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Stop Recruiting and Start Marketing

April 09, 2015

With the continued growth of technology in the hiring and recruiting industry, it’s only natural that we’ve seen changes to the way we’re approaching hiring employees. The industry really kicked off in 1999 when The Monster Board and Online Career Center merged to become Monster. Then, thousands of job boards started popping up, we saw the birth of applicant tracking systems, and even job aggregators and pay-per-click job boards. The world of hiring and recruiting has grown dramatically and so has the technology to support it.

Since 2009, our organization has viewed recruiting through the lens of marketing. We saw stark similarities between hiring and marketing, and we built HireMojo as a solution to address the complex needs of the hiring industry. The key word that it all boils down to is “Acquisition", both customer acquisition and talent acquisition have almost identical processes.


Within the Customer Acquisition process, it all starts with the development of marketing campaign content. This is the creation of promotional materials (press releases, flyers, online advertisements), articles, white papers, pay-per-click advertisements (Google Adwords), email campaigns, etc. This content is used to generate sales leads that are ultimately given a score based on how likely they are to become a customer. This qualification process ensures that the sales team focuses their energy on the hottest leads, and minimizes the time spent trying to sell a product to a lead that is unqualified or unprepared to make a purchase before they’re ready.

What made all this lead generation campaign and qualification possible? Marketing Automation. It helped to create a proper workflow to easily manage and automate the tasks necessary to launch and track the progress of leads. Then, through the use of Salesforce Automation tools (SFA/CRM) the sales team is able to manage the pipeline of leads and opportunities up until closure. Different features help to manage this process such as activity tracking, task management, reporting and more. The cherry on top of the customer acquisition sundae is being able to derive a Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) from all of your marketing and sales efforts, and using business intelligence to determine how you can become more efficient lower costs, and where to spend more effort to acquire more customers.

Talent Acquisition is Lead Generation

So by now you’re probably thinking “what the heck does this have to do with hiring and recruiting”? Well, Talent Acquisition shares a very similar process to the marketing and sales process. The one exception being that instead of trying to generate leads for your sales team to close, you’re trying to generate candidates to hire. When you actually compare both processes the similarities are crazy.

Like the Customer Acquisition Funnel, the Talent Acquisition Funnel also begins with content development. These are job descriptions and titles that are used to post across job boards as advertisements, and also include other content such as interview questions used during the qualification process. One of the most stark similarities is how job aggregators and job boards have begun to use search algorithms to determine relevancy of specific job posts, just like how search engines like Google and Bing determine what Ads they display and what web pages show up first in results. While the criteria differ slightly from job boards and search engines, much remains the same. Prevalence is placed on the “Job Title”, the more specific the better the results on the appropriate searches. Keyword saturation within the job description itself also plays a pivotal role; this is the inclusion of the relevant terms used to describe job title, similar titles, skills that people would search, etc. within the job description. And at it’s core, a job description is an advertisement to convince someone to work for your business. The similarities are getting pretty crazy right?

Well prepare for them to get even crazier. Once you launch your job advertisements across your platform(s) of choice (Monster, Jobs2Careers, Craigslist, Indeed, Sponsored Ads or wherever), you start generating candidates just like generating leads! Similar to the customer acquisition process, you need to spread your marketing across several channels to generate the best cost/candidate (or in customer acquisition metrics, cost/lead). But like in marketing and sales you need a way to qualify all of the leads (candidates) that have come through or applied. Now once you have hundreds of resumes to review you need to qualify each applicant to determine if they are qualified enough to deserve an initial interview. Currently, in the hiring and recruiting market there are not many tools that provide candidate qualification and scoring. Some provide a score based solely on keywords being used in resumes, but more capable solutions like HireMojo assess candidates based on online interviews and resume analysis to determine a more intelligent score for candidates. This lets hiring managers spend less time reviewing resumes and more time focusing on the most qualified candidates, just like marketing automation and lead scoring help sales teams determine where they should focus to close more deals quickly.

The next stage of the talent acquisition funnel is also one that will seem very familiar. This is the candidate management and interview process steps of the talent funnel. This is where you track all of your candidates in your funnel and their progress through your interviews all the way to hire. This is where those age-old applicant tracking systems come into play. They help you manage all of your candidates in an online platform, see who has interviewed, what interviews are coming up, and who has been hired. What they don’t show you is the data on how effective and efficient your hiring process has been. Three valuable metrics to determine your effectiveness — 1. days to present (how long did it take you to find that qualified candidate), 2. days to accept (how efficient is your interviewing and job offer process), 3. cost per hire.

Changing the Hiring Game

How much did all of your efforts cost you to make your hire? Yes, you landed that perfect employee, but did it cost you $100/hire or $10,000/hire. How much internal staff time did this consume? This is also a cost you need to include in your Cost Per Hire (CPH). These types of metrics and data similar to this are what will be the next steps in the hiring industry. Using multiple sources to find your hire and being able to assign costs to create an optimum cost/hire. It’s what’s currently done in marketing to get the lowest overall cost/lead and will be the next natural step in the hiring process.

“Ok, so the customer acquisition process and talent acquisition process are similar. I get it, but what do I do now?"

Simple, viewing the entire talent acquisition process from a marketing mindset absolutely changes the game. By just using some basic-level search engine optimization tricks you can increase the number of times your Job Advertisement is listed in search results on job boards (these are called impressions), and by applying a more marketing minded approach to your job descriptions, you can even increase engagement and number of applications.

For businesses, a|b testing of job descriptions and titles will be one of the next big things being used to improve talent acquisition. How do you know that the changes you’re making to job descriptions are actually driving more applicants? The simple answer is running an A|B test and changing small sections so you can effectively measure the impact you’re making each time you modify a job description for the same position. For example, you want to hire sales manager for a medical services practice. You can launch an A|B test on job titles for a) "Sales Manager" and b) "Medical Services Sales Manager." Group A will yield broader results but may not generate enough qualified candidates. Group B will have a lower volume of applicants but may have a higher volume of qualified candidates. To achieve even more granular results, you can use this method with job descriptions as well. This is a common practice in conversion rate optimization for landing pages to drive lead generation.

Even extending these A|B tests for emails to top potential (passive) candidates is possible. If you have a list of passive candidates and you’re trying to land a successful hire, it’s only natural to want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck per email campaign. Using general marketing principles here helps you drive more effective campaigns. You take an eye-popping subject line, some engaging email copy, a call-to-action (ex: "Apply Now"), and you can easily increase your application conversion rates.

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In pay-per-click advertising (think Google Adwords but on job aggregators like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. A job aggregator scrapes the web for job descriptions and consolidates them on their website.), one of the common tools used is a conversion optimizer that uses data from each keyword to determine which adgroups and campaigns will lead to the lowest overall cost for leads. Sponsored Ads on Indeed are already using a conversion optimizer to help you get more applicants at a lower cost and removing the headaches of having to manage all of your individual hiring campaigns, but how about applying this on a larger scale? At HireMojo, we’ve dubbed this “Smart Job Marketing” and it plays a key part in our platform. It takes a similar approach that PPC Management platforms take optimizing your bids across all pay-per-click networks you’re active on to get lowest cost per lead, but applying that to hiring. HireMojo uses an intelligent algorithm, current performance, and historical data to determine which job boards and networks will be most-effective in bringing in qualified candidates. After all, why would you want to just post on one job board when you could be maximizing your opportunity by posting to several hundred different places at the times where you’re most statistically likely to engage with top candidates.

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One of the coolest things I’ve seen pop up is retargeting in the hiring industry. What is retargeting? So, you know when you're shopping for shoes and then you go to a different website like New York Times and you see a banner ad for the same shoes that you were just looking at? That's retargeting. One example of this is’s service. They provide retargeting to track users who they deem a good fit for your position, or who have viewed your job description and target them with ads across their networks and partner websites. In marketing, this has been an effective form of keeping your brand in front of a potential customer. They visited your website and showed interest, but maybe weren’t ready to apply at the time, and so you retarget them with ads to regain their interest and eventually convert them into a paying customer.

Now taking this aspect of retargeting a little bit further is hyper-targeting on Facebook. If you understand online marketing, a little lightbulb probably turned on in your head. If not, here’s how it can change the hiring landscape. Passive recruiting tends to involve having a recruiter send emails or phoning to every single qualified person for a job, who’s not necessarily looking. If you’re looking for a Java Developer, then your recruiter is probably going around LinkedIn using Boolean search to pull lists of people to email. But what Facebook hyper-targeting allows you to do is upload a list of contact email addresses and target that specific list of contacts on Facebook with relevant job ads. This is one of the latest things that we’ve been testing at HireMojo to help drive more qualified candidates, and have seen some surprising results (which I am not able to disclose at this time, sorry). I will say that from a passive recruiting standpoint, this is something that you will see more of in the hiring industry as it takes the most popular social media platform and allows you to target a specific audience with highly relevant job ads.

Hiring has, since the existence of hiring and recruiting, been dominated specifically by Human Resource professionals. However, in the near future we’ll start seeing a more hybrid role of a HR/Marketer. That is either marketing professionals working with HR teams, HR professionals being trained in the multiple arts of online marketing, or just the general creation of a new position for HR Marketers who specialize in the testing and launch of campaigns to bring in the most qualified candidates. We’re already starting to see a shift in the way that the industry is functioning with basic uses of “Keyword Optimization” being applied to the writing job descriptions, and HR professionals using Boolean search to capture specific candidates on sources such as LinkedIn.

With the entire hiring industry evolving, it’s time to change the way we think. In marketing we focus on the end result, which is acquiring a new customer, and we use as much data as we can to determine how we can lower the cost of acquiring a new high quality customer (or Cost Per Acquisition). With hiring it’s the same thing. It’s time to stop recruiting, focus on making a hire, and start thinking like marketers.

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