A crash course in inbound marketing for recruiters

Crash course inbound marketing recruiters

6 mins, 0 secs read time

What’s the difference between a customer and a candidate? It might not be as significant as you think. Recruiters are increasingly making use of marketing practices like personas, campaigns, and pipelines to attract candidates. In fact, the entire field of employer branding centers around treating candidates like customers.

If you think this makes sense but need a little assistance in putting all the pieces together, we’ve got you covered. During his presentation at the Greenhouse Recruiting Optimization Roadshow, Abakar Saidov, CEO and founder of recruitment marketing platform Beamery, outlined how recruiters can use inbound marketing to attract talent. Inbound marketing is a specific branch of marketing that focuses on directing customers towards you and contrasts with traditional marketing, which was all about finding ways of getting a message out to a particular audience.

Want to get an overview of inbound marketing and how you can apply these concepts to your recruiting practices? Read on!

Why should recruiters care about Inbound Marketing?

The processes of customer acquisition and candidate acquisition are similar: Each involves guiding someone from being a total stranger to having a strong interest in your product or company.

Many thought leaders in the marketing industry have adopted an inbound approach to marketing, which means that they strive to organically earn consumer attention without interrupting them. One example of this would be creating a blog post or video series that educates people about a specific topic rather than paying to place an ad somewhere. Potential customers can discover the blog or video at the exact right moment, when they’re searching for an answer, which will make them much more interested in what they find.

The inbound approach works for three main reasons: first, it’s relevant and helpful to the people you’re trying to reach; second, it’s centered on building relationships; and third, it helps you to stand out by doing something different from your competitors.

Recruiters can benefit from inbound marketing for the same reasons. It’s not about going to the candidate; it’s about getting the candidate to want to come to you. It’s going to take some work that doesn’t fall under the traditional recruiting umbrella, but it should ultimately lead to candidates who are more engaged and a better fit for your organization.

What does Inbound Marketing look like?

The steps that a prospect passes through on their way to becoming a customer are often called the “buyer journey,” and the main steps include:

  • discovery: finding out about the company, product, or service

  • exploration: becoming more familiar with the company, product, or service

  • evaluation: comparing options

  • purchase: making a decision

Potential candidates follow a similar process. The steps they move through include:

  • discovery: finding out about your company and open roles

  • exploration: visiting your careers site, blog, social media accounts, etc.

  • evaluation: comparing your company and role to their other options

  • application: deciding to actively apply for a role

According to the inbound marketing methodology, the purpose of the content you create should correspond to the phase of the candidate journey. During the initial stages, like discovery and exploration, you want to create content that “attracts” potential candidates. During the evaluation and application phase, you want to create content that “converts” and “closes,” moving someone from being mildly interested in a role to actively applying for it. And there’s a final phase, where you aim to “delight” people who have moved through your process and encourage them to become your company champion or referrer.

How can you implement an inbound strategy?

Content should be the cornerstone of your inbound strategy—this is how you’ll be able to attract, convert, close, and delight candidates. “Content” can refer to blog posts, videos, infographics, and any other assets that educate candidates about what it’s like to work at your company.

By creating and sharing content, you’ll also open up dialogue and give candidates a way to engage with you.

Abakar offered a few suggestions to keep in mind while developing content:

  • Visual content (images, video) can be processed more quickly than written content. But don’t just post stock photos of people standing in front of a white board. Share images or video that really convey what people in your company are working on.

  • Aim to create content that is easily searchable. Think about the right keywords, but remember these keywords might not necessarily be about the job openings specifically. For example, if there’s a type of software that’s commonly used in a certain industry, one of your employees could write a blog post or create a SlideShare presentation about how their team uses that software. This could pique the attention of other people in the same industry, even if they’re not actively seeking a job when they find it.

  • Think about how your content can encourage and facilitate conversations. How can you give candidates insights that make them want to learn more about your company or the work you’re doing?

How do you measure the success of your inbound program?

If you’ve decided that you are going to launch an inbound marketing program, how can you be sure that you’re doing a good job?

Abakar suggests focusing on the following areas: attraction, conversion, and communication.

To measure how well you’re doing with attraction, you can monitor your visitor growth (to your website, blog, etc.). It’s also useful to keep track of your bounce rate—the specific page from which someone leaves your site. Over time, you can begin to see which pages or pieces of content have higher or lower bounce rates and use that information to guide your future strategy.

According to Abakar, your primary goal with recruitment marketing should be to capture someone’s email address because this will allow you to open up a dialogue and contact them with relevant information in the future. So he suggests measuring conversion around when people opt to give you their email address.

You can run tests on your landing pages to see which elements lead to more people sharing their email address with you. For example, you can experiment with color, copy, or layouts. Some of Abakar’s clients have seen great success when they changed the copy on a button from “apply” to “speak to an engineer,” for example.

Once you have someone’s email address, you can measure how effective your communication is by looking at your email open and click-through rates.


Inbound marketing is all about taking someone on the journey from being a complete stranger to being aware of and actively interested in your company. You can facilitate this journey by creating content that makes it easy for people to establish a connection with your company. Remember that this won’t always be directly related to your job openings—you can also create connection around topics that are relevant to a specific industry or that demonstrate your willingness to engage in dialogue with people in your industry. Once you’re able to establish that connection, you’ll make it easy for people to want to continue to engage with you, and you can consider yourself a recruiter who also happens to be pretty adept at marketing, too.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.