Richard Campione, CEO of Findly, makes frequent reference to “growth hacker marketing” during the course of our phone call, but I wouldn’t call it a quirk or a preoccupation. In fact, from where I stand, Campione makes a pretty solid case for why recruiters should “take a page from the playbooks of growth hackers,” as he says.
First outlined by Qualaroo CEO Sean Ellis in a 2010 blog post, growth hacker marketing is an approach to marketing in which ideas are prioritized, tested, and then kept or cut based on whether or or not they are scalable. As Ellis explains,
“A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. Is positioning important? Only if a case can be made that it is important for driving sustainable growth.”
I initially reached out to Campione to discuss “Recruiting Millennials and New Grads: 21st Century Advice for Recruiting This 21st Century Generation,” a white paper produced by Findly. And while our conversation did revolve around ideas presented in the white paper, I feel it would be unnecessarily limiting to present what follows as a guide to recruiting millennials and new grads alone.
What Campione has given me, I believe, is a three-technique playbook that recruiters can use to reach out to and engage with talent of any generation in today’s thoroughly digital world. So let’s take a look at what those techniques are:
1. Deliver Relevant Content, or, Cast a Narrower Net
In general, today’s marketers are moving away from big-budget, broad-touch marketing techniques, the kind where they try to “touch everybody [they] can possibly touch and hope that some small percentage responds in a positive way,” says Campione.
Instead, marketers have taken to more finely tuned approaches: they segment their audiences, understand what matters to them, and then reach out with messages that are more likely to appeal to the people they want.
“At the end of the day, hiring and recruiting are no different from marketing: you don’t want everybody,” Campione says. He goes on:
“If I’m hiring for a programmer to develop some really intense code, I’m not going to be talking to the kid getting out of high school who lives down the street. On the other hand, if I want somebody to be my grocery-bagging guy, I’m probably talking to the kid down the street – not the guy graduating with a Ph.D. from MIT.”
If recruiters don’t want everyone, then why should they advertise jobs in messy, wide-reaching ways? Why not get strategic and act like the marketers: segment audiences; find the people with the skill sets you need, find out where they hang out, and approach them with relevant messaging.
“A message that is compelling and concise — that is content,” Campione says. “From my perspective, content is increasingly important, verging on vital.”
You could do the “big-brand approach,” Campione says. But if you do, you’ll end up spending a ton of money and bringing in a higher volume of lower-quality candidates — which means a lot of wasted time searching for the diamonds in the rough.
“But if you do this more narrow casting, you’re going to hit less people, and it might take more effort to hit those people, but you’re going to be hitting the right people,” Campione says.
And to hit the right people, you need the right content.
2. Build Personal Relationships, or, Remember the Ego
“One of the cool things about millennials — or hip older people, but we’ll just use millennials as a proxy — is they’re always on,” Campione says. “They’re always on their devices, and you can kind of catch their attention where they are.”
So, raising awareness is relatively easy — but moving talent from awareness to engagement, that’s the challenge.
“In general marketing, how you nurture your leads depends on what your product is,” Campione says. “The product in this case is a job. And a job is really personal.”
What Campione means is that — in America at least — our jobs are of tremendous personal value. We spend a lot of time at the office, and many of us see our jobs as ego-defining, as integral parts of who we are.
“At the end of the day, who I work for is the No. 1 reason why I stay at a job, and it’s the No. 1 reason why I leave a job,” Campione says. “You can use digital marketing, growth-hacker marketing, all this kind of stuff, to identify segments and progress your candidates through a nurturing engagement cycle, but the real hook is [giving people] a personal connection to the company. There is no substitute for personal engagement.”
3. Use Technology to Enhance the Candidate Experience, or, Stop Throwing Everyone Into Your ATS
Business in general and marketing in particular have been pretty adept at adopting new technologies — but recruiting and hiring tend to lag behind.
“People still by and large work the way they did in the past,” Campione says. “Maybe, instead of newspaper ads, they’re doing job boards, but it’s still very much that big-budget, cast-a-wide-net, blast-things-out-there-and-see-what-happens [approach].”
And, Campione says, people are still trying to funnel broad flows of candidates into their ATSs — which were designed with government laws and regulations in mind, not good candidate experiences.
“I want a lot of people who are qualified in my candidate stage, but I really only want a few people in my applicant phase,” Campione says. “The applicant phase is expensive: I go through all of my compliance and such. That process actually turns candidates off. You don’t want to put a candidate through that crap too early.”
So, instead of trying to push every possible candidate into an ATS, recruiters should be building long-term relationships with candidates via candidate relationship management systems, (CRMs), Campione says.
“Identify ideal candidates, make an initial contact, and capture them, put them into a CRM,” Campione says. “When you have them: nurture and engage. Don’t just deal with them at the point that you want to hire and they want a job — that’s a narrow aperture.”
Campione says that recruiters should use CRMs to build communities of candidates, and they can use content as a glue that binds these communitues together.
“You need to use digital marketing techniques to engage with them, so you now have a more established relationship over a long period of time,” Campione says. “That way, when they decide they are looking for a job, and you have a job, there’s already something there.”
With CRMs, recruiters can keep candidates in the nurturing and engaging candidate phase for longer. Only when a job pops up that a candidate looks ideal for does the candidate enter the applicant phase, with its ATS, its compliance processes, and its less engaging, more business-directed atmosphere.
“We need to think about the funnel differently,” Campione says. “I want to brand initially to a smaller segment that fits what I need. I want to get as many of those quality people into my candidate database, and then I want to nurture and engage and be compelling. I want fewer people in my applicant phase — fewer people in my ATS. You only want the people in your ATS whom you want to put through this compliance process.”