How to Recruit Top Talent: 12 Tips From a Marketing Perspective

Overview of professionals looking at their cellphones with an interactive map showing connections

In most organizations, the recruiting and marketing departments are two separate entities that rarely work together. They may be in different parts of the office or work in different locations entirely, never coming into direct contact other than when a marketing employee is first hired. 

Recruiters, however, especially innovative ones, can learn a thing or two from their marketing colleagues since many of the same principles used to attract customers can also be applied to attract talent. I know I have.

For too long, we at 4 Corner, like many traditional recruiting and staffing firms, didn’t pay much attention to marketing. In fact, our annual marketing budget was exactly $0. Maybe that’s just what happens when a career sales professional is the founder, but I now realize that to understand marketing is to experience its power and effectiveness. There is no need to repeat my mistake—read below for ideas you can leverage immediately to improve your recruitment efforts.

12 Marketing Strategies You Can Apply to Recruit Top Talent

1. Think of candidates as customers

It’s common knowledge in the marketing world that companies must sell their customers not just a product but a solution to a problem. To do this, marketers create a value proposition—a brief statement that describes how their product serves customers’ needs. 

For example, the value proposition of a meal delivery service might be that it saves you the time and energy that goes into meal planning. The value proposition of an app like Uber is that it offers the convenience of a car service at an accessible price. 

To clarify your recruiting efforts, create a value proposition for how your company fits into a candidate’s career and life. What are candidates looking for that your company can deliver on? Perhaps your value proposition is that you offer an award-winning training program that gives new employees a fast track to advancement. Maybe you offer the opportunity for candidates to gain experience working with Fortune 500 clients. Perhaps you offer unlimited vacation time. 

While using these things as “selling points” may seem like a no-brainer, crafting them into a direct and compelling value proposition will give you a clear anchor point for your recruitment messaging. 

2. Use a funnel approach

Most modern marketing strategies are built around the concept of a funnel. Customers start at the top of the funnel, where they’re just beginning to become aware of a problem they must solve. As they move down the funnel, they research options to help them solve their problem and learn more about your company through a series of touchpoints. Finally, when they reach the bottom of the funnel, they (hopefully) become customers. 

Thinking of the customer journey in this way helps marketers create the right content and use the right language to make a compelling argument that fits where the customer is in the funnel. You can increase the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts by thinking of the candidate journey in the same way. 

Sure, some candidates may be chomping at the bit to work for you right out of the gate—but that’s not typically the case with the most competitive talent or if you’re hiring for a niche role. Instead, they go on a journey down a recruiting funnel, learning more about different companies and weighing their options for the best place to work. In the end, they make the best decision by accepting an offer. 

By approaching the candidate’s experience as a journey rather than just a one-time decision in the form of a recruiting funnel, you’ll be better able to speak to their needs, address their concerns, and nurture the relationship in a way that makes their final decision an easy one.  

3. Speak their language

Hiring employees who share your core values and believe in your mission is part of building a strong company culture. Employees who feel aligned with their company’s values engage more, which drives productivity and retention. 

Still, attracting talent who shares your values is not always straightforward. One strategy for achieving this is to speak their language. 

Marketers who are trying to reach suburban moms use different language than those trying to reach 20-something urban professionals. This is especially true since the two groups have different needs, wants, challenges, and lifestyles. Your approach to your candidates should follow suit.

Suppose you want to attract seasoned professionals who value stability, reputation, and conservative values. In that case, you’ll need to use different language than if you’re looking to attract progressive change-makers who value independence and risk-taking. Always craft your written and verbal recruitment messaging with the ideal candidate and their values in mind.

4. Build a strong brand

As consumers, we all have a handful of brands we’re loyal to. Maybe it’s a trusted skincare line, a favorite breakfast cereal, or the bath soap you’ve used since childhood. You know the packaging so well you don’t even have to read the label to find it on the shelf; purchasing is an instinctive decision.

Marketers live to create these household names, and employers can benefit from building recognizable, trustworthy brands similarly. When your reputation for being a great place to work precedes you, convincing a candidate to apply for your vacant positions requires much less effort. 

Searching for your next great hire?

Our recruiters are ready to deliver.

5. Leverage the power of content

One highly effective strategy for building a strong employer brand? Content marketing. Traditional marketers use content like blogs, social media posts, videos, infographics, and white papers to spread awareness of their products and services. The goal isn’t usually to convince people to buy. Rather, it’s to build rapport with the target audience and increase brand recognition in the marketplace. 

Recruiters can leverage content marketing to highlight what sets their companies apart. Here are a few examples:

  • Employee testimonials describing the favorable company culture
  • Infographic detailing the superior benefits package
  • Photos and videos of team events and ‘day in the life’ activities 
  • Email campaigns to share new job openings 
  • Podcasts to answer frequently asked candidate questions

6. Eliminate friction

Digital marketers are always working to eliminate friction—anything that gets in the way of a customer making a purchase—from the checkout experience. This means having a site that works just as well on a smartphone as on a desktop and doesn’t require the user to jump through a ton of hoops like creating an account to check out and so on.  

Your recruiting process has friction, too. Maybe it’s a clunky application system all candidates are required to go through or an antiquated personality test they’re required to pass. We’ll bet you can think of a few things that not only slow you down when hiring but can also be a turnoff to candidates. 

Identifying and removing these friction points will help you cut down your average time-to-hire, which will ultimately help you save on costs and provide a better candidate experience.

7. Ask for referrals

The best marketing doesn’t come from a company itself. It comes from the company’s raving fans via positive word of mouth. That’s why brands always ask you to share their posts on social media and refer a friend in exchange for a coupon. 

Likewise, employee referrals are the best source of qualified candidates recruiters can come by. Institute an incentive program to encourage current employees to refer people in their network to your open jobs. You can also gain referrals by asking for them on other channels like social media and email, as well. 

8. Collect positive reviews

If you’ve ever debated whether to try a new restaurant that just opened in your town, you’ve probably seen the power of online reviews firsthand. A few bad reviews will make you stay far away, while a handful of glowing ones will have you booking the next available reservation. 

Capitalize on the power of reviews to enhance your recruiting efforts by actively managing the company’s presence on sites like Glassdoor. Respond to negative reviews, address concerns, and thank happy reviewers for their feedback. Boost your score by encouraging your most engaged staffers to leave (presumably positive) reviews. 

9. Employ SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a must for getting products and services in front of customers who are primed to buy. But why should it be a tactic that’s limited to making sales?

Optimizing your job postings and career pages with relevant keywords can improve your visibility in search results, helping you reach more qualified applicants faster. The added organic traffic can reduce recruitment costs, too. 

Related: How to Use SEO for Job Postings to Increase Visibility

10. Acknowledge that everyone is not your target market

In order to market a product or service successfully, your target customer can’t be ‘everyone.’ When you try to speak to everyone, your messaging becomes so generic that you’re not saying anything meaningful to anyone. Instead, marketers know that the greatest business success lies in finding your niche and blowing the competition out of the water in that specific market. 

In recruiting, you’ve probably seen this concept in practice when you cast your net too wide for a job opening. When your listing appears on every major job board, for example, you’re likely to be so inundated with applications that it’s hard to cut through the noise to the ones that are actually a good fit for the role. Your post would be much more effective—and cut down on a lot of screening time—if you posted it to one or two job boards specific to the industry or role you’re hiring. It boils down to quality over quantity. 

When deciding where to publicize a job opening, do it with the classic marketing maxim in mind: everyone is not your target market. 

11. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Like many business segments, marketing is often subject to the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule states that in any given endeavor, 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This also frequently applies in sales, where a few bestsellers drive the majority of revenue, and in staffing, where a handful of top performers are responsible for the majority of a department’s results. 

The danger in this principle, though, is that it means you’re overly reliant on one factor to make or break your success, whether that’s a single product category, a handful of all-star employees, or when it comes to hiring, one recruiting channel. If that channel suddenly goes kaput, you’re in a bad situation. 

That’s why marketers diversify their efforts. While they might prioritize the channel that performs best, like PPC ads or Instagram posts, they don’t simply turn off the switch everywhere else. Instead, they allocate a smaller segment of the budget and resources to alternate marketing efforts.

Your recruiting efforts should be similarly diversified to avoid having all your eggs in one basket. 

12. Measure, analyze, and optimize

As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Marketers can’t make reliable strategy decisions without a strong data set that includes key information like sales numbers, website traffic, ad spend, and return on investment. Solid recruiting decisions require a parallel data set. 

The metrics that are most meaningful to you will vary based on factors like your industry, annual revenue, and company size, but some of the most common ones to watch include the source of hire, cost per hire, time to hire, and pass-through rate. These numbers help you understand which recruiting channels and strategies perform best for your organization so you can allocate future resources accordingly. Measure, analyze, and work to optimize them consistently. 

Related: How to Leverage Recruiting Metrics to Improve Your Hiring Process

Build an Effective Talent Acquisition Strategy with 4 Corner Resources

Even the most seasoned hiring managers can get stuck in a recruiting rut. Breathe new life into your staffing strategy with creative solutions from 4 Corner Resources. We’re a staffing firm with over 15 years of experience helping companies hire for skill and culture fit. We can help you implement a talent acquisition plan that reduces costs and saves you time. 

Whether you’re looking for extra help to support your internal hiring team or want to outsource your staffing needs completely, we have a solution that suits your business. Schedule a call with our team today to get started. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn