What Recruiters Need to Know About Inbound Marketing

by Veronica Blatt

image of cell phone with inbound marketing conceptsTraditional marketing methods – print ads, billboards, flyers, brochures, TV or radio spots – were wildly successful for many years. It’s no surprise that as there have been disruptions to print and electronic media, those methods are not as effective as they used to be. Inbound marketing is a new methodology that can be highly effective, although it is much different from traditional marketing efforts. What is inbound marketing? It’s a strategy that helps draw customers to you through a variety of attraction and nurturing tactics including content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and more.

The way people make purchasing decisions has changed dramatically. Back in the day, the seller controlled all the information about the product or service. When a business needed to hire a recruitment firm, they would look through the telephone book and start calling them. At that point, the recruiting firm was in a position to heavily influence the sales process. With the advent of the internet, consumers of all types are able to do their own research and in many cases have their purchasing decision narrowed down to a shortlist before ever having a direct interaction with the seller. There are inbound marketing activities that all recruitment firms can employ in order to attract both candidates and clients. Here is a very basic introduction to these concepts:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – In a nutshell, SEO means optimizing your website so that clients and candidates can easily find your firm when conducting online searches. Ideally, you want your firm listed in the top few spots on the search results page. To do this, you need to think about what you’re selling, and how people would go about searching for that. That could include things like “recruitment firms in Houston, Texas” or “financial services recruiters.” Once you have a list of search terms and phrases that identify your business, you will need to create content on your site that utilizes those words and phrases. This is an overly simplified description, but covers the basics. When we first started down the SEO path, we utilized a lot of training and resources by Jason McDonald, which were extremely helpful (and budget-friendly as well).
  • Content Marketing – Once you’ve helped visitors find your search, you need to offer valuable content related to their search terms. This content should educate potential customers in some way. And you need to have a regular supply of fresh content so that the search indexes continually visit your site and keep it high in the search rankings. A blog is an excellent way to enter the content marketing scene. Even better if you allow readers to subscribe via email, and automatically push new content out to your subscribers as you create it. White papers, guides, e-books are other kinds of valuable content to share.
  • Social Media – After creating and posting your amazing content, the next step is letting the universe know that it exists. Social media can be invaluable to help you share your message by getting others to share it as well. Make sure website visitors can easily share your content to their social channels. Do some research to determine the social media sites where your potential customers are likely to be, and post your content there. Tools like Canva and Bit.ly offer free versions that help you create professional images and easy-to-click hyperlinks.
  • Landing Pages – In layman’s terms, a landing page is the page a website visitor goes to (“lands on”) after clicking a call-to-action somewhere else. Effective landing pages match your overall site branding, but just ONE primary activity that can be conducted there (with minimal navigation back to your main site). For example, if your call to action is “download our free white paper,” the corresponding landing page would simply include a short form to fill out with a download button to access the white paper. The goal here is to convert your traffic into a lead, so you don’t want to confuse your visitor by offering multiple actionable items.

There is a lot more to learn and do to build a successful inbound marketing program for your recruitment firm. These initial steps will go a long way to ensuring your firm is findable and attractive to potential customers. Once you convert traffic to leads, you can begin to nurture those leads through your sales funnel. We’ve found it’s much easier to close sales with “warm” prospects. Do you have an inbound marketing success story to share? Drop a note in the comments!

Don’t Marry the First Person You Date

by Veronica Blatt

Our guest blogger is Jason Elias of Elias Recruitment in Sydney, Australia. Elias Recruitment is a specialist legal recruitment consultancy, finding lawyers for law firms, not-for-profits and corporates, across Australia. Jason is the Secretary/Treasurer of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors and received our Chairman’s Award in 2014. Jason is also a Fellow of the peak recruitment industry body in Australasia  the RCSA (Recruitment & Consulting Services Association).

Whilst I am sure “love at first sight” does exist and my wife swears she knew we were going to get married the day we met- I would not advise anyone to marry the first person they dated.

Likewise, it is imperative when you counsel your candidates to take the best job offer, not the first one (especially when the first offer is not yours). There is no secret that the job market for candidates across many industries is the best it has been for a long time.

However let me share the recent story of Kim (not her real name). Kim was keen to get a new role and had a good CV and background. She was invited to interview with several clients both directly and through our agency.

Just after the second interview with our client, she received a job offer from another firm. They were pressuring her into accepting and Kim thought – a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. She wanted to take the offer.

We advised Kim to get all the offers on the table and make an informed decision when all the facts were laid out. In the end our client then came back and made her what was a better long term career opportunity and she agreed. The money was actually pretty similar. She has since found out that the other firm would not have been the right place for her anyway.

Now of course there was a financial element to us wanting her to take the role with our client but hand on heart I believe that was the better option for her.

So my suggestion is to understand candidates should be selective about where they want to work and do your due diligence first to make sure you send them to the right place and they don’t marry the first person they date.

There’s No “Me” In Recruiting

by Liz Carey

Recently, we had a staff meeting centered around establishing our goals and values as a team — while each staff members has their own set role and responsibilities, the purpose of this meeting was to discuss how we all view the “bigger picture” of our purpose and view for the organization. It got me thinking about how it applies to a recruiting firm. Within a recruitment firm, recruiters work as part of a larger team, but because this industry is so cut-throat and quote driven, it could be perceived as every person for themselves. And a little bit of healthy competition is great, but it’s important that your team is focused on working towards a common goal.

Your recruiting team are the people who are going to help you succeed in finding talent and keeping your firm’s clients happy, so it’s important to make sure you are all on the same page. It could be useful to hold a team meeting to discuss your recruitment firm’s goals, values, purpose, and expectations. As an owner/manager, here are a few things to consider:

  1. It’s not all about metrics. Of course your recruiters should be held to a certain standard, and you can expect them to make a certain number of calls made per week, send-outs, placements, etc., but owners/managers should empower team members to learn as much as possible – spending time networking, learning, sharing best practices with each other, and improving internal processes. Because there’s so much pressure to fill roles, this will likely take time and support from leadership to encourage recruiters to shift their gears to learning and growing.
  2. Involve your team in decisions. Experience is one of the most valuable assets that recruiters bring to their firms. Leverage these diverse perspectives and insight to get them involved in the decision-making process and ultimately, build stronger recruiting operations. If a recruiter has background/experience in an area that you currently don’t recruit in, let them try to build up that sector as a new area of business for your firm.
  3. Set expectations. If you’re part of a recruiting network / organization, make sure your recruiters are using these resources to get the most ROI. Set up a training with the network staff to ensure all your recruiters know how to use the site/database and how to get the most out of your membership. Make it a requirement for your staff to post any new reqs to the site to get help from your network affiliates. Set a goal for your recruiters that if they hit a certain number of placements, they can attend an in-person recruitment network meeting/conference. One placement made through your membership pays for itself!

How do you keep your recruiting team motivated? If you’re part of a recruiting network, what is your process for getting your recruiters involved?

Searches for Purple Squirrels Should Die

by Dave Nerz

image of a purple squirrelRecruitment and search have become increasingly more difficult for independent recruiters. Independents are the NPAworldwide constituency; that is my motivation for examining this subject. Let’s take a look…

Employers have taken back the massive quantities of simple-to-fill positions that they shared with recruiters in the early 2000s. These have gone in-house or they have gone to online and AI-based services that can bang out the 15 new sales reps needed in every city across North America or wherever they are needed worldwide. Client companies have taken to job boards (their own and industry applications), low-cost agencies, hourly recruitment, list builders, employee referrals and even off-shore RPO to fill other slightly more difficult roles. What that leaves is the truly unique and especially difficult roles to be shared with independent search consultants. Headhunters are called in to fill these challenging and specialize positions.

Independent recruiters refer to these searches as searches for “purple squirrels” or sometimes “unicorns.” We know there are squirrels, so there must be purple ones…even if no one has seen ever seen one. The assignment is to find candidates that may not even exist. The search, qualification, interview and hiring process can be painfully slow. Adding to the difficultly is the unwavering list of must-have requirements insisted on by unrealistic hiring managers.

The winners of this war for talent will not be those employers that best define their purple squirrels and hold out for the perfect fit candidate. The winners will be the hiring managers that focus on recalibration of the qualifications to allow for a realistically achievable solution. Employers will need to consider all options, including teams of employees, contingent workers with unique skills, former or retired employees given the time to address specific challenges, or heaven forbid, the investment in training and grooming someone to take on the unique challenges that need to be addressed. The result will be more realistic and affordable solutions to previously nearly impossible and highly expensive hires. I am proposing a solution rather than a wait for a potential solution that may or may not happen depending on the discovery of imaginary talent.

The search for purple squirrels has its place, but should be limited to very short duration contingent searches, or better yet, a never ending retained search. In other words, have a recruiter always on the look out for these unique talents. Do not allow the business to become dependent on what is a highly unlikely discovery to fill a specific position. Be willing to make a position for this talent if and when it is found and if the candidate can be convinced to join the employer organization. While the retained search continues, for many months, perhaps years, smart employers will view all options to deliver the results desired. They will consider gig workers, contractors, part-time, remote, external service providers, and especially training of in-house employees as a way to solve for positions once designated for purple squirrels. Get realistic, make a hire that is close and let the candidate be groomed to the perfect fit. Hire grey squirrels and help them evolve to the squirrel desired!

Have You Tested Your Job Seeker UX?

by Veronica Blatt

“Candidate experience” gets a lot of attention in the blogosphere, HR and talent communities, and other places around the web. Candidate experience can be broadly defined as how job seekers interact with a company’s hiring processes – from recruiting to interviewing and onboarding. Before a job seeker becomes a candidate, though, they’re interacting with – and evaluating – organizations differently. That often begins with your website, which can deliver a good … or not-so-good … user experience (UX). When is the last time you tested the job seeker UX of your site? This means evaluating every aspect of your website as though you are a job seeker. Read the rest of this entry »

Clients Tell Us What They Look for in Agency Partners

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Alex Fraser, Marketing Director at London based recruitment software supplier Engage Technology Partners. Engage provides a cloud-based platform that allows collaboration of clients, recruitment agencies and contractors throughout the recruitment supply chain process.

Recruiters are always looking for better ways to serve their clients. But sometimes it’s important to step back and look at the big picture: how are clients using recruitment agencies and what really matters to them?

To get a sense of how UK businesses really perceive the recruitment industry, we questioned 100 medium-to-large employers across a range of industry sectors. Read the rest of this entry »

Here Is How An External Recruiter Rates Against Your Current Hiring Process

by Sarah Freiburger

Their Expertise

An external recruitment agency is a specialists in their industry, who has placed that exact candidate role time and time again. Their background and knowledge gives them the edge when learning and  understanding your company’s unique requirements and enables them to match the right specialist with your distinctive needs. External recruiters work many sub–specialties within each specific niche, so they know the entire candidate life cycle for the team 

A Strong Approach

External agencies are committed to a strong relationship-driven approach that takes best-in-class recruiting practices and specialized training to provide an exceptional level of service to every client. They should invest the time to understand your values, your philosophy, and your requirements. They should ask questions. They should advise you as to how to make the relationship even more efficient. As an independent agency, their goal is to treat both candidates and clients with the same level of respect and knowledge to achieve long–term successful hires.

Targeted Solutions For All Clients

External recruiters usually work with clients from start–ups to the Fortune 100. They are as custom as you can find for handling local placements or for multiple hires across divisions and geographies utilizing their network of other independent specialized firms as well as vast databases of candidates. Many times these recruiters can complete searches within retained, engaged, and contingency relationships to fit your budget as well. Allowing the same firm repeat business also allows them to understand the entire scope of your hiring needs.

A locally based external recruitment firm helps you handle the intricacies of international business. Their recruiters not only source and recruit the right talent, but provide you with insight to the local culture to build the appropriate compensation packages to retain the talent. Having an international recruiter with a network of international partners allows them to leverage those partners so that they can learn and understand the relevant information you need to complete the project, and you will still receive one response from the recruiter you have built a trusted relationship with.

For instance, working with an NPAworldwide firm gives you access to local talent in the following countries:







Czech Republic




Hong Kong








New Zealand




Puerto Rico




South Africa

South Korea







United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States

The Number 1 Thing to Do in an Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Paulette Steele with Real Resumes located in Queensland, Australia. Real Resumes is educating people from beginning to end on getting a job.  Short videos cover all aspects including: where to look for a job, writing effective resumes, researching and preparing for the interview, and most importantly, mastering the interview itself. Paulette has 15 years of recruitment experience and a vast career in various industries.

What’s the number one thing to do in an interview? It’s so simple and effective! Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Skills Gap Challenging for Employers

by Veronica Blatt

A new report from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that there were 7 million job openings in the U.S. in December, but only 6.3 million unemployed people looking for work. A full three-fourths of human resource professionals indicate there is a significant skills gap between what employers want versus what job seekers currently have. As the labor market remains tight, this gap is predicted to get worse with many job seekers lacking necessary technical or soft skills. What can employers do to address these challenges?

  • Look at alternate candidate pools … this could be retirees, foreign workers, or those with a nontraditional academic background. For example, can you consider candidates who have the right skills, but do not have a university degree? How about a two-year degree or vocational certificate instead of a four-year degree?
  • Invest in the employees you already have … how can you provide additional training to your existing employees? Is there a way to enhance their skill sets? Do you offer tuition reimbursement or other incentives for them to further their development?
  • Consider alternate work relationships and environments … Can a contractor or remote worker fill the gaps in your workforce? Would a flexible working arrangement make it easier to find or retain the right person?
  • Partner with local educators to develop co-op or internship programs … And these do not need to be limited to those who are currently in school! How can you work with local institutions to upskill or retrain workers who are already on the job? What skills are most in need in your workforce? How can you ensure those skills are being taught to students (both traditional and nontraditional)?
  • Is your job attractive? There are roles that do not suffer from a lack of qualified applicants, but the jobs themselves may currently offer low pay or benefits that are out of alignment with the current market. If you’re having trouble attracting people to your open jobs, do some research to make sure you are offering competitive pay and benefits. It’s possible that a skills gap isn’t the primary stumbling block to your hiring efforts.
  • Is your brand attractive? Over and above pay and benefits, is your company a place where the best and brightest want to work? Are you effectively selling your brand in the marketplace? Perhaps you need to invest in repositioning your brand or the types of roles you offer. For example, there is a perception that manufacturing jobs are “dirty” or unskilled … but this is patently false in many environments.

Whether it’s a direct skills gap or simply a shortage of people, labor conditions are expected to be difficult for a number of years. Employers that are creative and forward-looking will be in the best position to attract and retain the best available talent.

Recruiting Strategy Number 1!

by Veronica Blatt

recruiting strategy - ask for referralsToday’s guest blogger is Bill Benson with WilliamCharles Search Group located in Grand Rapids, MI. WilliamCharles is an executive search and professional recruiting firm specialized in finding managerial and executive talent in finance, HR, operations, sales/marketing as well as president/CEO roles. They have a concentration of clients in Michigan but they also work across the US. Bill is the chairman of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors.

Stop staring at your email and LinkedIn searches! Too many recruiters spend too much time staring into the abyss of their computer screen hoping that another hour of sourcing will miraculously render new results. I’d suggest spreading out your recruiting time investment into different areas.

Whether you’re in a slump or just needing a new edge, the right recruiting strategy might be an old school strategy.

Back to Basics Number One: Ask for Referrals!

This will always be the best way to find candidates! These often prequalified candidates are gold. Challenge yourself to find creative ways to ask for referrals. Below are some approaches and thoughts to help you organize your referral campaigns.

  1. Conduct phone and email campaigns to past candidates asking for referrals or phone/email.
  2. Consider different strategies such as calling operations people to generate referrals. Purchasing folks know sales people and vice versa. Human resources people can be great sources of referrals for candidates across functions.
  3. Use LinkedIn InMails to generate referrals. About a hundred different ways to do this!
  4. You should always call your best potential referral sources, but email is a great way to cover a lot more ground.
  5. Individuals, both candidates and clients with whom you have had success in the past, will be the most motivated to give you candidate leads. Their most motivated time to help you will be after you have helped them.
  6. Turn a “no” into a referral. That is a good time to ask for a referral. They may be motivated to help you since they have said no.
  7. Develop “bird dogs.” These are candidates, clients and general contacts that like to talk and share what they know.
  8. Candidates who have recently left a company are good sources of referrals. They may no longer feel the same level of loyalty. LinkedIn notifications are a good trigger to make the call.
  9. Call the references of people you have placed and ask them for candidate ideas. You can start that call by referencing the placed candidate and thanking them for their help in that person’s career. Then ask for names of other high caliber people.
  10. People are sometimes hesitant to give names for a couple reasons. They might not want their name to be associated with the referral – always mention that you can, but don’t have to, use their name when making the call. They might also feel like they need to call the person rather than giving up the name. It is also good to explain, “I appreciate your willingness to call the person on my behalf, but I make these “shoulder tapping” calls all the time. A good reason for me to call is to establish that connection; that way, if this is not the right position then I can keep them in mind for that right position.” This level of communication will build that necessary trust for them to give up the name.
  11. On the trust note….referrals do come as a result of building trust. Those with whom you have developed that relationship will be your best referral sources.
  12. Stay on the phone! These referral calls will help you stay on the phone and when you’re on the phone your making money. When you’re not on the phone you are likely not!

Do you have another recruiting strategy for getting referrals? Please share! Happy Hunting!