A number of industries have experienced a lightbulb moment in recent times. They’ve realized that marketing and sales aren’t the distinct disciplines that many once thought they were. They’re in fact two sides of the same coin: one opening the opportunity for deals, the other closing them. This has seen many organizations aligning and to some degree melding these two disciplines, ensuring that they are working with, not against, each other.
While recruiters are multi-faceted professionals, most would consider themselves salespeople above all else; this being the aspect of their role that puts the cheddar in the pocket. But as has happened in other industries, many staffing firms and professionals are beginning to realize that sales is reliant on marketing, and to be able to think like a marketer enables a recruiter to be far better at their job.
If a modern recruiter wants to be the best that they can be (and earn the best that they can earn), they need to focus on marketing. But the effort can’t be theirs and theirs alone; if success is to be achieved, it must be facilitated by the firm.
Here’s how to do it.
Many recruiters simply don’t have the time to put a marketing hat on because of an outsized admin burden. Adding more tasks atop their current mountain of busywork is pointless — there’s simply no way they’d get to it all. To improve the experience that a recruiter offers candidates, you first have to improve the experience of the recruiter. You need to remove the admin work before you add anything else to their plate.
“We went straight to automation,” announces Jessica Rowen, National Marketing Manager at TalentWorld, when asked how to approach such a task. “What admin can be automated to allow recruiters to get more time in their day? To build meaningful relationships? To build their brands, and become the go-to people in their field?”
The data entry. The basic emails and communications. The ATS upkeep. These low-value, laborious and frankly boring tasks don’t excite a recruiter nor earn them money. In fact, they do nothing more than get in the way of fun and high-value work. The good news: all of them can be automated.
But turning your recruiters into marketers is about more than removing their admin work. You also need to actively develop their marketing skills and knowledge. It’s all well and good freeing up a few hours of a recruiter’s day, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll spend that free time wisely. They need to know what to do with it, whether that be enhancing the candidate experience or building their own brands.
According to Rowen, molding a marketing mindset in your recruiters can be boiled down to three main areas of focus.
As someone who arrived in recruiting after developing her skill set in marketing, Rowen sees the industry through a very different lens to those who know nothing else. She sees a severe lack of persona-based recruiting: recruiters considering the specific people that they’re trying to reach out to. What will motivate them to choose your job over the hundreds of others? Why would they even interact with you versus another recruiter? The use of personas helps to answer these questions, as well as focus a staffing professional’s efforts.
“If you build the persona upfront, you're going to spend less time on attraction, because if you know who you're going after, you’ll be better placed to write conversion copy for that person. You're more focused, rather than taking a broad, scattergun approach. You’ll use more than one persona, and these won’t necessarily be set in stone, but the direction they offer is invaluable.”
This persona-based approach doesn’t just apply to job postings: it applies to every single communication touchpoint that you have with a candidate. If you think of the candidate journey as a sales funnel, you soon realize that job postings are a critical stage, and need to be written as compellingly as possible, with a persona in mind. But you also need to consider:
What do the brands of your recruiters look like? If the answer is ‘I don’t know', your firm has some work to do. Recruiters need to be active in building and sculpting their personal brands — it’s not something that happens without effort. Use a review site like Great Recruiters to get a sense of your recruiters’ reputations, and work from there. Get your marketing team to produce content that recruiters can leverage. Get your recruiters active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even less obvious platforms like TikTok. And always ensure the content they share and produce is curated with the relevant candidate personas in mind.
Highlight the fact that creating a professional brand for yourself can be fun. Your recruiters get to show a bit of personality while building a reputation as the go-to person in their field. It can be a surprisingly pleasant and fulfilling experience!
You can only manage what you measure. Knowledge is power, and knowledge is increasingly represented in zeroes and ones.
“You need to be looking at data, and leveraging it to make decisions,” confirms Rowen. “I'm not expecting my recruiters to dig right into it, to get lost in algorithms and code, but I do want them to look at particular KPIs that are specific and relevant to attraction: cost per applicant, click through rates, reply rates.”
An example: You use a persona-based approach to send out a series of InMail messages. You then use reply rates to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign. This process is made far simpler if recruiters are given dashboards displaying these key KPIs, so they can quickly and easily see if something isn’t working. ‘This job posting isn’t converting applicants – let’s find out what’s wrong, and what we need to change.’
It’ll take time for recruiters to understand and appreciate the perks of a marketing mindset, but when they realize they can use personas to hyper-target the most relevant candidates, use their brand to generate high-quality inbound leads, and use data to track and enhance their performance on the fly, it quickly becomes a no brainer — and because their pockets are being filled.
The perks of a marketing mindset aren’t limited to your recruiters. Removing the admin burden, upskilling your team, and letting them do what they ultimately love to do, positions you as a destination firm for staffing professionals. You’ll attract better recruiters and retain them for longer (the current turnover rate for recruiters is around 21%, a real blight on the industry.) What’s more, their growth is your growth.
If you can help your staffing professionals to think like marketers, to be better, and to earn more money, the future is bright for both you and them. The days of hiring college kids to have them cold call and build out the database are gone. Quantity just isn’t that important anymore. The metric that should be tracked is how engaged your database is, and that requires a marketing mindset.
Just as other industries have worked to align sales and marketing, the staffing industry is beginning to align recruiting and marketing. They’re two sides of the same coin: one grants the opportunity to engage with candidates, the other places them.
To be the best that you can be, both as a staffing firm and as a recruiter, you need to commit to wearing that marketing hat. Learn more by listing to episode 26 of the You Own the Experience Podcast here.