It’s no secret that recruitment isn’t as straightforward as advertising a job and waiting for the perfect CV to land on your desk.

If you’re a people leader or human resources professional, you know how challenging recruitment can be.

Companies don’t expect customers or clients to just walk through their doors, visit their website or engage with them without some effort to attract them. Why should prospective employees be any different?

If you’ve spent your career in marketing or communication, you’ve probably managed as many campaigns as you’ve had hot dinners. But did you know your campaign management experience can help you with recruitment?

Before I began my recruitment career, I worked in marketing communications. In this post, I’d like to share the surprising ways I’ve discovered that recruitment is just like a marketing or communication campaign.

Research is crucial

All good strategies, campaigns and plans start with research.

Customer satisfaction surveys, brand perception research, baseline awareness research – if you want to be able to measure your success, you need to know where you’re starting.

Recruitment is no different. To attract the best candidate, you need to know the market.

Are the skills and experience you’re looking for in demand? Is there a shortage of people with these skills? What is the current market salary for the person you’re looking for?

Know your target audience

Any consumer marketing or communication strategy worth the paper it’s printed on includes a definition of the target audience or a description of a customer persona. Identifying who you’re trying to reach is essential.

The same principle can be applied to describing the ideal person for the job you’re recruiting for. This is about the content of the job description, the brief you give your recruitment partner and what your job advertisement says.

Clear identification and articulation of your target audience could be the key to an effective recruitment process.

At the same time, you shouldn’t expect to find someone who ticks every single box on your wish list. More about that later…

Start with objectives

Much like setting objectives for your strategy or campaign, understanding the ‘why’ of a recruitment process is crucial.

Why does this job exist? What role does it play in the wider business, the customer journey or client experience? Why would someone be interested in the role and your organisation?

Aside from helping you to have a clear plan in mind when you start the recruitment process, knowing the answers to these questions will put you on the front foot when you start talking to and meeting prospective employees.

Gone are the days of a panel of interviewers firing questions at the interviewee in a ‘clipboard and poker face’ fashion. The recruitment process is a two-way street and an interview is, at its core, a conversation between two (or more) people.

You should expect prospective employees to ask questions. And they should expect you
 to have (at least some of) the answers. Aside from showing curiosity and a genuine interest in the opportunity, these questions give you an insight into the person sitting in front of you – how they think, what’s important to them and how they approach their work.

Make a plan… and plan to change it

No matter how well designed and executed
 a marketing or communication campaign is, there is always a good chance that something won’t go to plan. Even the best project or campaign manager knows you can’t control everything.

This can be a difficult lesson to learn and a bitter pill to swallow in recruitment. While the product or service your campaign is promoting doesn’t have a mind of its own, people do. People are unpredictable and for the most part, they’re driven by emotions that are as individual as they are complex.

As much as I’m passionate about recommending quality candidates and providing good old-fashioned service, I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of things in recruitment that we just can’t control.

The perfect candidate gets offered another job, they change their mind about the opportunity at the eleventh hour, they get a counter offer, they decide to relocate with their partner’s job or something else in their personal circumstances changes.

Or, on the other side, a decision is made not to hire the role, the budget changes or someone moves internally and there’s no longer a vacancy.

The moral of the story? Have a plan, but accept that you can’t control other peoples’ decisions and you may need to change your plan in order to get an outcome.

All campaign managers work with stakeholders, write business cases, secure buy-in and get approval before a campaign goes live. Most of the time, there is a degree of compromise involved in getting a campaign over the line.

Just like finding the best person to join your team. It’s great to start with an idea of what the ‘perfect’ person is like, how much experience they have, where they’ve worked previously and what they’re like as a person.

However, sometimes that ‘perfect’ person doesn’t exist. Or they decide to take another job offer. Or your budget doesn’t quite stretch to their salary expectation.

An effective recruitment process always involves some form of compromise – from both parties.

Communication is key

My passion for good recruitment and good communication goes hand in hand. Written or spoken, words matter.

Content, written style and tone of voice are key elements of any brand. Key messages are the core of a compelling communication campaign. Communication with key stakeholders can make or break your campaign’s success.

Communication in recruitment is no different. It’s crucial in an effective recruitment process and the cornerstone of a positive candidate experience.

I believe communication is about much more than the spoken and written word. It’s about interpersonal communication skills, honesty, transparency and how and when you communicate with your prospective employees.

It’s about having an open, authentic dialogue that cuts through the noise.