Win the “Recruitment Wars” with Marketing’s Secret Weapon

To be victorious in the “talent wars,” use what Marketing uses to win customers: segmentation.

If you’re having trouble recruiting the employees you need these days, the solution might just lie in your Marketing department, says consultant Eileen Levitt, founder of HR Team in Baltimore.

“Can you attract all your desired customers using one sales technique?” Levitt asked an audience of employers at a recent meeting. “Well, you can’t bring in all employees with one method of recruiting [either].”

Levitt was alluding to a basic concept of marketing that says there is no such thing as a “market.” Instead, there are “market segments” … different customer groups, each attracted by a different sales appeal, and reachable through different means.

Levitt recommended finding these segments by reaching out beyond the traditional mix of classified ads, employment agencies, and paid recruiters, and using a wide spectrum of nontraditional recruitment media.

“About 50 percent of applicants should come from referrals of employees or through word of mouth,” she said. “And more companies are posting job openings online at, where listings can be free or cost $25. It’s one of the best values out there,” she added. “An entire generation looks for everything there,” she said, of the youth-oriented online classified service.

She cautioned about using direct mail. “If you use direct mail, your letter has to be amazing and even the envelope is important. And make sure you send it to the prospect’s home address, or you will get an angry call from your competitor yelling at you.”

Customize the Offer

Diane Dawson, a recruiter with Edmonton, Canada-based Focus Corp, picked up on the segmentation theme by suggesting that employers also customize their offers to the individual needs of candidates, rather than present a one-size-fits-all package. “Everybody’s need is different, everybody’s want is different,” Dawson emphasized. “You have to know your employee … and how you can work together.”

Offers made in this effort include bonuses, profit-sharing, shorter workweeks, and cafeteria-style benefit plans. But Canadian companies also offer at-home technology packages, including Internet, cell and PDA service, and subsidized daycare and eldercare. Some even offer paid income tax preparation.

Companies should create a recruitment budget just as they do a marketing or sales budget, says Levitt, and make use of another marketing concept called Unique Selling Proposition (USP), in reaching out to candidates. A USP is what makes an organization different and superior to competitors.

“Is it hours, pay, flexibility or reputation?” asks Levitt. “Tell people. Think of something that makes you different, or you will look like everyone else.”

FYI: Our friends at SHRM have asked us to put in a good word about their upcoming 16th Annual Southeast Human Resources Conference, to be held October 9-10 at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre. With 64 concurrent sessions, more than 100 sponsors and exhibitors, and “The Road to Business Success” as a theme, it sounds like a worthwhile time for all. Call 404-442-7335 or visit SHRM Atlanta’s website for registration information.

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