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Inbound recruiting: The key to candidate awareness and attraction

James Deeney, content editor at Venturi

It’s no secret that finding great talent is hard. With the UK unemployment rate sitting at 4%, its lowest since 1975, recruiters throughout all sectors are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and engage quality talent.

So what can be done to make the search a bit easier?

Enter inbound recruiting

Inbound recruiting arose out of the philosophies of inbound marketing, which focuses on attracting customers with helpful content and building a relationship with them over time. In the same way, inbound recruiting is all about sharing relevant information with candidates as a means to build awareness and attraction with the people you’d most like to get in touch with.

Inbound marketing enabled innovative companies to differentiate themselves against disruptive and relentless cold calls from sales reps. Just think back to how you felt the last time you picked up the phone to answer a PPI sales call. You probably weren’t thrilled.

Similarly, inbound recruiting is gaining momentum in response to the decreasing returns of cold outreach to candidates. A general shift in candidate behaviour and preferences means they simply aren’t as responsive as they used to be.

Great candidates are fully aware their skill set is highly sought-after. They are often flooded with emails and calls from recruiters about new “exciting” job opportunities. Needless to say, this can get pretty annoying. So agencies need to start thinking differently about how they get in front of candidates and hold their attention.

Traditional methods are failing

Talemetry’s 2017 Recruitment Marketing Technology Survey revealed some interesting insights about traditional candidate attraction methods.

According to their research, 85% of organisations use job board distribution to attract candidates. But at the same time 71% of organisations aren’t seeing enough qualified CVs come through the door. Clearly something is going wrong.   

Inbound recruiting can not only help agencies discover and engage passive applicants, but also help them modernise the way they approach candidates and improve the overall perception of their brand.  

Inbound recruiting enables candidates to discover more about your agency and what you have to offer. They can learn about your agency in a natural way and at a pace that suits them. This avoids putting them off with repeated calls and other more abrasive contact methods.

Four essential inbound recruiting practices

So what does inbound recruiting actually involve? Below are four of its essential components.

Content marketing

Solid content marketing is the backbone of inbound recruiting. You need to create content that offers genuine value to your ideal candidates. In order to do this, it helps to create a “persona” that represents the demographic you’d like to attract. It should include details of things like their typical career background, challenges they face at work, aspirations, motivations, interests etc.

The more complete your picture is of your target audience, the better your content will be. If you know what makes them tick, you can make your agency stand out by producing creative content that speaks to directly to them.

The content itself can take many forms including podcasts, infographics, videos, and whitepapers. But the best known and most widely used form of content is blogging. Good recruitment agency blogs should help candidates address specific issues they encounter when job seeking e.g. CV advice, interview tips, how-to guides, salary reviews, industry trends. The same goes for all other types of content.

By pooling the knowledge and experience of your recruitment team, you should be able to identify and offer solutions to the difficulties you see crop up time and time again for your candidates. Avoid the temptation to make your agency itself the focus of your content. Blogs of this sort tend to read like long-winded advertisements and are unlikely to generate much candidate engagement.

Paid social media advertising

Allocating a set budget for social media promotion helps ensure your new content will be seen by the right people. Social media is often where candidates spend most of their time online so it makes sense to strengthen your presence here.

All social media platforms allow you to target specific candidate demographics in a granular way. You can then start collecting data on which types of content tend to drive the most candidate engagement. Once you have that data in hand, you can refine your content creation process to focus on the things that will give you the biggest return i.e. the type of content that usually gets you the most likes, shares, comment, and click through.  


There’s no denying that e-shots and mass mailers get results. But they annoy an awful lot of passive candidates in the process. This directly harms your brand. Furthermore, their open rates are usually very low and with new AI-driven spam filters, many don’t even make it into candidate inboxes.

For this reason, personalisation is becoming increasingly important to attracting the best candidates to your agency in 2019. Statistics consistently show that personalised emails have a much higher open and response rates.

This is hardly surprising. Candidates are far more likely to pay attention to a recruiter who has clearly done their homework before reaching out. Moving towards more personalised messaging is fast becoming crucial to building trust and brand awareness in the recruitment industry. It requires more time investment, but getting it right will give your agency a competitive edge.

Candidate nurturing through automation

Effective communication is crucial in recruitment. And setting up email automation is the best way to reach the right candidates with the right information at scale. But keep in mind that when dealing with passive candidates, these emails shouldn’t be pushy. Don’t blast them with jobs.

Instead, make your emails purely informative. A monthly email with industry-relevant articles and news on the state of the job market can help to keep your business fresh in their minds. Over time, they may show interest in your offering and choose to communicate with you.

Just remember that if you’re a generalist agency, you’ll need to segment your email list:  engineers want to hear about the engineering culture, sales candidates want to hear about sales, etc. You don’t want to end up repeatedly putting irrelevant content in front of your candidates. They’ll probably unsubscribe.

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