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The evolution of recruitment marketing

I bounced out of university almost 20 years ago, and into my first ‘real’ job as a fresh-faced recruitment consultant. My high street recruitment agency quickly became my second home and I built up my desk, and career, with nothing more than an old-fashioned landline phone, A-board, local newspaper and bags of enthusiasm. Most of my day was spent talking to people, and candidates and clients would happily pop in to talk shop over a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

The key to success back then was the ability to build face-to-face relationships, which meant I really knew what made my contacts tick. Fast forward to 2017, I have been supporting recruitment companies of all sizes with their marketing objectives over the past 15 years and have seen how technology has transformed our industry. While the role of a recruitment consultant remains ultimately about placing the right person in the right position, the recruitment marketing and hiring process is driven by facts and figures and has perhaps lost elements of the ‘personal touch’.

Are we too reliant on job boards?

The pace at which jobs are advertised online has accelerated and the digital platform has fuelled the speed of job application. Online recruiter Indeed, which claims to be the world’s number one job site, says it receives over 200 million unique visitors every month. Although this doesn’t necessarily result in a reduced time to hire; it takes a good recruiter to spot a quality candidate amidst a sea of CVs.

A recent survey* revealed that online job boards are now more popular than high-street recruitment agencies for jobseekers, with 81% using them. Of those surveyed, a quarter also used social media to find a job ‒ which has an even bigger part to play for recruiters looking to actively source talent. Platforms such as LinkedIn are making candidates easier to find even if they’re not actively job hunting, and they’re far more accessible.

Has social media disrupted recruitment?

One thing is certain, social media is never stagnant. LinkedIn appears to be popular with recruiters sourcing candidates and has more than held its own competing with job boards. While I don’t hear many recruiters talk about Facebook as a recruiting tool, the Graph Search function (the alternative to the advanced People Search on LinkedIn) allows you to search through profile data of friends, friends of friends or those who have public data on their profiles. Social media is providing recruiters with access to so much personal data – which traditionally you would have held on your own database.

Of course, niche and specialist social media sites continue to emerge, and it takes a savvy and agile recruiter to quickly shift their style and take advantage of these new platforms.

Face-to-face relationships are being replaced by a digital dependency. The critical factor is knowing which channel your target market is tuned in to and it is naive to think it’s just millennials making the most of social media. Generation X (35-49-year-olds) reportedly spend the most time on social media, closely followed by Generation Y (17-34-year-olds). This makes up a significant proportion of the working population. (Nielsen)

As well as using social media to advertise jobs and search for candidates, many consultants are also using it to communicate with candidates via platforms such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Snapchat. While this might be more ‘convenient’, it clearly demonstrates how social media has removed the need for traditional face-to-face meetings. This informal approach will also make it much harder for agencies to keep track of their consultants’ relationships and perhaps easier for the consultant to maintain their clients should they move agencies.

Has technology removed the human touch?

It’s never been easier to set up a recruitment company. Is this a good thing? Time will certainly tell, but my gut instinct tells me this trend could well be short-lived. Technological advances, such as the ability to send daily job alerts, targeted emails and to re-target passive candidates all make it easier than ever for an agency to remain at the forefront of a job-seeker’s mind but they can never replace the human touch. For sustainable success, good recruiters can balance short-term wins with long-term relationships to retain client relationships. It’s hard for online recruiters to be strong at this.

Then there are the big technology giants, Google and Microsoft, who have recently thrown their hats into the ring. Google’s cloud-based API has been designed to help companies fill jobs using machine learning, making the job search more intuitive. Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn last year also shows their intent to place people in the right job. It’s clear that data is shaping the future of recruitment, but at what cost? We should never forget the importance of the personal touch and perhaps the key is combining the advances of technology with a friendly chat over a cuppa with your client and candidate.

What’s next for recruitment marketing?

In my next post, I’ll cover my 2020 predictions for the recruitment industry. Can digital recruiters sustain success or do you need to perfectly blend technology with human instinct to get results? Or will recruitment go all retro and go back to basics? I’d love to hear your predictions, please comment below.

Do you want support understanding how you can use technology to tease out the best candidates for your business? Please drop me a note on minesh@hybrid-marketing.co.uk