hr resumeRecruiting and HR is basically a perpetual balancing act. We’re asked to juggle being equal parts psychologist, peacekeeper, business partner, and now, we’re supposed to be marketers, too. Crazy, I know.

That’s a pretty big ask for a professional population who, by and large, have no formal education or academic background in any of these areas. It’s only fair to assume, then, that mistakes (or, as HR people like to call them, “learning opportunities) are going to happen. It’s the only inevitability in our industry other than change.

The key is to make sure those mistakes are minimized when yet another responsibility is heaped upon an already overstacked professional portfolio. Those responsibilities increasingly entail recruitment marketing and employer branding – where those inevitable mistakes can be painfully public.

So, what’s today’s talent professional to do when they suddenly find themselves forced to become marketers, too? The key is to break down the silo and look outside the world of HR for a little inspiration – and direction – to avoid any blunders. Here’s how to actually make this “learning opportunity” into a lesson plan for developing and executing a talent attraction strategy.

Recruitment Marketing Mistake #1: The Truth, and Nothing But the Whole Truth


Adam Levine is a pretty good looking guy (at least in my opinion – and I know I’m not alone in thinking that, either). Unfortunately, the picture on the left shows what happens when you try to embellish something that’s already attractive a little too much.

Thanks, Photoshop guy, for taking a perfectly good set of abs and completely erasing them (and his entire midsection, for that matter).

This ad – and the litany of others like it – recently went viral on social media, but for all the wrong reasons. Trust me, this is not a good look on anybody (even Adam).

Don’t be afraid to be you. Erasing all signs of your company culture and the authentic personalities of the people responsible for shaping that culture will only come back to bite you. And, chances are, if you choose to sanitize your employer brand, then you won’t even be remembered for the wrong reasons – you’ll be ignored entirely. Which kind of defeats the point.

Embrace what makes you unique. If you’re a little weird, that’s OK, too – just as long as you stay true to who you are and show what working for your company really looks like. No Photoshop required.

DO lose the stock images, overused buzzwords and generic corporate copy that’s lost any modicum of meaning or emotional connection. For your audience to remember you, you’ve got to tell a story that really resonates with the targeted talent your employer needs – and nothing works better than keeping it real. For real.

Recruitment Marketing Mistake #2: Refreshing The Real Thing

unnamed (1)You probably recognize the logo on the right – after all, it’s the world’s biggest brand. But you might not have seen it like this before – and the fact that something as simple as switching from red to blue threw you off or confused you for a minute should show how important brand consistency really is. If you can’t get your messaging, branding and logos straight, you’re only going to confuse (and likely repel) the same talent you’re looking to attract.

Don’t be that guy. Candidates today don’t just check out your career site or reading job board posts – they’re combing through your social sites, reading through your Glassdoor reviews and digging up any digital dirt they can find on your organization to get as much information as possible on your organization’s DNA. Most of the time, that due diligence happens before they even hit apply. Chances are, if you’re presenting conflicting stories about your employer brand, then they’re not going to apply. Plus, this inconsistency isn’t just unprofessional – it’s sloppy, too.

Do clearly communicate the same consistent messaging and deliver the same voice, brand identity and look across channels and all forms of communication. Know who you are, what you want to say and how you’re going to say it – and continually deliver on that brand promise. A/B testing is one thing – A/Z testing just looks like you’re throwing up crap to see if it works. Hint: it never does.

Recruitment Marketing Mistake #3: Engage And Repel

Brand-Failure #1 WaitingSo, you’ve built a brand across platforms, spent beaucoup bucks on products and services to support your strategies and finally gotten the eyeballs you hoped would find you in the first place. Maybe some of them even convert and turn into candidates. Then, suddenly, you disappear – no follow ups, no engagement, no nothing. It’s a disaster waiting to happen (and almost always does).

Don’t be the talent acquisition team that leaves your candidates hanging, or only follows up with some automated, cookie-cutter message. Remember: automation can never replace personalization – and there’s no technology that trumps the human touch.

Remember that every applicant has invested time and energy in your organization – and the least you can do is reciprocate by letting them know when they’re no longer in process.

Do unto others – hey, it might sound cliche, but it’s called the Golden Rule for good reason. A little courtesy goes a long way – and a little communication is the least you can do to recognize their efforts, even if they’re not ultimately successful. Keep your candidates in the loop, and, if at all possible, you might even consider giving them some feedback or a few pointers.

They won’t hold it against you. They’ll probably love you for it.

Recruitment Marketing Mistake #4: Why You Gotta Be So Complicated?

unnamed (2)The only people who like complexity are emo kids and teenage girls who think “complex” is a characteristic that somehow makes for a good boyfriend. Oh yeah, and consultants, of course. But we know how those stories all end – with a whole lot of heartbreak (and bitterness, to boot).

Don’t make your application and interview process into some sort of obstacle course or Japanese game show. You don’t want your candidates to feel like they’re looking for buried treasure or trying to defeat the Nothing – which is what happens when just getting a resume submitted feels like The Neverending Story before the actual hiring process even begins. You won’t only lose applicants – you’ll lose customers and clients, too.

Do keep it simple, stupid. Make your application process as streamlined and straightforward as possible, with as few steps required as you can. A one click apply is kind of like a dream come true compared to most candidates’ experience with draconian HCM systems. Seriously. Work towards this – your systems should support you rather than control you (and your candidates).

Forget what’s new or what’s next. Don’t get blinded by the glare of some flashy new technology or hot feature you don’t really need if it means adding any extra steps. If your process requires a GPS to navigate, then get lost.

Now, I’m not saying you’re not going to make any mistakes. But at least if you can keep from committing these four biggest mistakes, you’ll avoid the biggest (and costliest) ones any nascent marketing professional can make. Particularly if that marketing happens to be related to talent acquisition.

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About the Author: Bridget Webb is a Recruitment and Marketing enthusiast, leader, and speaker. Her specialties include Demand Generation (customers & talent), People Analytics, Employer Branding, HR Technology and homeroom mom duties.

She graduated with a degree in Design and Business Management from the University of Montevallo and currently resides in South Carolina.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @Webb_Bridget or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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