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Recruitment vs. Recruitment Marketing: Why it's Become Essential to Finding the Right Talent

By Ron Mitchell, CEO & Founder, Virgil Careers

Ron Mitchell, CEO & Founder, Virgil Careers

So much has changed in the job search process over the last 25 years. When I graduated from Harvard, I went to work in investment banking because that’s what everybody told me I should do. Back then, before the internet, cell phones, and even email, there was very limited transparency or access to information about available job opportunities. Consequently, students and entry-level candidates were severely underprepared for the job search process. In addition, there was virtually no dialogue around critical factors that influence the employment decisions of today’s generation, such as corporate values, growth opportunities and flexible work arrangements.

Today, access to information that can assist job seekers in identifying the “right” opportunity is a keystroke away. The largest technology companies in the world, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, provide one-click access to countless employers with a seemingly unlimited amount of information on each. These platforms and others also enable increased transparency and social interaction around a company’s employment brand, creating the potential for damaging negative exposure. All of these changes, combined with a healthy economy and more stringent immigration laws, have empowered the job seeker, leaving employers to wonder if they’ll ever be able to fill their workforce with the same degree of ease that they once did.

"If recruiters wish to find success in this increasingly difficult talent marketplace, they must adopt the same marketing strategies, such as the 4Ps, that consumer companies have been utilizing for decades to drive better targeting and engagement"

To navigate this new paradigm, it is critical that employers understand how to market their recruiting efforts strategically.

Despite the fact that many HR professionals believe they are practicing recruitment marketing, they are not. They work with management to draft a job description; they post the opening on job boards and social media, and they hope that it attracts the right talent. This is not “recruitment marketing.” It is simply a “recruitment.” Most recruitment efforts lack fundamental marketing principles required to deliver the best results in today’s talent marketplace. If HR professionals truly want to execute recruitment marketing strategies, they need to adopt traditional marketing tactics.

Perhaps the most common marketing framework is the4Ps, which refer to place, product, promotion, and price. Today, the majority of recruiters execute on only one of these tactics: place. In the context of recruitment marketing, “place” refers to where they distribute their job postings, such as Indeed, Linkedin, Glassdoor, and our own platform, Hcareers. However, they spend little time contemplating the other three Ps.

Perhaps the most important “P” is the product. Whether you are selling cars, shampoo, or jobs, marketers must communicate what features, feelings, or outcomes differentiate their product in the marketplace. Too many recruiters spend too little time shaping their product offering. They may include a salary range or a detailed set of responsibilities in the job posting; however, these are seldom differentiating characteristics. Our survey of 3,000 Gen Z and Millennial job seekers tells us that compensation, benefits and the type of work they will be doing are only a fraction of the criteria they use in making an employment decision. Other significant and more differentiating factors include 1) personal growth opportunities, 2) flexible work rules, and 3) corporate social responsibility. In order to market a job to its full potential, recruiters should address these additional factors in their recruitment marketing process.

Yet, simply conveying the information is not enough. This brings us to the third P: promotion—the way in which one promotes their product to their target audience matters as well. I have always felt there is a danger in treating an entire generation as a single monolithic group that all think alike and have the same wants and needs. For instance, people constantly say, “Gen Z does this…” or “Millennials do that….” In reality, neither Gen Z nor Millennials are homogenous groups. For example, a 25-year-old black man on the southside of Chicago has very different interests, needs, and preferences than a 25-year-old white woman on the northside Chicago.

In our survey, we found statistically significant differences in the criteria that different races, ethnicities, and genders utilize to evaluate employment opportunities. For example, African Americans are significantly more likely to respond to greater financial compensation than their white, Asian, and Latinx counterparts. White men respond more positively to opportunities that relate to the type of work they will be doing in the role. Latinx individuals are more concerned with benefits, and Asians tend to prioritize opportunities to gain new skills.

Employers must recognize these differences and develop targeted marketing campaigns and promotions that deliver the proper messages to the right audience— the more generic your messaging, the less impactful your results.

The final P, price, has a somewhat different application in employment marketing than traditional marketing. It represents the economic value proposition offered to the job seeker. Recruiters should recognize that this value proposition is equally important in attracting talent as it is in retaining talent. As with any consumer product, this value proposition is relative to the competitive environment. What I find most interesting is that so many hiring organizations do not wish to include salary ranges in their job advertisements, yet the data tells us that 1)compensation is the most important decision factor for younger job seekers and 2) the inclusion of salary information meaningfully increases the number of clicks the job advertisement receives.

If recruiters wish to find success in this increasingly difficult talent marketplace, they must adopt the same marketing strategies, such as the 4Ps, that consumer companies have been utilizing for decades to drive better targeting and engagement.

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