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Please excuse my pressing need to vent publicly about the onslaught of marketing, promotion, and “education” around the idea that recruiting and consumer marketing are essentially the same function.
Hiring a productive, engaged, long-term employee is extremely different from convincing someone to drop a few dollars on a product or service!
Ahhhh…. that feels better. Now, in full disclosure, I’ve heavily researched the various plants and animals within the “recruitment marketing and technology” ecosystem, and have even written and presented HRCI-certified seminars and webinars to employers across the US and abroad- including Fortune 1000 companies. And if you do a little searching through the archives of this blog, you’ll no doubt find several articles on the process of applying consumer marketing practices to recruitment marketing processes.
Now, let me just explain my position to provide a little more clarity. I certainly DO believe that some of the best practices from consumer marketing and consumer branding can be adapted to assist in your recruiting and employment branding processes. Thanks to the power of capitalism in America, enormous amounts of energy, brainpower, time, and money have been dedicated to the refinement of consumer marketing. As a result, we have well-established, mature, and proven concepts that allow organizations to reach, engage, and attract customers.
Thus, modeling your recruitment processes after consumer marketing will provide more effective and efficient methods to reach, engage, and attract people. The chasm between these two worlds, of course, is the specificity of the audience, and the level of commitment being asked of them.
In consumer marketing, the vast majority of marketing and branding activity is focused on (relatively) low-investment, low-involvement decisions. This is the major distinction between how homes and furniture are sold, compared to clothes and cars.
Think about it- when making a buying decision for a home, you take much more time and care, mostly due to the longevity of the investment and the cost involved. It’s not all about money, though. Even when buying furniture, consumers also spend a great deal of time with these decisions, as they are seen as very long-term commitments.
Despite the fact that purchasing a new car can be one of the highest cost purchases people make, the majority of buyers don’t believe they’ll own the car forever. As such, consumers are more likely to make quick, emotional decisions on automobiles than on dining room sets (which have you owned longer?). The same concept applies, though to the nth degree, when buying clothes. If you’re a fashionista, you know the styles won’t last long, so the decision making process is far less affected by quality than it is by style, feel, and brand names. If you’re not really into fashion, then buying clothes is simply a chore, and something that you spend even less time and brainpower on.
Now, looking at these two different buying behaviors- which one utilizes and benefits from the tactics and strategy of consumer marketing and branding more? Clearly, it’s the low-investment low-involvement products and services. These are the types of products and services we see the majority of banner ads, pyramid schemes, online referral networks, email spam, and broadcast commercials for- the tools of the consumer marketing trade.
Think about how you buy furniture, or how you select your next home. These decisions are far less affected by branding and marketing. These decisions are made by carefully reviewing the quality and craftsmanship, and a great deal more time is spent on finding the right “fit” to suit your specific personality and needs. This is why sellers are willing to pay thousands of dollars to real estate professionals to find the right buyer… sounds a little like the world of headhunters and 3rd party recruiting, no?
Consider where career transition decisions fit along the decision making spectrum. I would argue that these decisions can be handled with even great care and consideration than purchasing a new home. As a result, employers shouldn’t expect that by posting ads in more places, or by running ads with greater frequency, that you’ve improved your recruiting and employment branding processes. Yes, these practices will help you cast a wider net, and will, by the laws of probability, help you find more of the right people. While that’s good enough for consumer marketing, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for making great hires. It’s far easier to get someone to spend a few dollars on a spring blouse by offering a 20% off sale, than it is to convince a passive job seeker to quit a job where they have some level of comfort and success, to update their resume, submit an application, take time off for interviews, and then take a step into the unknown.
In order to truly enhance the effectiveness and success of your recruiting and employment branding processes, it’s a good idea to start with a strong understanding for the risk, discomfort, and complexity of the decision process of applicants.
When it comes right down to it, attracting and hiring new employees is simply not the same as attracting and selling to new customers.
Jason Blais currently works with a global talent acquisition company specializing in pre-employment screening and recruitment technology. Previously, Blais held a director level position with a recruitment media company for several years, where he cut his teeth in Employment Branding. Blais began blogging in 2004, as he researched the value of social networks and new media for employers and job seekers. He has written and presented numerous HRCI-certified seminars in the areas of recruiting, employment branding, social media in HR, and employee engagement; and has been a featured speaker at several state HR conferences and trade associations. Blais is a contributing writer for JobsInTheUS, and has been featured in various news outlets including Fox News American News HQ, the Wall Street Journal, and local ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across New England. To compliment his experience in recruiting, Blais has also worked closely with thousands of job seekers through his work with state agencies, college and university career centers, and local economic development entities. Blais is currently developing a new conference for job seekers focused on using social networks and new media to find work, which will launch in the Spring of 2011. Blais resides in Northampton, MA, with his wife and their one child.
You can find more from Jason on his blog http://jasonblais.com.
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