Innovative recruiters have been borrowing ideas from marketing for a while now. It makes a lot of sense – both roles strive to make meaningful human connections through work that’s simultaneously data-driven and creative.
When we’re faced with a challenge – with an imperative – like improving representation for women and underrepresented minorities in our candidate pools, it can feel like an enormous undertaking from where we sit as recruiters. But if we can approach our sourcing with the mindset of attracting and delighting a new audience like a marketer does, it’s a little easier to see a clear path forward.
Think of this challenge a marketer might face: They need to expand the reach of an opportunity. Find and capture the interest of an audience they previously haven’t been talking to about this very opportunity.
They find out where this audience gets their information, how they make decisions, and about their pains and interests. The marketer then tailors their message to reach each separate segment. Target them with a relevant offer, and nurture them down the funnel to a conversion
Am I describing a marketing campaign or a modern recruiting effort? There’s really not much difference, especially when it comes to sourcing and hiring for diversity.
Treat Your Sourcing Diversity Challenge Like a Business Problem
Everyone in the process – from talent to recruiters to hiring managers to company executives – wants to improve diversity in our companies, and at all levels.
We’re not always in agreement about how we should go about doing that, and it can be hard to take a step back from an issue that’s fraught with a history of poor remarks, poor faith and reflective of deeper racial issues.
The diversity issue isn’t like other business world issues. As recruiters who work with people every day, we understand that underneath big think pieces and trend charts, actual lives and livelihoods depend on the choices we make.
You could put on a lot of “hats” when looking at improving diversity, but for the sake of staying focused on what you can control as a recruiter, look at the issue through your “business” lens.
We shouldn’t ignore the larger societal currents, and we should be a vocal part of improving workplace culture to promote more diverse companies. But ultimately, there’s a major part of the problem we can fix: not enough diverse talent in the candidate pool.
Tried-and-True Marketing Tactics to Help Improve Diversity Sourcing
1. Use Market-Based Segmentation
You’re probably already doing this on some level to find the best talent. Taking it to the next level can help you improve how you source with diversity in mind.
At its most basic level, market segmentation involves dividing broad target markets into smaller subgroups. Smaller subsets mean you can be much more precise with your outreach.
In a marketing scenario, not every target audience subset will have the same problems or pains – and your product wouldn’t offer the same solutions. Applying this to recruiting, not every underrepresented talent group faces the same hurdles to improved access and opportunity – you can’t approach them all the same way.
You can segment your broad audience of underrepresented talent groups in a few ways. Some of the classic methods of market segmentation include:
- Geographic – where are they located in terms of region, metropolitan area, rural or suburban or urban?
- Demographic – what are their defining characteristics such as age, income, education, religion, ethnicity, family size, etc.?
- Motivational – what do they want from your opportunity? From you?
- Behavioral – what do they do when it comes to career, jobs, recruiter interaction, etc.?
- Psychographic – what are the defining aspects of their lifestyle, such as hobbies, activities, interests, values?
For instance, you may have a specific way of approaching a subset of candidates for a senior engineering position that’s female, lives in a big city and holds strong views on work-life balance and access to recreation. That’s going to differ a lot from the way you approach potential candidates who aren’t in that segment.
2. Target Your Messaging and Outreach
Once you have strong market segments to work with, now you start tailoring your messages and outreach like a bespoke suit.
Like a good marketer, use a heavy dose of creativity and a steady diet of testing when you’re figuring out what to say to which audience segment. Creativity helps you stand out and build genuine connection; testing helps you figure out if you’re standing out in a good way or not.
You can start with reverse-engineering your current messaging if you know you have a diversity problem in your pipelines. A lot of factors might contribute to that, but start with this question: Do my messages and the way I conduct my outreach speak only to the talent group I’m already familiar with?
Create separate mini-outreach plans for every new market segment you’ve identified in the broad “underrepresented talent” pool.
3. Stay in Touch With Nurture Campaigns
Savvy marketers use automation to stay in touch with prospective customers who express interest in their products. Maybe the person signed up for the email list to stay up to date with new products or gave the company their email address in exchange for an e-book or webinar.
As a recruiter, you know that relationships can make or break your ability to get the right talent into the right positions. Staying in touch with talent even when you don’t have the perfect position available means you keep them as potential candidates in the future.
As Emily Lake of Square told us in a webinar recently, recruiters should “constantly engage that top talent and those folks in the market that you’re really excited about, whether that’s sending them articles, checking in and keeping in touch with them, and really being the first person the candidate thinks of when they do take the time to say, ‘I’m ready to make a move.’ ”
In this kind of relationship-building, trust and authenticity mean everything. While you may be using drip or nurture campaign automation to stay in touch, make sure every single email you send creates value for the recipient. Don’t burn your bridges with spammy or irrelevant communications.
4. Practice Data-Based Intuition
But aren’t reliance on data and human intuition polar opposites? Au contraire, especially if the rise in recruiting tech has anything to say about it.
Human intuition and interaction drive sourcing, but how many times have you been manually manipulating datasets or combing through profiles and thought, “If only I had a program that did this”?
Wishes become reality faster than our thoughts can form in today’s technological world. We now have plenty of tools to support our intuition and deliver candidate pools that would take us months to create ourselves.
Just like marketers use data to tell them which markets are ripe for disruption, where their product messages will land better, what’s working and what’s not, sourcers can rely on data to work faster and smarter.
Always Be Genuine in Your Sourcing
You know what’s wonderful? Getting inspired and innovating the way we work because we see a good idea from another industry that’s working.
You know what’s not that wonderful? Borrowing indiscriminately and snagging the bad ideas along with the good.
So while you’re looking at the marketing funnel best practices with an eye to improving your own “sourcing and recruiting funnel,” remember the things marketers work to avoid too:
Market-based segmentation isn’t about stereotyping.
It’s about making your outreach more genuine based on the factors you know about people in your segments.
Tailored messaging and outreach isn’t about pandering.
It’s about finding the touchpoint where your product (your job opening) and the person you’re talking to (the talent) can overlap.
Nurture campaigns aren’t about badgering people.
They’re about being friendly, helpful, available and informing your potential candidates about what you can do to help connect them to the right opportunities.
Using data isn’t about being a robot.
It’s about using computing power to supplement your efforts so you can focus on the parts of sourcing no computer can do – using genuine human interactions to place the right talent with the right companies. (It’s also helpful in removing pesky unconscious bias from the equation.)
So with all that in mind: What tactics and philosophies have you borrowed from non-recruiting sources that changed the way you do your work?