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The Fine Line Between Recruitment and Marketing

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For a long time, people have associated recruitment with sales, but recently it’s been more frequently compared to marketing. And as marketers know, while they are inextricably linked, marketing and sales are also distinctly different.

As a recruiter of marketing professionals and a former marketer myself, I find it ironic that the line between recruitment and marketing has become so blurred. But why has it? And what can recruiters and hiring managers learn from it?

It’s become a long game

Good recruitment is no longer about simply matching applicants to jobs, it’s about making sure you appeal to the right people and that you retain them – that requires strategy.

Like marketers, recruiters and hiring managers need to have a solid understanding of the marketplace, be able to define clear objectives, and really get inside the minds of their target audience.

Whereas sales and recruitment have traditionally been geared towards short-term goals, in the drive to attract candidates who become loyal employees, and ultimately to survive, employers and recruitment agencies need to think more like marketers: long-term.

There’s a need to stand out

The organisational ‘war for talent’ and expansion of recruitment start-ups has made it vital for employers and recruiters to build a strong brand which differentiates them from their competitors.

It’s no longer just about what you can offer work-wise, but what you stand for and how you can add value above and beyond what your competitors can. Being able to convey an effective message depends on this knowledge.

Most of you will be no stranger to the term ’employer brand’ – creating a set of values and a culture that people want to be part of is very akin to what marketers do to attract customers. Recruiters are employing many of the same tactics too, such as promoting testimonials and candidate or staff reviews.

The funnel focus has changed

The reason recruiters have long been branded sales people, is that they’ve focused on converting candidates who they already have in their recruitment funnel. But these days many candidates simply aren’t actively looking for a new job.

This realisation has led to the most progressive recruiters shifting their focus to the top of the recruitment funnel in order to expand the pool of qualified candidates they have to choose from. At Sitka, we proactively reach out to more passive candidates as experience has shown us that this is often where the most sought-after skills are.

By creating helpful content on our blog, giving presentations and engaging with prospective candidates on social media, we are on many candidates’ radars before they even decide to leave their current role.

We strongly believe that successful recruitment comes down to good relationships. The same is true of marketing – customers will usually buy products and services from brands they trust who take the time to build a relationship with them. Likewise, employees will be more engaged with organisations who have good internal marketing processes.

Therefore, in spite of emerging digital technology, we are committed to getting to know candidates personally, why we invest in coaching them throughout the recruitment process to ensure they’re confident when it comes to their interview, and why we stay in touch with them.

In a highly competitive market, candidate experience is as important as customer experience.

Much like marketing, recruitment requires an investment of time and money, so being able to demonstrate how previous hiring processes have delivered is really important.

There are never guarantees as to how a particular employee will work out, but the growth in recruitment analytics can make strategic hiring decisions much easier. By measuring the time, it takes to fill a role, how many applications you receive and the attrition rate, employers and recruiters can better justify the investment of a recruitment campaign.

There are clearly a number of similarities between good recruitment practice and good marketing practice. Fundamentally, however, the biggest one is that they are both – or at least should be – about people.

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