By Stephen O’Donnell, Chief Growth Officer TAtech
Disclaimer: I am an old-school recruiter, and very much belong to the school of proactively going out to source candidates, rather than relying on advertising to get the attention of, and then attract candidates to apply. I always felt that approach was predicated on the right candidates happening to see your advert, and then being compelled to find out more or even applying.
I’m not daft though - I do know advertising works, as evidenced by the stats and millions of successful hires. I know there is a science to advertising each role in the right way, to the most appropriate audience, using the best possible medium, compelling message, and a frictionless method of applying. What a regular job advert won’t do, however, is stimulate a response from a person who doesn’t see it. If your perfect new employee is not currently looking for a job, searching through job boards and actively open to opportunities, then an advert on a job board is unlikely to appear on any of their screens – no matter how attractive it is.
And this is where online marketing comes in. I won’t patronise you with the definition, but this is how you can make a path to reach that elusive ideal person, who isn’t yet aware of your amazing vacancy. Moreover, marketing is changing – marketing is ALWAYS changing, because it operates in an environment which is continually in flux.
“One marketing trend we’ll see in the next decade will be search-driven traffic becoming as rare as rocking horse manure.”
This decline will affect all second-tier sites, and especially those job boards reliant on search engine traffic. What’s the solution? Broadcast marketing, the use of direct channels and anything else that will build awareness and loyalty will be crucial.
Search engines will use AI to give answers right away. People won't need to click on any websites to find what they want.
Social media platforms are under pressure to make more money. They will cut organic reach, forcing companies to pay to get their posts seen. Paid ads will also get more expensive as more businesses compete for the same space. This has been going on for a long time and it won't stop. Goole for jobs has been a perfect base for their plans – organising job ads into an agreed schema has created stackable bricks from soft clay, and we should expect Google to erect a billing-skyscraper on top of them (that’s what they do).
But this will also be a great opportunity for marketers who can deliver results. They’ll be worth their weight in gold. After all, marketing is all about building customer (i.e., job seeker) relationships before they’re ready to buy (i.e., apply for a job). It’s the process of taking a cold person of talent and turning them into a warm employment prospect.
Most technical founders struggle with marketing because they treat it like coding. Input X immediately generates output Y.
There are always exceptions, of course, but a lot of job board founders with a technical (rather than a business) background expect to take an action and see the output straightaway. They generally don't like the idea that making a sale might require time and multiple touchpoints. I see this every time I talk with them. It’s not their fault, they’re wired like this.
It doesn’t help that social media only reinforces the legend (or is it the myth) of fast growth businesses. You hop onto social media, and assume you’re supposed to hit 7-figures 3 minutes after launch.
I think it's also because of the need to quantify everything. Apart from the fact that marketing’s output is intangible in a lot of ways, it also requires more time. I learnt this the hard way when I first started running Facebook ads – I would just abandon an idea after a couple of days only to realize two weeks later that someone had actually bought because of it. i was just impatient.
Good things, however, take time. Even paid ads take time. You need to nail the creative. Target the right audience. Fine tune your offer. And so on.
Marketing and sales are about interacting with people, and you really have to play the long game with delayed gratification.
Like a new bypass road around a busy town centre, the first thing to be hit is the footfall in stores that were once destinations for anyone coming through town. If you can’t sell products in the town, you need to have a store on the bypass – and when those stores get too busy, another bypass of the bypass is built.
Apologies if this blog appears to meander, but the points raised are exceptionally important to job advertising, recruitment marketing, and in particular how search engines (Google) will deploy AI into their organic search – where of course, so many jobseekers begin their route to finding their next job.
Many of these same ideas were discussed at TAtech North America in May, where job boards, aggregators, programmatic agencies and job distribution platforms openly debated the future of talent attraction, in the face of such seismic changes to the way search engines work (and we mostly mean Google). When candidates have a choice to pursue the same vacancy posted on multiple job boards or career sites, then Google can easily lean on the scales to influence which Apply Now button they hit. If candidates could apply from that same button, without leaving Google, then how will that affect brand loyalty to any particular job board? It’s difficult to reinforce your brand, if fewer people actually come to your job board or career site.
PS. This video reply is also worthy of note, and very helpful.