4 Digital Mistakes Made by Recruiting Marketers

Mistake #1: Focusing on their social media audience size

Have you bragged about how big your social media audience is lately? Maybe you’ve hit a nice milestone, like ten thousand followers or fifty thousand likes. Maybe you’re in the rarified air of the hundred thousand club, where you can combine all your fans and followers and break into the six figures.

Now, I’m not going to give you your minute to shine and look smart in front of your boss; you and I have to be real for a moment: none of it matters.

Let’s pretend you have ten thousand Facebook followers. First, let’s assume you get the usual Facebook squeeze, so that you have an organic reach that maxes out at about six percent (and that’s the max, because it’s usually closer to two or three percent). This means that all the time you spent building that massive audience really bought you the chance to send a message to less than 600 of them. Even with a mind-glowingly high engagement rate, you’re still looking at about a dozen engagements on a given post.

[pullquote]Even now, your favorite platforms are making it easier and easier to friend and follow you but to actually ignore and mute whatever it is you have to say.[/pullquote]

It gets worse for anything that looks like a promotion (and no, Facebook hasn’t released its guidelines on what constitutes a “promotional post,” so you don’t know that you are or aren’t complying), where organic reach will strive for a whopping two percent.

LinkedIn isn’t far behind, as it is also filtering what posts you get to see to encourage companies like yours to pony up the cash to maximize your reach. Rumor has it that Twitter will be following the same policy soon, as well.

So let’s say you decide to spend $100 to reach more of your massive audience. Sure, now you’re being seen by 10-30% of your audience, but that doesn’t mean that they’re engaging. And there’s no difference between spending $100 to reach your audience and spending $100 to reach brand new audiences.

Remember that even now, your favorite platforms are making it easier and easier to friend and follow you but to actually ignore and mute whatever it is you have to say. Your number gets bigger, but your reach, effectiveness and value drop.

Mistake #2: Focusing on the apply click

Every single one of us in talent acquisition thinks about apply click numbers at least once a day. In the realm of recruitment marketing, apply clicks are the currency. The combined mental effort devoted to measuring applications every day could probably power a fair-sized office building. Air conditioning included.

All that effort only makes sense if apply clicks are the most important numbers to measure.

But they aren’t.

In reality, apply clicks are probably the least important thing to measure. They are the culmination of a million other choices and decisions by you and the prospect. We measure the apply click because that is what we think of as “the conversion,” the point at which the prospect converts into a candidate.

But the conversion happens well before the apply click.

[pullquote]Most career sites are designed to make “clicking the button” as easy as possible, ignoring the hundreds of questions that need to get answered before that moment.[/pullquote]

Think about a store. The sale happens well before someone walks up to the register. They had to come into your store, try on the dress or the shirt, consider how they would wear it with the other clothes they had, decide if they had a pressing reason to buy it now, consider the price and what buying this would force them to not buy later, and decide if they have time to get it home before they have to do whatever it was they were doing when they walked by.

Only after all those questions are answered the right way will they bother stepping up to the register with their credit card in hand.

It’s the same with an apply click. Most career sites are designed to make “clicking the button” as easy as possible, ignoring the hundreds of questions that need to get answered before that moment. Maybe someone would like to apply, but they don’t know if you have an employee education budget, what the salary is compared to other companies they could apply with, what the office is like physically, if there’s a matching 401(k) program, if there’s a flex hours program, etc. Ignore these questions and they will not apply.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t track apply clicks. Tracking them allows you to walk the path from the click backwards and learn that most people who apply ended up spending some time on your locations page, for example. People who don’t see that content are less likely to apply because you didn’t answer their question. Clearly, this means you need more content to answer their questions and support their decision to apply.

The greatest value that comes from tracking the apply click comes from segmenting the audience that did apply and comparing them with the audience that did not. Are people who click most commonly applying for entry-level jobs or director-level jobs? Do people who apply use the search box? Is the issue that clickers find something useful and non-clickers cannot?

Each of these situations has a clear solution that will increase the amount of applications you get, adding value to your career site over the long term. But you won’t be able to see them if you think about the apply click as the goal instead of as an analytics device.

Mistake #3: Confusing tools that generate more applications with those that generate better applications

While there is a wide spectrum of people looking for a job and potentially interested in changing their life for you, let’s break them into two camps: people who need to do a lot of research before they apply and people who don’t. Let’s call these groups “shoppers” and “button-clickers.”

Button-clickers believe that a job search is a numbers game: the more jobs they apply to, the more the odds go up of getting an interview and finally an offer. Sure, they believe in “fit,” but they are going to put the burden on you to figure out if they are who you want.

Shoppers will do lots of research before ever applying. They don’t want to manage a hundred open applications. They believe in fit, but believe they know more about themselves than you do, thus placing the burden on themselves.

[pullquote]You want the people who have enough information to say, “Yes, this is the job for me,” rather than saying, “Yes, this is a job.”[/pullquote]

The higher up the career ladder you go, the more likely someone is to be a shopper than a button-clicker. Not sure that’s true? How many “not even remotely qualified for the job but they applied anyway” candidates did you get for your entry-level marketing job, and how many of the same did you get for your VP of Sales and Marketing job? It’s not even close.

The issue is that we forget to see these groups as separate. We build career sites and manage ATS’s, and we worry about how many steps there are to apply. A shopper doesn’t care about how many steps there are, so long as they know they are on the right path. A button-clicker, because they need to fill out ten applications today, wants the fastest path to the application.

digital mistakes recruitment marketersWhen we populate those career sites, we tend to fill them with just enough information to encourage button clicking. We don’t say anything negative for fear of spooking the button-clicker. What career site has ever said that the company demands long hours and family-ignoring commitment?

We push out ads in bulk to whomever will likely listen (almost all of the button-clickers). We cheer when our “clicks to apply” numbers go down, indicating we’ve effectively greased the chute between the candidate and the application.

But when you really look at your candidates, who would you guess you’re going to hire? Who’s going to grow and thrive over the long haul? Who’s going to be engaged throughout the hiring process and become loyal employees? Not the button clickers. You want the people who did their due diligence and know exactly what they’re getting into when they click “apply.”

You want the people who have enough information to say, “Yes, this is the job for me,” rather than saying, “Yes, this is a job.”

The best part about button-clickers is that you almost have to hide the apply button from them. They don’t need to be convinced or persuaded. You have a job, and they want one of those. So in reality, you really never have to do anything more to attract them. They already live on Indeed and SimplyHired and Monster looking for new buttons to click.

So when you look at any strategy, tactic or tool in trying to recruit the best, ask yourself one simple question: is this a tool designed to attract shoppers, the people who need lots of information before applying? Or is this designed to attract more button-clickers, the people who are already applying for my jobs?

This kind of thinking will make it easier to focus on what’s really important in growing your talent pool.

Mistake #4: Seeing content as an accessory

In the recruitment world, we live and die by the job opening. How many we post, how many applications per posting, how long they stay open, the cost per apply, cost per hire, etc. The job opening is the denominator in pretty much every metric that determines our bonus.

But we all know how badly written and unilluminating those job opening descriptions are. Have you taken a look at yours recently? Looking at your own job description is like looking at a funhouse mirror reflection of what is real. Sure, you can make out what each bullet point was supposed to mean, but really, that’s not your job.

On top of that, it’s getting to the point where you can’t tell the difference between two companies by looking at their job descriptions. Every project manager job description reads the same as every other project manager job description. There are even sites that will actually give you generic job descriptions for a given job title.

Content only has two usesSo if you can’t tell the difference between companies based on the most common form of communication between you and a prospect, how will the prospect decide to choose you? Or are you comfortable with the fact that the candidate is randomly picking from a commoditized list of vaguely realistic tasks, skills and responsibilities? Or worse, are you comfortable with forcing those candidates to apply for all of the positions because they all sound the same?

Maybe you’re relying on your name recognition to carry you through. But even though you are the biggest insurance wholesaler, construction management or medical device manufacturer in the world, only people in those industries will have ever heard of you. How are you going to attract great IT, HR, marketing, sales or executive talent to a company virtually hiding in plain sight? Sure, once someone applies, they’ll do their research and become properly impressed, but what about before that? How will you attract someone when your job description is the same as everyone else’s and no one knows your name?

The answer is obvious, but chances are, you refuse to see it: You need to tell your story. You need to tell your employees’ stories. You need to tell your brand story. You need to give people a reason to find you and to apply. You need to give people all the content they want about you, your company, your department, your job, your culture and your mission.

Because content is only good for two things: helping prospects find you and compelling them to apply.

Content is the only thing that differentiates your employer brand in any meaningful way. Your logo doesn’t do it. Your company name probably doesn’t do much unless you’re a beloved retail brand. Prospects are hungry for this information, but you are hiding it, protecting it from the people who want it most.

Without easily findable content online, do you even exist?

You are forcing them to go hunting for what you should be giving away freely. You’re not allowed to complain about what is being said about you on Glassdoor if you are trying to hide everything about who you are and what working for you is like.

You might treat it like icing on the brand cake, but to people considering applying with you, it is really the entire meal. Content about who you are and your employer brand is the only product 99% of your prospects know.

Don’t fool yourself, just because you are surrounded by the brand, that everyone knows what you know. They don’t know anything. And they are so interested in it that they will go to any other website that purports to have valuable content about you.

Content should be central to your entire recruitment marketing strategy because it is the only thing that prospects really want, and it can (and should) be used and reused in dozens of different ways.

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  1. Great list. I see mistake #4 all the time. If your job post is generic, you’re going to get generic applicants who probably aren’t the best fit. Similar to inbound marketing, great content that tells your story is essential to inbound recruiting.

  2. James Ellis

    Thanks, Sarah! Content is all about differentiation. If you aren’t different, you’re all the same, and you’ll end up having to inflate your offering salaries to compensate.

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