Developing an Internet Recruiting Strategy – Marketing 101

Determining how to spend your recruitment advertising dollars is not unlike what a marketing manager for a consumer products company like Kraft or S. C. Johnson does in developing their marketing plans. In recruiting, your product is your company and your consumer is your potential candidate. Your role is to develop the ideal “marketing plan” (recruitment plan) to attract the “consumer” (potential candidates) to consider purchasing (being employed by) your “product” (company). STEP 1:

Define your product attributes, features.

Your product attributes and features are those things that differentiate you from your competition (broadly defined as any company who is seeking to hire candidates with similar skill sets). Attributes can be defined as a general description of your company, the type of product or service it provides, the number of employees, location, revenue — all the basic information about your company. The product features are things like casual work environment, great compensation and benefits plans, cutting edge technology, free training, flexible hours, challenging work etc… Taken together the product attributes and features define many of the reasons why a candidate would be attracted to your company. STEP 2:

Define your target market.

Who are your potential employees? This will be different for each job just as the target market for Kraft American Cheese slices might be different than the target market for Kraft Shredded Mozzarella and different than the target market for Kraft Fat Free Salad Dressings. Try to develop a description of the types of people that would make strong potential employees. What are their skills? What types of jobs might they have now? What type of work experiences do they have? Who could be their current employers? What colleges and universities did they attend? STEP 3:

Marketing Research.

Now that you have defined who your target “consumer” is, you need to find out where they work and play on the Internet.

  • What type of career sites do they visit?
  • What associations do they belong to?
  • What online periodicals do they read?
  • What discussion groups are they in?
  • Are you targeting diverse ethnic and racial groups? Where might they be on the Internet?

This can be achieved without having a marketing research budget. If your current employees are a reflection of what you want in your future employees, your research population is just an e-mail away. Develop an employee survey asking them questions related to where they spend their time on the Internet both for work and play purposes. To achieve strong survey results communicate the following to the employees:

  • Tell them the exact purpose of the survey
  • Make the survey confidential
  • Develop the survey such that it has specific sections related to areas on the Internet. For instance you can have a section on favorite search engines, career sites, association sites, trade journal sites, newsgroups, humor sites, general interest sites, financial sites, product purchasing sites etc….

The research results will play a significant role in how you develop your plan. For example – your results may indicate that a significantly high percentage of your employees use Amazon.com on a regular basis. It’s expensive, but part of your plan could include a banner on the Amazon.com site. Or you may find that employees use their college alumni sites on a regular basis. Then you may consider placing ads and banners on selected college alumni sites. STEP 4:

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Develop your Unique Selling Proposition.

Match up the specific company features and attributes that would be attractive to your target market and develop your Unique Selling Proposition. Your unique selling proposition is what you would want to tell a potential candidate about your company and your positions that will make them interested in learning more. What would you say to different types of candidates? If you were allotted just one or two sentences to persuade a potential candidate to submit a resume or personal profile, what would that be? STEP 5:

Outline your marketing Plan:

Combine all the information from steps 1-4 and develop a plan that provides the broadest reach within your allocated budget. This will allow you to achieve the visibility that you need to spread your message. STEP 6:

Message Communication.

With all of the above pieces in place you can now develop a clear, concise and consistent message about your company. All of your Internet advertisements, whether they are simple banners with just a few words or complete job postings with over 500 words, should all communicate the unique features of your company. Describing the job requirements is not enough. You need to focus on the key features that will attract a potential candidate to take the next step. Different ads may highlight different company features depending on where they are placed and the audience. For example your company may have the following features: Cutting edge technology, flexible work environment, high bonus potential, and a strong training program. Postings in a technical trade journal may put more emphasis on cutting edge technology and training than on the potential financial rewards. An ad placed in a Women in Technology journal may highlight the flexible work environment rather than the training opportunities. Despite what each individual ad focuses on, they all must communicate the same essential message —- what it will be like to work at your company. In a nutshell, recruiting is marketing. All recruiters should be required to take at least one marketing class. If your company has a “corporate university” as many do today, encourage them include recruiters in the marketing courses. The results will be amazing.

Karen Osofsky (karen.o@tiburongroup.com) is a co-founder of TiburonGroup.com, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.

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