Recruitment marketing

Recruitment Marketing for Academics: What is Recruitment Marketing?

3 min read · Advice & Insights / Recruitment marketing · Published 3 years ago

Just as any corporation needs to market their business to attract quality employees, universities also need to market themselves to attract top talent. But too often they do not. 

Many universities have relied on traditional hiring strategies that consist of writing a job advert and posting it on a job board. However, as internationalization has increased the competition for top talent and candidate behaviour has changed, this strategy is no longer effective. 

Universities need to pivot to a more holistic recruitment approach and implement a recruitment marketing strategy to continue to stay competitive. Recruitment marketing, while not a new idea in the private sector, is rarely discussed in the context of academic hiring. But in today’s hiring landscape, investing in a recruitment marketing based talent attraction strategy is essential for any forward-thinking university.

What is recruitment marketing?

Recruitment marketing is the practice of using marketing strategies to promote the value of working for a particular employer as a way to attract, engage, and recruit employees. It is a process of actively promoting your institution to build awareness, interest, and ultimately get the best people to become part of your university community. 

Recruitment marketing has emerged at a time when the academic hiring landscape is changing. There are more qualified candidates than ever before competing for jobs, yet candidates are also becoming a bit more selective. Thanks to easy access to the internet and digital tools, as well as the proliferation of social media, the information about universities available to candidates is now much more robust. 

Candidates are no longer restricted to simply understanding which departments a university has and their current vacancies. They can now search for in-depth information about the work environment, the research they are concusting, potential colleagues and even more intangible aspects like the social and cultural benefits of different institutions. 

As a result, academic candidates now behave more like consumers and universities need to market to them as such. The hiring process has shifted from universities choosing candidates, to candidates choosing the university. 

Recruitment marketing integrates new skills into attracting and engaging top talent. It requires institutions to adopt a funnel approach to recruitment. At the top of the tunnel, sits awareness of your university, followed by consideration of your university, and finally genuine interest in your university. Essentially, candidates need to know your university exists, then feel compelled to learn more about it, and lastly, be interested enough to invest time in applying to your open position. 

In order to be successful at every step of the process, academic institutions need to find relevant ways to find and attract top talent. This requires a comprehensive approach to hiring with a specific marketing and advertising skill set — not something universities typically have the time or resources to invest in. 

This thoughtful approach can only work with a complimentary digital marketing and advertising strategy which includes creating regular, engaging content and posting that content to some kind of landing page. It also requires a targeted social media strategy as well as technical knowledge of SEO and landing page design. In order to best create this holistic marketing approach, it is imperative for universities to think critically about the candidate experience. 

Employer Branding vs. Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment marketing and employer branding are often discussed in a similar context and while they do share some aspects, they differ in some significant ways. Like recruitment marketing, employer branding originated in the private sector but is now vital to academic recruitment. 

Recruitment marketing is the tactic that a university uses to promote its employer brand. Before thinking about how to recruit candidates, a university needs to spend some time looking inward. What makes your organization unique and attractive to academic candidates? What sets you apart from the competition? How do you want candidates to see you? A well thought out employer brand can serve as a roadmap for where your organization wants to go and how you will get there. 

Your employer brand is also partly determined by university employees, students, and potential candidates and how they discuss your organization across their networks. In this way, universities have less direct control of their image. 

Recruitment marketing, on the other hand, has more of an external focus as it is more about how you communicate your brand and your story. Recruitment marketing allows you to have more control over your narrative which can be particularly powerful in attracting the best candidates. Although you can’t always control how people talk about your brand, you can shape the conversation with a targeted approach to recruitment.

Recruitment marketing means taking a thoughtful and patient perspective to attract and retain the best people. First, candidates must know your institution exists. Then they must be inclined to consider you as a potential employer. Lastly, they must be intrigued so they become invested in applying. Using a recruitment marketing strategy will help you move candidates through each step of this process. As a result, your organization will get its share of amazing candidates who are invested in your organization and excited to make a match. 

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