In the past, candidates had to market, sell, and promote themselves just to have a hope and prayer of landing a job interview. Employers still proactively sought out talent, true, but often they could often sit back and let the people come to them.

Ah, those were the days.

Now, you probably see advertisements for job opportunities—rather than products and services—on billboards. Job postings are more prominent on websites. In-demand talent receives interview requests for jobs they never even applied for.

In other words, recruiters are using marketing and sales tactics to fill open positions. So if you want to attract top talent to your company, you have to start thinking like a marketer.

Here are some marketing principles you can implement today that will help you attract top talent.


Define your ideal candidate

If you want to effectively compete for a certain type of candidate, you have to first define who that candidate is and why they’re a good fit for your organization. Otherwise, you’ll spend time and resources chasing the wrong people, wasting both your time and theirs.

Go beyond the standard demographics that everyone looks at: years of experience, qualifications, seniority level, etc. While important, these give you a one-dimensional understanding of the candidate.

Instead, ask these questions to dig a little deeper:

  • Is this a role that will be actively managed, or do they need to be self-reliant?
  • Can this role function as a remote or hybrid, or does it require someone willing to be in the office full-time?
  • Can you accommodate on-the-job training, or do you need someone fully qualified and ready to hit the ground running from Day 1?

Ultimately, you want to understand not just who the person is, but how they work and what their priorities are. This will provide clarity, whether you’re searching for and screening candidates yourself, or working with a recruiting firm.


Find the “hook” that attracts the candidate

Once you’ve defined your ideal candidate, the next step is to position your company so that you’re the kind of place where that person would want to work.

In a market that’s flooded with opportunity, job seekers have the luxury of being choosy. If you want to stand out from the competition, you have to have a “hook” that draws them to your company—and away from your competitors.

There are a number of factors that come into play here:

  • Brand recognition
  • Reputation
  • Manager/supervisor
  • Exciting special projects
  • Company/office culture

The specific factors you’ll want to emphasize depend entirely on who your ideal candidate is, and the things they value most. If you’ve effectively defined your candidate (per the previous section), you’ll have a clearer idea of what to prioritize as you market the role.


Show the long-term benefits of the role

When career professionals accept a given role, they aren’t taking it because of what it’ll offer them right now. They’re thinking more strategically, about how that role will drive their career forward.

As a result of the talent shortage, many savvy professionals are seeing this as the perfect opportunity to find an opportunity that better suits their long-term goals.

This could mean upskilling in certain areas to stay ahead of shifting trends in the market, especially among engineers and IT professionals. It could also mean that they’re ready to start taking on more leadership roles and becoming managers.

In either case, if you want to stand out and attract great talent, you need to provide them with opportunities to move their careers forward. If not, they’ll simply go with another organization who will.


Focus on retention, not just acquisition

In marketing, there’s a saying: your best marketing strategy is a happy customer.

In the same way, your best asset when marketing open positions are happy, engaged employees. They can either be your fiercest advocates—or your worst enemies.

A good way to keep them happy is to offer flexibility and agency in their work. If you can offer remote work opportunities, you’ll have a leg up when it comes to attracting quality candidates.

However, having a 100% remote work environment may not be feasible for you. But you can still create more flexible work environments by allowing hybrid office experiences, flexible PTO, and other benefits that can help promote a greater work-life balance.

The point is to ensure that your employee experience is top notch, and that you truly care about them as individuals.


Partner with an internal salesperson

No marketer can do their job without a dedicated salesperson. It’s the same when you’re marketing to candidates—you need someone to “close the deal,” as it were.

After you’ve defined your ideal candidate, positioned your organization, and highlighted the available opportunities, you need to actually sell the candidate on the experience of working with you. That means that you need someone to function as your internal salesperson.

This person could be the hiring manager. But if your hiring manager isn’t a natural salesperson, you may need someone to come along and help them during the interview process.

If a candidate doesn’t get excited about working with you, odds are they’re not going to take the job.


Remember the candidate’s “why”

In today’s dynamic job market, it’s easy to forget that employers have value that brings candidates to the table:

  • Company culture & work environment
  • Teams & personnel
  • Development & mentorship opportunities
  • Perks & benefits

Different candidates have different motivations. Some want opportunities to push themselves and upskill, others want a dynamic company culture, and others want flexibility. Attracting quality candidates requires that you become crystal clear on what you’re looking for, and what you have to offer them, and whether that fits with their own career goals. So it’s important that you be very clear on what you have to offer them and whether that’s going to be a good fit.

If you have a competitive offer for the candidate, and you’re able to effectively communicate that offer, you’ll certainly stand out from the competition. Only then will you be able to attract the best candidates in your territory.

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