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Employee Engagement | 4 minute read

The Evolution of Recruitment Marketing

February 17, 2017

Recruitment Marketing has been around for as long as there has been help wanted signs in store windows. But, like most things, it has evolved significantly over the years. What is new are the strategies and tactics we use to keep pace with technology and the progressive nature of human connectivity. Continue reading as I explain the evolution of this crucial inbound recruitment strategy and what it can do for your employer branding initiatives. 

Early talent acquisition 

My career in talent acquisition began at a time when LinkedIn was in beta, Twitter did not exist, and you needed a college email address to have a Facebook account. Back then the primary strategy for inbound recruiting was to focus on active candidates and advertise available positions on major job boards. Career sites were used almost exclusively to list available jobs and collect applications. Most passive recruiting was handled by outbound tactics. Recruiters would search for resumes and cold contact prospective candidates hoping to covert them into warm leads. The main objective for a recruiter was to build a well-developed network of people that matched a specific position profile. This allowed them to pool and pipeline for current and future needs.

Changing trends

Shortly after I got my feet underneath me in recruiting, job seeking behavior started to change. Instead of going to the major job boards, people started to use search engines and job-related keywords to find their next employment opportunity. Job boards began to use SEO strategies and tactics to make sure their jobs ranked in search results. Job aggregators and syndicators came to compete in the market place and the job advertising component of recruitment marketing started to evolve to keep pace with organic search.

Organic search also had an impact on career sites. The internet was widely accessible at this point and people became accustomed to having nearly instantaneous access to information. Job seekers wanted to know why they should work for a particular company, how the job would make a positive impact on their lives, and what it was like to work there. Career sites started to develop recruitment marketing content as a means to answer these questions for job seekers.

The SEO and keyword strategies and tactics used by job advertisers were creatively adapted to career sites so the career site itself would appear in search results. Job seekers were now visiting career sites on a consistent basis as part of their pre-application research process. In order to keep the job seeker engaged, recruitment marketing content was created. It took the form of career microsites dedicated to promoting company culture, benefits, and employee value proposition as well company images and captivating videos. This was the start of a more sophisticated inbound recruitment strategy using highly marketed content to attract talent.    


Around the same time, online communities formed and social media emerged as a widely adapted channel for online communication. People were able to receive and share information in a way that had not existed before. The emergence of social communication also allowed individuals to directly engage with companies and organizations. People began to leave reviews, writes blogs, send tweets, and even post viral videos expressing their pleasure or displeasure with a brand. Companies were finding themselves highly accountable to the public for both their consumer brand and their employer brand. Transparency and authenticity became critically important to the job seeker. Any perceived gap between what is offered and what is reality will erode trust and create a negative experience that is a challenge for both the job seeker and employer to overcome. 

Today's strategy starts with your talent community and employees – the talented people that are already active contributors to your organization. It is their images, their voices, and their stories that bring to life an honest and genuine employment brand that attracts both active and passive talent to your organization. Regarding technology, an investment in a candidate communication platform is critical. This type of technology enables you to connect and communicate with the talented people you want to attract to your organization. However, we must also not forget the power of our employees and the power that comes with putting your brand in their hands. Be authentic, transparent and honest!

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About Gillisa Pope

Gillisa Pope is a senior member of WilsonHCG’s innovation team. As director of sourcing strategy, she melds creative ideas, analytics and best practices to design and action impactful sourcing solutions. An expert in employment branding, Gillisa is also part of the team that produces WilsonHCG’s award-winning annual Fortune 500 employment brand report. She has over 15 years of experience in designing and building talent attraction strategies for some of the world’s most admired brands.