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A Talent Acquisition Advertising Guide During the “Great Resignation”

October 21, 2021

The CEO of a cybersecurity company said to me about his hiring needs, “we’re a recruiting agency now.” His sentiment echoes what every company we’ve talked to this year is feeling: they can’t meet the growth expectations investors and customers have of them unless they fill critical, open roles. 

Pair rapid growth in many industries with the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021 and we are seeing companies desperate to attract new talent. Most companies have already addressed ‘low-hanging fruit’ solutions like introducing higher referral bonuses, hiring more contract recruiters (“headhunters”), reducing application requirements (e.g., college degrees) and formalizing flexible work policies (hybrid or fully remote). 

Even still, the open job postings are piling up and the time it takes to fill them has increased by weeks or even months. 

Desperate to speed up hiring, companies are turning to advertising. Often, this means promoted job listings on LinkedIn or Glassdoor. But these are slow to generate results because more traffic to job listings rarely addresses the underlying challenge with hiring: convincing talent that your company is where they want to work. 

The campaigns with the best results are collaborative endeavors between communications and talent teams and provide a full-funnel approach to talent acquisition. 

Awareness Advertising 

Before someone is interested in applying for positions at your company, and even before they’re interested in learning about what it’s like to work for you, they first need to know who you are. 

For well-established brands: Just because your brand is a household name doesn’t mean you can skip the awareness stage. Talent needs to agree that your brand does interesting work in their field. Goldman Sachs, for instance, is known for hiring bankers, so most software engineers—now one of the fastest-growing departments—don’t think of Goldman or even the banking industry as an interesting career path for themselves. 

For challenger brands: Before you talk about what it’s like to work at your company, you first need to introduce your brand. It used to be that job seekers would find an unknown company’s job listing and research the company to learn more. Now, there are so many open positions that candidates are overlooking unknown brands and only focusing on brands they do know. Brand recognition through content like thought leadership, CSR and events establishes you as a known player in their field. 

Consideration Advertising 

Once talent is aware of your brand and agree that you do interesting work in their field, now comes the task of differentiating you from your competitors. Your campaign should answer some of the following questions for prospective candidates: 

  • What is your culture like? 
  • What kind of work would I be doing? What team will I join?  
  • What are my career advancement opportunities? 
  • What training and learning opportunities are available? 
  • What unique benefits does your company offer? 
  • Can you prove your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion? 
  • Does your company align with my values? What corporate social responsibility initiatives are you involved in? 
  • How flexible will my working arrangement be? 

The most authentic voice to answer these questions isn’t your corporate brand, it’s your existing employees. Consider how you can elevate the people in your company who best represent your brand in blogs, employee review sites, social media and ads. 

Application Advertising 

Now that talent is aware of who you are, what you do and how you’re different than your competition, they’re finally ready to receive a nudge to explore specific job listings. The ads should be as differentiated as possible: target software engineer jobs to software engineers and project manager jobs to project managers, avoiding whenever possible a generic “careers” landing page. 

Offer Acceptance 

Congratulations! You made an offer, they accepted and you’re onboarding them. You now have the opportunity to learn more about your existing talent in order to find more people like them. 

In the aggregate, and compliant with privacy regulations, you can discover commonalities among your existing employees that can enhance your paid media targeting. For a financial trading firm looking to recruit high school talent, for example, a new hire analysis revealed that hires over indexed in an interest in poker, which reflected their comfort with taking big risks with money. 

Brand Ambassadors 

Your existing employees are your best resources for finding new employees. Beyond personal referrals, establishing a brand ambassador program is a holistic way to leverage the strength of your employees. A brand ambassador program can: 

  • Provide authentic creative for your ad campaign. “Don’t take our word for it, hear what our people have to say.” Employees are more credible than your brand voice is. Using their faces and their words to communicate to prospective talent can substantially increase the performance of your campaigns. 
  • Answer questions from prospects. Prospective talent may not feel comfortable asking recruiters these questions. Proactively answering them through the content on your website provides a place for recruiters to point to, directs talent to your website instead of external environments like Glassdoor and provides an owned, brand-safe environment to explore careers at your company. 
  • Increase retention. Highly engaged employees want to be the face of the brand. Employees want to see, read about and celebrate their colleagues. 

Next Steps 

If your company is struggling to meet its hiring needs and you’re already running an ad campaign, consider if you’re running ads at all stages in the funnel. If you’re targeting people unfamiliar with your brand with ads that say “Apply Now,” you’ll need upper-funnel messaging to reach them first. If all of your ads are brand-focused without a call-to-action, you might need to take prospective talent down the funnel to turn awareness into action. 

If you haven’t yet launched an ad campaign, or want to troubleshoot the one you’re currently running that isn’t delivering results, let’s talk: 

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