How To Get Started with Recruitment Marketing (Part 2)

In part one of this post, I covered what should be included in a talent brand audit as you begin adopting a marketing-based recruitment strategy. Now, we’ll move on to advanced marketing, from developing personas to managing your hiring funnel to nurturing campaigns to the metrics you should focus on to identify what works and what doesn’t.

Candidate Personas in Recruitment and Hiring 

Marketers begin the process of messaging by creating personas, or profiles of the wants, desires, and interests of the people most likely to buy the product or service they are promoting. Once personas are created, research and messaging are focused on these specific groups of people. Based on target personas, customized experiences are designed to lead these individuals through a customer journey – beginning with awareness and ending with conversion, in recruitment, application or acceptance of offer.

Once you have identified your ideal candidate(s), you can create a hiring funnel for recruitment marketing. This is how recruiters can create a compelling employee journey for our target job candidates. By creating personas based on the types of diverse personalities or skills sets you’re looking for, you can more effectively recruit and build messaging to attract a specific type of person. Start with your company’s employee value proposition (EVP) and the skills and experience you value most, including soft skills like work ethic and culture fit.

Creating a Talent Funnel

Marketing teams are familiar with funnel engagement; if you haven’t already, consider adapting the same process for your candidate marketing. Developing personas, mapping out how you’re reaching them and where, and reporting on the results are inherently useful to the hiring process. Your talent and recruiting funnel, or pipeline, allows you to not only recruit for the positions you have open now, but for those you may need to fill in the future. For high-volume hiring, a talent pipeline is a necessity.

A talent pipeline can also improve the candidate experience and the company-candidate relationship. When you are recruiting for future opportunities, you have to work that much harder to build trust with potential candidates. You are engaging in more meaningful conversations to gain perspective on the career goals of the talent in your industry. Talent pipelining also allows you to better personalize your messages, answer questions, build relationships, and most importantly, to automate your job postings. Your candidate database and social media platforms become more than sourcing tools; they become relationship-building platforms.

Content Marketing and Digital Storytelling

In the simplest terms, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. For recruiters, this means candidate engagement and supporting a robust talent pipeline.

Related: 5 Content Marketing Secrets for Recruitment Marketers

Content marketing is important for candidate nurturing in the mid- to lower hiring funnel. All candidates should get a list of resources to help them in their job search, whether it’s with your organization or with someone else. The key is to create a referral source that continues to drive high quality job seekers to expand and grow your employment brand in far reaching ways. This can be in the form of an FAQ along with other candidate assets that can help provide information about your company, unique qualities and custom content and resources targeted to your job candidate personas.

The Value in Candidate Nurturing

Customization and candidate nurturing are key to maintaining a positive candidate experience, from job application to interview to acceptance or rejection. Once you have personas and data, customization falls into place and you can focus on nurturing candidates through your hiring funnel.

Consider sending surveys to a select group of candidates (for example, those you have an interest in after the initial application). This could be a four or five question survey asking the candidates to share their goals, interests, or even something like a hobby or other non work-related personal aspect. Be clear in the survey that the responses will not be factored into the hiring decision. With the additional information, you can get a better idea of what your candidate’s interests are, and it can be used by to better personalize the interview experience.

Another example: If a top candidate isn’t selected for hire, he or she would typically receive a form letter from your ATS with a “thanks but no thanks.” And then they’re forgotten when your company has future hiring needs. This is an often overlooked opportunity. If a candidate makes it far enough into your hiring process, consider segmenting out a short list of top candidates that came close to being hired and setting up a newsletter with a personalized response. This is a way to keep your company relevant to quality candidates and will give you a pool of candidates to reach out to for future hiring needs.

Measuring Success in Recruitment Marketing

Every marketer knows it’s impossible to scale new programs and processes without data. Data is at the heart of many of the decisions we make, but it’s also the key to improving in the three key areas of time, cost and quality. It’s nearly impossible to separate time from quality from cost, as the crossover effect is inherent in these recruiting & HR metrics when it comes to analytics.

Data and predictive analytics will allow you and your recruiting team make informed decisions about what to automate, where to spend time on high-touch tasks, how to reach candidates more quickly and in a targeted way, and manage costs. For specific nurturing and candidate marketing efforts, you’ll want to identify the KPIs that align with your company goals, such as open and click through rates for email campaigns, engagement rates for digital or social advertising, and so on. Additionally, there are a few key metrics you’ll want to focus on as you get started building your recruitment marketing strategies.

  • Time to fill – The average number of days the position is posted to the time a candidate accepts a job offer.


  • Time to start – The average time between when a candidate accepts an offer to their first day as an employee.


  • Candidate-to-hire ratio – These ratios can vary from the number of applications to hires, to the applicant-to-interview ratios for initial interviews as well as final interviews.


  • Source of hire – What applicant sources are performing the best across the board, by position and among recruiters? Candidate engagement is one of the most powerful metrics for analyzing your employment brand. Drilling down to engagement per source of hire give you the information you need to make modifications to your brand’s public perception on various channels, whether it be your career site or social channels.


  • Quality of hire – Recruiting metrics that measure which source of hire produces the best-performing candidates or those with the longest tenure.


  • Lost productivity per open requisition, per day – Determining a lost productivity metric for all positions as well as specific ones per day can help establish how recruiting impacts the bottom line.

Finally, when recruiters adopt a marketing approach for building talent pipelines, significant changes happen in your company’s employer branding, prospect attrition, and scale of candidate outreach. The benefits of recruitment marketing include a reduction in your low impact recruiting tasks, while allowing you to focus on recruiting top quality hires and innovators that are difficult to attract using standard approaches for hiring.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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