HR Marketing and employer branding in the age of data

HR marketing and data

I’ll start with two observations that have very little in common at first sight. The first is that HR in general and recruiting in particular will have to adopt marketing approaches in their day to day work. The second is no one wants to see ads on the web.

What’s the connection ?

A business that wants to have well-targeted initiatives and create a personalized experience with customers has the means to do that. For known customers (they have an account or log in in any fashion)it can rely on their data, for unknown ones (those without any history / who don’t log in) there are tools that help to identify “statistical twins” for a given visitor and then, guess what are his expectations.

Practically speaking if you were still thinking that the ads you see on the web were displayed on the web matched your interest by chance, this how businesses try to push the right message at the right moment. Sometimes they are more or less relevant but the idea is here. And there’s no surprise to see marketers working harder and harder to become more relevant.

Profile scoring is only for customers

Talking to the mass in a personalized way to address markets of one : this is the future of marketing that relies on a deep and proactive customer understanding.

Who (except marketing) also needs to deal with the mass to engage in a personalized relationship with each one to push the right offer (or no offer at all ?) while trying to make the relationship sustainable over time ? HR with candidates, of course.

What do HR do to know more about candidates ? They publish job offers, wait for applications, read the CV and the support letter and often miss target for some reason :

• sometimes the job advertisement misses its target

• it only reaches candidates looking for a job, not the grey market, passive and with a “wait and see” policy

• The first qualification is made by the candidate (I respond to this offer) and not by the recruiter (I send this offer to such or such person).

I’d really like to highlight the firs point. When the first qualification is the candidate qualifying the company and not the other way around, the quality of the recruiting process is at risk, most of all when the only people reached are those actively looking for a job. Businesses don’t get applications from the people they want but from the people who want the company. There is, of course, an overlap, but there is a huge loss in signal and a poor signal/noise ratio.

Marketing qualifies customers, candidates qualify employers

In other words we have marketers trying to engage with customers in the most relevant way and optimize their funnel while recruiters are throwing messages in bottles, waiting to see what will happen in return.

Let’s make a connection. There are known candidates, either because they have a profile on the career site or logged in with LinkedIn. There are unknown candidates that may be scored based on their statistical twins.

In the second case, some algorithms already used by marketers make a lot of sense. For instance those who help to identify interests : it’s always better to hire someone who’s passionate about your industry, a kind of product etc, either it’s for a manager or front line employee position.

I have no doubt that many other things an be scored in the same way. For instance the willingness to get a new job (someone who’s currently employed but spends a lot of time on recruitment sites…). Maybe the foreign languages proficiency (someone who reads sites in many languages) or the interest for a given kind of corporate culture, for some countries etc. When you know what can be scored to optimize product adverting, I am sure the same can be done for recruiting.

Scoring for a better display, not for selection

Before going further, let’s be clear on the purpose of such a scoring. It’s about job advertisement targeting, not candidate selection.

The purpose is to :

• target the right people

• only pay to reach those people

• Track these people wherever they are (in other words reach those who aren’t actively looking for a job).

It would help to target more relevant profiles than those who are following the traditional path, so it’s supposed to complement current practiced, not to replace them.

Advertizing jobs offers

Now let’s imagine that instead of seeing product ads on every web site we could see targeted job offers. I can even guess many people would stop using adblockers that prevent ads display ! We can also imagine a model where adblockers show some social responsibility and allow job offers display while still blocking product ads.

It needs some prerequisites but opens a wide range of new opportunities.

The prerequisites :

  • that HR solutions steal some functionalities to marketing ones (IBM showed it was possible, I think Oracle is also following the same direction).
  • that advertisement production businesses create an HR/recruitment department
  • that HR culture shifts.

Data to create an employer brand universe

And what does it make possible ? Look at what brands can do with data and customer understanding to create a personalized brand universe and experience that goes far product advertising. Environments with rich, personalized, immersive content. A good opportunity to refresh traditional approaches to employer branding.

With LinkedIn and Bizo history in on the move

An unrealistic futurist approach ? Let me remind you that Linkedin recently acquired the B2B relational marketing startup Bizo. The technology is available, the future seems unavoidable, the only question is to know how fast we’ll get there.

As a was finishing to write this post, someone draw my attention on a French Startup, Golden Bees, whose promise is to use programmatic advertising for recruitment. I’m going to investigate this soonProgrammatic advertizing for jobs

In the same way Michael Page has built a programmatic offer and I’ve read that the conversion rate has significantly increased. They only advertise on career sites and social networks but that’s a good start.

Image Credit : Jobs classsifieds by  Feng Yu via Shutterstock