If you’re a marketer at a small- or medium-sized business (SMB), you’re likely no stranger to wearing many hats and thinking of creative methods for doing more with less. And while your earned, shared and owned media efforts may be overflowing their respective buckets, you might be faced with just a little trickle of budget available for your thimble-sized paid media opportunities. Or perhaps that has even run dry?
The SMB scenario can make it challenging to compete for market share with your Fortune 500 counterparts, so it’s no surprise that it can be just as tricky to attract top talent through dazzling content marketing efforts, too. But it can’t be ignored, either. In March of 2015, recruiting difficulty for companies reached four-year highs for the 11th consecutive month. And that’s for companies of all sizes in the U.S.
The key is to make the most out of available resources– starting with formulating a strategy for the recruiting process in the same way you would for customer acquisition. In this first article of a series, we’ll examine persona development and a few ideas for generating initial awareness and interest for your employment opportunities through the use of content.
Define Applicant Personas
Keep this simple at first, as you can always debate the finer differences between job category target personas later. Start off with two different persona definitions. For example, choose one of the following pairings:
- Exempt vs. nonexempt employees
- Executive-level vs. associate-level employees
- Customer-facing (sales, customer service, marketing) vs. internal department employees (IT, HR, operations, accounting)
Once you’ve defined your initial personas, think about how each of their preferences will shape how they respond to recruitment-specific forms of content marketing. Use that info as a guide to map content marketing efforts to each stage of the recruiting and hiring process. We’ll use the executive-level vs. associate-level employee example in the next section.
Create Awareness & Interest Around Your Job Posting
Depending on the scope of your candidate search, it’s quite possible that your future employees won’t be familiar with your company before spotting a link to your job listing. If that’s the case, their first experience with content from your organization may be via a third party such as a job board or an executive recruiter. If you pique their interest, then you could eventually have a chance to grab their attention on your company site and/or careers portal, too.
Here’s how you might be able to appeal to the executive-level and associate-level personas with an integrated approach using earned, shared, owned and paid media:
Free external job boards and job board aggregators arguably fall into the earned bucket because you’re not necessarily guaranteed that job postings will publish. Your odds of inclusion will depend on the reputation of your careers portal and whether you try to game the system by posting multiple positions by the same title and/or frequently refreshing the start dates for jobs.
Make sure your job description includes not only the key responsibilities of the job and the essential requirements, but also a brief description of your organization (including location and general size, since they don’t know you) that paints a compelling picture of the unique opportunities available with your firm.
Name the key benefits offered that make people passionate about working at your smaller company (e.g. flex time, work from home policies, casual dress, beer Fridays, paid volunteer time, etc.). Stand out from most other job postings hosted on third party sites with a video of an employee describing the highlights of the job and then embedding that video in the job listing.
Social media is a common means for savvy organizations to be discovered by job seekers. Automatically post new job listings to social media via an integration with your hiring software. Be sure to include relevant jobseeker hashtags, including those descriptive of the position, but also of the geographic area, to generate awareness for your positions.
Assuming you’ve intrigued job seekers enough to read through the bulk of your job description (and its ideal length will, of course, depend on the job, persona and company culture), give them links to additional information if they want to sink their teeth into the role details before committing to an employment application.
Appeal to a persona’s preferences with the appropriate writing style (e.g. entertaining top 10 lists for extroverted marketers or detailed flow chart graphics for operations professionals). Take it a step further and publish these position snapshot blogs on Medium, LinkedIn and other platforms that may resonate with your persona.
Perhaps the most obvious source of this media type for recruiting is the use of paid job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice and more. It can be a budget stretch for SMBs to use these resources frequently; however, if they are to be fruitful, make sure that the message is crafted in a way that captivates, informs and converts the job seeker to the point of application.
Smaller companies that don’t command brand recognition should focus on putting position-specific keywords at the beginning of the posting, and elaborate on organizational details at the end of the job listing. That way, the job listing snippet that appears to the job seeker will correlate with the search performed by the job seeker.
Consider business, news and industry-relevant publications within the geographic scope of your applicant search and pitch them on spotlighting your organization for its unique employment benefits, planned growth increase, corporate culture, etc. Higher level candidates are especially likely to read these resources and appreciate the fact that your organization was news-worthy enough to command prime media real estate.
For executives, their first exposure to your organization may be the LinkedIn InMail a recruiter sends them describing your opportunity. Work with your recruiter to craft a message representative of your culture and position that will resonate with that persona.
Start or join a LinkedIn group relevant to your industry and regularly participate in discussions that may catch the eye of potential executive recruits. Use the forum as a means to advertise the availability of your organization’s opportunities, as well as to comment on desirable traits in successful performers.
Create content that describes the factors necessary to be deemed successful six months into the position. This resource can live on your own domain and should also elaborate on the corporate culture and convey the typical day or week (or why it is atypical if that is a selling point). This is often an emotional, warm-fuzzy accompaniment to the typical job description.
If history has proven that a specific job is a beast to fill (i.e. it requires a boat-load of high-level certifications or is a highly technical job in a remote location), then even the thriftiest of recruiters may need to invest in paid media for this persona type. Conduct research to uncover the most likely outlet for your opportunity. Sponsored social posts with substantial targeting capabilities are a good place to start, and messaging should entice high-level job seekers by appealing to what makes your organization a special and rewarding challenge for the executive (e.g. “Even if you haven’t heard of us, you should check us out and here’s why.”).
By defining your applicant personas and thoughtfully considering what would initially attract them to a job opportunity with your company, you dramatically increase the number of chances you get to convert job seekers into applicants. Stay tuned for the next post in this series for tips on guiding intent within your potential applicant base and using content marketing to increase the number of employment applications your organization receives.