Using Recruitment Marketing to Attract Engineering Candidates in the Pre-Hiring Phase

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Recruitment marketing refers to the tactics used to attract top talent in the pre-applicant phase of hiring. Notably, the notion of attracting candidates borrows best practices from the discipline of marketing, but with prospective employees, rather than customers, as the target audience. This is more important than ever in a competitive job market such as engineering, where companies don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing from a large pool of applicants. Candidates don’t have to settle for just any job; they can work for the company that best aligns with their career goals, aspirations, and values.



The methods for meeting the staffing needs of companies in engineering fields is evolving as the result of new technology, the introduction of a new generation of workers and a shortage of qualified candidates to keep up with increased demand. Strategies for identifying and attracting qualified engineering candidates are shifting in response to these changes in the engineering job market. Companies are leveraging the skills and tactics they have developed in their marketing departments and deploying them in similar ways in order to grow their teams.

Stand Out

Companies are not choosing candidates as much as candidates are choosing the company. When candidates are considering applying at a company, most will research the company online beforehand. Simply building a website with an “About Page” may not be enough. In this day and age, the companies that are attracting the most desirable job seekers (both active and passive) are using an array of tools to tell a story that sets them apart from their competition. Companies like Seattle Coffee Gear are jumping all over this concept.

Fill Your Talent Pool

Harvey Mackay, the famous marketing and networking guru once said, “Dig your well before you are thirsty”. That is to say, don’t wait for a position to open up before you begin recruiting to fill it. Courting desirable candidates that are already working for other companies entails a lengthy sales cycle.

Identifying the Target

One marketing best practice is defining the target audience and then crafting marketing communications that are relevant to their needs. If we apply that principle to candidates, would we make “out of work” a key characteristic of our target audience? Probably not. In a competitive, expanding job market, companies want to hang on to their best performers…the ones you want. Why then do we still use job boards?  Define your target candidate and their needs, then craft a compelling message and take it to where they are. Chances are that won’t be on a job board.

Telling the Brand Story

The recruitment brand message should be consistent with customer branding. Branding in the recruitment process is a topic that deserves its own post, but in a nutshell, think of prospective employees just as you would a target customer segment. Understand their unique needs and behavioral drivers and then build messaging that connects your unique brand values to their unique needs. Partner with your marketing department for help building strategic messaging constructs that can influence how job descriptions and candidate-facing web pages are written.


A great way to stay current with the attitudes and tendencies of job seekers is to monitor and participate in forums such as The Workplace by Stack Exchange. Keeping abreast of market conditions when developing and refining your story helps you to avoid sticking your foot in your mouth from a brand perspective.



Human resources directors are borrowing from the expertise of their company’s marketing department. They have discovered that the same methods for acquiring the best customers are effective when applied towards attracting new employees. They are re-tooling some of their customer facing marketing infrastructure to an employee facing market.

Social Media

Today’s consumer is a connected consumer. Research shows that 67% of adults report accessing at least one Social Network site – a nearly ten-fold increase over the last decade. The ability for a company to share its narrative has been expanded exponentially with the increase in use of Social Media.

Facebook gives companies access to more than one and a half billion users. LinkedIn reports having more than four hundred million users. Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat have almost two billion users between them. These platforms offer access to a vast audience completely free of charge.


Blogs are a great way for companies to expand the story behind their brand by incorporating text, images and video to convey their messaging. Blogs are less formal than traditional brand marketing tools. By regularly posting to a blog, companies are able to elaborate on what makes them stand out in their market. Most blog content can then be re-purposed and shared over all Social Media platforms.

More importantly, blogs offer companies the opportunity to share something of the soul of their business: the people. Whether it be wacky videos of employees having fun at work or an employee writing about why it is so great to work there, everyone in the organization can contribute. To prospective employees, this reveals something about the people they would be working with if they joined the company. It also speaks to how much the company values the unique personal qualities of its employees.

Refer a Friend

The concept of word-of-mouth is certainly not new to recruiters. But the way recruiters are modeling employee referral programs after those used in sales and marketing is. When considering the cost of acquisition for employees, many companies are paying generous incentives to employees who refer candidates that join the company and stay.

Recruitment Marketing Software

Companies like Gild offer services that use innovative technologies similar to those used by Netflix, Amazon and Facebook to create an analytics-based, data science approach to pre-applicant candidate selection.

These companies are developing tools like ATS’s (Applicant Tracking Systems) to improve the candidates’ (and recruiters’) experience. ATS’s automate some functions to improve a company’s ability to respond quickly and consistently to keep in touch with qualified candidates and engage them every step of the way.

Recruitment Marketing is a new way of addressing an age old problem; how to attract top talent. Moreover, it allows companies to employ the same successful strategies and best practices for building a brand that is compelling to prospective customers and employees.

– Alissa

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