The UK is suffering a talent shortage across many industries; it’s probably a hurdle you struggle with on a daily basis. Not only is it extremely difficult to find the right candidate, but, once you do, it often takes a great deal of time and effort to persuade that person to take the job. The skill involved with both these tricky phases of recruitment increasingly calls for an element of marketing nous, with many commentators recently arguing the line between this and elements of recruitment is becoming blurred. With this conversation set to continue, we at Omni have started thinking about what the development could mean in terms of recruitment strategy. Can marketing rules apply to this essential task? In particular, how do we need to define between a sourcing strategy and attraction strategy?
Sourcing strategy is obviously a key part of any organisation’s recruitment strategy and can be likened to traditional ‘outbound’ sales and marketing. Typically, this will involve sending out the company’s message in a very direct way, initiating a conversation with your audience in the hope that they will be compelled to take a buying action. With easily identifiable metrics, an immediate response and a clear return on investment, many organisations rely on these kind of activities alone. For recruiters, these this could mean posting vacancies on their careers website, in the press, or make direct approaches to active and passive candidates with specific vacancies. You might also consider using agencies or headhunters to run a vacancy campaign on your behalf, or perhaps initiate employee referral programmes to generate candidates for existing vacancies within the business. It’s short-term, focussed on individual candidates or vacancies, and designed to generate immediate results. More importantly, it’s a skill-set recruiters are 100% familiar with.
But your recruitment strategy requires another facet if it is to succeed; an attraction strategy that pulls people towards your company. A solid attraction strategy should make people want to work for your business before they are even aware of a vacancy. This sounds like a difficult achievement, but it all begins by developing a compelling employer brand story. Once in place, you will need to generate additional content that supports and projects your brand values to the marketplace. These are not skills possessed by the vast majority of recruiters, and yet are increasingly critical in securing the talent of tomorrow. These ‘inbound’ marketing techniques, referring to the term coined by US marketing software firm Hubspot, centre on the creation of content that is useful to your target audience, such as blog posts, guides or White Papers, that can be found easily by both job seekers and non-job seekers within your target communities or industry sector. This becomes part of a much longer-term plan that begins to nurture talent in the sector, exposing it to your key brand and EVP messages and subtly positioning the business as a desirable place to work. Attraction strategies clearly have a less obvious or immediate return on investment, but, if done effectively, will underpin and support your sourcing activities and dramatically improve metrics in this field over time. There are many challenges involved with developing this element of your recruitment strategy, not least being to identify who in the business should be responsible.
The truth is, a combination of the best of both approaches is the basis for the most solid recruitment strategy. Indeed, if your ‘inbound’ techniques succeed, what started as a means of attraction may well become part of your sourcing strategy. The challenge for businesses is to identify the resource best suited to each activity and create a framework that ensures all approaches are moving in the same positive direction.