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Evolving Contingent Work Trends and How Companies Can Benefit From Them

The continual growth of contingent work makes one thing clear: it’s here to stay. More and more individuals are opting for the autonomy and flexibility of contingent work, especially as technology[...]

May 19, 2020

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The Modern Recruitment Marketing Mindset

Recruitment marketing is the current gold standard in talent acquisition. The gig economy has contributed to this evolution through the massive decoupling of consumers and buyers -- the candidates we prospect are becoming more like consumers; we’re selling and they’re buying. Talent are beginning to view employers as clients, and those organizations are looking at workers as service providers. Given all these shifts, it’s easy to see why adopting a marketing-centric recruitment approach has become an integral part of hiring – especially when competition for top talent is fierce. The advice throughout the staffing industry for the past three years has been to “think and act like a marketer.” It’s good advice. Yet as Gartner analyst Augie Ray points out in a fascinating article, thinking like a marketer can lead to tunnel vision. In this digital, as-a-service economy, it’s important to understand how we should be conceptualizing marketing. Let’s explore what Ray calls the disease of the marketing mindset and how to cure it.

The Modern Marketing Mindset

Content continues to increase and permeate the digital world. In the next two years alone, analysts expect the amount of online content to double. Every company and every recruiter seeking talent must become a media entity, enticing workers through content. And anyone involved in marketing -- even recruitment marketing – must also be planning for a future that’s increasingly more digital, mobile and data-rich.

Based on joint research from Google and Ecosultancy, the most successful marketers are thinking across platforms (mobile and traditional) and using smarter measurement strategies to bolster growth. That’s why Google found that standout marketers are twice as likely to conduct strategic experiments as their mainstream contemporaries: “The secret weapon for these leading marketers isn’t classified business insights or cutting edge technology; it’s their mindset.”

Ray would agree: the key to unlocking to the marvels of ingenious marketing is mindset. “I believe marketers, like all humans, can get in the rut of thinking about their own problems and goals, and it causes them to lose sight of what matters–the customer,” he wrote. “And in so doing, they also neglect what matters to their brand in the intermediate- to long-term. This is why thinking like a marketer can be a dangerous disease for individuals’ careers and brand health.”

Ray illustrated his point with two examples, one from a customer (a busy working mother) and the other from a marketing agency leader.

In a conversation about the prevalence of artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual assistants and big data, the working mother told Ray, “I would gladly hand over all my data to a brand if it would hack my life for me.” The consumer’s sentiments speak directly to the findings of the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer: one of the greatest gaps plaguing customers comes from their perception of a brand (based on marketing) and its actual performance.

Optimal results, the report notes, occur when a brand places customer satisfaction over bottom line profits. Consumers will volunteer a wealth of useful data when they feel assured that the brand is applying the information to improving their lives before benefitting its business situation.

Ray’s discussion with the marketing agency leader involved the value of location-based data. “Think of how powerful it would be if advertisers could know someone walks past three Dunkin Donuts on their way to work so that the brand could push to customers a desired offer,” the agency executive said.

Google’s profits, in large part, are tied to its success in developing targeted, relevant ads for consumers. The problem with the traditional marketing mindset, Ray cautions, is that “marketers push whatever ads get us to click and convert,” which has led to record breaking figures in the installation of ad-blocking software. As a result, many consumers receive no messages at all.

If these anecdotes indicate a sort of creeping disease, what’s the cure? According to Ray, it’s committing to building strong customer relationships and not just the brand. The same lesson holds true for recruitment marketing. Value flourishes when we see things from the candidate’s perspective and address his or her needs before we focus on our corporate goals. If we perform our tasks well, our brands will grow organically as an outcome.

Superior User Experiences Lead to Superior Brands

Focus on What Your Brand Does, Not What It Says

Pepsi’s ill-conceived advertising campaign last week wasn’t just a blunder – it degenerated into a fiasco, with fiery backlashes dominating social media. In the commercial, Pepsi co-opted emotionally charged civil rights issues with a tone-deaf message: a soda can somehow erase discrimination, abuse or violence. The problem, Ray observes, is that actions always speak louder than words. In a world where Twitter and Yelp allow everybody’s voice to heard, and heeded, this old adage takes on new meaning.

“Suppose you’re a soda brand, you realize your customers have significant social concerns, and you wish to demonstrate your brand shares them. What do you do?” asks Ray. “Do you send semi-trailers full of your product to women’s rallies to offer free refreshment to those marching? Or do you make an ad with a supermodel in which concerned activists cheer in victory not when the world is changed but when someone drinks a pop?”

When establishing your brand – whether as an independent recruiter or part of a bustling staffing firm – you must determine what you do, not what you’ll say: understand the precise candidate needs you fulfill, before you formulate the message.

  • If your brand promotes a specialization in diversity, you must deliver on that promise. That requires sourcing diverse workers, across all categories. It also involves placing talent in the inclusive and varied cultures they expect.
  • Millennial talent are attracted to companies that champion issues of social responsibility and sustainability. If this is the message you wish to spread, it must transcend slogans and content. You must become visibly and actively engaged in the issues you have claimed to support. Let’s say you endorse a certain charity. Regularly volunteer there and present opportunities for your talent to do the same.

Focus on Depth and Impact Over Breadth and Reach

“Marketers continue to want buzz, but buzz is not what will sustain your brand,” explains Ray. “Kodak had buzz; Vine had buzz; Myspace, American Apparel, Pets.com, Blockbuster, Google+, and Blackberry had buzz. Your brand doesn’t need buzz–it needs strong customer relationships that inspire loyalty, a greater share of wallet, and vocal brand advocacy.”

The most effective way to sell your brand is to let consumers (clients and talent) tell your story. Interactions today are based on integrity and trust, not just clever pitches or colorful imagery. Clients and candidates want to see more proof, less pudding. An engaging career site remains one of the most prominent displays of your values, mission, commitments and incentives.

  • Feature testimonials from clients and actual employees who supported contingent workforce programs at those sites. Encourage them to share their experiences with your staffing firm, in their own words.
  • Make sure the site is responsive and can be easily accessed on multiple devices. Your core content should be simple to see, read and digest. Google offers a great tool for testing your site’s responsive design across media: computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.
  • Promote messaging that invites diversity candidates.
  • Provide regular updates of hiring drives or campus recruitment fairs.
  • Always use authentic images and videos. Streaming video apps such as Periscope and Facebook Live have had tremendous success in helping companies showcase their employment cultures to prospective talent around the globe. Many companies have live streamed their internal talent discussing the business culture, the work, the perks and more. Candidates want a genuine sense of the company, not stock photography and actors.
  • Post job descriptions that impart engaging, accurate and informative details about the position, the company, its culture and its opportunities.
  • Develop relevant content and specific candidate resources. A regular blog with useful job searching tips is a great start. Premium content can elevate the experience through white papers, studies, webinars, resume templates and more.
  • Try to refine your content so that it emphasizes the employment brand more than the duties of the job.

Focus on the Ends, Not the Means

In any form of marketing today, a tremendous amount of emphasis is placed on data collection, aggregation and analysis. Big data certainly makes it easier for us to measure and predict the actions of our customers. However, technology has lengths to go before it can evaluate the impact that marketing makes within a customer’s mind. It’s easy to concentrate on “likes,” views, impressions and scores. Ray urges savvy marketers against seeing these metrics as goals. Changing minds and behaviors should be the end of the journey.

A significant number of job seekers, particularly Millennials, are turning to social networks and mobile apps to assess open positions, company cultures, employment brands and even the staffing firms involved. They’re also conducting more of their searches and interactions through apps and social networks on mobile devices. By studying their interactions, search habits and queries, recruiters can develop a keener sense of applicant needs, fits and what Google calls the “Is-It-Right-For-Me” moment.

  • Does the position’s description match the candidate’s career goals or aspirations?
  • Is the client’s company culture aligned to the candidate’s skills and behaviors?
  • Is the company committed to diversity?
  • Does the company promote accommodations for talent with special needs?
  • Are benefits, compensation and development opportunities appealing?
  • What is the ratio between shopping and applying?
  • What are the main sources or drivers that influence serious applications?
  • How much time and activity are spent on job boards versus mobile and social? What are the engagement rates and close rates between them?

Ten years ago, few people knew what user experience design was. Today, this creative field is poised to become one of the hottest future careers as organizations compete to innovate. Wired Magazine explains: “UX design has become integral at any company with a digital component. In a recent survey of 500 department heads, Adobe found that most of them expect to double the number of UX designers they employ in the next five years.”

Marketing is longer the realm of wordsmiths, advertising artists or even data scientists. The surge in UX proves this. The tech industry, colossal as it is, understands that it can’t sell consumers on the next big idea without tailoring the experience. It’s a lesson Microsoft learned years ago when Apple’s iPhone sparked a new revolution. As staffing professionals, we deal with the intimacy of human interaction in the digital age. The “user experience” is the powerhouse behind successful recruitment marketing efforts. When we focus on our talent and our clients, our actions speak more eloquently than any words.

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