In our competitive market, it’s those recruitment agencies who take their marketing seriously that will lead the way forward and show the rest of the industry how it’s done.
And although we’ve come a long way in accepting that recruitment is marketing just as much as it is sales, we still seem to be making mistakes when hiring our Recruitment Marketers, and continue to massively underestimate the impact this hire can make to business!
I still see so many agencies simply rebrand their admin roles into 'Recruitment Marketer', or put a job ad out looking for a graduate with no previous experience of marketing thinking this will get them results, but this will only set you up for disappointment.
So, let’s take a step back and look at why the key role of a Recruitment Marketer can be so challenging and what you can do to make sure you get this important hire right.
Hire someone with experience first; a graduate second
Marketing is one of the most diverse areas of a business, and to really cover every area comprehensively, you probably need around five marketers covering their own specialism – but nobody has time (or budget) for that!
Therefore, for your first hire you need recruit someone who’s a strong generalist that and doesn’t want to specialise just yet. Most importantly, you want someone who’s a doer: They understand your business goals, know how to translate these goals into marketing objectives, and are willing to put in the hard graft to get there.
Now think about it: If this is someone who’s able to take business objectives and translate them into a marketing strategy, does this sound like a job for your admin assistant or someone fresh out of university? Didn’t think so!
A junior candidate still needs someone to learn from – someone who understands what’s going on in the marketing industry and knows how to come up with objectives that reflect this as well as deliver on them. This is the only way you’ll see a return on your marketing hire, and it’s why you need to up your hiring expectations and increase your budget when recruiting for this role.
Accept that the first person you hire will cost more but they’ll pave the way and make it easier for you to hire juniors later down the line once you’ve got the important groundwork in place.
Appreciate the complexities of recruitment marketing
Another reason that hiring an inexperienced marketer for this role often fails is that your target audience as a recruitment agency is far from straight forward, and we tend to totally underestimate how difficult it can be to manage as a marketer.
Over the years, I’ve learned just how important ‘persona marketing’ is to recruitment. This is because our marketing audience isn’t just candidates we’re looking to reach and engage (our B2C audience), but clients and prospects too (our B2B audience).
Most businesses are either selling to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B), meaning they only need one marketing strategy.
A B2B business would market to their customers as follows:
Company X markets to Customer Y = a B2B traditional marketing strategy
However, a recruitment agency needs to run two different strategies at the same time:
Company X markets to Target Customer Y= a B2B traditional marketing strategy
Company X markets to Target Candidate Z = a B2C traditional marketing strateg
This is tough even for the most advanced and experienced marketers, as you’re effectively managing two strategies and numerous personas simultaneously.
Persona management is one of the most complicated parts of recruitment marketing, and I would argue that our industry has one of the most complex audiences for marketers to work with. So, expecting a graduate to get their head round all this just doesn’t make sense (and would be a bit unfair!).
Align your marketer’s goals with your recruiters’ targets
Whilst recruiters are used to focussing their strategy around activity KPIs (making 30 calls per day, for example), marketers are used to focussing on results (e.g. how many candidates clicked their job ads rather than how many job ads they’ve posted).
Therefore, to get the best out of your marketer you need to show them where to focus their time and energy so that they’ll be able to help your agency make money (and see tangible results).
For example, if you have a hard-to-fill role or a candidate skill set that you’re always looking for (and can place instantly if you find a good candidate) get them to focus their marketing efforts on helping your recruiters solve this problem.
They’ll have time on their hands that your recruiters don’t have and they can use it to do things like retarget candidates on Facebook, set up a wider email campaign, or build a landing page to drive social marketing to convert via and join the marketing dots to create a new talent pool of candidates that will make your agency money.
Too often a recruitment marketer will be left to their own devices and as a result, they spend all their time on tasks like redoing your agency website homepage and totting up twitter followers, and whilst this stuff is great, we all know this doesn’t pay the bills!
However, teaming your recruitment marketer up with your recruiters to directly support their challenges is much more productive (and more enjoyable to a results-driven marketer too) and has the potential to double the return into your agency. It’s just that right now, your marketer needs to have a little bit more experience under their belt or a little more guidance as to where to focus their talent to really unleashed the growth engine potential within your agency.
To help ensure you hire someone who ticks all the right boxes for this important role, we've put together a job description template that will pull in the right candidate for the job.
Wendy McDougall is Chief Fish of Firefish Software. In her spare time, you'll find her playing squash or feeding her inner geek with the latest technology!