For the hard-to-fill positions, creating a long-term relationship with passive candidates is a must. Let’s go over how Google’s famous marketing framework, See-Think-Do, can help with that. You will see practical examples and tips on how to implement this framework in recruitment.
The passive candidate won’t apply now
“Recruit passive candidates” is the most common mantra. It makes perfect sense, as passive candidates represent up to 80% of the market. However, you can’t approach them in the same way as you’d approach active candidates.
Most career pages and HR marketing initiatives are aimed at one target: Getting the application. Employee testimonials, EVP, company mission, office photos… this is relevant for the 20% of active candidates looking for a job. But it hardly interests a passive candidate.
Helping before selling
Modern marketing is about creating relationships with customers. This can only be done by delivering value in the form of interesting content and useful information, entertainment or advice.
The key is to segment your audience. Avinash Kaushik from Google developed a framework See – Think – Do (- Care) that can also be applied in recruitment. The framework’s foundation is dividing your audience into 3 stages (See, Think, Do) based on people’s intent, and developing specific content and communication strategies for each stage.
SEE Stage: Build Awareness
First stage – SEE – is the largest qualified audience. It includes, for example, all React developers in Denver or all Tax advisors in Berlin. These people don’t have an interest in your company and don’t want to apply for a job. Earning their attention is the most difficult; it can only be done with the help of high-quality content.
If you are a software engineer (not looking for a job), what are you interested in? You want expert information that pertains to your professional interests. You want news, you want technical articles or guides that help you solve specific technical issues, or you want to improve your skills. Do not talk about the company in this stage.
How we do it
We run an engineering blog with technical topics. Articles are written by our developers and are highly popular in the tech community. On average, we post 1 article per week.
For content distribution, we use Facebook-sponsored articles that can be targeted based on interests (e.g. specific programming languages). We also share articles with communities directly (e.g. Android weekly) or publish them on Medium. Furthermore, relevant articles score high in organic Google searches because they contain the information developers are looking for.
There are many companies producing technical content in the IT field – for example: Toptal, Kiwi.com, Airbnb or Uber. Based on Kiwi.com’s statistics, 91% of new hires for the engineering department were familiar with code.kiwi.com, and for 15% of new IT hires, it was the first point of contact with the company.
There are limitless ways of creating technical content – like creating open source libraries; recording tutorials; organizing events, workshops and academies; having a YouTube channel; and so on.
Forget about usual recruitment metrics, such as the number of applications. In this stage, you focus on gaining people’s attention.
Possible KPIs are: blog post visits average time per session reach, impressions, engagement (for Facebook posts), event attendance
Call to action
Passive candidates are rarely ready to switch jobs right away. They shouldn’t be bombarded with “Apply Now” buttons and application forms. Instead, they must be invited to ‘Like,’ ‘Share’ or ‘Comment’ your content, ‘Watch’ a video, ‘Read’ a blog, ‘Check out’ the open source and so on.
THINK Stage: Drive Consideration
Candidates who find value in your content and start showing interest in your company move to the THINK stage. It’s a subset of the SEE audience delineated by a certain behaviour: repeatedly visiting your website, following your company on Facebook, regularly engaging with your content (likes, shares, comments), subscribing to your newsletter, interacting with chatbots….
These people consume company content regularly and want to know more about what’s going on: interesting projects, company culture, how we work, daily life on social media. It’s alright to talk a little bit about the company in this stage.
How we do it
There are articles on our blog made for the THINK audience: Interviews with employees, introductions to interesting projects and wrap-ups from company events.
Our key tool is our newsletter, issued every week. It has more than 6,500 subscribers, an open rate of around 30% and a click rate of 7%. The newsletter contains blog articles (segmented to engineering, design and product), event invites and open positions. We register around 60 new subscribers per month from which 16% later apply for a job.
Another way of interacting with the THINK audience is to let them talk with our FAQ chatbot. Our chatbot sits on our career site and has around 70 interactions per month.
Call To Action
The goal is to make regular contact with the THINK audience, done mainly through:
- Newsletter subscriptions
- RSS feed subscriptions
- YouTube channel subscriptions
- Facebook page follows
- Talking to chatbot
- Subscribing to job alerts
To measure success, focus on:
- Number of subscribers to your newsletter. New subscribers per month.
- Newsletter open rate and click-through rate (CTR)
- Number of chatbot interactions
- Post engagements
DO Stage: Conversion
DO is the narrowest audience with qualified candidates who are both interested in your company and have some intent to apply for a job. This audience is ready to receive recruitment content and will eventually apply for a job. What wouldn’t work with the SEE audience does work here.
When it comes to content, we conduct interviews with team leads, write personal stories and advice for the recruitment process and so on. To deliver them to the right audience, we use the newsletter and retargeting ads.
The DO audience is also the only one that is open to see job ads and vacancies. Based on our experiments and testing, job ads delivered to the DO audience are much, much more efficient than those targeting the SEE audience.
Call to action
Obviously, checking the vacancies, doing a job search and applying for a job are the key Call to actions in this stage. Make sure that your job listings are accessible from multiple channels (Facebook page, newsletter, blog articles) and that applicants have numerous ways to apply for a job, such as by filling in the standard application form, applying via chatbot (great for mobile users) or applying with their LinkedIn profile.
Consider these KPIs for the DO audience:
- Number of applicants
- Number of visits via your job ads
- Job ads conversion rate
- Job ads bounce rate
- Performance of Facebook ads
Increase Efficiency 50x
It’s obvious that cold-calling is less efficient than contacting hot leads. The same is valid for job advertising. You can see this in the result of our experiment:
When we ran a traditional display advertising delivered to the whole target population of backend engineers (SEE audience), the CTR (click-through rate) was 0.02% and the cost per application was 500 €.
However, when we delivered the same job post to the DO audience (people who regularly visited our website and were searching for vacancies), the CTR increased to 20% and the cost per application dropped to 10 €. The cost is significantly cheaper because the ad is more effective and therefore needs to be delivered to fewer people to get clicks and applications.
When the ROI Works
SEE-THINK-DO is useless without great content, and great content requires a lot of investment. But it’s absolutely worth it in the case of high-volume, hard to fill positions. Typically, developers, engineers, scientists and other expert positions are those for which technical content works the best.
In order to make the whole content machine work, you need a publishing plan, copywriters, great involvement of your internal experts and continuous measurement—to ensure all efforts are pointed in the right direction.
Of course, you don’t have to start big. Writing one article per month is better than nothing. Once you prove that you know how to produce content that drives the interest of the community, you can put more energy into it.
Appendix 1 – Targeting based on audiences
How can you target specific audiences, and how can you determine who’s in which stage? I’ve compiled a few tips. The size of the audience is, of course, always different; these figures come from one STRV case:
Size of the audience: 50k
How to target:
- Facebook sponsored articles – interest-based targeting
- Professional forums – share articles directly
- Organic search – produce highly relevant content with a good SEO. Google Adwords can be considered in some cases.
Size of the audience: 10k
How to target:
- Facebook sponsored articles – targeting people that engage with your FB page (likes, shares, comments)
- Facebook sponsored articles – retargeting to people that have visited your blog before
- Newsletter – use your subscription list
- Events – use the guest list (GDPR consent required) to send regular updates
Size of the audience: 1k
How to target:
- Job ads – retargeting to people that have visited your career page
- Job ads – targeting people who’ve engaged with your page (likes, shares, comments)
- Newsletter – direct contact with people that have clicked on vacancies
Appendix 2 – Facebook retargeting
Facebook has a powerful advertising tool called retargeting. You first have to install a Facebook pixel on your website. That pairs website visitors with their Facebook accounts and allows you to target your advertising to people based on the pages they have visited.
Visiting a certain page on your website is a good indicator of a person’s intent (e.g. visiting a hiring process description), making retargeting a key tool in delivering content based on the SEE-THINK-DO strategy.
In the Facebook business manager, you create a custom ‘audience’ based on web traffic. More specifically, you can target the people that visited the website containing a certain keyword in the URL.
Create an audience of all people who visited a specific job ad on your website, but did not apply yet. This can be useful in reminding them of the vacancy even after they’ve left the career site.
Create an audience of all people who visited a career section on your website, and show them an article about your hiring process.
Create an audience of all people who visited any Android related article on your blog, and show them more Android-related content.
Create a sequence of ads with specific articles, starting with SEE content and ending with DO content.
Appendix 3 – Presentation
I’ve presented this topic for the first time at TA Live Amsterdam on April 2019. Here’s the full presentation.