An all-too-common-mistake employers make when searching for talent is hanging a help wanted sign (literally or metaphorically) in the window and expecting candidates to come knocking. While today’s job market is an uber-competitive space for job seekers, it is equally as competitive for employers as both passive and active job seekers have more tools and resources at their disposal to understand what an organization can offer them.
Whether it’s social media, networking platforms, or even Google reviews, job seekers can research a company's culture, compensation and benefits, and current or past employee reviews. Content marketing can be a powerful, engaging tool to convey the value proposition your organization offers, but it can also help strengthen your employer branding and encourage current employees to become digital brand evangelists through sharing content with their personal and professional networks.
With this in mind, let’s examine the important elements employers should consider when leveraging content marketing as a recruitment tool.
As an employer, you engage in the competitive analysis process all the time. Whether it’s looking at the wage your competitors are paying or the perks they provide employees, you’re always looking over the proverbial fence to remain in step with the major players in your industry. Evaluating content marketing as an element of your overall recruitment strategy is no different, and some important elements to consider when engaging in a competitive analysis for your content marketing plans are:
- Where are your competitors? What platforms or vehicles are your competitors using for their content marketing? Blogs? YouTube videos? Social media? Networking platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed? The old saying is if you want to catch fish you have to go where the fish are, and this adage certainly applies to recruitment, especially if your applicant pool is already engaging with your competitors in these ways. Some action steps you might realize after surveying the landscape is that your website needs updating, your networking platforms could use a facelift, or you have inconsistent branding in the digital sphere.
- How are similar organizations positioning themselves to applicants? Be mindful of the language, tone, or ideas your competitors are using in their content marketing. Odds are you’ll discover other organizations using content marketing are striking a fine balance between discussing the nuts and bolts of their compensation and benefits packages with emphasizing the intangibles of what they can offer employees — culture, pathways for advancement, employee appreciation opportunities, or perks like childcare or employee fitness centers. The ideas your competitors are conveying can help you brainstorm on how you can play in a similar sandbox.
- Are people reacting or engaging? Does a competitor's YouTube video have a massive number of views? Does their Facebook post have a multitude of likes and shares? As a recruiter or marketer, you’re data-minded and driven by metrics and reporting, so make sure to take note of engagement data.
- Competition vs. alignment? It’s important to remember there is a distinction between these two ideas. We’ll discuss later the importance of establishing a voice and tone that works for your organization, so do not get discouraged if you discover your competitors are saying and doing the same things you envisioned for your content marketing. Properly aligning your content with the big ideas in your industry gets you in the game, and once you’re in the game you can work to differentiate yourself.
Establish your value proposition
Every employer has something unique to offer job seekers. Part of your task in creating a content marketing strategy is identifying the nooks and crannies that make your organization just a tad different from your competitors and putting yourself in job seekers’ shoes to understand what’s in it for them by joining your company. Once you’ve established your value proposition, you can then amplify it through your content.
Keep it simple:
- Are you family-owned with a family focus?
- Are you a large, dynamic organization with a wealth of tools and resources?
- Do you offer better work/life balance or more paid holidays than other companies in your space?
- Do you provide robust training or mentorship opportunities to promote career growth?
Much like what we discussed earlier with a competitive analysis, establishing your value proposition requires a little introspection. But the answers to these questions are the stuff your content will be built upon. Quality content marketing is first about having something compelling to say, and second is having a creative, memorable, and impactful way to say it. Discovering your value proposition for job seekers is step one and step two will come later.
Populate your platforms
Once you’ve asked the hard questions and unlocked what makes your organization interesting to job seekers, you’re now in a position to begin populating your platforms with content. But it’s not enough to simply publish some social media posts here or upload a blog post there. When we say populate your platforms, we mean deploy a strategized, thoughtful pipeline of content across each platform to reach your ideal job seeker via a variety of channels.
When developing a strategy to create and publish relevant content, there are a couple key considerations to keep in mind, especially in the recruitment space where needs are based on job openings and can fluctuate in a somewhat unpredictable manner. These considerations include:
- Consistency across all platforms: Nine out of ten job seekers signal they won’t apply for a position if a company’s employer branding is not actively maintained or consistent. Make sure your employer branding is represented accurately and consistently regardless of where you’re deploying content. Inconsistencies can create confusion among job seekers and/or the incorrect belief that you don’t care about the content you’re putting into the world.
- Regularity of content publication: One of the biggest mistakes an employer can make when entering content marketing is publishing content in an ad hoc manner. Long gaps between blog entries or social media posts can signal to job seekers instability on the part of an employer. Creating and maintaining an editorial calendar that maps out specific content, the avenues to publish it, and who owns specific content pieces will help avoid inconsistency.
- Respond to comments/engagement: Once your followers begin engaging with your content, be sure to build in time, resources, and tools to respond to inquiries in a timely manner. Even if certain inquiries are not directly associated with the goal of a content piece, recruitment really is just a branch of customer service, and positive customer service experiences go a long way toward positive word of mouth in the real and digital world.
- Prioritize timely content: Nobody knows your industry and what job seekers care about more than you. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the day’s conversations and parlaying these topics into blog content, social media posts, emails, or videos demonstrates to job seekers you’re engaged with what industry professionals are discussing and that you’re working to establish yourself as a thought leader in your space.
Find and refine your voice
Content marketing, especially when first dipping your toe into this kind of advertising and outreach, is not a one and done proposition. This means to effectively deploy content marketing as part of your recruitment strategy you must continue to hone and refine your voice based on both internal priorities and reception from your audience. Perhaps the most foundational element of content marketing is understanding your audience and purpose, and these two variables may change or morph depending on the position, experience level, and location of the recruitment need.
A major component to finding and refining your voice is being authentic to who you are as an employer and the identity you’ve established. If your culture is not the super laid back Google or Facebook culture, then don’t try to convey that culture or tone in your content marketing.
Or, for another example, content marketing as a recruitment tool for a hospital would much different as opposed to a media company — whereas the tone with the media company can be more playful and casual, the tenor of the hospital’s content marketing will likely be more inspirational and affirmative given the nature of the work of the industry.
With all of these points in mind, it’s clear that an intimate understanding of your voice and how that voice impacts a candidate is a powerful driver in your content marketing strategy, and that content marketing itself can be a potent tool in your recruitment arsenal.
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