Q: As a CEO at a startup, one of the biggest areas we're struggling with is talent acquisition. How do you best recommend attracting the best employees and retaining them?
A: I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the way people shop and buy has changed. That’s why outbound marketing (think interruptive ads and billboards) and outbound sales (think cold calling and buying lists of contacts) are on the down, and inbound marketing is on the up.
Why? Outbound activities are no longer effective, and so they’ve been replaced by inbound marketing and inbound sales.
The reason why I bring this up is that as we’ve continued to develop the concept of inbound sales and marketing at HubSpot (where I work), we noticed something that we weren’t expecting. Not only has sales and marketing changed (and is still changing), but HR and recruitment are being disrupted, too. Outbound recruiting is becoming less effective (think job boards and cold calls from recruiters), and recruitment and HR teams are shifting to inbound recruiting to attract, engage and hire top talent.
What is inbound recruiting?
To best understand inbound recruiting, let’s start with what it isn’t. Outbound recruiting is when you rely solely on posting adverts and interruptive head-hunting to fill your vacancies. Not only is it an inefficient and expensive process, it also only taps into those employees that is actively looking to change jobs, which only represents 15 to 25 percent of the total market. Inbound recruiting on the other hand, is all about attracting the top candidates into your recruitment funnel, before they’re even looking.
You're most powerful inbound recruiting asset, and the one that is totally free, is your blog! Now, I’m not talking about your company blog that generates you leads and customers for your business. I’m talking about your careers blog.
While 73 percent of candidates start their job search on Google, most companies don’t have a careers blog to take advantage of these searches and get found. Now, the content you create on your career blog needs to be very different to what you have on your existing company blog; after all, it’s designed to attract a different persona.
Before you can begin, you need to know who you’re trying to attract. If you’ve not done so already, begin by creating some key recruiting personas for your business. Each of your recruitment personas should have a unique set of challenges, goals and aspirations. It’s these unique characteristics which you will use to curate your content so that it attracts, converts and retains employees.
Here is how it’s done:
Inbound recruiting works similarly to inbound marketing. You create content that your ideal persona is looking for (e.g. a top candidate), and when they find the content online, they learn more about what it is they were looking for and about your company. You build a relationship with them and showcase your company culture to them naturally over a period of time.
This content typically comes in the form of a careers website, but it’ll be 10x better than any other careers website (aim high!). You want to create content that helps passive candidates know who you are, and why they may want to work for you by answering the questions they’re already searching for online when it comes to their career growth. Here are two examples:
- To attract a junior employee to your recruiting funnel, you need to think about what it is that they may be interested in and looking for online. This blog post on “How To Figure Out The Next Step In Your Career” would be fitting.
- To attract a senior employee to your careers blog, the content that they may be interested in and looking for online will be rather different to the junior employee. This blog post on “What Leadership Qualities Make A Great Leader” may be ideal.
As with inbound marketing, once you’ve attracted a potential employee to your website, you want to convert them through the funnel into a recruitment lead.
You can do so by redirecting them from the blog post they may be reading, to a longer piece of related content that they would be willing to give their contact details to download. Here are two examples using those same personas as before:
- To convert that same junior employee from being a website visitor into a lead, you’ll notice the previous blog post has a call-to-action (CTA) in it for “The Next Five.”This is a free tool we made on our HubSpot career blog to help junior employees decide how to best spend the first five years of their career. Not only is this tool useful for junior employees to map out their careers, but it also converts them into a lead in our CRM.
- To convert that same senior employee from being a website visitor into a lead, you’ll notice the previous blog post also has a CTA in it for a “Free Leadership Course.” Not only is this a great resource to help managers develop their leadership skills, it also converts them into a lead in your CRM.
Once someone converts into a recruitment lead in your system, you’ll want to use the information they gave you about them (years of experience, industry, etc), to nurture them with contextual and relevant content - and hire them if they’re a top candidate. Something that has helped us move top candidates through our recruiting funnel is our HubSpot Culture Code - a 128 page SlideShare. We created this a few years ago for our own inbound recruiting, and it has had more than 3 million views (at writing). Pretty amazing, right!?
In a recent study, TalentBoard found that for candidates who interviewed with a company they had “no [prior] relationship with,” 50 percent of them rated the company’s candidate experience with one-star. That’s why it’s so important to ensure a remarkable experience.
Fortunately, that’s the best part about inbound recruiting. It helps you build a remarkable candidate experience by ensuring strong alignment between the candidate's values and your company values. That way, if someone is hired, they’ll be more likely to refer friends and be a promoter of your employment brand. And if they don’t get an offer (or they decide not to take it), they’ll still be part of your network, and receiving regular career advice to help them in whatever role they decided to take. And who knows, maybe they’ll even help build your employment brand on Glassdoor by leaving a review of their experience.
Once you’ve setup your inbound recruiting funnel, ensure you measure how your different content topics help attract candidates, and which types of content attracts your best candidates. Follow the steps outlined in my recent Entrepreneur article on the marketing metrics that matter, as they also apply to inbound recruiting.
Ok, so you may have noticed that content is at the core of every stage of your inbound recruiting funnel -- from a candidate's first touch to after they’ve come in for an interview. So repeat after me: content is not a scary word. Best of luck as you embark down this exciting path.
Inbound recruiting is the most sustainable and efficient way to scale your recruiting efforts and hire top talent. It provides the foundation layer to generate recruiting demand, and it helps you build your company culture more publicly. By doing so, you naturally end up improving the efficiency of the existing tactics you’re already implementing.