Hiring 5 min

5 Ways Content Marketing Can Improve Your Hiring Process

July 27, 2018
Updated February 27, 2020

Every HR Manager knows that there are multiple challenges when it comes to hiring. However, there is one challenge in particular that’s fast becoming a major source of frustration: candidate quality. Reports suggest that as many as 42% of job applicants are unqualified for the advertised position.

The question we need to be asking is – are candidates taking risks by actively applying for jobs they don’t have the skills for, or could it be that HR departments are failing to target and attract the right kinds of applicants?

If it is the latter – what can HR teams do to improve the hiring process and engage with great talent?

Expanding the Importance of Content

Right now, content exists almost exclusively within a marketing bubble… but could diversifying the use of content be a suitable solution to current HR challenges? Of course, content has been slowly seeping into recruitment, with some HR teams choosing to post job details through social media channels, but we need to be digging deeper. Especially as only half of job seekers want to see vacancies on social media.

As we can see from this Using Social Media in the Recruitment Process whitepaper, only 54% of job seekers check corporate social media profiles to look at career opportunities. The majority want insight; 75% want to see information on the organization, and 66% want to explore the company culture. By creating content that is only related to career opportunities, many of today’s HR teams are failing to meet the needs, preferences, and expectations of their target candidates. It’s time to make a change.

Why Now?

Why should HR teams be interested in adapting their processes and incorporating content into their recruitment strategy now? It’s simple. Many existing processes are failing. Offer acceptance rates are continually dropping. Back in 2016, 71.8% of job offers were accepted by the lucky candidate, falling to 68.2% in 2017, and just 66.9% last year in 2018. This suggests a major business/candidate disconnect.

And, of course, even getting to the offer stage is becoming increasingly tricky due to the notable skills and labor shortage affecting the US. In January 2019, it was reported that there were 7.6 million unfilled vacancies across the country, but only 6.5 million people said that they were actively looking for work. It’s a candidate’s market, so what’s going to make your business stand out from the crowd? Content.

Content is a differentiator. Consider that hundreds of businesses in the United States can offer job seekers the same title, the same level of pay, the same benefits, and the same working environment. Organizations need to share their own unique story; something that makes them different from the rest.

Storytelling is a concept that has already been widely adopted by modern marketing teams, and it’s one of the most important lessons that HR Managers can learn from their marketing counterparts. It’s about advertising through narrative, and taking audiences on a journey. It’s a concept that can easily be applied to recruitment, especially as 75% of job seekers want to learn about a business before applying for a job.

Valuable Applications

A hiring strategy is an essential part of HR processes, but many HR managers are overlooking the importance of also creating an HR content strategy to help them improve their recruitment process.

Here are 5 ways that content can help recruiters to engage with the right talent, at the right time:

1. Content Promotes Culture

Workplace culture is more important than ever before. In fact, one third of candidates would reject a job offer if they felt that the company was a poor cultural fit for them and almost 75% have reported that they have quit a job because of poor cultural fit. It’s clear that culture should be addressed from the very start of the hiring process for improved efficiency and effectiveness, and to reduce time wastage, too.

Content is one of the best ways to portray company culture before investing time and resources in talent. By defining brand voice and transparently projecting this message, job seekers are clear on a company’s values and beliefs right from the start. Content can boost quality of hire and minimise staff turnover – essential when it’s estimated that the average company loses $14,900 for every bad hire made.

2. Content Engages with Unique Talents

It’s understood that 70% of today’s global workforce is made up of ‘passive candidates’; those who are not actively seeking a new position. However, 87% of passive candidates are open to new opportunities.

What these statistics from LinkedIn Talent Solutions suggest is that the talent pool is actually much larger than we may believe, but we need to find an effective way to infiltrate this passive candidate selection. To do this, HR Managers can take a similar approach to Marketing Managers; creating an informative and educational content that builds long lasting relationships. While these relationships may not generate direct benefits immediately, they could prove valuable in the future as more vacancies need to be filled.

Through tailored content, organizations are able to engage with niche talents, regardless of whether these talents are directly associated with the business. For example, a skilled software engineer may find no reason to interact with a finance company, but what if a finance company needed to recruit top tech talent? By publishing regular content that builds relationships with different skillsets, businesses may find that they already have a ready-formed pool of talent that can be dipped into when the time comes.

3. Content Provides Insight

Content can be used to meet one of the most rapidly emerging needs and expectations of today’s job applicants: accessible information from existing employees who can give insight into the workplace.

Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate, a report by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, shows that candidates place less importance on learning about a company from their website, or through recruiters. Instead, 51% want to actually visit the company’s office, and 46% want to hear directly from the firm’s employees. There is huge value in publishing peer-generated content offering insight into the employee experience.

“Candidates are looking for a balance of employer-led content and content from existing employees and peers,” according to the North American Candidate Experience Research Report from 2016. The question is: why? Why are today’s candidates placing so much value on insight from current employees?

It all comes down to trust. In practically every area of business — engagement, integrity, products & service, and operations — company employees are trusted more than the business’ CEO, its consumers, and its public relations spokespeople. HR Managers should be using this to their advantage by transforming their workforce into brand ambassadors. Software firm Adobe have done exactly this with the Adobe Social Shift Program, offering social media training for employees that enables them to create and publish peer-generated content through social channels to attract and engage with great talent.

4. Content Boosts Authority & Reputation

LinkedIn conducted a survey, asking Americans where they’d most like to work. It comes as no surprise that the top 5 — Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, and Deloitte — were made up of companies that are not only instantly recognizable, but are also leaders in their industries, and highly reputable, too.

Quite simply, candidates want to work for great companies. 43% of job seekers are deterred by a company’s poor reputation, while 41% are wary off applying for roles if they don’t know much about the business. The 2019 Global Brand Health Report by Hired also shows that 56% of job seekers are encouraged and motivated to apply for a role advertised by a company with a familiar brand name.

It’s natural that people want to work for businesses that are well regarded and well recognized, and one of the most effective ways to boost brand recognition and awareness is through content. Content is used massively by marketers striving to improve brand visibility, so why aren’t HR Managers doing the same. Content that solidified a brand as an authority in the industry can help recruiters reach more candidates.

5. Content Reaches Audiences

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is vital for selling products and/or services; it connects what consumers are searching for with what a business is offering. Today, most businesses have an SEO strategy. In fact, even 36% of small businesses have an SEO strategy, with an additional 23% expected to have implemented one by 2020. But SEO isn’t always considered in the world of HR and recruitment.

There is a need for recruiters to approach hiring from the perspective of selling the company, in the same way marketers approach promotion from the perspective of selling products or services. SEO for HR does the same as SEO for marketing; it connects businesses with the right people, at the right time.

And SEO for HR has never been more important. As these 2018 LinkedIn statistics show, 35% of job seekers now use search engines to find jobs, making this the third most popular job seeking method after checking a company website and using the LinkedIn platform. In fact, recruitment SEO is now so important that Google has even incorporated this into their ranking algorithm, generating dedicated job search results listings that matches search content with published listings through keywords and phrases.

Content Creation

It’s clear that content can help to improve the hiring content, but what sort of content is most valuable? The truth is that there’s really no one set type of content that HR Managers should be focusing on. That’s because job seeking isn’t a single action. There are three primary stages of the candidate journey — awareness, consideration, and decision — and it’s vital to create content to match all three stages.

  • Awareness — Provide information about a company/brand:
    • Company news
    • Industry insights
    • Informative/educational blog posts
  • Consideration — Sell the company to the candidate:
    • Employee insights
    • Mission & belief statements
    • Client case studies
  • Decision — Stand out from competing organizations:
    • Job descriptions
    • Share employment site reviews
    • Tailored job role content (for example, ‘a day in the life of a software developer’)

Understanding the Recruitment Funnel

Consider a marketing team. It wouldn’t make sense for a marketer to go straight in for a ‘hard sell’ with a lead that had only just entered the marketing funnel, would it? No. And as we can conclude from the above, recruitment really does share a lot of similarities with marketing… so why would HR Managers attempt to make a job offer to a candidate that hadn’t been fully guided down the recruitment funnel?

This is what content is ultimately used for; to guide the candidate down from the awareness stage to the decision stage. The aim is to ensure that, by the time they do arrive at the decision stage, they have all the information they need to feel confident in accepting the offer. Google suggests that there are between 20 and 500 touchpoints on the average consumer journey, and while it’s not practical to suggest that HR Managers touch base 500 times to engage with a candidate, this does show just how much guidance candidates may need to get them into a position where they are ready to hop aboard.

When a candidate attends an interview, they should know that they want to work for an organization, and this can be achieved through thoroughly and transparently introducing the candidate to the business right from the start of the recruitment process through content. Armed with all the information they need, a well-informed and prepared candidate is more likely to accept a job offer if one is made.


Josip Mlinaric

Josip Mlinaric is email marketing and outreach specialist at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service. He likes to say he has a simple and calm mindset in his approach towards life in general and likes to relax with experimenting in the kitchen or just chilling listening to music.

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