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5 Steps to a Recruitment Marketing & Employee Referral Machine

5 Steps to a Recruitment Marketing & Employee Referral Machine

“We’re Hiring!  Exciting opportunity…”  So what, who cares?

Calling the job you need to fill an "exciting opportunity" doesn't make it an exciting opportunity.  If this is the extent of your recruitment branding strategy, how’s it working for you? Unless you’re hiring for an already well-established mega industry leader, I’d guess not amazingly well.

Empty sales pitches and company boasting does not attract talent.  First, you’re not promoting what prospective employees are seeking and second, with sites like, Indeed’s company insights and access to any of your employees (current and former) on LinkedIn, it’s too easy for people to find out what it’s really like to work for your company, despite the claims of awesomeness you make.  

A Recruiter saying, “join our team for this exciting opportunity” is equivalent to a candidate saying, “I am a team player and a motivated self-starter.”  Did you just roll your eyes?

Employees at too many organizations are disenfranchised by doing unfulfilling work for companies that don't value team members as much as they may preach.  There is no such thing as job security in an at-will free market, and therefore hard work, dedication and even great success do not override the bottom line or the whims of the leadership team.  Everyone knows they are expendable and the grass is probably the same shade of green most everywhere else.

Job seekers are beyond frustrated with talent acquisition processes that are resume black holes, where they receive little to no feedback or updates and where they are dragged through multiple lengthy hurdles before being summarily dismissed through ghosting or generic rejection emails.  That’s another post entirely, but it’s part of what employers have to overcome because it’s what candidates have come to expect. Are you worthy of the agony that is likely to come with your application and hiring process?

What do employees and job seekers find exciting?   2 basic things (according to countless articles and common sense):

  • Doing meaningful or personally rewarding work
  • Being valued and celebrated for their efforts and accomplishments

Meaningful or personally rewarding work can come in many forms whether it be in a specific job description, or in the overall mission or purpose of the company’s products or services or even in the ways a company gets involved with and gives back to the community or other broader causes. 

Showing how you value employees has to go far beyond “competitive pay,” comprehensive benefits and branding images showing a bunch of people smiling with their arms around each other.  These are the same things most every other company is offering. Bragging about your company’s or executive’s awards, accolades or featured status may serve to boost internal egos, and if that is the intent, go ahead and pat yourself on the back and high five each other.  But don’t consider that a contribution to your recruitment marketing. Free snacks and ping-pong tables won’t get you there either. They cannot mask or fix a culture or morale problem. Nor can they override those negative company reviews.

So, what steps can you take to get prospective employees excited about working for your company and responsive to your job marketing?

  1. If you have issues with employee engagement, morale or turnover, recognize it, respond to it, determine the root cause(s) and commit to fix it (or bring it to the attention of senior leadership if you do not have that authority).  You can’t have attraction without retention.
  2. Find all the meaningful work your company does, at the associate, departmental, business unit, corporate and community levels.  How it is improving the world in some way, increasing the quality of people’s lives, serving causes and communities or solving problems?  Collect stories about fulfilled employees and impactful work.  
  3. Reward employees they way they want to be rewarded, or recognize that you are already doing so.  Here are the top work perks job seekers really want according to CNBC.  Collect stories about successful employees who are grateful for the perks and rewards they are afforded and how it allows them to contribute their best work.
  4. Celebrate your impact, your culture and your employees publicly on social media by sharing those stories.  All. The. Time. Not just as part of your career page or job posting. Posts, photos, videos, articles, links.  Facts tell, stories sell.
  5. Get everyone involved.  Everyone. More than your company page, beyond your Recruiter’s profiles.  Everyone in the company should be a brand ambassador out there creating fans in their vast networks.  Everyone should be posting what they love about their job, their company, their team, their project, etc...  The best and most creative out of the box recruiting tactic I ever saw came from GoDaddy, who gave every single employee a mirror for their employee referral program launch.  The mirror said, “This is what a GoDaddy Recruiter looks like.”

In sum, you don’t want to read a candidate’s resume that is full of fluff like “hard working” and “detail oriented.”  You want them to show it, to quantify and give examples of accomplishments. You often then go to their professional profiles to see if it is backed up in their content.  Likewise, they want you to do the same. “We have an exciting opening to work with an awesome team at the #1 blah blah blah...” Now THEIR eyes are rolling. Show it. Back it up. 

Don't just show up when you have a job to fill and claim awesomeness with a lazy colorfully worded announcement in a LinkedIn post or outreach message. With unemployment at historical lows, far more jobs than job seekers and easy access to free information it takes much more than that.  What are you doing to stand out as an employer and how’s it working?

Bio:  Shawna Armstrong has over 20 years of experience in Recruitment Outsourcing specializing in managing nationwide virtual Sourcing & Recruiting teams and optimizing all aspects of the hiring cycle for high volume and hard to fill roles across a wide variety of industries and positions.  She is currently doing freelance and contract work with companies and job seekers including recruitment & hiring process consulting, sourcing & recruiting strategy, content writing, resume writing and career & job search coaching. Check out her profile.