As the role of technology in the hiring and recruiting industry continues to grow, it’s only natural that we’ve seen changes to the way people are hiring. The industry really kicked off in 1999 when The Monster Board and Online Career Center merged to become Then, after thousands of job boards had popped up, we saw the birth of applicant tracking systems, job aggregators and pay-per-click job boards. The world of hiring and recruiting has grown dramatically and so has the technology to support it.

It’s 2016. It’d be stupid not to look at the state of recruiting and how it relates to marketing.  The key word that it all boils down to is “Acquisition.” Customer acquisition and talent acquisition have nearly identical processes, so why are so many still treating them as completely unrelated?

Within the Customer Acquisition process, it all starts with developing marketing campaign content. This means creating everything from ads to press releases, blog posts, white papers and more. This content is then used to generate sales leads, that are ultimately given a score and nurtured until they become a sales qualified lead. This qualification process ensures that the sales team focuses their energy on the hottest leads, and minimizes the time spent trying to cold-sell to a lead that is unqualified or unprepared to make a purchase.

What helped make all of this lead generation campaign and qualification possible? Marketing Automation. Automation helps create a proper workflow to easily manage and automate the tasks necessary to launch and track the progress of leads. Then, through the use of Salesforce Automation tools (SFA/CRM), the sales team is able to manage the pipeline of leads and opportunities up until closure. There are tons of features that help to manage this process such as activity tracking, task management, reporting and more. The cherry on top of the customer acquisition sundae, is being able to generate  a Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) from all of your marketing and sales efforts. This information can show you how to become more efficient at generating leads, lower costs, and where to spend more effort to acquire more customers.

Talent Acquisition as Lead Generation

So, by now, you’re probably thinking, “what the heck does this have to do with hiring and recruiting?”

Well, Talent Acquisition shares a very similar process to the marketing and sales funnel. The one exception being that, instead of trying to generate leads for your sales team to close, you’re trying to generate candidates to hire. When you actually compare both processes the similarities are redonkulous.

Like the Customer Acquisition Funnel, the Talent Acquisition Funnel also begins with content development. These pieces of content even have striking similarities to marketing. You have job ads similar to paid ads, you have your job descriptions which can be SEO optimized for increased visibility, and you have qualifying questions, an employer brand, etc.

One of the most stark similarities between lead and candidate generation, is how job aggregators and job boards have begun to use search algorithms to determine relevancy of specific job posts. This is the same way that search engines like Google and Bing determine what Ads they display and what web pages show up first in results.

While the criteria differ slightly from job boards and search engines, much remains the same. Prevalence is placed on the “Job Title.” The more specific, the better the results on the appropriate searches. Keyword saturation within the job description itself, (the inclusion of the relevant terms used to describe job title, similar titles, skills that people would search, etc.) also plays a pivotal role in gaining relevance. Similar to web SEO, you can leverage associated and tertiary keywords to generate increased traffic.

If you thought things were crazy already, prepare yourself  because they’re going to get even crazier. Once you launch your job ad across your platform(s) of choice (Monster, Jobs2Careers, Craigslist, Indeed, Sponsored Ads, etc.), you start generating candidates just like you’d be generating leads! Similar to the customer acquisition process, you need to spread your marketing across several channels to generate the best cost/candidate (or in customer acquisition metrics, cost/lead).

But, just like in marketing and sales, you need a way to qualify all of the leads (candidates) that have come through or applied. Once you have hundreds of resumes to review, you need to qualify each applicant to determine if they deserve an initial interview. Currently, in the hiring and recruiting market, there aren’t many tools that provide candidate qualification and scoring. Some programs provide a score based solely on keywords being used in resumes, but more capable solutions assess candidates with online interviews and resume analysis to determine a more intelligent score for candidates. Automated candidate scoring lets hiring managers spend less time reviewing resumes and more time focusing on the most qualified candidates. This is just like how marketing automation and lead scoring help sales teams determine where they should focus to close more deals quickly.

The next stage of the talent acquisition funnel is also one that will seem very familiar. This stage consists of the candidate management and interview process steps of the talent funnel. This is tracking the candidates in your funnel and their progress through your interviews all the way to hire. This is where those age-old applicant tracking systems come into play. They help you manage all of your candidates in an online platform and see: who has interviewed, what interviews are coming up, and who has been hired.

What they don’t show you is the data on how effective and efficient your hiring process has been. Three valuable metrics to determine your effectiveness — 1. days to present (how long did it take you to find that qualified candidate), 2. days to accept (how efficient is your interviewing and job offer process), 3. cost per-hire.

Changing the Hiring Game

So, how much did all of your candidate sourcing efforts cost you in the end? Yes, you landed that perfect employee, but did it cost you $100/hire or $10,000/hire? How much internal staff time did this consume? This is also a cost you need to include in your Cost Per Hire (CPH). These types of metrics and data will be the next steps in the hiring industry. In the future, everyone may be using multiple sources to find their hire and assigning costs to create an optimum cost/hire. It’s what’s currently done in marketing to get the lowest overall cost/lead, and will be the next natural step in the hiring process.

“Ok, so the customer acquisition process and talent acquisition process are similar. I get it, but what do I do now?”

Viewing the entire talent acquisition process from a marketing mindset absolutely changes the game. Just by using some basic search engine optimization tricks, you can increase the number of times your Job Ad is listed in the search results on job boards (these are called impressions). Additionally, by applying a more marketing-minded approach to writing your job descriptions, you can even increase engagement and number of applications.

For businesses, A|B testing job descriptions and titles will be one of the next big things to improve talent acquisition. How do you know that the changes you’re making to job descriptions are actually driving more applicants? The answer is running an A|B test and changing small sections so you can measure the improvements you’re making each time you modify a job description for a position.

For example, say you want to hire sales manager for a medical services practice. You can launch an A|B test on job titles for a) “Sales Manager” and b) “Medical Services Sales Manager.” Group A will yield broader results, but may not generate enough qualified candidates. Group B will have a lower volume of applicants, but may have a higher volume of qualified candidates. To achieve even more granular results, you can use this method with job descriptions as well. This is a common practice in conversion rate optimization for landing pages to drive lead generation.

Even using these A|B tests for emails to potential (passive) candidates is possible. If you have a list of passive candidates and you’re trying to land a successful hire, it’s only natural to want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck out of each email campaign. Using general marketing principles here helps you drive more effective campaigns. Add in an eye-popping subject line, some engaging email copy, a call-to-action (ex: “Apply Now”), and you can easily increase your application to conversion rates.

In pay-per-click advertising (think Google Adwords but on job aggregators, like Indeed or ZipRecruiter), one of the common tools used is a conversion optimizer that uses data from each keyword to determine which adgroups and campaigns will lead to the lowest overall cost for leads. Sponsored Ads on Indeed are already using a conversion optimizer to help you get more applicants at a lower cost and remove the headaches of having to manage all of your individual hiring campaigns, but how about applying this on a larger scale?

One of our clients has dubbed this “Smart Job Marketing,” and it plays a key part in their candidate management platform. It takes a similar approach that PPC Management platforms use when optimizing your bids across all active pay-per-click networks to get lowest cost per lead, but applying the principle to hiring. The platform uses an intelligent algorithm, current performance, and historical data to determine which job boards and networks will be most-effective in bringing in qualified candidates. After all, why just post on one job board when you could be posting to several hundred different places at the times where you’re most statistically likely to engage with top candidates?

One of the coolest things I’ve seen pop up is retargeting in the hiring industry. What is retargeting? So, you know when you’re shopping for shoes and then you go to a different website like New York Times and you see a banner ad for the same shoes that you were just looking at? That’s retargeting.

One example of this is’s service. They provide retargeting to track users who are a good fit for your position or who have viewed your job description, and target them with ads across their networks and partner websites. In marketing, this has been an effective form of keeping your brand in front of a potential customer. They visited your website and showed interest, but maybe weren’t ready to apply at the time, and so you retarget them with ads to regain their interest and eventually convert them into a paying customer.

Now, taking this aspect of retargeting a little bit further, is hyper-targeting on Facebook. If you understand online marketing, a little lightbulb probably turned on in your head. If not, here’s how it can change the hiring landscape. Passive recruiting tends to involve a recruiter sending emails to or phoning every single qualified person for a job, even if they aren’t necessarily looking. If you’re looking for a Java Developer, then your recruiter is probably going around LinkedIn using a Boolean search to pull lists of people to email. What Facebook hyper-targeting allows you to do, is upload a list of contact email addresses and target that list of contacts on Facebook with relevant job ads. This is one of the latest things being tested to help drive more qualified candidates, and we are seeing some surprising results (which I am not able to disclose at this time, sorry). I will say, that from a passive recruiting standpoint, this is something that you will see more of in the hiring industry, as it takes the most popular social media platform and allows you to target a specific audience with highly relevant job ads.

Hiring has, since the existence of hiring and recruiting, been dominated specifically by Human Resource professionals. However, in the near future, we’ll start seeing a more hybrid role of a HR/Marketer. That means either marketing professionals working with HR teams, HR professionals being trained in the multiple arts of online marketing, or the creation of a new position, “HR Marketers,” who specialize in testing and launching campaigns to bring in the most qualified candidates. We’re already seeing a shift in the way that the industry is functioning with advances in technology. Some of these new standards include the basic uses of “Keyword Optimization” being applied to writing job descriptions, and HR professionals using Boolean search to capture specific candidates on sources such as LinkedIn.

With the entire hiring industry evolving, it’s time to change the way we think. In marketing, we focus on the end result of acquiring a new customer, and we use as much data as we can to lower the cost of acquiring a new high quality customer (or Cost Per Acquisition). With hiring it’s the same thing. It’s time to stop recruiting. Focus on making a hire, and start thinking like marketers.

We regularly work with tech and B2B businesses in the HR and recruiting space. Click here to learn more about our online marketing for HR and recruiting.