Why Your HR Team Should Think Like Advertisers, Not Recruiters

Why Your HR Team Should Think Like Advertisers, Not Recruiters

There are plenty of similarities between advertising a product and advertising a job opening.

Imagine someone shopping online for a new car. They have multiple tabs open, comparing and scrutinizing their various options as they try to make a decision. It’s a big purchase, and they want to get it right. They want something that will last for years.

A job seeker looking for a new position is no different. They use similar decision-making skills and questions when they begin filling out applications. Will this job fit their needs? How long will it last? What are the benefits compared to other roles out there?

This process is in-depth, of course. A new job is much more important than a new car, but the process that makes people choose one option over another is essentially the same.

Like advertising, recruitment is a competitive market. A job is a product, and it needs to be treated as such. The trouble is, a lot of HR teams have yet to recognize they’re essentially in the advertising business. And that leads to fewer applicants, fewer positions filled, and more missed opportunities.

Fortunately, it’s possible to create attractive campaigns for job openings. You just have to use the same tactics as advertisers.

Here’s why it works:

Advertisers know exactly what it takes to draw people in.

Advertisers have been honing the process behind strong ad campaigns for decades.

It includes these steps, which seek to attract ad consumers and shoppers:

  • Find what makes your company stand out
  • Write a powerful headline
  • Make them an offer
  • Share the benefits
  • Tell your news
  • Remove their fear
  • Add a call-to-action
  • Use urgency
  • Include testimonials
  • Choose exciting graphics

Fortunately, you can use the same process to build a job campaign that attracts candidates. That means everything from your headline to your call-to-action must be powerful and compelling. Then, your job description needs to quickly showcase the benefits of the job. Applicants should be able to identify what makes your company different from the competition, whether it’s a benefits package, a signing bonus, better hours, or a higher salary.

The reality is, job seekers often already have jobs. Similar to a consumer considering a new brand when shopping, a job seeker has to be convinced that leaving their job for your company is in their best interest.

Just as any good advertiser emphasizes the positive aspects of the product, you need to emphasize the perks of working for your company.

They also constantly change their strategies to find what works.

Change is always difficult, especially when a certain technique has been working well for years. Some HR managers are reluctant to make changes to their hiring strategies simply because they’ve had consistent results in the past.

But any good advertiser knows the best campaigns eventually turn stale.

That’s why a hiring strategy that worked well two years ago may not produce the same results in today’s environment. For instance, many companies are employing new strategies to attract applicants, such as offering signing bonuses. Job seekers have options — and they’re looking for the best deal between companies.

To stay competitive long-term, it’s important for your team to perform a situational analysis on the recruitment strategy and adapt it based on the results. Change is the only thing you can really count on, and it’s always better to embrace it than to fight it.

Advertisers think local.

As you’re deciding on the content of your job campaign, think carefully about local factors that will govern the reach you’ll have and affect the likelihood of converting potential hires.

These considerations are some of the most important elements of an ad campaign. Advertisers know a campaign won’t perform the same way in San Francisco as it does in central Illinois. In the same way, recruiters can’t expect a one-size-fits-all job posting to perform well from one city to the next.

Let’s say Trader Joe’s wants to open a new store in Illinois. Before broadcasting their job campaign, they should consider local factors, such as the competitive landscape, average salaries, and typical benefits packages. If Whole Foods is opening a store at the same time in the same market, that affects Trader Joe’s job campaign. They have to determine what Whole Foods might be offering employees in order to best leverage that information to stay competitive when hiring.

Time after time, I’ve seen companies spend too much time trying to create one perfect persona for their job, only to realize later on that they’d missed the mark. That’s often due to the fact that personas vary by market — and local considerations haven’t been taken into account.

Without a local strategy, you may end up trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.

They have the freedom and resources to explore.

Advertisers spend vast amounts of time and money researching their target customers and their personas. They know that a product only performs well if it’s placed in front of the right eyes.

But this type of research isn’t given as much emphasis when it comes to recruitment. Some companies still have the notion that applicants will seek them out, fill out an arduous application, and then wait with baited breath to find out if they got the job.

That’s not the case anymore. HR teams need the same space to innovate as advertisers. They need top-level support for new initiatives, tools, and strategies.

It’s clear the job market is competitive — the unemployment rate just hit an 18-year low. Companies have to react to that appropriately, and in many cases, that means trading outdated recruitment strategies for proven approaches that attract applicants.

In other words, it means thinking like an advertiser.


This post originally appeared on the personal blog of Mike Kofi Okyere (Founder & CEO, Perengo).

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