5 HR Strategies to Recruit Top Talent

Updated : 2019-01-26

Recruiting departments are increasingly adopting marketing techniques to attract the best talent. In this whitepaper we will cover topics surrounding employment branding such as targeting, positioning, and messaging as well as the best ways to reach your candidates using social media, search engine optimization, and mobile accessibility.

What is Marketing and How Does it Relate to Recruiting?

Traditionally, marketing is defined as messaging that indicates how your company satisfies needs, wants, and demands in such a way as to make selling unnecessary. This is accomplished with something called the marketing mix defined by the 4 Ps which include productpriceplacement, and promotion. For recruiting, you can traditionally assume that the product is the job, the price is the salary, the place is the office location and promotion is through job boards. The problem, however, is that the expectations of buyers and candidates have evolved and therefore, so has the marketing mix. Now, many marketers are considering a 5th P positioning.

1. Positioning

Selling Points

At a high-level, positioning is a marketing technique that presents products in the best light to different target audiences. It includes messaging and experiences that are meaningful, differentiating, and credible. Positioning takes the message involved in the original marketing mix to a deeper level that encompasses a comparison of your product, price, place, and promotion to those offered by others selling the same things. But what is the meaning of this phrase and how is it applied to recruiting? Well start by defining target audience.

Target Audience

Any time you are marketing a product (or a job) you need to focus all your activities on speaking to the needs and wants of the buyer (the candidate). This means you must understand the needs and wants of your candidates before defining the messaging. Once you know your target (the candidate), you can speak to that person directly using a message that is most meaningful to them. So, the first step is to develop a thorough understanding of the hard and soft skills that a candidate will need to be successful within your organization.

Hard skills refer to education and experience required by a particular position. Many hard skills can be taught or developed overtime. Soft skills, however, cannot be taught and at times, can be hard to find. Depending on the job, sometimes it is better to recruit based on soft skills alone.

Keep in mind that we as humans are not just made up of a list of skills. We also have things that drive us to be successful. For most, some of these drivers are the origin of the hard and soft skills. For example, career aspirations are the reason many people pursue an education in a particular area. Drivers are developed or at least impacted by several factors, including the generation and the culture to which the candidate relates. Success in employment branding, and thus in recruitment, is directly linked to successfully speaking to these drivers.

2. Price

Opportunity Cost

Promoting your jobs is not just about posting on a job board anymore; today it is about creating an experience and recruiting socially. Today, people will move half way across the world for the right place, referring to culture and environment rather than geographic location. Price is no longer just about salary now it is reputation, opportunity, and opportunity cost. For example, the best candidates today are all about "personal brands", and therefore your value as an employer is wholly judged based on impressions and experience. These candidates question every career move, wondering - what does having that company on my resume say to others about me? Does the company indicate that I am the traditional corporate type or the creative, laid-back start-up type?

Generational Influencers

Source: catalyst.org

As you can see by this grid, different people are motivated by different things. In turn, they also bring different value to the workplace. For example, lets compare the silent generation with Gen Y or Millennials. The silent generation likes stability, but Gen Y, on the other hand, likes variety. Gen Y also prefers to work in team environments, whereas the upcoming Gen Z generally would rather work alone. Understanding all this is extremely important when promoting your employment brand and targeting your message so that you are speaking to the right people.

3. Place

Cultural Environment

Cultural Influencers

Culture also has a significant impact on candidate drivers. A study by Stanford University gives a little glimpse into a few aspects of American, Japanese, and European culture. Americans focus on individuality. This implies, for example, many Americans are inspired by individual recognition. The Japanese are collectivists, implying that they prefer group benefits. Europeans may be inspired by benefits to society as a whole, considering the dedication to social good. This is particularly important to know when recruiting globally. Again, the reason for targeting is to learn to speak the right language to the right people.

All of the drivers prompted from the individuals personality, generation, and cultural elements will either attract or deter a candidate from engaging with your organization. Therefore, alignment of the candidate drivers with the employers culture is key to attracting the right candidates and motivating them to apply. That alignment will ultimately improve job satisfaction, employee engagement, and employment retention.

Successfully targeting your recruitment marketing message requires you to first create a persona of the perfect candidate. The persona is a combination of hard and soft skills as well as drivers that align with your companys culture. Remember that there are hard and soft skills required to be a success in the individual position and in the company as a whole.

1. Create a Persona of the Perfect Candidate 
a. Candidates hard and soft skills required to succeed in this position
b. Candidates drivers align with our companys unique culture
2. Provide Consistent Messaging that 'Speaks Directly to the Persona You Created

Once this persona is created, communicate your message in a meaningful, differentiating, and credible way.

4. Product

Brand Image

Brand Messaging 
Messaging is the way you speak to your candidates through words, symbols, and signals. Messaging is even influenced by what you do not say. Most concerning is how deeply your message is impacted by what others say about you. For example, what are former employees and other candidates saying about your company on Glassdoor and social media sites? Are current employees making a good impression with their LinkedIn profiles? What are customers saying about your company on Yelp? Its extremely important to have a pulse on this ongoing conversation, as one in every four US consumers say they are more likely to tell family, friends, and coworkers about a bad experience with a product or service than a good one, according to LoyaltyOnes COLLOQUY report.

In addition to this, messaging is visual. This refers to your choice of color and the content, such as videos, images, and social media links. As well, the presence or absence of video and images also speak to a candidate. This is what we refer to as the experience you provide to potential candidates.

Incorporating Positioning into your Employment Brand 
Now that you know who you are looking for from the persona development, and you understand that the message must speak to that person you need to pull it together into a message that attracts the right candidates. To accomplish that, remember these key points:

Show How Your Company is Unique

· Dont Let Your Unique Qualities Alienate Good Candidates

Create an Experience Consistent with Your Brand Image

· Interactivity, Video, Images, Social Media, Educational Materials

Show You Appreciate Candidates Diversity

· Multigenerational Hiring

· Industry Experience

· Culture

Keep the Message Consistent in ALL Communications

· Career Portal

· Social Media

· Job Listings

· Screening and Interviewing Questions

5. Promotion

Reaching Candidates

Once your message and position are defined, you are ready to share the communications. As you can see from the graph below, there are a lot of channels through which to communicate. It is important to remember that in order to realize any return on investment, a good recruitment marketing plan needs to be multifaceted and strategic.

Job Board Posting
To get the best return on investment you need to advertise where the right candidates are looking. Candidates are searching for opportunities on career sites and career portals, job boards, business networks, and social networks. Job boards are the most common advertising method for many companies and are a great place to advertise your open positions.

ROI can be maximized by further targeting your communications. The goal isnt quantity its quality. Therefore, consider job board advertising more selectively. For example, niche boards and professional association boards, often bring in high quality candidates as they are likely to be more involved in career development activities.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is the practice of improving the visibility and ranking of a website in a search engines organic, or un-paid, results. In most cases, the higher a site ranks on the search results page, the more visitors the website will receive from the search engines users. Although traditional recruitment advertising techniques generate visits to your career site, more and more candidates are using major search engines like Google or Bing to find jobs. To simplify SEO, many recruiters are leveraging career microsites. Microsites are small search engine optimized websites that advertise your jobs and point traffic to your career portal and/or Talent CRM.

Talent CRM
For years, sales and marketing professionals have used CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) to build and nurture relationships with sales prospects. As todays recruiters struggle to hire the best candidates despite the skills gap, recruiters are turning into marketing professionals as they sell their companys employment brand in an attempt to attract top talent. Now, recruitment professionals need to build and nurture candidate relationships with the help of a Talent CRM, which can facilitate their proactive recruitment efforts.

For example, how many times have highly skilled, intelligent, candidates visited your career portal, found no jobs available matching their skills, and went on to visit your competitors career portals? How many talented people have you met and lost contact with? No one can actually answer those questions, but the point is clear. Successful recruiters must have a way to keep track of candidate information, even when a candidate is not ready to apply for a job with their organization.

Social Media and Mobile Accessibility 
Most organizations have adopted social media and developed social recruiting strategies to attract and recruit top talent. Often overlooked however, is the fact that most social media consumption is done on a mobile device. Adding a social and mobile component to your recruiting strategy gives current employees a way to share job openings with their friends. Employee referrals are still a top source of applicant flow and a very effective cost-per-hire strategy.

A key element in using mobile and social for recruiting is consistency. Because some social sites, like Twitter, limit the length of a message, the focus of your messaging should be to drive people to a place where they can see your employment brand i.e. your career site. This is where your investment in a robust career site and realistic job postings will pay off.

A Marketing Secret: Social Currency
Marketers use research to understand what grabs buyers, makes buyers dive into sellers content, and ultimately what makes customers tell others about it. They provide content so that people will read and share it, thus creating word-of-mouth advertising. This concept is known as social currency and for recruiters, the same findings will hold true your buyers are your candidates.

Social currency is what people (such as job seekers) gain from sharing information. People gravitate to and tend to share information that builds up their importance. Ever wonder why people are so adamant to get twitter followers? It is validation of their importance, or their social currency. So how does this apply to HR and recruiting? Simply, if you want to attract candidates attention, engage them, and spread the word about your employment brand further, feed a candidates social currency.

So how can the talent acquisition team provide social currency? By doing more than just promoting open jobs. Instead, provide candidates with valuable information by telling them more about your company, and promote that content on social media. Other ideas include telling candidates how to prepare for an interview, upcoming recruiting events, or what you look for in employees.


Today recruiting is all about marketing. Recruiters are now responsible for creating the employment value proposition, which comes from the 5 Ps Positioning, Price, Place, Product, and Promotion. Positioning refers to the message you provide to your target audience it must be meaningful, differentiating, and credible. As long as you do so within legal parameters, in a non-discriminatory fashion, targeting your recruitment efforts will result in the best return on investment for your recruitment marketing dollars. Identify the skills required to succeed in your company as well as the drivers that inspire your target candidates to apply. From that, develop a persona of the best candidate and design messaging to speak consistently across all media to that persona in terms that inspire them to apply. Use the targeting and persona information to communicate with candidates on your career site, within job descriptions, on job boards, social media, etc. To attract passive and active candidates for your talent pipeline, feed their social currency with interesting and sharable content. By incorporating techniques, you can bolster your recruitment efforts, set your employment brand apart and drive recruitment.

How iCIMS Can Help

iCIMS delivers the industrys premier on-demand Talent Platform by offering robust yet scalable technology, capable of powering multiple talent initiatives within one core platform. Recognized as the leading provider in talent acquisition software, iCIMS Talent Platform automates and streamlines the end-to-end candidate lifecycles for industry-leading organizations around the world.

iCIMS makes it easy for our clients to take advantage of the power of SEO. Customers that utilize career site SEO are in a better position to achieve top search engine rankings and, in turn, drive more traffic to their career sites. Powered by JobTarget and seamlessly integrated with iCIMS Recruit, the OneClick Job Board Posting tool allows users to easily post jobs out to multiple third-party job boards, automatically track candidate sources and report on source effectiveness within the iCIMS Talent Platform.

The iCIMS Talent Platform provides organizations with the tools to succeed in a new talent marketplace. With social and mobile recruitment features, iCIMS makes it easier than ever to launch, capture and measure data through a variety of social networks. With robust candidate management tools (CRM), iCIMS offers a holistic approach to talent acquisition and enables organizations to tie their key business objectives with their human capital acquisition processes. In addition to this superior Talent Platform, iCIMS clients benefit from an unparalleled customer experience and award winning customer support teams.

Source: icims.com