Employer branding comes in all shapes and sizes. Often, when businesses attempt to spread their employer brand and educate potential applicants about their EVP they’ll make use of traditional advertisements comprised of text and images. These types of ads are often fairly easily transferred from one platform to another, and while they certainly reward effort, skill, and dedication, they needn’t be especially complicated or resource intensive to produce.
When it comes to videos, things are rather different. As a medium for transmitting your employer brand messaging, video content requires a high degree of commitment and a willingness to devote real time and resources. This turns many businesses off from using YouTube as a recruitment marketing platform—which is a real shame, because YouTube can actually be a powerful tool for attracting qualified job candidates who gel with your corporate values and EVP. The question is, from a recruitment marketing standpoint: why might that be the case?
YouTube ads generally play before someone’s selected video, and users typically (unless the video ad is relatively short) have the opportunity to skip the ad after a few second and get straight to their content. This might seem like a downside, but in point of fact it presents marketers with really interesting possibilities. Because you only pay by the click on skippable ads, someone refusing to watch the entirety of your video is not the end of the world. And until the option to skip becomes available, you have a unique chance to grab the attention of your audience and make a real impression with your messaging. Banner ads and sponsored content on platforms like Facebook and Twitter can certainly be useful, but nothing else quite offers the immediacy of a narrative unfolding front and center before your target persona’s eyes in the form of a well-constructed video.
Not only does YouTube’s ad infrastructure (which is run on Google AdWords, by the way) give you a chance to really grab the attention of potential applicants, it also, by virtue of being the world’s platform of choice for video content, gives you the chance to present something honest and authentic with the potential to really resonate with your audience. Videos give you a unique opportunity to showcase your existing team and let others know what it is that makes them tick, motivates them, and inspires them to put in their best effort for your company. When it comes to content like this, your people are your biggest asset; and by showcasing a diverse and engaged team, you can help potential new recruits to envision their own possible lives and careers at your company.
A recruitment video focused on your team and your company culture and values will give you the chance to communicate clearly and engagingly with your candidate personas, but it also lets you define that culture in an eye-catching, dynamic, and memorable way. By using a strong, distinctive visual language, appropriate music, and a well-defined aesthetic that meaningfully reflects your company’s EVP, you can create a much more lasting and memorable impression than even the most artfully constructed banner ad.
Crafting Your Ad
There’s no sense in beating around the bush, so let’s dive right into the problem of how your business should go about crafting video content for YouTube. For some people, the concept of a recruitment video might evoke grainy VHS corporate marketing materials that seem contractually obligated to trot out as many clichés as they can think of—and, to be sure, there’s more than enough videos like that to go around. But if you’re committed to using YouTube to attract job candidates, you can make a point of producing something exciting, engaging, and creative.
Creating a video ad that will showcase your employer brand and drive up applications might seem hard. With a little bit of information under your built, however, it doesn’t really have to be that hard after all.
Okay, let’s start with the absolute basics. In order to craft a high-quality recruitment video, you need to address all the elements that make up a high quality video, period. Obviously this means that you should concentrate on professional lighting, smooth editing and transitions, and music that fits with the message you’re trying to convey. If your employer brand is supposed to be inspiring, you might be better off with Bach than with Black Sabbath.
Just as important as nailing the basics of film technique (which is made increasingly easy by apps like iMovie), is getting the basic structure of a promotional YouTube video right. If your video is going to be deployed as a skippable ad (more on that later), you need to be sure that it’s long enough that users who aren’t going to watch the whole thing will have time to skip it (so that Google AdWords doesn’t charge you). Likewise, you should make sure that the video has links and calls-to-action embedded within it. Don’t make your prospective applicants type a URL into their browser in order to submit an application or sign up for a newsletter—make sure they can do so simply by clicking on a link within the video. This way there will be no confusion about what steps your potential applicants should take next, and they’ll be more likely to enter your recruitment funnel.
Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s talk a little about how you should go about crafting the actual content of your video. How should you you decide on the right messaging and turn that messaging into a compelling video? Let’s tackle the first part of that question first: messaging. To begin with, you’ll want to think back to your employee personas. Which of your ideal candidate profiles are you planning to target with this ad, and which segments of your EVP are the most important to those candidates? If you’re targeting recent PhD grads to try and fill research positions at your company, for instance, you might want to focus on the caliber of your existing team, the important contributions it has made in its field, and the exciting resources that will be made available to your new recruits as they carry out their research. By contrast, if you’re targeting candidates who value the chance to make a difference in the world, you should highlight the positive impact that your products have had in the past, and the work that still remains to be done in furthering your mission.
Of course, what you say isn’t the only thing that matters. How you say it can be just as important. When it comes to recruitment ads, you need to convey your message in a way that seems authentic and believable. Though there is often a temptation to put your CEO or founder front and center in these types of videos, especially if that person is established as a thought leader within your field, you’re actually better off highlighting your employees and putting the focus on them. Your message will seem much more believable and relatable coming from the mouths of the people who work for your company, and it will be much easier for a future applicant to envision herself working with you if she's gotten a glimpse of your existing team. For our hypothetical research position, you might consider letting your other researchers talk about their work, the things that inspire them, and the resources that they otherwise might not have had access to. Be sure to showcase the diversity of your team if possible, so that no candidates will have to worry about feeling out of place or unwelcome.
By following the general outline that we’ve given above, you’re already well positioned to create a video that stands above the competition. But what steps can you take to ensure that your recruitment ad is not just good, but great? From our perspective, the final check for your video should be whether or not it clearly and directly answers a few important questions for your audience: Why should I work here? What value will I get from working with your company? What kinds of candidates are you looking for? How do I apply? Look over the content of your video. Does it answer these questions? If so, then you’ve got something with the potential to effectively drive up applications and bolster your talent pipeline. If not, you may need to rethink your strategy. No matter how slick, flashy, or otherwise impressive your video might be, it’s crucial to remember that without clear answers to the above questions it will be hard for your ad to convert impressions into clicks or clicks into applications.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’ve put all this work into crafting the perfect recruitment video—shouldn’t truly high-quality content find an audience on its own? Yes and no. Plenty of businesses do their best to create viral recruitment campaigns that bolster their employer brand, and those businesses certainly can see returns, but not everyone’s employer brand will lend itself to the kind of content that spreads like wildfire around the internet. Sometimes, especially when there’s time pressure to fill a specific role, it’s better to give your content a little nudge. This is where YouTube ads comes in.
Because YouTube is owned by Google, YouTube ad campaigns will go through Google AdWords, and will offer the same set of extensive targeting options. As far as the ads themselves, there are a few different types:
TrueView ads: these ads are notable because you don’t pay for them unless the user watches at least 30 seconds or clicks on a link or call to action. These typically take the form of a “sponsored post” in someone’s search results or suggested videos, or a skippable ad at the beginning of another video.
PreRoll ads: these 15-20 second ads are not-skippable, and they play either at the beginning of another video or in the middle of a video that’s 10 minutes in length or longer (“mid-roll”). With these, advertisers pay per click.
Bumper ads: Bumper ads are just like PreRolls, but they’re limited to six seconds. For most companies, it would be extremely difficult to convey your employer brand or promote a particular job opening in such a short amount of time, but these can still be useful when they act as a complement to other, more fully fleshed out campaigns.
These are among the most commonly used, and you can choose different ad types to target different groups or support different goals within your larger recruitment strategy.
Tips Hurdles and Best Practices
YouTube gives you the chance to tell the story of your brand and let potential applicants know what value they would get from working with you in a way that’s exciting and new. With that lofty potential for making an impact, however, comes a few challenges that you’ll need to overcome in order to succeed. Like we said above, you’ll need to be committed to creating professional quality visuals: this can be done on a budget, but it can’t be done without a high level of attention to detail and a knowledge of best practices.
For instance, businesses sometimes craft smart, compelling ads that establish their business as an employer of choice for their field, but fail to include a call-to-action or any direct links to their online applications. We mentioned this briefly above, but it bears repeating. YouTube makes it fairly easy to embed links and CTAs within a video, and this is an absolute must if you want to turn impressions and engagement into actual applications. Without a clear action for your viewers to take at the end of the video, they’re much less likely to engage further and enter your recruitment funnel. While old-school recruitment wisdom might suggest that a candidate not committed enough to type in a URL doesn’t really want a job with your company, in the modern era of talent acquisition you really want to make it as easy as possible for people to apply. Not only does this help you keep pace with businesses that are already doing so, it demonstrates to your candidates that you respect their time—a fact for which they’ll thank you with further engagement.
At the end of the day, YouTube, even as an ads platform, is all about providing value for users. If you look at your ad as a way to do just that (i.e. provide value in the form of helpful information about what your company does, what kinds of candidates you’re looking for, how you help your employees advance in their careers and meet their goals, and how potential applicants can apply), then you can begin to win over passive candidates who might not be actively job searching. Some members of your target audience will still skip your ad as soon as they possibly can, but others will see the information and education you’re providing for what it is: a harbinger of more value to come.
The hurdles discussed above, are crucial to keep in mind, but you shouldn’t let them get in the way of your creativity or your enthusiasm. If you follow the best practices outlined below, you stand a good chance of overcoming these hurdles and achieving recruitment success on this unique platform.
Focus on People
Okay, we may have mentioned this idea a few times already, but we think it bears another mention. After all, the videos you post on this site are going to define the way your employer brand is perceived, and as such it’s important to be deliberate about your strategy. So what does a successful recruiting video look like? Crucially, it focuses on human beings—specifically, the human beings that work each day to help your company to grow and thrive. Focus on employee testimonials, employees describing their work, and employees explaining what your company and its mission mean to them. This will help potential future applicants feel like they’re getting a real look into what it would be like working for your company, thereby helping them to overcome one of the most significant hurdles in the candidate’s journey.
Let’s say you’ve created the greatest recruitment video ad of all time. The script, acting, cinematography, and editing are all Oscar-quality, and you’ve finally gotten the chance to share it with the world. After a few weeks, you realize that it’s getting tons of views, but your application rates haven’t actually increased. What might the problem be? Possibly, viewers are watching your video and absorbing its message, but they don't know what action to take next. Why? Because there’s no call-to-action in your video. Nowadays, YouTube makes it easy to insert links and CTAs into your videos, so that as users are watching they're presented with discrete actions to take if they’re responding positively to the content. If the aim of your ad is to promote your employer brand more generally, your video might link to your corporate careers page, offer an e-mail newsletter signup, or link to a social media careers page (this could even be your YouTube account) for users to like or subscribe to. If, on the other hand, the video is for a specific job opening, your video should link to a landing page specifically for that job. This way, your candidate will be unlikely to drop out of the application just because they’re not clear on which steps to take next, or because they feel like you’ve made it difficult for them to apply.
Utilize Remarketing… or Negative Remarketing
This tip is, admittedly, just for those who are taking our advice and running some ads. One of the targeting options that YouTube offers is a “remarketing” campaign, in which your ad is shown to users who have already interacted with your content or visited your website. This can be useful for keeping your business top of mind for those in the early stages of the candidate’s journey, and for letting interested job seekers know about newly opened positions. What’s really interesting, however, is that in addition to remarketing campaigns, you can also use “negative remarketing” to show your ads only to those who have never previously interacted with your videos or website. While the former might be helpful for second and third touches within your recruiting funnel, the latter can be a really valuable tool for reaching a new audience with your employer brand and potentially laying the groundwork for future applications. More than that, these options let you further segment your audience when it comes time to actually create the content that’s being disseminated, meaning that you could create videos designed specifically for those who have never encountered your brand before.
Keep it Short and Sweet
This last piece of advice should be pretty self explanatory. The average viewer’s attention span is maybe a minute. When it comes to skippable paid videos, there are arguably some disadvantages to being too brief (since you only have to pay for users who watch the whole video, it can be helpful to make it long enough that you’re fairly certain of having truly gotten their attention), but even then you don’t want to go on for too long. This is, of course, a real challenge. Conveying your entire employer brand narrative in half the space of your average movie trailer is no mean feat—but the reward is worth the effort. Potential applicants will appreciate not just your story, but the respect you demonstrate for their time, and they’ll show their appreciation with future engagement.
A Three Step Getting-Started Guide
1. Select you target audience
With our powerful audience selection tools, you can target the people who are right for your company. Using what you know about your employees, such as demographics, interests and behaviours, you can connect with people similar to them.
2. Set your Budget & Schedule
Select you optimal budget based on the people you want to reach and control when your campaigns get delivered.
3. Tell your story
Attract potential candidates with inspiring content.