a lot from the sales and marketing department. After all, both are tasked with attracting a targeted group of people. Both have to deal with prospect attrition as they convert potential into actual. Both offer a value proposition, by way of a product or service on the one hand or an employment position on the other. So, why should selling that proposition be any different when attracting a candidate versus a customer? Here’s the secret: it’s not. Just as sales and marketing executives are keen to attract the right customer, whether that be athletes, single moms or fast food fanatics, HR is keen to attract the right employee – someone with the talents, skills, determination, passion and potential to contribute in a prolonged and meaningful way. Both departments must usher their targets from initial awareness to engagement to advocacy. In this way, we see an uncanny similarity between the much-touted customer acquisition funnel so readily exploited by corporate marketing teams and the systematic approach to hiring effective and engaged staff.

1.) Create Position Awareness

Just as in product marketing, the task of making viable candidates aware of new employment opportunities is commonly a long, drawn-out phase. Brand-building expert Jennifer Shaheen, in an article for Technology Therapy Group, claims that any multi-channel marketing campaign shorter than 45 days means “you’re reducing the likelihood of your customers seeing and grasping the message you’re sharing.” Why should job candidates be any different? It takes time to roll out an effective job posting through multiple channels, not only to announce a company’s need to fill certain roles, but to let that message gestate long enough for greater numbers of talented people to see it.

2.) Generate Candidate Interest

Marketing teams are gurus at turning prospective customers’ awareness into interest. Similarly, this is the phase where candidates start researching the company’s history, reputation, potential for growth and whether they may have any shared contacts with the company. But not all of these factors are created equal. For instance, company reputation is typically cited as more important to candidates than growth potential. In fact, according to a global survey conducted by Deloitte, a staggering 87% of executives say reputation risk is more of a concern than other risks faced by their companies. So, it behooves HR execs to study which factors are most important to the best candidates and then tailor their message to address those factors, just as a product marketing campaign addresses, say, customer needs and pain points.

3.) Turn Interest into Intent

The next level of the funnel involves creating a predilection for the company in the mind of the candidate. The most qualified candidates often have choices where to work just as target customers can choose what brand of product to buy. HR departments can build preference by promoting a greater level of trust, likeability and influence during the interview stage, much like the customer in the store reading labels before choosing a brand. They’re already in buying mode; they just need to pick you. Leveraging a happy and motivated workforce is one specific way to boost preference. Just 33% of customers trust messages from a brand while a full 90% trust recommendations from personal connections, according to research by Nielsen. Employee endorsements can have the same effect on a job candidate.

4.) Hiring = Buying

A qualified employee accepting a job offer is just like getting a customer to buy your product. You’ve solved the candidate’s needs or pain points, be it salary, environment or chance for advancement, and you’ve done it better than the other guy. The employee has bought in. “Unfortunately, for many employers today, this is where the journey ends,” says 2020 Inc. CEO Mark Stoever. Companies, rather, should work toward engagement by ensuring the employee is the right fit for the job. Once the employee determines the position fits their expectations, true engagement will result, just like the new customer who determines a given product has satisfied her needs.

5.) Build Loyalty

Employee engagement can often result in employee loyalty. This means a company has effectively circumvented the short-term churn that so often robs them of good personnel. How do they do this? Well, by emulating the same formulae sales and marketing departments use to build brand loyalty with customers, of course. Delivering value. Being consistent. Offering rewards. Fostering an environment of caring. Showing the employee he matters. Soliciting constructive feedback and adjusting as necessary. A Harvard Business Review claims it can be as much as 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one, so employee attrition may be even worse considering the vast amounts of training some positions require. Therefore, building employee loyalty can actually save the company real time and money.

6.) From Loyalty to Champion

Being loyal to a brand is one thing, but being a true advocate of that brand is another. Just as a brand ambassador can actively influence other customers’ buying decisions, a corporate ambassador can help attract other qualified candidates at earlier stages of the funnel. Companies eager to foster employee advocacy can implement programs that establish channels for sharing content or messaging. Advocates truly believe in their company’s mission and will actively share it with others, making their potential contributions immeasurable. A Kredible Employee Advocacy study claims that employee advocacy programs involving 1,000 active participants can generate as much as $1.9 million in advertising value.

In Summary

The customer acquisition funnel offers HR departments a viable model to emulate when deciding how to reach, attract, hire and retain the best candidates. The transition from candidate to employee offers the company further opportunity to generate corporate champions who will attract other qualified candidates, just as passionate customers attract other potential customers. So, at the end of the day, where should HR execs turn for a fresh approach? Try reaching out to the sales and marketing guys down the hall, because they’re obviously doing something right.


Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.