Priming the pipeline

Recruiters draw in talent with inbound marketing techniques

Posted on Aug 31, 2016 :: Human Resources , Insight On
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Sara Peters needed a new way to stand out in a competitive marketplace.

As the marketing director for Kimberly-based Crane Engineering, Peters had become frustrated that attempts to fill a vacancy on her team were not yielding results. Certainly, the tight labor market was not helping, but the traditional methods of posting position openings and using career websites was yielding neither the quantity nor quality of candidates.

Peters decided to take a different tactic. Rather than announce she had an open position and hope the right person expressed interest, she decided to make a video about what her team did and the experience of working in the marketing department at Crane. She and her team then shared the video on social media.

The dynamics immediately changed.

“People started reaching out to me, even volunteering to share it,” Peters says. “Then we started to see more qualified candidates coming forward who had a greater interest in the company and culture rather than just the job.”

While perhaps not making a conscious decision to do so, Peters’ new recruiting tactics had launched Crane Engineering into the relatively new practice of inbound recruiting.

By applying principles of its precursor inbound marketing — itself still a fairly new practice — inbound recruiting builds on the simple idea that when people have a question, whether it’s about a new product or a new career, they most often start with an Internet search.

Showing up in those results requires commitment to creating content and engaging prospects, either potential customers or potential employees, as they move from exploration to interest to action. There are more nuances, but the end result is that prospective employee will have already interacted with the company, giving both the prospect and the employer a better understanding of each other and whether it’s a good match.

Appleton-based Weidert Group, an early practitioner of inbound marketing, faced challenges similar to Crane when it came to recruiting. The team noticed that an organic shift to using inbound techniques yielded better recruiting results during the company’s recent growth.

“We just couldn’t hire people fast enough,” says Greg Linnemanstons, president of Weidert Group. “We starting using the inbound techniques and tools and our results improved dramatically.”

Which makes sense, Linnemanstons says, when considering how potential employees — particularly Millennials — interact with the world.

“A 28-year-old doesn’t look at a paper or call a recruiter,” he says. “What they do is Google for open positions or a specific query about a type of job or work culture.”

Which is where regularly providing content about a workplace, its culture and its opportunities can help land a company at the top of those search results, attracting a prospective employee to learn more, much like a sales funnel for prospective clients.

Like a sales lead, a prospective employee lead can be nurtured — and his or her behavior monitored through metrics — and qualified well before a position is available. When that occurs, the company has a ready pool of qualified applicants with an expressed interest in working for the company. Positions can be filled quickly with better onboarding.

“It’s a 24/7/365 relationship you build with potential candidates. You want them to know you need them,” Linnemanstons says. “It’s a better selection process for both sides.”

After the trial-and-error of its own recruiting experience, Weidert Group is publishing guidelines and best practices for inbound recruiting — particularly its application for manufacturers — as part of the content it regularly produces on its website for prospects and clients.

For Michelle Richard and Omni Resources, the new material will certainly help bolster the company’s recently launched inbound recruiting efforts.

Working in an industry where an acute labor shortage drives up salaries and amplifies situations where new employees didn’t pan out, inbound offers the technology company a tool to gauge prospects’ interest specifically for Omni before the process of filling a vacancy even begins.

“The type of people we are looking for generally have a lot of job offers,” says Richard, vice president of marketing and communications at Omni. “Traditional talent acquisition methods just weren’t working.”

Omni turned to inbound recruiting about the same time it launched its inbound marketing efforts for the company as a whole. The metrics have shown that content created about working at Omni, such as its culture and employee ownership, have proven some of the most popular, Richard says.    

That’s enabled the company to begin engaging with prospects who are already interested in working for Omni Resources, which Richard expects will speed up the recruiting process as the company moves forward.

“Our culture blog was designed to give people with an interest in working here an idea what it’s really like,” Richard says.

“We are getting more talent into the pipeline who have shown they want to work for us.”

Not that Omni will abandon its traditional methods of recruiting, but the new approach has certainly changed the dynamics of the process.

“We’ve got candidates picking up the phone and calling us even before we have an opening,” Richard says. “Now we’ve got to nurture the pipeline.”