The Four Marketing Steps to Successfully Recruit a Candidate

October 5, 2015

Recruiting is marketing. Marketing is recruiting. At this point, it’s starting to sound like Finkle is Einhorn; Einhorn is Finkle.

But, frankly, it’s true. In marketing, there’s a four-step process that goes from very broad messaging – the top of the funnel – to messaging that gets increasingly more specific to the candidate – the bottom of the funnel.

Recruiting’s no different, as it too follows that same, four-step process: awareness, consideration, preference and, ultimately, conversion. And the mechanics are the same as well: you start with very broad messaging to get people starting to think about working for your company; and end it with a tailored offer that both meets your target’s needs and falls within your budget.

Below, all four steps are fully explained, coupled with some hard numbers to help inform your messaging and some examples of it done right.

Step 1: Awareness

Creating awareness in recruiting is the most basic step of them all – its making sure candidates know you exist and have a basic idea of what your company does. For some larger companies with established brands (think McDonalds, Amazon, Wal-Mart), awareness is not something their recruiters necessarily battle with - people know those companies and what they do.

But for the millions of small businesses out there, this can be a real challenge for recruiters. For a lot of them, often the first time a potential candidate will hear about their company is through an InMail, a job advertisement or some other piece of recruiting collateral.

This makes it fundamentally harder to recruit, because people tend to prefer the known over the unknown, making them less apt to join companies they’ve never heard of before.

How do you increase your awareness?

There’s a murky line here between recruiting and marketing. Frankly, if you run a lot of commercials and spend a lot on advertisements, you’ll improve your awareness both with customers and with job searchers.

But, for smaller companies who don’t advertise or don’t advertise very much, there are quite a few techniques recruiting teams can take to help build their brand. This includes everything from going to career fairs to starting social media accounts to joining local organizations and getting the word out that way.

Some good examples of recruiting teams building awareness for their company:

This commercial by Uber encouraging people to apply for their open driving positions:

This cool Alibaba commercial that inspires you to join their mission:

Step 2: Consideration

Awareness is merely that people know who you are. Consideration is getting people to actually want to work for you, which really hinges on the strength of your employer brand.

This is where classic employer branding strategies come in: having a strong career page, having strong social media pages, writing good InMails and having strong recruiting collateral. But, interestingly enough, LinkedIn data shows the most common way people hear about new jobs is through their own personal networks:

  • how people hear about new jobs

Hence, smart companies are encouraging their own employees to both refer their friends and post on their social media pages about the joys of working for their company. This leads to a much more organic and believable narrative that your company really is a great place to work.

Some good examples of online employer branding that compel people to apply:

This recruiting video by Harley-Davidson that makes you want to pick up a wrench:

This social media campaign by Target, #targetvolunteers, where they encourage their workers to post about the good work they’ve done in the community:

  • target social media campaign

Step 3: Preference

Okay, so the person knows your company (awareness: check) and has agreed to come in for an interview for an open position (consideration: check). The interview process is really the preference stage, where the candidate begins weighing their options.

Make no mistake, a candidate always has options. The most in-demand candidates often have options between various job offerings. The standard candidate can decide between taking your job or keeping the one they have. Even the unemployed candidate can decide to take your job or roll the dice that they’ll get another, better opportunity.

To get people to choose your company, it comes down to nailing the interview, as a LinkedIn survey revealed that 77 percent of candidates said the interview was “extremely and very important” in deciding to take a job or not. How do you ensure you create a great interview experience?

Well, following these few steps certainly will help:

  • The interview with the hiring manager really matters. When surveyed, 53 percent of LinkedIn members agreed that their interview with their prospective manager was what mattered most to them during the job interview. So coach your hiring managers on making interviews less of an interrogation and more of a conversation.
  • Additionally, ensure the candidate really understands your business during the interview. In that same survey, 49 percent of candidates said what mattered most to them during the interview was getting their business questions answered.
  • Keep in contact with candidates after the interview. Overall, 59 percent of candidates agreed they’d like to hear any updates from recruiters after the interview, beyond just if they got the job or not.
  • Finally, for the candidates you reject, give them constructive feedback. The survey found that rejected candidates are four-times more likely to consider your company for future positions if you provide them with meaningful interview feedback, as opposed to simply letting them know they didn’t get the job. This will help you recruit in the future.

Step 4: Conversion

This is the final stage - the candidate and you are both interested in each other, which leads to the offer. The goal, obviously, is ensuring that person takes the offer and you “convert” them to an employee.

So what do people want? Well, in a recent survey of more than 10,000 LinkedIn members who just switched jobs, professionals agreed career opportunity was most important to them in a new job.

  • why people change jobs

So, when closing a candidate, sell not just the offered job, but the future as well. Of course, money matters too, with 74 percent of people in that same survey saying they got a pay raise at the new job they took.

That said, these are general surveys, and this is where you as a recruiter should alter how you pitch the final offer depending on the person. Perhaps the candidate is a recent parent; flexibility might be most important to them. Perhaps the candidate is five years from retirement; stability might be most important to them.

Either way, the last thing you want to do is lose people at this stage, so it’s critical you discover what the candidate is really looking for in a job before you make an offer. Perhaps ultimately they don’t accept your offer because what they didn’t fit your company’s culture or surpassed your budget; but you should never be surprised about why they didn’t take it.

One final thought

Looking through each step, really, you see two themes emerge: Treating people well, both while they’re applying and when they’re actually working at your company, and having a clear understanding of what your company has to offer. If you master those two things, you’ll be able to accomplish all four steps, every time.

Often, the biggest problems that arise in recruiting are the same with marketing: Either you don’t fully understand what your company (or your product/service) really has to offer or your company (or your product/service) just isn’t that great. No matter how much you sugarcoat something, you can’t hide the reality of it, particularly with how connected the world is today.

So, if you feel that your recruiting is strong, but the people you hire are consistently not working out, it’s time to really analyze what you’re doing. Are you accurately reflecting what your company has to offer? Or, is your company really a great place to work?

Those are tough, foundational questions. But, if the answer to both isn’t yes, it doesn’t matter how well you master the four steps listed above. You’ll never be able to recruit and retain great talent.

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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