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Direct marketing for recruiters

Direct marketing guide to help HR source highly-in-demand candidates. Overall, the HR team found they could fill 4-5 positions for the same cost as filling 1 position via recruiter. (That made me smile.)

This is a guide I wrote to help the head of recruiting and HR source highly-in-demand candidates. I’ve used “vertical” to refer to the industry and “Redacted” for the company’s name. Overall, the HR team found they could fill 4-5 positions for the same cost as filling 1 position via recruiter. That made me smile.


Goal: To provide a new stream of highly-qualified and motivated candidates using direct marketing techniques.

Step 1

Define the specific business problem you are trying to solve. 

Step 2

Create a very specific position description including key performance indicators.

Step 3

Create a Unique Service Proposition. This is a positioning statement that differentiates Redacted from the rest of the industry. What’s great about working at Redacted? If you don’t already have this handy, ask the 10 or 12 people who’ve been with you longest and jot down everything they say.

This is a sales tool we’ll use throughout the recruitment process. 

Step 4: Employee referrals

This vertical is a relatively small business and our professional networks should have fairly good reach. So we create an incentive program for teammates to promote the position opening. 

If we hire a professional salaried person this incentive might range from $2000-$5000. For an hourly staff position we might pay $250-$1000. (Think of this as a big discount on a recruiter’s fees).

This bounty is paid after the candidate passes her drug test and completes her probationary period, or 6 months, or similar conditions. We’d need formal policies for this. 

We encourage teammates to promote this position via:

  • Social interactions with friends/colleagues
  • Social media, especially LinkedIn
  • Professional networks, organizations, clubs, meetings

NOTE: This is somewhat risky if we’re already relying on our employees to help us fill positions. If we turn a social transaction into a financial transaction, we don’t necessarily improve results. We have to make sure we’re not torpedoing a good source of candidates. This is a move that requires C-level discussion and a formal policy.

Step 5: Direct marketing

If our employee referrals don’t work then we move on to direct marketing. We will use direct mail and online marketing techniques to find candidates.

We are not going to drive the candidates through an elaborate online application process. We’re going to ask them to express their interest and we’ll take on the burden of contacting them. We’ll sort them into keepers and throw-em-backers as quickly as possible and really pursue the ones we like. 

5.1. Mail

We buy a postal or email list (I prefer postal for this use) from InfoUSA or similar. We are targeting the general aviation industry, specifically parts suppliers, but definitely not limited to parts suppliers. 

In composing our message we have to keep in mind that we don’t want to directly solicit the company’s individual employees. Our message should be something like this:

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am the head of People Relations for Redacted, a vertical company in Fort Lauderdale. Lately business has been going pretty well, primarily due to our proximity to South America and their strong economies. 

We’re having a heck of a time finding someone to represent our Department in Brazil. I’m not sure why it’s so hard — maybe parts guys just hate bright sunshine and ocean breezes? Redacted is an awesome place to work, too: [Unique Service proposition]. Anyway, here’s what we’re looking for:

[insert 3-4 line job description here]

There’s an in-depth position description enclosed. 

Do you know anyone who might fit the bill? Somebody who wants to get away from [the cold Buffalo winters, the Midwest, those awful California taxes, Texas summers, etc.]? Somebody who loves working hard, playing hard, and deep-sea fishing? If so please pick up the phone right now and call me, HR Director, at 305-xxx-xxxx. 

I really appreciate your time. Please shoot me an email if I can ever do you a favor: [email protected]

See you at the [next trade show or convention]!

The point here is we want to make the interaction informal — I’m just folks and I need a little help. We make this a social interaction, NOT a financial transaction. We make it clear we’re looking for someone who wants to leave the area. 

Looking for someone here in Florida is a little trickier. We may want to buy a Florida list and go through line by line, eliminating friendlies. Or instead of buying a business listing, we buy a list of vertical owners or vertical-adjacent organization members and send them a postcard. 

5.2: Social media

We post the in-depth job description on the company web site and we have the social media coordinator post it via our corporate social media accounts. 

On the corporate site, we create a dedicated landing page for this position. We provide the job description and a simple form to fill out: name, address, email address and one or two other questions that help us determine a candidate’s qualifications: 

  • How many $manufacturer item numbers do you have memorized?
  • How much $inside_joke have you sold in the last six months?

(Yeah, they’re inside jokes and I don’t think they’re funny — however, the right candidates should get it and chuckle. Also, asking a silly question or two differentiates Redacted from a slew of other job posts and will stick in peoples’ minds. I’m sure Hiring Department Director has a few suggestions.)

5.3: Antisocial media

I’ve filled positions this way before: go to industry-related forums, create a profile, and post your job description: Brazil Vertical Salesman Desperately Needed!!!!

Put a link to the landing page outlined in 5.2 above. 

You’ll get some interest and some flaming and some legitimate leads. 

5.4: Paid search

Once we have that landing page on redacted.com, we’ll have PPC Manager create a Google Adwords campaign targeting the position. We’ll bid on keywords like:

“vertical sales”

“vertical sales florida”

“vertical sales job”

… etc. I’m not sure exactly what. Whenever someone searches these terms they’ll see our ad. We can do this in local search only (limit to Fort Lauderdale, or Broward County, or Florida, or target specific other states as we outlined in 5.1 above, or the whole country, or Brazil — in Portuguese). Our ad will look like:

Brazil $Department Sales Needed

Like to have fun and make money? 

Join the Redacted team!

www.redacted.com/DepartmentSales

You’ll provide PPC Manager a promotional budget and he will dedicate that to advertising the position. (We can do the same thing on LinkedIn — if you decide to go that route let me know (I’m not certain PPC Manager has ever worked with LinkedIn paid search.))

6. Prequalifying the candidate

When we get a lead we have either HR Director or Hiring Department Director call them and ask a set of qualifying questions:

  • Are you fluent in both written and spoken $language?
  • How many years selling vertical-related?
  • Size of your current book of business?

Based on those questions we determine whether we go to the expense of flying the person in for an interview. 

7. Just do your thing from here

You know how the rest of this goes.

8. High-five

Once you’ve made the offer and it’s accepted and the start date is nailed down and everything, come by my office so we can high-five.

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