slimy car salesmanWhen I say “car salesmen” what pops into your mind? A grease ball, right? A poorly fitted suit, slicked back hair, and a beer belly. I’ll add a creepy mustache for fun, just to really nail the visualization I’m going for here. It’s not the best foot forward, per se, for an industry that has rode the economic wave of the past few decades. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be one of them. They just get such a bad rap. Literally, they’re the go-to metaphor for slimy folks. You have to wonder how they get deals done and why they’re still the primary sales driver for new and used car purchases.

It’s a sales model that has been in existence for a long time unchanged, despite the persistence of some newer online car sales websites. I think we all wish there was a better way but let’s face it: The car salesman job has existed far longer than most career paths (and most that exist today – talking to you, social media ninjas), but why? It all goes back to the simple fact: it works.

As someone who has worked in a primarily commission role, I know what it is. It’s determination and persistence. It’s the must-have drive to keep pushing, to ask one more question – a lot of the reason they have a bad rap is exactly why they’re successful, now that I think about it. Persistence pays off whether you really enjoy it or not. It’s when the persistence crosses the line into annoying or ineffective that it starts to rub us the wrong way and they’re not successful.

Many approach the job description and sharing tactics with the same mentality – it works, don’t change it. However, we don’t really know the full scope of this assumption. We don’t know what we’re losing out on by buying into the stasis and choosing routine over evolution.

Stasis Situation: Why Advertising Jobs Hasn’t Changed.

advertising jobsThe mantra of “marketing is recruiting” is emphasized as the best practice in basically every blog that even approaches the concept of recruitment marketing but how that actually translates into action isn’t always so obvious. It’s harder work than it seems – truly shifting to a marketing model when it comes to recruiting and knowing where to start.

It’s an area where it’s almost too easy to go into neutral and cruise into interviews. The current lifecycle of a job is pretty linear – write your post, spray and pray, see what comes back, repeat. That repeat step typically involves copying and pasting the same job description, posting on the same job sites, lamenting about the same ridiculous cost per applicant, and yet we don’t change. We don’t seek out new models for driving applies and we don’t start at the top to create incremental improvements.

It doesn’t help that we’re really just guessing when it comes to advertising jobs. We’re guessing on where to advertise, what to say, where to be online and where to buy. We’re following lists and webinar content versus doing our research or using the technology that’s available. I mean, it works – right?

What we tend to forget by falling back on our fail-safe mantras is that our job ads are marketing our companies. They’re an opportunity in disguise, disguised by our philosophies and insistence that it’s “just a job.”

The Problematic Path: Personalities and Fear

Shifting into this marketing mindset starts with really knowing the audience and understanding where they spend their time online. Instead of researching “where to search for Java candidates” it’s doing a search to find Java communities and comparing popularity. It’s about going to different corners of the cave and discovering new people versus following the path everyone else uses.

Then, marketers test that theory. They use marketing pixels (a little slice of code that tracks where people go) to prove their strategies. To see if someone is actually doing what we expect them to do and if not, where they’re going instead. It’s about refining and retargeting instead of using the same recycled model.

Those expectations are typically designed with a persona in marketing. Unfortunately, starting from their inception, job ads are typically created with no personas in mind. Marketing personas, or recruiting personas as they’re translated here, are really just stories to tell about the types of candidate you want to hire. It’s evaluating what motivates and inspires them versus taking a one-dimensional approach of creating broad stroke statements that generically describe what could be their life’s work. The reality is that our job descriptions take passion and dull them into a bunch of adjectives and nouns that mean nothing to someone from the outside looking in. They focus on the work, not the demographics, psychographic and behavioral data that is so readily available with the addition of a few technology hacks like marketing pixels.

Why do we try to write without personas? My best guess is that we’re scared. We’re scared to be transparent about who we really want for fear of discrimination claims or bias to come through. We’re scared to put what we really want on the line for fear we might screw up and lose a great candidate because we were too passionate and bold, but I digress.

Programmatic: Making The Most of Data

There’s so much more to truly embrace marketing practices for recruiting but just by taking these initial steps – knowing where and who – we’re already on a better path to finding the right candidate for our jobs because we actually know a thing or two about these people. We’re tapping into a data set that can help us make better budgeting decisions when it comes down to the whole “spray and pray” job distribution method.  

Using just this top level data, we can make decisions. We can start to track paths and understand where our best candidates are coming from. Plus, we can start to work backwards into advertising wisely.

That pixel I mentioned earlier delivers the big data we really need to improve and make decisions about advertising with more information. We call it programmatic advertising. At its most fundamental level, programmatic advertising is the automated process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange. Basically, advertisers open up their inventory and let you buy in at better prices. What makes it smart is all the intelligence and algorithms that go into making those decisions based on activity on your site instead of just a whim.

You’re probably wondering why you’d take the risk of trusting the computers to do your job, considering the current model might work.  There are a lot of reasons, beyond just working smarter not harder:

  1. You can target your budget goals more closely – Programmatic advertising keeps working even after you’ve booked the ad. It’s optimizing for applies instead of clicks and increasing overall ROI.
  2. It’s cost-effective – With programmatic, you have the ability to adjust your budget in real time based on results instead of pouring your money into something that isn’t working.
  3. You can gain more customer insights – Learn more about your audience to build effective personas. Programmatic technology is continually gathering data based on the type of candidates that apply to your jobs.
  4. It makes media buying easier– Forget the acronym complications and researching things like RFIs, RFQs & RFPs. Instead, spend more time focusing on the next steps and following up with candidates.
  5. It’s scalable – Programmatic allows you to to reach a larger audience across multiple websites and touch points in a timely and efficient manner.

Starting at the top means less time spent throughout the process and less time trying to market and recruit. It means paying per application versus paying per ad, in the case of Jobs2Careers.


Katrina Kibben is Managing Editor of 

j2c-iconAuthor’s Note: This content was sponsored by Jobs2Careers who first made recruitment industry news when it offered Pay-Per-Application as a job advertising solution. From there, their offerings have only gotten better. Jobs2Careers is now taking that efficiency one step further by predicting how many candidates a single job can reach, the number of applications expected, and the budget needed. Then the technology does the work. Jobs2Careers programmatically places the job ad into the marketplace, reaching the right candidates at the right time.


By Katrina Kibben

RecruitingDaily contributing writer and editor.  I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today's global employers.