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  September 22, 2017

Why the “recruitment is marketing” debate needs to stop

The “recruitment is marketing” debate has been tried and tested to the point of now being tired. Some would argue that it’s inaccurate to begin with — that it’s a generalization that doesn’t take into account the fact that in recruiting, marketing tactics aren’t used beyond the attraction phase.

I disagree.

Marketing, in its simplest form, adheres to a model of “attract, engage and convert.” Between the earlier stages of the consumer journey you have “nurture” — a communication stage that focuses on progressing the “lead,” or in recruitment terminology, “prospect,” along the hiring journey.

At the end of the day, we’re talking about nurturing the lead or prospect toward making a purchase or applying for a job.

No question that brand marketing continues to nurture consumers past the point of purchase, to help them feel they made the right buying decision. In recruiting, nurturing candidates takes on a much greater area of importance. For us, marketing activity doesn’t end when a candidate decides to apply. Once this decision is made, we move to a whole other level — one that encompasses interview selection, salary negotiation, and on-boarding.

This is what makes effective recruitment marketing and employment branding so vital, because what is on-boarding and candidate experience if not an exercise in meeting the needs and wants of your new employee, and an effort to strengthen or sustain your organization’s employer brand image?

In other words, candidate experience is in itself a form of marketing.

Whether recruitment or retention is your focus, you know the power of brand in bringing about the the end goal. That’s why if money were not a constraint, 53% of talent acquisition leaders would invest in employer branding – more than new technology or sourcing tools.

In an age where word-of-mouth marketing is more trusted than ads and social media has made peer-to-peer review par for the course, reputation is everything —in the contexts of both employer and consumer brands. Candidate happiness and customer satisfaction are variations of the same.

Engaging the content critic

Employment branding and product marketing have always been people-focused. Where we have seen a shift, however, is in the behavior of those people that are targeted. The internet and digital media has trained a tech-reliant audience that consumes content at warp speed, is blind to traditional advertising and has an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish. They spend as much time researching potential dinner spots, holiday destinations, and employers enough to give any auditor a run for their money.

They don’t engage lightly. In exchange for their time and or email address, today’s audience wants to be entertained, inspired, and or informed by the content they consume. That includes career related content. The same rules apply for its creation and distribution as for any product-marketing content.

Embrace the sameness

The time for fighting the comparison between product and recruitment (or employment) marketing is over. The reality is that a strong employer brand can inspire confidence in the consumer brand and boost sales (by up to 35%), just as a strong consumer brand can increase the reach and appeal of a company’s job openings.

Recruitment marketing can learn plenty from product marketing — an industry that is typically years ahead in sophistication and segmentation. In fact, product marketing has already done the heavy lifting by establishing which media and methods do and don’t work for attracting people and moving them through a pipeline. Automation for example, is just one method that can pay huge dividends for the clued-in recruiter. It can save time and money on creating, promoting and communicating employer branding content.

To deny the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between employer branding and product marketing, is to shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to your organization’s ability to attract the best talent. Companies that embrace employment branding and make use of the techniques and technology that traditional product marketing has already proven to be effective will create hugely successful recruitment programs.