Recruitment Marketing in a Time of Disruption

Peter Weddle

During a recent TAtech Live show, there was an interesting discussion of how best to portray the recruitment marketing process during the pandemic and recession. Some, of course, described it as an activity that occurs at the top of the much-traveled recruiting funnel, while others argued that a better depiction was the so-called “infinity loop.” Both ideas have merit, but I think there’s an even better way to describe what recruitment marketing is all about.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, recruitment marketing “refers to the strategies and tactics an organization uses to find, attract, engage and nurture talent before they apply for a job, also called the pre-applicant phase of talent acquisition.” That’s true, but incomplete. Recruitment marketing also involves what a company does after someone has applied and not been selected for an opening. It is what you do for the 99.9 percent of applicants who don’t make the cut the first time, but may well be the perfect candidate for a future opening.

The recruiting funnel appropriately places recruitment marketing at the beginning of the acquisition process. As Wikipedia indicates, it is the messaging a company does, the value proposition it conveys on its career site, and even the activities it plans for those prospects who aren’t actively searching or applying for jobs but could be a good fit for an opening now or in the future.

The infinity loop concept appropriately recognizes that recruitment marketing is a continuous process for everyone but the single person selected for an opening. In effect, it is the messaging a company does, the value proposition it conveys on its career site, and even the activities it plans for those previous applicants whose records are now archived in its ATS database.

What neither representation recognizes, however, is the journey of the individual as he or she interacts with the company. That journey is best depicted as an hourglass. Recruitment marketing is most effective when it engages and nurtures a person not once but twice, not just before but after their application, should they not be immediately selected for an opening.

The Candidate’s Hourglass Journey

A person begins their journey at the top of the hourglass where they are introduced to the company and its values and, at some point, convinced to apply for an opening. They then go through the selection process which takes them down to the narrow neck of the hourglass. If they do not emerge as the selected applicant, they become part of a new demographic. They are no longer members of the pre-application population, but instead, have transitioned into a post-application population which has to be convinced all over again to apply for another opening.

Why is that important in a time of disruption? Because job seekers and especially top talent have long memories in difficult times. They are already risk-averse because of the ongoing layoffs and furloughs they read about in the news. Rejection adds another dimension to that danger, and that changes their calculus as a potential job seeker.

In addition, none of this activity happens in a vacuum. The best talent is always the object of recruitment marketing by other companies, and their value proposition is especially appealing to any person who has already had the experience of being rejected by another company. Said another way, it’s more difficult, not less for a company to conduct effective recruitment marketing in the bottom half of the hourglass because candidates – including those who may well be prized by other employers – know the grass isn’t always greener there.

In the past, almost everyone in the post application population would have been delighted to hear from the company a second time. In effect, the recruitment marketing done when they were pre-applicants stuck with them after rejection. That’s not the case now, and the hourglass depiction acknowledges this new reality. Rejected candidates took a risk once, and it didn’t work out. Recruitment marketing has to convince them to do so again, and that’s a very different kind of persuasion than that which occurs at the top of the funnel.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.

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