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Recruitment Marketing: Important or Illusion? The Complete Expert Review

Is recruitment Marketing Important

‘*Treat your candidates like you treat your customers.’ *

We talk a lot about why candidates are like customers today, why they need to be marketed to and engaged with. Recruiters see it everywhere: candidates care about what is being said about a company on twitter or facebook. They read everything about it, from glassdoor reviews to front-page exposes in the newspapers. They're interested in intangibles like 'culture' and 'brand'.

Marketing to these candidates is strategically important to companies - read: it impacts the overall direction of the business in the long term. As Madeline Laurano mentions in an interview with Beamery: “Companies are becoming more strategic in the way that they think about recruiting, and are under increasing pressure from the business to make sure that talent acquisition is driving the right kind of hire”.

Great talent is a powerful and consistent source of competitive advantage in business, and recruitment marketing gives companies the ability to attract the best.

Recruiting teams have been accumulating marketing and branding skills as fast as they can to win in this brave new world of hiring; We put together our Definitive Guide to Recruitment Marketing to make that job easier.

Download the Definitive Guide to Recruitment Marketing

[image-caption][you can download the ebook here]( [image-caption-end]

Is recruitment marketing important banner

Why is recruitment marketing important?

Sometimes it’s hard to separate true paradigm shifts from passing fads, but it’s pretty easy to see that it’s not the case of recruitment marketing.

This shift isn’t just about candidates becoming more sophisticated because of their experiences as customers; it’s also that companies realize that most top candidates are passive. They’re not browsing job ads, or wading through lengthy application forms. In fact, only 36% of candidates are actually actively looking for a job at any given time, and the competition for their attention is fierce - competition for talent ranked as the number one challenge for recruiters in 2017.

No wonders recruiters are arming themselves as best they can to be able to market their company to these candidates.

Recruitment Marketing Strategy in 4 steps

recruitment Marketing strategy steps

We think every recruitment marketing strategy can be organized around these 4 steps: Attract, Connect, Engage, and Grow. We like thinking about it this way because it maps out to the steps of the candidate funnel.

Every step of your strategy makes candidates progress a little bit further, from leads that are starting to learn about your, to candidates who have given you reason to take an interest in them, to applicants who have taken the active step of applying, to finally either employees or, hopefully, ambassadors of your employer brand.


For a team that is designing their first full-fledged recruitment marketing strategy, this is the step where they set up their storefront. They think about everything that should go in the window, in case somebody walks by: the careers website, obviously, and social media pages, for examples.

It goes deeper than just that of course- there has to be some deeper thinking into the positioning of the employer brand: what are the company’s values, for example? Are they well-articulated on the company’s website, or throughout job descriptions? Is the content that the company puts out there in line with those values?

All of these elements come together to create your employer brand, and have to be carefully considered.

Recruitment Marketing EVP

Some of the most useful tips at this step are around the technical aspects of digital marketing that recruiters are not necessarily aware of. Does the job description follow good SEO practice and will it be picked up by Google Jobs? Is the user experience in the Talent Network sign-up enjoyable- or at least painless? Is there enough variety in your content formats and channels?


Once the storefront is ready, it’s time to actively reach out to candidate and identify the most promising leads. The modern recruiting team does that in a strategic way, moving away from sourcing reactively for specific jobs, and focusing instead on the personas it identified to build a long-term relationship.

As you would expect, data plays a huge part in this process. Winning in sourcing means having rich and up-to-date databases, and high flexibility in how to use that data at scale. It’s with great data that you can build powerful models to rank and score candidates, for example.


It’s also with great data that you can establish an awesome first contact with candidates, and later engage with them effectively. To build ultra-personalized cold messages, with the right amount of customization, your data has to go beyond the simple “job titles” and “area of expertise” fields.

It’s only after that first foundation has been laid that the actual work of “connecting” with candidates can begin. And that means recruiters have to think through a slew of details:

  • When do candidate best respond to cold messages? How many times should you follow up?
  • Should it be via email? Linkedin? Or more informal social channels? Speaking of which, what is the best way to approach the whole social media thing?
  • How can you use events to connect with candidates? And how do you know your events are successful?
  • How do you set up a Talent Network? How do you use it to attract and contact candidates?

And so, so much more. Social media alone is a huge marketing undertaking- it’s a rapidly changing landscape, and keeping up with it is hard even for experienced marketers. For recruiters, it can be overwhelming.


Now this is where the magic, the “little something extra” happens for candidates. This is where truly great candidate experiences shine.

Establishing that first contact is crucial, but the true strength of a strategic recruiting function is its ability to maintain these connections, and to build long-term relationships with candidates.

This, again, relies heavily on excellent data collection and management practices, using well-designed talent pools and rigid pipeline management. The integrity and quality of a company’s candidate data is directly proportional to quality of the experience it provides.

Why is that? Think about every time you received a cold email that make it painfully obvious that the sender had not done their homework about you. How does that impact your view of the company? Or if it’s a recruiter, do you find it easy to take them seriously after that? The point of good data management is to enable recruiters to communicate with large number of people without making those mistakes and ruining their experience.

Once those pools and pipelines are in place, however, you are ready for some awesome nurture campaigns. That’s where you actually engage with candidates, and offer them the opportunity to click through links, reply to your emails, explore your content. That’s where you set up calls or visits, and establish a real relationship, human to human, with your dream candidates.

Nurture campaigns recruitment marketing

You can push the personalization of your campaigns as little or as far as you think is appropriate. It entirely depends of how much you can rely on automation, and how much of a priority a given pool of candidates is.


Everything is now in place, and your recruitment marketing campaigns are ready to launch, if not already running. That is only the start, however.

Without a deep understanding of how every aspect of recruitment marketing is performing, and how it directly impact the company’s overall goals — by attracting competitive talent and ultimately helping the company to outperform competitors — recruitment marketing cannot build trust. And without trust from leadership, it will remain an “internal services” function, tasked with reacting to the strategies set by other teams, instead of designing and implementing its own. That is why growth is not only about scaling up and optimizing, but also about arming marketers with data, and helping them make as much of an impact as they can on their organization. And how do they do that? In several ways:

  • By rethinking what they track and measure, because the old metrics aren’t enough.
  • By getting more comfortable with the technology available to track and measure everything.
  • By using their data to forecast hiring needs and recruiting pipeline coverage, and reducing uncertainty around the business.
  • By reducing inefficient manual processes as much a possible. Time is money, guys!

Scaling up is also an operational challenge that teams can’t underestimate: managing communications between team members, insuring changes in processes or tools are implemented properly and embraced by everyone, establishing working relationships with Marketing outside of the Talent Acquisition organization… These are all steps that need to be taken for a recruitment marketing team to “graduate”.

Are you ready for recruitment marketing?

Whether you’re cleaning up an existing operation or starting a recruitment marketing function from scratch, you’re faced with a complex task that will involve many stakeholders and stretch over a long period of time. That can feel daunting.

We have a quick checklist for that; it’s not exhaustive by any means, and you should definitely expand on it if you plan to use it. However, it has the right elements to make you step back and look at the whole undertaking from a 10,000 feet view.

recruitment marketing checklist

Is recruitment marketing important ?

We think so, but don’t just take our word for it; a while ago, we spoke to 20 of the leading lights in the talent space to see what they thought of Recruitment Marketing. You’ll find their thoughts below, right after this inforgraphic that neatly sums up some of the core ideas behind recruitment marketing.


<p><strong>Please include attribution to with this graphic.</strong><br/><br/><img src='' alt='Recruitment Marketing in one image' width='700px' border='0'/></p>

1. William Tincup

Principal analyst at Key Interval, William Tincup is also one of the main hosts for HRDriveThru Radio, a daily HR podcast. William is one of the leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology and an excellent blogger.


“Often said, recruiters are sales people. Also often said, recruiters should think like marketers. Maybe the truth is somewhere in-between? With all the advancements in CRM, sales force automation and marketing automation in the last 15 years you’d like to think recruiters would be further along in their evolution. Well, not-so-much. But, help is on the way… the recruitment software segment is where ALL the innovative tech is these days. I can’t wait to see where we are in 10 years. Will we be leading or lagging CRM?”

2. Matt Buckland

Matt heads up the talent team at fashion ecommerce platform Lyst and blogs (excellently) at The King's Shilling. His extensive recruiting career has taken him to multiple countries and ranges from startups to globally recognised brands such as Bloomberg and Facebook.


“It’s often said that recruiters should be marketers but the truth is that we’re still light years behind. We live in a world of personalised adverts delivered to individual users based on their personal browsing history, yet in recruiting we still give out awards for careers pages and newspaper ads.

We’ve been mass marketers for so long now that the formats and conventions are almost set in stone. It’s only when the industry get’s so excited about being “social” that we realise we fail to engage on an individual level.

The future of recruitment marketing needs recruiters who understand that their role is not pumping our people like a hiring factory but that there is a greater network effect of their actions. Those that will be successful in a candidate led world will be both brand savvy and empathetic in their engagement.”

3. Steve Boese

Steve is the Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference and Co-Host of the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast (recommended listening).


“Everything in business comes back to marketing, eventually, so it makes perfect sense that viewing recruiting as just another aspect of marketing has become popular – and essential.

Top talent has always had power, but now they have much more information than ever before – about your company, your reputation, and much like you screen applicants for ‘fit’, top talent is screening you right back.

Smart marketing can help cut through the noise and clutter and help you connect with your target audience, in fact, it might be the only way to connect with them in the modern, information overload age.”

4. Josh Bersin

Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a firm that provides talent management research and advisory services, HR expert Josh is a frequent speaker at industry events, leading LinkedIn influencer and popular blogger for Forbes.


“Recruitment has shifted from a “sales” focus to a “marketing focus” today. Companies that create a compelling, authentic employment brand, communicate their values and mission, and clearly articulate the nature of their workplace are winning out in their recruitment efforts.

I encourage recruiters and entire leadership teams to make recruitment a corporate mission, driven top down by the CEO and VP of Marketing. Not only does this improve candidate quality, but it gives the company valuable feedback on how it is perceived in the markeplace.”

5. Bill Kutik

The father of the HR Tech Conference, Bill Kutik has been the tech columnist for Human Resource Executive for 25 years. He is also host of the]() The Bill Kutik Radio Show and is one of the foremost industry analysts. A true HR technology specialist, when he speaks, we listen!


“The advertising model for recruiting is on life-support and soon to expire. The recruiter as a fisherman in a boat with a baited hook over the side hoping to attract candidates is over. The new model is recruiter in scuba gear with a spear gun hunting down candidates.

That’s why in the future, recruitment marketing will be key to every organization’s process. And of course, that means more than getting the company’s name in front of people’s eyeballs. Companies are already doing that to little benefit on all the major social networks.

It means building relationships with candidates, discovering who they really are by which content you send them that they end up reading.”

6. Franz Gilbert

A Talent Acquisition Executive with Korn Ferry and great blogger, Franz Gilbert is one of the best people to turn to when you’re trying to work out where the human resources industry is headed.


“There should be little debate as to whether Recruiting Marketing is important, as consumer marketing professionals have shown that marketing can influence every major decision in our lives – such as which college, which car, and what medicine. It should be of no surprise that the same marketing principles apply to “which job.”

*As a result, HR should not try to re-invent marketing, which is already a very mature discipline. The concepts of brand, value proposition, target audience, multichannel marketing, and recency, frequency and monetary – all apply very well in this space. The recruiting functions that understand marketing, will be the ones that win the best talent in the future.” *

7. Greg Savage

Greg has founded numerous successful recruitment companies and is now heavily in-demand as a advisor, speaker and investor. He regularly creates excellent content on his blog The Savage Truth.


“That recruitment is in fact merging with marking. Job seekers are behaving like consumers when they look for jobs and so recruiters have to think and behave more like marketers and less like salespeople. So now, building brand is a key skills and content is king in a social strategy, even at the recruiter level.

Recruitment companies need to focus less on sales and more on marketing, especially using social media to build communities and CRM to connect and build relationships.”

8. Sharlyn Lauby

President of the ITM Group and blogger at HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby is one of the most respected figures within the HR industry. She also finds time to produce great content for Mashable, and is on the hunt for the world’s best cheeseburger.


“Recruitment marketing continues to be an important part of the hiring process. Smart companies are building brands and engagement strategies to attract talent before candidates have even decided to apply. Frankly, before candidates have decided to look for a new job!
*The recruitment market is changing. Everyone is open to hearing about new opportunities. Open requisitions aren’t relevant. Companies are starting to hire talent when they find it – not when the opening exists – because it makes good business sense” *

9. Tony Restell

Founder of Social-Hire and widely renowned social media expert, Tony is the first port-of-call for any recruiters unsure of how to manage their social recruitment strategy. He has a firm grasp of the importance of marketing to the recruitment industry.


“The hiring market has fundamentally changed these last years, from a situation where most open positions would be publicly advertised to a situation today where most recruiters will try to fill vacancies via direct approaches to target candidates. Everyone though is battling with how to address declining LinkedIn InMail response rates and general candidate fatigue at the volume of unsolicited approaches being made.

*The absolute key to winning the War For Talent this decade is going to be driving up the conversion rate your recruiters enjoy when they approach target candidates in these ways. Does the candidate already have a relationship with your business, have they engaged with you on social media or been appreciative of blog content they’ve seen you publish? Have you ensured your business is one that your target candidates warm to and are already familiar with, so that when that approach is made by a recruiter they are far more receptive to it? *

*That’s the power of your recruitment marketing and your company’s recruiting presence on social media.” *

10. Miles Jennings

Miles Jennings is founder and CEO of, a startup that helps make hiring easier and more cost effective. Job seekers can discover new opportunities while currently employed. Miles has over a decade in the the online recruitment space.


“Recruitment marketing is not only about advertising jobs; it’s the whole way that employers present their workplace to the outside world. Great companies know how important it is to attract and retain the best talent, so they make a real effort to brand themselves as attractive places to work.

*Most communications that employers create can be thought of in the context of hiring – does that commercial make you seem like a fun company to work for? Does your website highlight staff accomplishments? As skills get more specialized, employers need to consider recruitment marketing as a key strategy for success in the future, and integrate that branding deep in their communications.” *

11. Mervyn Dinnen

Mervyn Dinnen is an award winning blogger who helps recruiters and HR teams with content marketing and social engagement.


“For recruiters to really think like marketers they need to structure talent acquisition campaigns like strategic marketing campaigns. That means really understanding what they have to offer (EVP, employer brand, employment experience) and their target market – i.e. who are they trying to reach and why, in which way are they likely to consume messages and what they are likely to respond to.

Then the channels and content, the actual messaging – is it compelling, concise and consistent? Will the target audience engage with it, respond to it, or will it confuse them? Might help to start with the job description, because if poorly drafted or misleading then the chances of a successful outcome are severely limited.

How about the call to action? – Is the application process seamless and easy? Plenty of great marketing campaigns fail to deliver if the mechanisms and processes for the action and interaction are clunky, complex or overcomplicated, and stats show the same is true for job applications”

12. Matt Charney

Executive Editor and Head of Content for Recruiting Daily, Matt is a marketing expert. One of the best in the business at creating great content, Matt regularly publishes thoughts and insight into the recruitment industry on his blog Snark Attack.


“I define recruitment marketing as inbound marketing focused on career or employer focused content, with the major distinction from all other forms of online marketing being only that the call to action is around buying an employer instead of consumer focused brand. From segmentation to lead nurturing to marketing automation, social, SEO/SEM and other integrated marketing campaigns across external channels and internal databases.

I think that it’s important to the future of recruitment because it will allow recruiters to finally measure quality of hire (lifetime customer value); efficacy of employer branding and company culture (net promoter score) and most importantly, create accountability and opportunity for individual recruiters to establish competitive differentiation and directly tie activities to a P&L and overall shift recruiting from a cost to profit center due to the analytics and strategy inbound enables.”

13. Jeffrey Fermin

Jeffrey Fermin runs marketing for performance feedback platform WIRL. He's a canny entrepreneur and a has some interesting thoughts on marketing's role within recruitment.


“Data seems to be what HR practitioners are preaching nowadays. The more a practitioner can quantify an aspect of HR, the better it will serve the company.

The concept of Recruitment Marketing proves this, as companies can now research and measure what type of individuals can be a great fit for an organization. This makes it even easier to find the ideal employee that fits within a particular position in a company.

Using the right tools businesses can use inbound recruitment marketing to find an optimal fit for the company and the job-seeker. So if your company’s brand and culture are strong and you know the kind of employee you’re looking for, assess what type of recruitment marketing strategy you should use to obtain that perfect fit. And, of course, in doing so save your company a lot of money in the long run.”

14. Marvin Smith

Committed to leveraging technology to put the human touch back into recruiting, Marvin works for a Fortune 50 organization (]Lockheed Martin) focusing on HR technology (automated recruitment marketing), strategic talent sourcing and creating talent communities for key talent segments.


“When I think of Recruitment Marketing, I think of 3 R’s—Revolution, Relationship, & Relevance. Recruitment Marketing with its inbound (white papers, blogs, infographics and social media participation) and outbound (job ads, job fairs, email blasts, direct mail and webinars) marketing-like features offers a revolutionary approach to talent acquisition.

Not only does recruitment marketing allow organizations to glean metrics and ROI, it also affords the ability to engage and nurture short and long relationships with targeted talent. Instead of dangling a job in front of people that aren’t reading job ads, recruitment marketing focuses engaging target talent with information, conversations and content that is relevant to them. A recruitment marketing platform is an essential tool for an organizations’ talent acquisition team.”

15. Todd Raphael

Todd is Editor-in-Chief of ERE Media, home to some of the best recruitment writing on the web. Charged with controlling content management, he’s the perfect person to consult on the influence of marketing on recruitment.


*“Recruitment marketing is important, but what’s most important in the future is the brand — the perception — of a company. In other words, I believe most people will tell you that the best recruitment marketing is marketing that sells a job and a career at a company. I’ve got a different view: that the best recruitment marketing is a successful, interesting, unique, exciting company.” *

16. Kevin Grossman

Kevin W. Grossman is the VP of the Talent Board (NAM). He also co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro and blogs at Reach-West.


“Here’s the deal: Job seekers are the buyers in this recruitment marketing realm and today the well-informed, well, they come to the table well informed. Like other buyers in the B2C and B2B marketplaces, they can find out just as much information about a company’s culture and the reality of what it’s like to work there and who they’d be working with than the company’s talent acquisition team can find out about them.

This is why distributing highly targeted, relevant employment brand, job and industry content is key, preferably in multiple mediums, especially video. Authentic and ‘real’ opportunities in the form of smarter and engaging content and storytelling, personable and professional, can remove even the most elusive ‘passive’ invisibility cloak. And don’t forget, anyone can go from passive to active in the read of the right story. Real stories rock and that’s immersive marketing 101 these days anyway. The best marketers know this.

These stories make for relevant and real conversations, which ultimately what job seekers and employers want. Savvy marketers can and should educate recruiters and sourcers how to engage prospects in real conversations. Whether it’s on a forum, user group, blog, simple email or any social network, or the old-fashioned phone call or at a live event, the relevant conversation should always be the goal.”

17. David Kippen

David Kippen is CEO of Evviva Brands, the brand shop for people brands. He has conducted talent market research in more than 35 countries and developed employer brands for many of the world’s best-known technology, energy and financial service brands.


“Recruitment marketing is a unique form of advertising because it’s focused on marketing a reverse cash flow. When you buy a product, you give cash and get a widget. So the goal of traditional marketing is to position the features of that widget for maximum cash value.

In recruitment marketing that flow is reversed: the employer’s “selling cash” but buying time. The seller’s goal is to get the best quality time for the lowest amount of cash. So while recruitment marketing also focuses on positioning features attractively (“great perks!”), those features are being positioned in lieu of cash.

The DIY nature of social media has made some folks wonder whether this specialized form of marketing will someday go away. That’s possible, of course, but seems really unlikely to me. Employers have trouble doing it themselves and marketing organizations generally don’t know how to work with the reverse cash flow and don’t understand HR or the workings of large organizations.

*And hey, they work in advertising–how much do they care about understanding the working life of a systems process engineer?” *

18. Steve Browne

Executive Director of HR at LaRosas, Steve is a well respected human resources strategy expert that specialises in ensuring HR is fully integrated across the breadth a company. Take a look at his excellent blog Everyday People.


“Marketing in the recruitment space is the next logical evolution for recruiting. It’s needed because candidates are looking for companies who differentiate themselves. If you look like everyone else, you tend to blend in. Having a distinct message, brand and approach through Recruitment Marketing is key in today’s employment market.”

19. Cyndy Trivella

An employer branding and HR communications expert, Cyndy is the marketing manager at Smartsearch and an important figure at TalentCulture. A big advocate of recruitment marketing, she has a great vision of how hiring might look in the future.


“Recruitment marketing is a combination of communications, recruiting, branding, data, and marketing. A great recruitment marketing strategy is strictly aligned with a strong employer brand and with a deep understanding of an organization’s mission, vision and values.

*Further, the organizations that understand this have a distinct advantage. They are forging enduring relationships today, with all constituents, that will help them achieve their business goals for the future. Knowing that people are at the nucleus of the hub is an understanding that will serve an organization now and well into the future.” *

20. Robin Schooling

Robin is on a mission to make organizations better by making HR better. She consults with organizations, advises HR teams, speaks to business and HR audiences, and writes about all things HR.


*“Recruitment marketing, just like consumer marketing, creates a memorable and emotional connection that compels the intended audience members, in this case the candidates, to respond to a call for action – “come work for us!”

This may seem like a daunting task to small or mid-sized business without a dedicated recruiting function, but a growing number of HR professionals realize they must ‘think’ like marketers. HR teams of all sizes are now defining their brand, targeting their audience via appropriate channels, and building candidate relationships; all while focusing on – and measuring – the results.”

Why does a Talent Organization Need a Talent Operating System?

Top candidates have more options than ever before, and in such a competitive setting, every aspect of the recruiting experience matters. It's on the talent operations function to design the new way of working that will bring in the best talent.

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