6 Things Buzzfeed Can Teach Us About Recruiting

July 30, 2015

You may feel like Buzzfeed is the LAST place you could learn something about professional recruiting. After all, the content is pretty wild and it doesn't cover your typical employment topics.

But, Buzzfeed has a strategy for getting people on its site...and keeping them there.

“Content is king,” is the mantra of the marketing world today with respect to getting and keeping the attention of consumers. The same applies to candidates. As this Inc Magazine article points out, the rise of the “sophisticated job seeker” is disrupting recruiting. If you want to attract and engage the best talent, you need to leverage some of Buzzfeed’s tricks for getting people’s attention.

Whether its introductory emails to passive candidates, job postings, or social outreach, all of your efforts to market your open positions can benefit from a little “Buzzfeeding,” as follows:

1. Headlines that make you think, “What!?”

From the subject line of your outreach email, to the first line of your latest job posting, you need to have candidates at “hello” if you want them to keep reading. Don’t be viewed as a Rookie Recruiter – as seen in this Talent Blog article.

Tip: Find a point of connection between you and the candidate and lead with it in your subject line. “I surf too,” or “We have the same undergrad degree,” are examples of ways you can encourage the candidate to want to open your message and see who is behind the bold statement.

2. Talk to me straight, but have a personality when doing it.

Formal, multisyllabic words convey an overly professional, stuffy approach to recruiting. Keep your text simple and conversational.

Tip: Before you send off that email or post that job description, go through it and ask yourself, “Could a sixth grader understand this?” If not, consider simplifying what you are saying. Studies show the easier you are to understand, the more credible and likeable you are.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

While your company’s accomplishments are no doubt impressive, you shouldn’t lead with them. It feels like bragging, or even worse, you’re trying too hard. Save that for the end, once you’ve established a connection and started a conversation.

Tip: Try to make your early interactions with candidates about them. Offer up some examples of how you feel connected to them and know where they are coming from. In this article, see how the recruiters at Yahoo are using this technique to their advantage. Striking up a conversation about something you both care about is a great opener. Which leads to….

4. Surprise me with something I don’t know.

When you ask talent, “Did you know?” and share an interesting insight about the problems your company solves or the type of customers you serve, you are inviting them to engage in a passive conversation that can organically peak their curiosity about you as an employer.

Tip: Work backwards with your company’s core beliefs to come up with compelling facts to share with potential candidates. i.e. if your company uses recycled materials to build its products, you might say, “Do you know how many plastic water bottles it takes to make one of our widgets?”

5. Ask me a question, even better, quiz me.

Building off the element of surprise to get a candidate’s attention, offering up a series of questions will get their brain buzzing – a wonderful way for you to drive awareness and engagement with you.

Tip: Buzzfeed quizzes are infamous. They make readers think and set them up for the information that follows. A short quiz about your industry, products, services, etc. at the beginning of a job description will have the same effect on candidates.

6. Give me something else to look at.

Once you get their attention, keep it by linking to other compelling pieces of content about you as an employer. Invite them to check out your LinkedIn Careers page, Glassdoor page, Twitter feed, Instagram feed, etc. Studies show the more places where talent can research your company online, the more credible you are – AND the more likely they are to apply to your jobs.

Tip: Because 70% of people following your LinkedIn Company Page are interested in working for you, it’s safe to say that the more opportunities you have to drive candidates to it, the better!

Originality is the spice of recruiting

Now that the talent shortage is in full swing, we must find ways to shake things up in our efforts to rise above the noise and stand out in a sea of recruiters pitching jobs. Using Buzzfeed’s proven techniques for creating content that sticks is a great place to start. By spicing up your approach to communicating with candidates, you will showcase your originality and prove you are putting some real thought and effort into connecting with them.

Today’s sophisticated job seeker is looking to work “with” an employer, not “for” them. So, being a recruiter that shows you understand the needs of the candidate when evaluating an opportunity will set you apart and earn you the trust and respect you need to get them to respond to your emails and apply to your open positions.

P.S. – If you liked this article, you might want to read this Talent Blog article about the importance of building your Recruiter Brand in the coming year. See why sophisticated job seekers want to go beyond the company and learn more about YOU!


J.T. O’Donnell is founder and CEO of CAREREEALISM, a website dedicated to showcasing recruiter brands to more than 1,000,000 sophisticated job seekers. Want to get your recruiter brand in front of top talent? Apply here to be considered for the “Purple Squirrel Society,” an elite group of recruiters we exclusively showcase to top talent. Use your expertise and reputation to increase the quantity and quality of the talent applying to your open positions – become a Purple Squirrel Society Member today!

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*Image from Buzzfeed

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