This article was published on September 9, 2015

What recruitment can learn from inbound marketing

What recruitment can learn from inbound marketing
Ben Slater
Story by

Ben Slater

Ben Slater runs Marketing and Growth at Beamery, the world's most advanced sourcing and recruitment marketing platform. Ben Slater runs Marketing and Growth at Beamery, the world's most advanced sourcing and recruitment marketing platform.

Metaphors comparing hiring great people to a battle or war are becoming a little overplayed. Yes, it’s difficult to hire talented guys and girls, but that doesn’t mean you need a hack to beat the system – you just need a change of perspective.

We’ve reached the same juncture the marketing industry did around five years ago. Companies began to drop interruptive, attention-grabbing advertising tactics in favour of ‘earning’ customer attention through inbound marketing – you may have been told a few times since then that ‘content is king’!

As job boards lose some of their lustre, forward thinking companies are beginning to mimic inbound marketers to bring in world-class talent.

Playing personas

Well considered customer acquisition begins with a persona. Who is the target market? Where can they be reached?

goals target fail nervous

Depending on industry the answer to this could be anything from LinkedIn groups to online gardening forums!

Marketers then share carefully curated content and embark on creating brand awareness in these areas. Participating in relevant conversations and building relationships helps create and qualify leads that are then passed on to the sales team.

Targeted hiring campaigns start in the same way. When you’ve established the blend of traits that help someone succeed at your company, you can map out an ideal ‘new hire persona’.

Use the customer acquisition framework to connect with this ‘persona’. Find the right forums to share interesting, ‘value-adding’ content, and start conversations. Depending on your hiring needs these could be meetups, online communities or LinkedIn groups. This creates brand awareness as well as triggers to bring people to your site – the first step in the application process.

Funneling for the future

To maintain a steady dealflow, sales and marketing teams need to constantly top up the funnel with new prospects. A small percentage of leads become customers, so companies always need more – the wheels on the sales engine never stop turning. The same funnel model is a nice antidote for companies struggling to hire great people.


Most of us approach recruitment with the same, transactional formula. Need to hire? Simple. Know anyone that fits? If not, just post an ad or hire a recruiter. It can do the trick, but it leaves a lot on the table.

Often the very best candidates aren’t ‘actively looking’ – they’re not going to be browsing the AngelList classifieds, and they’re not going to pick up the phone to the recruiter (who really does?).

Also, it’s not like talented people are short of choice. Companies compete for high flyers with elaborate perks – unlimited coconut water anyone?

Competing on perks and compensation isn’t sustainable. Work on building and replenishing a hiring funnel instead. Take the time to stop and talk to people, build relationships and share your company vision. You won’t hire everyone that you speak to, far from it in fact, but you’ll get a mix of awesome advice, contacts and hires.

The best people aren’t always immediately available but, opening up a relationship and touching base from time to time might mean that, when they are ready to move, they think of you first. Treat hiring like a permanent responsibility and invest time in finding and engaging great people – you never know when it will pay off.

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Always be closing

Funnel models live or die by the sword of conversion. Time invested in lead generation is wasted if no one actually signs up. Companies have designated growth teams that spend their days tweaking website copy and CTA colours to increase conversion – even fractional increases lead to big payouts.

Hiring funnels tend to lack the same slavish A/B testing and optimization. The careers page bounce rate is around 97 percent – wasting the time spent bringing prospective applicants to your site.

Many of the same triggers that convince someone to make a purchasing decision can turn site visitors to applicants. Engaging copy, relevant information and insights into company culture make it easy for candidates to click ‘apply’. Careers pages are still landing pages – they deserve the same level of attention.

Measuring and monitoring

High level metrics show companies where their best customers come from, what content works, where their hard-earned dollars are best spent – the same scrutiny needs to be applied to the hiring process.

Which channels are most effective? What content resonates best? What flavour milkshakes are bringing the boys to the yard?


Double down on whatever works. If meetups are your thing, think about sponsoring them. If it’s LinkedIn groups, why not start your own. Finding the answers to these questions is the only way to test the ROI of your inbound hiring strategy.

The way the wind is blowing

Hiring needs a rethink. Traditional methods tend to be ineffective when companies are after the very best people.

Investing the time in building, filling and measuring a sustainable hiring funnel gives employers a marked advantage. It’s a more strategic approach and one that should help you win whatever battle for talent we’re engaged in!

What do you think about the idea of inbound recruitment? Do you think it’s a scalable solution? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Read Next: Why multitasking is bad for our brains

Image credit: Shutterstock

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