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Why Recruiters Need to Think Like Marketers to Find the Right Candidates

Summary: Want to find the right candidates for your company? You need to start thinking like a marketer. Learn why in this article.

Why do you need to think like a marketer to find the right candidates?
Today's tight job market is not new. Human Resources executives have learned how to compete in the hiring fray against their talent-starved competition. Job offers now routinely include high starting salaries, excellent benefits, flexible schedules, and the kind of champagne-and-caviar perks once reserved for senior executives. Some college graduates now have signed employment contracts before even beginning their senior year. Others report receiving two salary increases while still months away from their first day of work—all to ensure that, inexperience notwithstanding, they won't be lured away by better offers.
Despite these premiums, many HR departments still cannot hire qualified candidates in sufficient numbers.
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What recruiters must do now is change the way they conceive of their role. Today's Human Resources function no longer consists of passively managing the hiring process. In this job market, companies won't achieve their employment goals if HR continues to view its chief purpose as processing resumes. Instead, companies need their HR people to start acting more like their marketing people—savvy professionals who are trained to thoroughly understand what their products can do, who may want to buy them, and how purchase decisions are made in the marketplace. In the case of HR, the "product" is your company or open position, the "buyer" is your prospective candidate, and the "marketplace" is any competitor eyeing your prospective candidate.
In order to guide recruiting activities to best effect, companies should develop the equivalent of a marketing plan for the Human Resources department. The plan must be designed to reach each and every one of your target markets, whether they are recent MBA recipients, Java-savvy programmers, Spanish-speaking sales managers, or financial analysts located in a specific metropolitan area. Using this "HR marketing plan," companies can easily see where their job postings will be most effective. For instance, an opening for finance professionals should be posted on, the premier finance site, while a Java programmer's job should go on, where Web professionals look for resources and information. Posting on sites most frequently visited by candidates with the desired skills ensures that job openings are being appropriately marketed to the right target audience. Another approach is to use a job posting website that posts each opening on more than one site at once, ensuring you reach as many qualified job seekers as possible. One such website is EmploymentCrossing, which posts each job on more than 500 job sites. Click here to learn more.
The marketing plan should deliver messages that motivate various categories of job seekers to take positive action towards your company. These messages should be carefully matched to the interests of each job seeker category. For some, salary and stock options will be the primary attraction. Others are looking for comprehensive benefits to support a young family. Certain candidates place a high value on education credits, relocation support, or business travel as an opportunity for career growth. To be effective marketers, HR professionals must know their audiences and aggressively promote the job features that correspond to the target market's priorities.
A "recruiting marketing plan" borrows many of the elements of a classic product marketing plan. It outlines how you will convey information and emotion about your products (in this case, jobs) and your brand (the company) to your target markets. For example, each posting should include details about your company's work environment to help you gain mindshare among job seekers. Highlighted and animated online banners will build recognition of your company name. Use the techniques of image advertising to position your company as an exciting place to work. And personalize this message by linking the prospective candidate's future with your company's future in the marketplace.
Your recruiting marketing plan should incorporate a job-posting strategy that is precisely targeted to your ideal candidate. For example, companies that sell business travel products such as laptop computer cases typically advertise in airline magazines, where their ideal buyers are sure to see them. In the same way, recruiters and HR professionals must learn where to reach each target audience of job seekers; they can then effectively place job postings in plain view of desirable candidates.
Finally, plans are good only if they get good results. That's why your recruiting marketing plan must be subjected to the same measurement, evaluation, and optimization as any marketing plan. Once you have measured your raw results, make sure you have the right tools to understand what the data mean. Retain the elements that are working and ruthlessly change the ones that are not. Like every successful marketer, you'll be applying proven methods to capture a sale. In this case, however, "selling" your open position wins your company the grand prize—a talented employee.
Now, we want to look at another element of marketing your company—how to place your message in front of the most qualified potential candidates. The key lesson HR can learn from mass marketing is to put their message in front of a customer that is pre-disposed to buy. In the “paper” world, marketers buy lists of people that have purchased or are interested in purchasing similar products, or they advertise in publications with precise audiences. In the Internet world, we put our message on a website where the audience has identifiable characteristics. We match the product to the audience.
How does this apply to recruiting? Although it seems self-evident, the answer is to place your positions where the right candidate will see them. If you are looking for an accountant, go to the same places as the accountants. If you are looking for an engineer, go where there are engineers. If you are looking for interns, go where college students hang out. If you need people in Indiana, start by looking in Indiana.
Click here to see a list of profession-specific job posting websites.
It is true there are times when you are looking for candidates with very broad qualifications, and in those instances, posting a job on a generalized job board will get you a wide variety of response. In many instances, however, you require specific experience or qualification, and in those instances, you are looking for a more narrow pool of candidates matching your exact criteria.
For Internet postings, this usually means that you should post your jobs on a site specializing in content that appeals to individuals with similar interests. That doesn’t mean a small or lightly viewed site. It does mean that you should look for a site that attracts a specific audience, and one the audience will return to time and again for information and resources.
The most successful “marketing” strategy for corporate recruiting uses those websites with exposure to potential job seekers within your industry and with the skills, location and diversity that you need. If you need a candidate with five years of financial management experience in the healthcare industry, post the position on and This highly targeted approach allows you to develop a customized program that suits your company’s changing requirements.
This targeted approach has two very important side benefits.
First, it frequently reduces the number of unqualified resumes that you receive. It is much better to receive 20 qualified resumes than to get 200 resumes that are not qualified and require hours of your time to sort through.
Second, it also smokes out potential candidates that are not necessarily looking for a job. The viewer is coming to the site for reasons related to their job or their interests, and are usually not there to look for a job. They are the classic “Passive” job seekers that we all seek.
Finally, every marketing approach requires a plan and critical evaluation. Regularly check the value of every site that you use. Measure the response, especially the qualified response and keep your message on those sites that work best for you.