Selling products = selling a workplace
Product marketing and recruitment are similar in many different ways. In both cases the company has something that it wants to ‘sell’ to the end user; either it’s a product/service, or it’s a job role in the company.
The fundamental means of reaching the prospective end user are also comparable. Promotion of both products and vacant job positions are advertised via various marketing channels (niche websites, banner advertising, offline marketing, print ads etc), and everybody has an interest in being as targeted as possible.
If you are a marketeer and you are trying to sell a product there are several parameters that can make life easier for you. These are price, quality, convenience, the customer’s habit etc.
And then there is the brand.
The brand is the fairy dust that can justify selling the product at a premium (just think of designer clothes), make even discount products sell (many television sets are sold as both no-name and with a known logo – guess which ones sell), and make you walk yet another block for a cup of Starbucks coffee when you could get a very comparable cup in the local cafe next door.
This brand effect is undoubtedly also something we experience when it comes to recruitment. Employers with known company logos simply get more job views from the list of search results (this can only be because of the familiarity of logos, since job titles and job teasers rarely differ much), and comparable jobs from known and unknown companies generate a substantially different number of applications. Job seekers choose brands over non-brands.
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise since this has spawned the entire science of employer branding. Employer branding is the latent and long term efforts to make future recruitment swift and effective.
From interruption to permission
Seth Godin digs into the history of marketing in his book Permission Marketing. He explains how product marketing has evolved from Interruption Marketing to Permission Marketing, meaning that efficient communication to potential customers to a large extent has been trending away from interrupting the audience with banner ads, spam emails, and billboards and into a relevant and anticipated communication with people who genuinely want to engage.
This is also the trend within recruitment.
Historically recruitment has been using the same channels as product advertising. Banner material in newspapers, posters in the local supermarket, and later the online job boards where employers could promote their vacancies.
With the touching points of social media and recruitment (anybody said LinkedIn?) we are seeing how advertising job positions evolves from the equivalent of shouting from the rooftops to engaging in dialogues with potential candidates. However, it’s a balance on a knife’s edge, and anybody who remembers BranchOut will know that integrating a recruitment element on top of Facebook is a great way to build traction and distribution, but also something that blurs people’s personal and professional spaces. BranchOut it no longer in service, should you ask.
In my opinion nobody has yet solved the delicate balance of engagement between job candidates and employers, without ending up with one part taking over and interrupting the other part.
Any employer that has been trying to recruit candidates for vacant position during the last couple of years has experienced what happens when there is a substantially larger supply than demand. The very tangible results are mountainous piles of applications from applicants who are trying to break through the noise. This is hugely time-consuming and thus not an ideal process for an HR department. Relevance is always relative and getting too many applications will inevitably make the least qualified candidates irrelevant, though they could have been interesting, had there only been a handful of applications on the recruiter’s desk.
Looking at the university recruitment scene (especially in the UK) the market has seen so much competition between the players that offer access to the country’s university students that we’re seeing a true race to the bottom – competing on price, not on quality. The operators of the university career portals offer access to the students and graduates at insanely low rates, enabling companies that want to promote their career opportunities (or their products or services) to reach thousands and thousands of people for only a few hundred GBP.
Both are examples of highly interrupting communication.
This is what Graduateland wants to solve. Enter Permission Recruitment.
The Permission Recruitment Manifesto
The Permission Recruitment Manifesto that Graduateland operates according to evolves around two fundamentals; 1) there must be a mutual interest in the communication and 2) the communicated content must be essential in kick-starting great careers.
The two main stakeholders in the Graduateland Network are our users (students and graduates) and the employers (with the universities playing a pivotal part in getting those two stakeholders to meet). When either part starts engaging in the Network we quickly try to uncover what that user or employer is looking for, being either some form of career opportunity, or the ideal candidate for a certain role for now or in the future.
Getting to the core of each party’s interests allows us serve the ideal content on a silver platter. Insights about the preferences of career aspirations of our users give us a huge advantage when it comes to communicating on behalf of recruiting employers, since we know that a marketing internship in either London or Paris is exactly what the candidate is looking for, to exemplify.
Similarly, knowing that a respective company is looking for candidates with a specific educational background, accompanied by handpicked language skills and relevant work experiences makes selecting the relevant audience for any recruitment promotion a walk in the park. With this knowledge it’s a fairly straightforward technical task to group applications by relevance. This is our perception of permission.
Naturally, we have an interest in expanding the horizon of both parties, under circumstances where it makes sense but staying true to our Manifesto we need to get the consent from both parts for the match to be facilitated. Clever suggestions are generated via intelligent analysis of user behaviour of both the user and similar peers, but technicalities in this context deserve a separate blog post to do them justice.
Building innovative ways to gain an understanding the preferences of job seekers and recruiters is one of the core focus areas of Graduateland’s product development now and going forward.
From the early startup days, through the stages that have lead Graduateland to become the company it is today it has been critical that what we communicate revolves around content, which is career related. It permeates our brand and the moment we compromise on this principle we’ll be opening up a gate that we cannot be sure to close again.
It’s no secret that it’s an attractive group of individuals that have chosen to engage in the Graduateland Network, and naturally we have had our share of opportunities to promote content that has not been deemed ‘career related’ according to our subjective evaluation. That’s how we roll.
And yes, I said subjective. This is what users and employers trust us to determine. This is the pact that we enter when we build an online universe and real people of flesh and blood decide to spend their precious time signing up and engaging.
The Permission Recruitment Manifesto is about making the recruitment experience more about signal and less about noise. This should be the perception from both sides of the job interview table.
Imagine a world where a marketing campaign is not considered a success when there is a 3% response rate (leaving 97% either apathetic or frustrated). Imagine a world where the marketeer isn’t so condescending that he expects that his flashing banner ad should interrupt your limited time.
Enter 2015 and a world of permission communication. This is Permission Recruitment.