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The future of recruiting lies in marketing

To get through to today's candidates, a greater focus on recruitment marketing is required.

The future of recruiting lies in marketing

Something weird is happening in the world of hiring. Despite incredible technological steps forward in recent years, recruiting has become more complicated — not less so.

In a recent survey of recruiters done by Monster, a full two-thirds said their jobs have gotten harder; 62 percent say it’s more difficult to find quality candidates.

Technology, it seems, has been a mixed blessing. Today’s tools can help us more easily filter candidates, assigning scores and letter grades to eliminate what would ostensibly be hours and hours spent vetting. Yet these solutions aren’t getting recruiters the talent they need.

There’s clearly a missing piece to this puzzle, and I believe that piece is marketing.

The discipline of marketing has evolved rapidly in recent years with advances in automation and analytics, and recruitment marketing takes a page from the ways large consumer brands get in front of potential customers. You start with data to understand and access the consumer (or in this case, candidate), use creative storytelling to help sell the product (here, the role and the company), and put a heavy emphasis on the customer experience along the way (the human connection).

In the same survey, 67 percent of recruiters told us that they feel like they need to be marketers today, plus 67 percent feel they need to understand analytics and 64 percent feel like they need to be digital experts. I think that what they really need are the right tools to enable them in these areas.

The Science of Tech Meets the Art of Discovery

We’re at the onset of stimulating what has been a stagnant industry run on the age-old currency of résumés. From a marketing perspective, companies like Amazon, YouTube and Facebook are already gathering super-charged metadata on every customer, and serving up content and calls to action that are eerily relevant because they are based on your unique behaviors.

The recruiting industry is playing catch up to understand candidates in similar ways, but tools like sophisticated chatbots, voicebots, gamified data acquisition tools, and next-gen resumes may help us get there.

Using this data in the right ways could result in successfully hyper-personalized user experiences on platforms like Monster —that give us entree into deeper, more authentic conversations and interactions.

But there will be challenges to overcome before we can get to this future, including the fact that candidates and recruiters don’t have the data they need to assess less numbers-driven aspects—or the human elements—of their searches: culture fit, professional development opportunities, bosses and co-workers, candidate aspirations and motivations. There has to be a way to account for these intangibles.

Meanwhile, we also want to give candidates the flexibility to make choices beyond what data tells us they’d be interested in (e.g. someone who’s always worked in sales but wants to make a career change). And we’ve got to help recruiters realize that the best candidate is not always the one who checks off all the boxes (e.g. the person with only three years’ experience who got filtered out by the ATS may be a better long-term fit). On both sides are people, and people are not so easily put into boxes defined by datasets. We can’t let tech’s “science” push aside the “art” of discovery.

The truth is that tech will evolve where people want it to evolve; we control how it develops. For example, when job search was just about relevance, we demanded semantic search. We wanted technology to understand our intent by the words we used. But job search fell too far down this rabbit hole; it’s leaned too much into keywords and away from the more natural human experience of exploring and satisfying curiosity.

That said, while recruiting has historically been about attracting as many applications as possible, we’re transitioning from breadth to depth. And that should motivate the industry to move to better understand the audiences to whom recruiters are marketing their jobs and candidates their career histories.

The Message is the Medium

Understanding audience is a key factor in marketing success, but not a determinant. How you talk to that audience is of increasing importance to recruiting today, particularly in an economy such as this one where candidates are in such high demand.

In other words, it’s critical that recruiters have the ability to authentically convey their brand’s story: What are your mission, vision and values? What are you aspiring to achieve? What kind of culture are you promoting? Finding ways to communicate your “employer value proposition” to internal and external audiences is fundamental to an employer brand.

One of the most effective tools to do this is video. Video can tell and sell the story of your company’s brand and job opportunity better—and with greater dimensionality and authenticity—than text ever will. And it’s far more engaging to candidates, giving them the opportunity to better experience the brand and culture and to really understand what it’s like to work for your company, for your department, and, in some instances, for a specific hiring manager. In fact, while the average time spent on a text job ad is just over 90 seconds, the average time spent with a video job ad is 4 minutes.

In other industries, video has already leveled the playing field, but recruiting has lagged behind — to the detriment of both companies and candidates. Less than 1 percent of Fortune 500 companies are currently using video in recruitment marketing, according to SmashFly’s 2018 Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks Report.

The impact on candidate quality could be enormous. In our industry, candidates opting in is “sexy,” and video can help with this. People can look at employers’ branding, messaging, and videos, and say, “Hey, this looks like me.”

Make no mistake: Recruiting is increasingly going to look like marketing. Like marketers, recruiters and candidates are already facing the challenges of capturing attention in today’s noisy world of content. The right tools for the future of recruiting will help employers leverage messaging and data—the art and science of our business—to do the initial legwork. And this will empower recruiters to spend more of their time on the human connections that ultimately make quantitatively and qualitatively better recruiting results.