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Content Marketing for Recruitment: the Playbook

Anyone who has spent any time in marketing circles will be familiar with the expression “Content is king”.

Content marketing is the medium through which brands educate and build relationships with consumers. It’s central to the marketing process, and it’s a discipline that’s fast becoming essential for recruitment marketing.

Why should recruiters care about content?

“In recruiting today, it’s not only recruiters who are doing the research. With 85% of job searches starting with a search engine, top talent is searching for a company the same way they would any other purchasing decision – which is why employer branding is so critical.” – Matt Charney, Executive Editor at Recruiting Daily

Forrester Research suggests it takes up to 8 brand touchpoints to influence a consumer decision – people rarely arrive at your website ready to buy (or ready to apply).

Candidates are thinking about applications in the same way as they consider buying decisions. They want to be able to educate themselves about your company. They invest time in researching your company, product or role before deciding whether it’s a good fit for them.

Content is extremely important during this awareness and education stage. It gives candidates the ammunition they need to learn about your employer brand and plays a crucial role in their decision to apply.

Education is not necessarily a linear process. Candidates consume content based on what they’re doing at the time, and what they fancy reading, not how you draw it out on a storyboard. You need content for every eventuality to effectively move candidates through the process.

Candidate Awareness Journey

Content topics: what to write?

“Candidates are looking for a balance of employer-led content and content from existing employees and peers.” – North American Candidate Experience Research Report, 2016

What content should you write? What topics will resonate?

There’s no simple answer here, candidates find different pieces of content valuable at different stages of their decision-making process.

Effective recruitment marketing requires content that will appeal to candidates as they progress through this process. People want to know different things at each stage, and your content needs to reflect that.

content map

Fundamentally though, content should be tied to the candidate personas that you’re trying to attract. Everything you create should have a target audience in mind and should be designed to help your team connect and build relationships with the talent that you’re looking to attract.

For those among you looking for more specific examples of high-performing content, take a look at a couple of these:

  • Descriptions of your culture and benefits
  • Company values and mission
  • Stories, testimonials or “day in the life” features from employees
  • Interactive chats with team members
  • Infographics that show career progression opportunities
  • Photos and videos of team events
  • Philanthropic or CSR information
  • Monthly newsletter

Content creation: how to get started

Content can come in many different guises: Emails, e-books, webinars, whitepapers, web pages, blog posts, slideshares, videos, infographics, podcasts, social media posts, interactive content, surveys, quizzes... you name it.

Content creation though is often touted as one of the key blockers for companies trying to roll out effective recruitment marketing. They understand the importance of content to the candidate journey but don’t have the capacity to produce it effectively.

Content Creation Issues

If you want to consistently provide candidates with relevant and timely content, you need to find a solution for content creation. For organizations considering this for the first time, there are a number of good options:

Repurposing existing content

Most corporate brands have a huge amount of existing content that recruiting teams can make use of. Often this material can be repurposed for your needs with a little customization.

Working with marketing

You may be able to get marketing support for mission-critical content projects. It’s best not to be reliant on your marketing department, though: unless you are tightly aligned, it’s hard to get them to consistently support recruiting initiatives. (The relationship between recruitment and marketing is something we’ll touch on in more detail later).

Outsourcing content production

Communities like Upwork make it easy to find and hire relevant freelancers in a matter of minutes. If this is the option you go with, make sure you have clear documentation around brand guidelines and tone of voice, and a clear content brief to steer the project.

Content curation

For brands that want to dip their toe in the content pool, but don’t have the budget or headcount for full-fledged content production, curation can be a viable option. Find a few different reliable sources of content that matches the interests of your audience and you should be good to go...

Hiring internally

While you may struggle to get the green light for this initially, hiring marketing or copywriting capabilities directly into the recruiting team is the best way to solve your content challenge.


Leveraging employee-generated content isn’t a fix-all for your content operation, but it can certainly supplement anything that you put in place. First-hand accounts from your team are authentic, resonate with candidates, and should be part of any program.

Content Promotion

Content creation is only the first step; now you need to make sure it gets read.

Candidates should be able to discover content easily on your careers site, but you also need to be proactive and promote your content to make sure it gets into the hands of the right candidates.

Here are a couple of easy ways to get started with content promotion:

Social media

Social media is currently the most widely used channel for companies looking to build their employer brand, engage candidates and attract applications.

content promotion on social media

It also serves as a great forum for companies to share content and connect with their target talent audience. Recent research suggests that 67% of HR professionals use social channels to distribute careers content and more than 77% plan to continue using it in the future.

Social channels are pretty crowded though, so you need to approach them with caution. You can’t only use sites like Twitter and Facebook to broadcast your content, you also need to make sure that you’re actively maintaining your profiles, interacting with followers and building relationships.


Nurturing candidates and building relationships is a critical part of any successful recruitment marketing strategy.

The key to successful nurture is understanding how to provide candidates with consistent value, without overloading them with messages and being irritating or spammy. It’s a delicate balance to strike!

Send content that educates candidates on your EVP, culture, and jobs.  (If you can check something like Google Analytics to verify your top performing content, even better!)

One quick tip: make sure that you segment your database into different talent pools before you start any nurture program. You need to make sure that your campaigns are highly targeted and relevant, otherwise candidates will just tune them out.

A final word: Good content = better applicants

The longer a candidate spends in the ‘decision making cycle’, the more time they spend engaging with your content, the higher the likelihood that they’ll be a standout applicant and make a great new hire!

Why does this happen?

Well, the candidate has had time to self-qualify. They actually understand your company, the role, and what you’re looking for!

At a time when recruiters admit that they wouldn’t re-hire 39% of their recent hires, increasing the relevance of your applicants can make a big difference.