It’s become painfully evident to hiring professionals that a “perfect storm” of factors – low unemployment, diverse emerging values, and the COVID-19 pandemic among them – have given rise to a ferociously competitive hiring market. These have had an impact across every industry, but it could be said that recruiters have had to become even more diligent when it comes to the professional services sector.
There are a number of additional factors that have to be considered when recruiting for professional services (e.g., Finance, Legal, Insurance, Marketing) that are distinctive to courting candidates in these industries. These directly impact the nature of recruiting for this sector and, consequently, the forms and messaging within a company’s recruitment advertising.
This article will address the steps to creating and refining recruitment advertising and how to create recruitment content and strategies that appeal to professional services talent, as well as best practices for organic and paid recruitment advertising.
Persona Building: The Right Way
People in professional services industries are, well, professionals, and recruitment marketers need to be mindful of this aspect from the start. These individuals generally have a higher level of education, are well-read and well-informed, and need to be engaged at that level when it comes to recruiting. Thus, recruitment marketers create candidate personas around individuals in the industries mentioned above in order to effectively relate to them.
Talent professionals need to realize that hiring for professional services roles is a specialized task. Each industry will have its own unique characteristics, but those in professional services sectors require a particularly thoughtful, polished approach.
In creating a candidate persona, the main areas to consider will be:
- The unique traits for personas in the professional services industry
- Best practices for building a persona
- Building a marketing/messaging strategy once the persona is built
The mindset and self-perception of people in professional services are actually factors relating to the first two bullet points above. As mentioned earlier, the education level and awareness of people in these industries necessitates that they shouldn’t feel they’re being “talked down to,” for example. Many, if not most, have reached a substantial level of accomplishment. In other words, they don’t have their hats in hand despite the fact that they happen to be seeking a new position, even if they’re early in their careers.
Candidates in these industries should feel that they’re going into an environment where they’re going to be treated in a manner commensurate with their experience.
Understanding Goals & Motivators
It’s critical to understand the goals and motivators of this audience so that the hiring professional can create relatable content for them and build out the media plan. In general, this entails knowing who these people are, what they want and what they care about, what their career goals are, and so forth. For example, those in legal services (i.e., attorneys) are often very focused on long-term career-building, so this aspect absolutely should be addressed in recruitment advertising where these individuals are the target market.
Where Are Candidates Engaging With Media?
Knowledge of where candidates are engaging with all media types is critical. If a company is trying to capture the attention of any candidate, there’s no advantage to placing ad dollars where the candidates aren’t. This is even more important in the case of candidates in the professional services realm, since in many cases, they can be more particular about which venues they frequent.
Those in some professional services may be more likely to have a stronger presence on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, as opposed to TikTok and Instagram. Are there any specialty trade platforms or message boards available for people in their industry? Determining where they are will be a box checked in building the persona. Bear in mind that this may have variances across different professional services industries.
Engage Current Employees
This is an information-gathering technique that’s gaining more and more popularity among employers for achieving various objectives. Interviewing current employees to determine online venues they frequent, and where and how they found the company is a great tool for persona building. This is a fairly straightforward proposition; companies will want to put their advertising dollars where they know candidates are spending time. Most employees are happy to provide this sort of information, and it will reflect a very accurate representation of where candidates can be reached right now.
Understand And Build Rapport With The Audience
Understanding the talent pool helps to build a relationship with that audience. As mentioned earlier, many of those in professional services have a higher level of education, so language is key. Slang and colloquialisms may be less likely to appeal to these candidates.
By understanding the audience the company is seeking, hiring professionals can use the candidate persona to build the media plan – since knowing the audience can help companies create targeted and specific messaging or content. For example, professional services candidates are very hard skills focused, so they may relate far more to messaging that addresses their economic well-being or long-term career growth.
Understanding the audience will also provide insight into how candidates are likely to relate to the employer brand overall. Insight into that will provide deeper insights into how to refine the messaging those candidates receive.
Tip: The candidate persona is a reasoned, researched representation of a company’s ideal job candidate. Partnering with Recruitics can help companies build intuitive personas and effective media plans!
Organic vs. Paid Social
There are discrete advantages to employing organic social or paid social. In general, organic social helps promote brand awareness and community-building. It also helps to share the company culture, brand, and impart the kind of information candidates are seeking when they’re looking to learn more about a company. Paid social is useful for targeting specific audiences, finding new audiences, and retargeting people a company may have already interacted with in the past.
Know The Social Presence
Here, a comprehensive awareness of where a company is currently and where the audience brand perception stands is essential. Knowing the present state of the company’s brand and what is and is not working in its current social media marketing will help to build the media plan – but only if the recruiting professional knows where the audience is engaging!
In the case of organic social, it’s more passive, but the effect can be significant. This is where industry professionals or companies post information knowing that people are going to follow them and/or gain information about the candidate or company – such as career growth content or interview prep tips. Here, examples would be LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.
With paid social, companies are targeting a specific audience, but the media is disseminated across a wider area (since it’s paid). Ideal venues for paid social include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google search. Since these platforms offer the ability to target, companies can apply ads to more channels than they would with organic content.
Circling back to the hard skills nature of professional services jobs: This being the case, recruiters should remember that the venues candidates frequent are ones they’re using to leverage. Regardless of where they happen to be employed at a given time, many are actively career-building, and these are the places they go to network. LinkedIn is a great example of this – which is why companies should leverage platforms where the candidates are, where they go to learn, and where they go to network. Recruitment marketers should also be mindful that since these are not soft skills jobs (like warehousing) and require certain expertise and qualifications, avenues such as LinkedIn and Google search ads might be best for these industries.
Types Of Content
Keeping in mind that there will be subtle differences across industries such as Finance, Legal, Insurance and Marketing, there are a few tried-and-true content types that have emerged as being highly effective.
Today, video is working very well in both organic and paid social. For organic social, dynamic content is the best bet. While a lot of planning and strategy need to go into this kind of content, it’s much more relatable and easier for candidates to see themselves in a role at a company. Paid social advertising should contain a mix of employee stories, video, and static, as these have shown excellent results when recruiting candidates for professional services.
Tip: Today, there’s a lot of TikTok content in niche industries (ex: marketing or finance tips). TikTok is an emerging social platform in the talent sphere to lean on, and while it tends to be a favorite of younger folks, many people of all ages and persuasions engage with this platform because it’s very engaging. Companies should consider leaning into creating content on TikTok – since this can go a long way when companies know where their audience is!
As always, it is prudent to test what a given audience responds best to, remembering that (for example) what works best for attorneys might have to be tweaked in order to appeal to a financial planner or marketing executive.
In short, best practices for recruiting professional services candidates entails making sure that targeting is on point so that recruiters are hitting the right audience, with relevant content that speaks specifically to their roles.
Is your organization looking to refine their persona building and craft effective media plans for candidates in professional services? Feel free to contact Recruitics today!