Remember looking for a job by scouring the classified ads in the local newspaper, calling the number listed in the ad, then following instructions regarding mailing in a resume or coming into the office in person to fill out an application? If that is how you landed your last job, then congratulations — you’ve been employed a very long time.
But even if your reaction to that story is, “wow, that is so old school! I searched for and applied for my job online through Monster.com,” you still may not be what we’d consider up to date with job search and recruitment techniques.
According to HubSpot, 70 percent of job seekers begin their job search through Google. This alone is not necessarily a problem — many of those search results will return postings on job recruitment sites. But what happens when the candidate begins to dig deeper into the many companies that meet their job criteria? Some jobs are specialized, but others — sales positions, for instance — are likely to return many results. How will your company stand out and attract top candidates? The key word here is “inbound.”
Inbound Marketing: The Basics
We have talked a lot about inbound marketing lately, and if you follow sales and marketing blogs or writers it’s a hard topic to escape, but here’s a quick recap anyway. Inbound marketing involves sharing content that drives potential customers to your website. It differs from traditional outbound marketing, such as cold-calling or direct mail, in that it does what its name implies — it draws interested prospects in to the hub of your business — your website — through social media, targeted emails, calls to action, or similar activities.
What’s important to keep in mind when creating an inbound marketing strategy, though, is that targets are entering those conduits to your hub voluntarily, because they are ultimately interested in the content you’re offering. One of the selling points around inbound marketing is that it is non-invasive. It doesn’t get in the way of the experience — it is the experience. Prospects are following the leads created through those email or social media campaigns because there is something of value for them on your website — a blog by a thought leader, a case study on a company success story that they hope to emulate, a behind-the-scenes or how-to video.
HubSpot, generally considered to be the pioneer behind the term “inbound marketing,” covers the inbound methodology in four steps: attract, convert, close and delight; these steps turn strangers into visitors, then leads, customers and promoters. HubSpot also notes that “In the last few years, the same change in buying behavior that sparked the inbound movement has also spread throughout the whole customer experience. How people communicate and what they expect from your business has changed.”
So with this in mind, imagine how effective the inbound methodology can be for job seekers.
Using Inbound for Recruiting
A Glassdoor survey found the most important piece of information job seekers wanted from a company was details on what made that company an attractive place to work. How are they going to get that information? It’s not from the section in your “help wanted” ad that talks about your “great benefits, competitive salary and casual-Friday policy.” Remember the stat I cited at the beginning of the article about 70 percent of job seekers beginning their hunt through Google? Your website tells your story, and from more than just your “About Us” page. All of the pieces you’ve put together for attracting customers with an inbound marketing strategy are going to work for you in what has come to be known as inbound recruiting.
Inbound recruiting, like inbound marketing, is focused on your brand; the image you project to your customers or your prospective employees. In the case of inbound recruiting, prospective employees are your customers, and the product you’re selling them is a company they’ll be happy to work for.
Of course, your tactics will differ depending on industry, so for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the imaging channel. I think we can all agree that a job seeker reading a basic want ad for a copier sales rep might feel it’s not the sexiest job imaginable and move on with his or her search. So how do you get the best talent to apply? We in the industry know that it’s a much higher-tech field than it once was, so we need to let job candidates know that too. A blog section on your website that talks about the latest buzzwords and hot topics will cause visitors with no knowledge of the industry to look at it in a different light. Imagine that same job candidate Googling your company, coming across your website and finding a wealth of informative articles on cybersecurity, network management, software automation or business intelligence. It might suddenly seem a lot more exciting to a job seeker with an interest in high-tech areas.
Perhaps your ideal candidate wants to work for an environmentally conscious company — your blogs about paper-saving solutions or how your hardware saves energy costs could be a selling point. Maybe it’s your photo blog or behind-the-scenes video of your team building Habitat for Humanity houses that makes the socially minded candidate realize you are a perfect fit. Let your company culture shine through to help make the right match — consider it online dating for job hunters. And it’s not just one-sided. Your company should determine what it considers its ideal candidate — HubSpot calls this “persona research” — and tailor the content you produce to reach this ideal persona.
None of these items, however, will help you attract candidates if no one can find you. For these reasons it’s important to have a solid SEO strategy for your website. The blog and article content you’re creating will serve a couple of purposes, as it will go a long way toward building a website that ranks high in the ratings, but you’ll also want to ensure your entire website is SEO friendly and ranking high for your job prospects as well as customers. Create a targeted landing page and use analytics to continually refine the page based on search terms candidates are using to find you.
Additionally, use multichannel tactics to reach out beyond your website. Obvious methods for doing this include your company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook as well as your Twitter feed. Beyond the official company accounts, however, are the employees. Encourage and enable your employees to be brand ambassadors; LinkedIn company pages, for example, show the individual employees who have linked themselves to the company. The stories they tell about your company may be even more effective in gaining a prospect’s interest than the company page, since voices from the trenches are always going to ring truer than the official company line. Of course, you want to make sure the stories they’re telling are positive — this is also a good time to do a company assessment and ensure pages like Yelp and Glassdoor are also telling a positive story. If you have several customer service complaints or your CEO has a single-digit approval rating, you’ll want to address that — for a number of reasons.
Once you’ve created an ideal environment and attracted the candidate, of course, your job is not done. You’ve got to have a way to interact with them as well. If there is an immediate call to action, this is not terribly difficult; they can submit a resume or fill out an online application. But in a case where you are simply nurturing eventual candidates, inbound recruiting once again becomes more like inbound marketing – you want to engage and maintain a relationship. Some may sign up for a newsletter or other form of regular communication. Others may fill out a contact form to download a white paper or other resource. Some may become social media connections.
The Continuous Cycle
Recruiting, like marketing, is an ongoing process. Just because you fill one position doesn’t mean your work is done — you want to continue to cultivate potential candidates. Nurture job seekers as you would potential customers, and continue to develop your inbound strategy to ensure the highest-quality candidates with the best fit for your company can find you.
Aaron Dyck, Clover Imaging Group
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Imaging Channel