What recruitment can learn from marketing

The new iJob

Don’t you find it remarkable? Whenever Apple launches a new product, people all around the globe queue up, with cash or credit card in hand, to be one of the firsts to buy the phone, tablet or watch. Why is that?

Of course it helps that Apple products look nice. But do you know what’s even nicer? A challenging job with a decent pay. Yet how come there’s no line of applicants in sleeping bags in front of your office when you publish a new vacancy?

Sales and Marketing lessons
Can we learn marketing techniques from Jerry?

 Are you still going door-to-door?

Recruitment and marketing are a very similar expertise, even more so than you might realize. We’re both looking for leads: new colleagues or new customers. We’re both working towards the moment someone signs a contract. And we both feel our competitors breathing down our necks, hunting for the same signature.

The difference between marketing and recruitment is how we hunt for those leads. Whereas marketing has matured much over the years, recruitment evolved relatively little. Many recruiters stick to old-fashioned methods to market their jobs: they put it on their own website or approach candidates personally. That’s the equivalent of a marketer who still limits himself to putting his product in the shop-window, or going door-to-door to sell his goods.

Your colleagues at Marketing use many, many more methods to reach their goal. And in that respect, recruiters have a lot to learn from marketers. There’s so much more you could be doing to find the right candidate.

Buyer’s Applicant journey

In Marketing, it’s become common practice to make a buyer’s journey. This is a map of the entire ‘journey’ of a potential customer, from his first investigation into his problems to the actual purchase of your product. You analyze every moment of contact, every moment of decision: these are called touchpoints. And you find ways to use those moments to your advantage.

It’s a valuable method for recruitment purposes, too. Only in that case we call it an applicant journey. For regular vacancies you make a profile of your ideal candidate. You analyze where you can find this person, both online and offline, and find out what he or she’s looking for in a job.

You then collect all the touchpoints and map them to your applicant journey. For each touchpoint you ask yourself: how can I help this person in his search for the ultimate job? Your goal is, of course, to get your ideal candidate to apply to one of your own vacancies.

There are more touchpoints than you think

It’s important to realize your applicant journey starts way before you publish your vacancy. There are dozens of these touchpoints from start to finish, from the first time your potential employee sees your organization’s name in his search results, until the moment he signed his employment contract.

To give you some idea of what touchpoints to include in your applicant journey, here are some examples – including some tips on how you can use each of these moment to capture your applicants attention.

Orientation: meet your applicants before they apply

Make sure you meet your target audience before they’re even thinking of looking for a job. Yes, this is possible. Marketers call this content marketing. They publish blogs, videos or eBooks featuring topics to help their potential customers with something, without trying to sell their product. Think of a travel agency that publishes a blog called ‘The top 10 cities in Spain should definitely visit’. The next time you want to book a trip to Spain, they hope you remember their name.

You could make this work for your recruitment goals, too. At TOPdesk, we have a tech blog where developers share their experiences on subjects like version control, continuous integration and automated testing with the rest of the world. We hope that other developers can learn from this. And that next time they’re looking a for a job, they will think of us and apply.

Vacancy: stop sending, start listening

When composing vacancies, many organizations adopt a send-and-demand strategy. They bombard you with bulleted lists containing job requirements, add some default ‘About us’-text and hit publish. Quick and easy, sure. But is it what their potential candidate wants to read?

Instead, talk to your colleagues to find out what your candidate really wants to know. Schedule a meeting with the colleagues you would like to clone and ask what do they like about their job. Notice which words they use when describing something they’re enthusiastic about. Use that information to create a vacancy text that resonates with your target audience.

Job applications: be the best applicant manager

Every applicant deserves a fast and proper response. I know some applications are better than others – in fact, some are outright crappy – but also bad applications can yield positive results. Even if you feel an applicant is not suited for the job, you still need to leave a good impression with them. Partly because word-of-mouth advertising is more essential than ever, and one pissed-off candidate can do quite some damage. But mainly because it’s the decent thing to do.

Try to respond quickly to incoming job applications. Keep the applicant informed about the procedure and open yourself up to questions. Is the applicant no match for your organization? Or is there someone else who’s a better fit? Provide your applicant with honest and personal feedback. Explain why you did not choose him, and give him a tip for his future applications.

Job offers: make it an offer they can’t refuse

Many employers choose to send the employment contract by mail and hope their applicant signs it. Don’t! Do as a good salesperson does. A salesperson knows that in order to win someone over, personal attention, a good atmosphere and trust are key. A good candidate probably has other job offers lined up, so the way you handle a job offer can determine whether your candidate accepts your job or not.

That’s why we always invite our candidates over for a personal conversation. We explain the job offer, highlight all the perks of the job that are not mentioned in the contract and ask what else they need to know in order to make a decision. After the talk, we walk by the department where his future colleagues work, who generally welcome him with great enthusiasm. For us, this works wonders: almost every candidates we offer a job, ends up signing the contract.

Tip: Use the goldmine you’re sitting on

Time to make your applicant journey! But where to start? You could of course start from scratch and start brainstorming with your fellow recruiters. But you shouldn’t. Instead, make a head start and use the goldmine you’re sitting on: your colleagues!
At TOPdesk we use that goldmine in various ways. For each applicant, we keep track of how he found us. We analyze which channels turn out to be effective and adjust our investments accordingly. After their first month of employment, we send our colleagues a survey with questions such as ‘What research did you do when you were looking for a job? What did you think of the application procedure? Does your experience in the first month match the expectations you had before you started?’ This kind of feedback from your colleagues helps you to quickly map your first customer journey and determine your touchpoints.

Good luck! Did you already make an applicant journey? I’m curious to see what it looks like. Post your applicant journey in the comments, or send me an email.