Time to think outside the box as a recruiter.

Time to think outside the box as a recruiter.


It’s a job seeker’s market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.1 million openings were available in February 2019, but only 5.7 million hires were made.

In addition to this surplus of openings, job seekers are also empowered with easily accessible information about employers. Candidates can research company ratings from former and current employees online, watch company culture videos, research benefits packages, and more to assess an employer before they even click ‘Apply.’ This wealth of knowledge coupled with a surplus of job openings naturally makes job seekers choosy — they know what each employer offers, so they can feel confident in being selective.

This means that recruiters have to be proactive, innovative, deliberate, and organized in their efforts to attract and nurture applicants who are skilled and passionate. In other words, they need to think like marketers.

It’s no longer enough to push out job postings and hope the right candidate applies. Recruitment marketing means proactively pulling qualified applicants in with creative messaging, personalization, and targeting. In this e-book, we’ll walk you through recruitment marketing tactics to help you strategically attract qualified candidates and motivate them to apply to your open jobs.

What is recruitment marketing?

Recruitment marketing is the process of strategically sourcing, attracting, and nurturing passive candidates in order to successfully recruit top talent. Whether it’s through strong employer branding, a compelling career page, or targeted messaging, HR teams use recruitment marketing to engage the most talented and passionate candidates and encourage them to apply for their open positions.

Marketing strategies have become a necessity for recruiters given specific changes in the hiring landscape:

  1. The job market is more competitive. Given the market’s surplus of openings, companies need to use marketing strategies to stand out to job seekers and effectively communicate their employer branding.
  2. Job seekers expect proactive outreach from companies. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 31% of applicants expect employers to contact them about job opportunities. With this demand, companies need to craft personalized marketing campaigns that impress job seekers and build their interest.
  3. Job seekers want to research companies before they apply75% percent of job seekers evaluate an employer’s brand before they apply for a job, according to a LinkedIn study. People expect that they’ll be able to research an employer and understand their values, work environment, and even benefits before they click ‘Apply.’ To compete, recruiters must provide informational marketing content about their company, and make it easy to find for passive and active job seekers alike.

Given these changes, promotion can’t be an afterthought — recruitment marketing has to be strategic. Promotion has to fit each touchpoint of the application journey to be compelling to potential candidates.

Luckily, there is an existing framework from traditional marketing, known as the funnel, that recruiters can use to craft their own recruitment marketing strategy. In this ebook we’ll explain how this funnel framework can make your recruiting more competitive, give you actionable tips for improving your candidate outreach, and show you how to measure the success of your recruitment marketing efforts.

Chapter 1

The funnel framework

Recruitment marketing involves many moving pieces — developing an employer brand, creating job ads, designing career pages, and more. Without a guiding philosophy and clear process, it can become overwhelming for any business to handle. To make your recruitment marketing systematic and ultimately more efficient, we recommend that recruiters use the funnel concept from traditional marketing as a fundamental framework.

How marketers use the funnel framework

The marketing funnel visually represents a prospect’s journey. With defined stages, the model highlights the different perspectives potential buyers have as they move towards purchasing a product or service.

Marketing funnel

By understanding what leads know and how they feel at each stage, marketers can plan what information should be presented at each decision point. The flow of content starts with building general awareness and trust in the company. From there, the company provides information that is more specific and detailed to grow leads’ interest even further and guide them towards converting.

Without this framework, marketers aren’t able to provide leads with the right information at the right time. If marketers don’t understand what information should be shared at each decision point, their campaigns will be wasted on people who can’t appreciate them. For example, a social media ad highlighting competitor pricing might be shown to a person who has never heard of the brand before.

Following the funnel framework makes it easy for marketers to strategically plan their campaigns to target the right consumers. It whittles down their base of leads to the most valuable potential customers who are genuinely interested in the brand and its products.

How recruiters can use the funnel framework

Recruiters can use the same funnel framework to increase the number of qualified candidates who apply to their company.

Recruitment funnel

Recruitment marketing is focused on the first three stages of the funnel:

  • Awareness: You’re helping job seekers who have never heard of your company to learn about your brand.
  • Interest: Job seekers are aware of your brand, so now they’re ready to learn about your company as an employer and understand what it would be like to work there.
  • Consideration: The job seeker is almost ready to take action and apply. Recruiters need to provide detailed information about each open role so job seekers can see if there is a position that would be a good fit for them.

This framework pushes recruiters to think about the information potential applicants need at each decision point to assess a company and decide whether they should apply. With this strategic targeting, recruiters are able to maximize the value of their marketing spend. They’re providing job seekers with the right messaging at the right time, so their budget goes a long way towards attracting applications.

Recruiters also save time by not needing to promote their brand later in the funnel. The candidates who decide to apply were already educated about the company earlier in the funnel, so recruiters don’t need to build their interest much further. This frees recruiters up to spend less time selling applicants and more time on creating a stellar candidate experience.

Chris Marty, a Senior Recruiting Manager at the investment service firm Wealthfront, uses the funnel framework to narrow down the talent pool to brand advocates: “We really talk a lot about identifying the candidates who love Wealthfront and then spending time with them, versus trying to sell somebody who might not be that interested.”

Without a strategy, recruiters risk lowering their talent pool quality:

  • Applications come from a mixed bag of candidates — some who are a good match and some who are a poor fit. Recruiters then have to spend a good chunk of time sifting through resumes and cover letters to find the skilled candidates who show a passion for the company’s work. They may even mistakenly move candidates through the hiring process who aren’t actually interested in their employer brand and lose time evaluating them.
  • Recruiters may miss passive candidates who are a good fit. If there aren’t any campaigns to build top-of-funnel brand awareness, passive candidates won’t be motivated to pursue your company’s job opportunities.

By using the marketing funnel as a framework to guide your recruitment marketing strategy, you’ll ultimately spend less time sifting through applications and get to your great hires faster.

Chapter 2

The awareness stage

It’s unusual for people to purchase from companies that they know little to nothing about. Marketers have to gain leads’ trust by gently introducing their brand to them at the top of the funnel.

Likewise, the Awareness stage in recruiting is an opportunity to build brand awareness and trust in potential applicants. People are more likely to research job opportunities and apply for openings from familiar companies. According to a LinkedIn study, 52% of candidates explore a company’s site and social media accounts to learn more about them before applying.

Marketing is focused on promoting our product. Through their efforts, we’re able to find people who are delighted by our brand and could potentially be great applicants.

Chris Marty, Wealthfront

Find and create ways for job seekers who have never heard of your company to learn about your brand with the tactics in this section. By providing general company information and making it easily discoverable, you’ll be able to capture individuals who align with your brand that you want to nurture down your recruiting funnel.

Piggyback off of content marketing

Your company’s marketing team is likely already promoting your brand through content and nurturing a community of supporters. This community is full of people who are already aligned with your brand and could be interested in your job opportunities. Tap into this group of brand allies by working with content marketers at your company to target these potential applicants.

Recruiters can align with their company’s content marketing initiatives in a number of ways:

  • Include a call-to-action or postscript in marketing emails to announce that you’re hiring. Put information about your open roles in emails like a content marketing newsletter or a webinar follow-up email. The message should link to your career page so readers can explore your openings. Zapier, for example, includes a hiring call-to-action in their content marketing newsletter. Potential applicants learn about Zapier through the newsletter’s content, so they’re prepared to explore the brand’s hiring opportunities once they reach the call-to-action.
  • Keep an eye on the marketing department’s editorial calendar, and take note of content ideas that could spark job seekers’ interest in your brand. Highlight this content for your employees and encourage them to share it on their social networks to build brand awareness. There are likely more passive candidates following your employees than your company on social media, so make sure your team feels empowered to be brand ambassadors.

Wealthfront’s Chris Marty says their recruiters often partner with the company’s marketing department to find potential applicants. For example, they might discuss existing marketing content that could be of interest to job seekers. The recruiters can then brainstorm how they can share that content with potential applicants to build their brand awareness.

“Marketing is focused on promoting our product,” said Marty. “Through their efforts, we’re able to find people who are delighted by our brand and could potentially be great applicants.”

Open the top of your funnel with creative outreach

Many skilled job seekers may be less likely to encounter your brand because their background is underrepresented at your company. For example, they may be coming from another industry, or they might have studied a subject outside of your company’s field.

Make it easy for these communities to find and engage with your brand by using creative promotion tactics. Instead of only relying on traditional sourcing, like industry job fairs and employee referrals, tap into different, less common channels where skilled potential applicants are spending their time. You’ll expand the top of your recruiting funnel by opening it up to skilled candidates from unique, non-traditional backgrounds.

Really strong candidates will have a billion people reaching out to them, all within LinkedIn or by email. Reach them through a unique lens in order to stand out.

Christina Nguyen, Google

“If you’re using the same strategies, you’re probably hiring the same person over and over again and minimizing diversity of thought,” said Christina Nguyen, a Staffing Channels Specialist at Google. “By using creative recruitment channels, you can bring outside perspectives into the organization.”

Plus, building brand awareness in innovative ways gives you a shot at reaching valuable top talent. “Really strong candidates will have a billion people reaching out to them, all within LinkedIn or by email. Reach them through a unique lens in order to stand out,” said Nguyen.

Open your talent pipeline to all skilled applicants by brainstorming unique channels where you can build brand awareness. A few examples of creative outreach include:

  • Engaging with potential applicants on social media. Visit industry-specific pages and groups, and be mindful in choosing your engagement channels. For example, LinkedIn would be better for targeting applicants in management positions, while Pinterest might be better for connecting with designers.
  • Visit online forums that potential applicants might frequent. GitHub is a popular channel for developers, while Reddit caters to many different interests in the site’s subreddit folders.

Nguyen, for example, will dive into YouTube, GitHub, Reddit, and other unlikely recruitment channels to find potential engineering applicants.

“Let’s say I’m watching a YouTube video about a coding issue and I see a really well-thought-out comment with a great explanation,” said Nguyen. “I can tell that the user knows the material, and is able to help a layperson like me, who’s not an engineer, understand the problem. I’m apt to reach out to someone like that and share information about Google with them.”