In 2006, HubSpot coined the phrase “Inbound Marketing” as a key part of its larger "inbound" methodology. The term refers to a proactive method of attracting, engaging, and delighting potential customers through carefully targeted and crafted web content. The idea is that by offering up educational blog posts, whitepapers, and emails that help your audience identify their pain points and understand potential solutions, you can gain the trust of your ideal buyers. Eventually, this leads to boosted sales, business growth, and happy, repeat customers.
These days, recruiters also have to be proactive in their attempts to attract, engage, and delight their target audience. Because the current job market is mostly comprised of passive job seekers, it’s no longer just a matter of writing a job description and putting it out into the world—candidates need to be familiarized with your employer brand and given a compelling reason to enter your recruitment pipeline. Rather than intrusive messages, you need to give passive job seekers the chance to come to you.
If these two processes sound similar, that’s no coincidence. Recruitment marketing and inbound marketing already share a number of key concepts, and on some level they support the same goal: creating long term success for your business by prioritizing people and their needs. Today, we’ll be chatting with Ovidiu Marginean about some of the ways that these two concepts overlap, and why the future of recruitment is inbound.
Q: What do recruitment marketing and inbound marketing have to do with each other?
A: “Candidates should be treated like customers!”
According to Hubspot, 70% of job seekers begin their job search through Google. In order for companies to be attractive to top talent, it has become increasingly imperative for them to leverage social media channels and business blogs in order to showcase their employer brand and company culture. The best way to leverage these channels is to provide content that’s valuable to your prospective recruits—but what’s the best way to provide value?
The goal of inbound marketing is to help customers identify and better understand their own pain points by reading relevant, informative content. In recruiting, those pain points will come in the form of dissatisfaction with their current job. This might include anything from a bad culture fit to a below-market-rate salary.
Once your ideal job candidates realize that this dissatisfaction is there, your content (employee testimonials, information about benefits, company stories, etc.) will help them realize that your company could align better with their needs in the long or short term.
The inbound approach to recruitment begins with elements like your employer brand, but it also encompasses candidate experience. By considering these things through an inbound lens, we can see the importance of being helpful and human; of working to be engaging while also solving problems for your candidates.
By taking an inbound marketing approach to recruiting, companies can connect with passive and active job seekers, engage with their network, and delight candidates throughout the application process.
Q: What are some recruitment marketing challenges that inbound marketing can help recruiters face?
A: Great people are the lifeblood of any organization, but finding top talent often isn’t that simple. Why? Because the top candidates usually aren’t actively looking for a job.
Implementing an inbound approach is an effective way to step up your talent acquisition game. Building relationships with awesome candidates (even when you’re not hiring), investing in your recruitment-focused landing pages, and analyzing what works best: all of these tactics can have a huge effect on how you hire. Here are a few specific challenges that inbound can help overcome:
Inbound recruiting allows you to reach a much bigger pool of candidates. If your brand becomes well-known among candidates, that means there are hundreds or even thousands of people who are interested in your company and want to become your employees. Thus, you get a wider range to choose from and have more opportunity to find the best final candidate.
It might be a blog post that initially brought a candidate to your site, but it could be an email or a carefully crafted job description (both important forms of content) that finally convinces a candidate to click “apply.”
Not every candidate is wandering around the internet in a “ready-to-apply” state — inbound techniques can help them get there, but it takes time. This may seem like a downside, but it can actually have a big impact on applicant quality.
Candidates that spend more time engaging with your content will ultimately understand your company culture, their potential role, and your expectations better. This results in a much higher probability that they will make a great hire. Instead of coming into your application blindly and hoping for the best, the candidates being attracted through inbound are already self-selecting for a good culture fit. They’re genuinely engaged and interested in what you do, and the result is that they’ll come into the interview process more informed and they’ll have a better sense of how their goals align with the goals of your company.
In other words, the inbound approach helps you attract better quality talent. Given that right now, recruiters admit that they wouldn't re-hire 39% of their recent hires, this makes a huge difference!
These days, just reaching out to the candidates and offering an open position isn’t the ideal way to attract talent. A highly competitive job market has generated a lot of low-value, high noise recruitment campaigns that, in turn, have resulted in lower engagement rates and growing resistance to interruptive recruitment methods.
For this reason, providing quality content that resonates with your target audience and tailoring each interaction to the candidate’s needs has become especially important. Every employer brand interaction is also a chance to provide a positive candidate experience, and recruiters have to think more like marketers to make sure that candidates feel seen and valued.
Q: What are some inbound methods recruiters can use to improve their RM efforts?
A: We’ve gone over a lot of the ways that the similarities between these two concepts can be leveraged, but there is one critical concept that we haven’t touched on yet: candidate personas.
In inbound marketing, buyer personas are fictionalized representations of your ideal buyers, which marketers can use to more effectively target their content. In recruitment marketing, the same principles apply: crafting candidate personas will help you guide your recruitment marketing strategy and help you reach prospective candidates more effectively.
Once you have a candidate persona in place, you can then begin to the think about the candidate’s journey. This is essentially your recruitment funnel seen inside out, i.e. each step understood from the perspective of the candidate, from the first touch with your brand (probably an online ad or an organically searchable post) to a submitted application and every stage in between.
By mapping the candidate’s journey into discrete steps, you can better understand any potential gaps or bottlenecks in your recruitment marketing strategy. Ask yourself, “What does my ideal applicant need to hear from me at any given stage in the process?” “How are the needs of an attraction-stage candidate different from the needs of someone who’s already formally entered into my recruitment funnel?”
Q: Do you have any other tips for recruitment marketers trying to utilize inbound marketing methods?
A: Hiring talent in a candidate-driven job market means putting our egos aside and focusing more on the needs of the candidates. Candidate behavior patterns have changed; nowadays nobody wants to be “sourced.” This means that you really need to think about how you can engage with them and build a meaningful connection. Do this successfully, and when they’re ready to apply you’ll be their first choice.
Because applying for a job is such a big personal investment, it takes time to turn someone from a visitor into an applicant. Don’t rush things: tailor your approach for each step of the candidate’s journey and measure the performance of your employer branded content, recruitment campaigns, and career page. It may seem like a lot of effort, but the long-term benefits of implementing the inbound methodology—employer brand gravity, lower cost per applicant, lower cost per hire, and improved quality of hire—are hard to argue with.