Recruiting Trends: The Value of Combining Paid & Earned Media

Sheridan Gaenger
September 23 ․ 8 min read

 recruiting trendsUndeniably, the Internet is the primary driver of sourcing for today’s recruiting departments. Yet, how companies use the Web to find job candidates still varies, especially in the way job seekers learn about openings, companies, and, perhaps most importantly, your brand. Some recruiting trends point to earned media as the key to attracting and connecting with the best talent—let your content, postings, and online presence speak for the brand. Alternatively, some recruiting departments believe that paid media is the way to go.

Paid Media: Posts that you’ve paid for such as display ads, job boards, and social media ads.

Earned Media: Posts, articles, or mentions you’ve received through word-of-mouth including sharing content, being on social media, and your employer brand.

However, here’s a statistic that bucks both these recruiting trends and, if anything, fuels a dynamic strategy that companies can use for the future: 46 percent of Google users can’t tell the difference between paid ads and organic results. The temptation is to assume going in one media direction or another doesn’t matter, but a bigger revelation emerges—using a combination of both paid and earned media offers a powerful recruiting tactic for 2016 and beyond. Here are some ways how:

Be Where Your Candidates Spend Time

In this candidate-owned job market, sitting back and waiting for job seekers to come to you could leave you waiting indefinitely. One of the top challenges for recruitment departments becomes: How to be where the candidates are—both active job seekers and prospects who aren’t quite yet looking for something new? How to be memorable? How to rise above the noise?

Today, these candidates are all over the digital landscape, influencing companies’ hiring tactics to approach candidate engagement with a new lens—one that is widespread—casting a larger net to capture potential hires. With that in mind, a social media presence becomes mandatory so that candidates have a familiar place to go in order to learn about your company at any and every stage of their interest (and even after they have been hired). Frequent updates make their way to job seekers, who in turn know where to visit to keep tabs on you.

Whether you are considering paid and/or earned social media, start with defining exactly where your target audience spends time. For B2B organizations, it might make sense to spend money on LinkedIn ads versus a retail outlet with a large following which might find regular Facebook posts are the best avenue for reaching job seekers. After figuring out the where and how, determine who internally will tackle each channel, whether those responsibilities are delegated across employees or just one person who tackles it all.

Leverage Paid Media in a Hyper-Targeted Way

While recruiting departments often think about paid and earned media as an either/or, studies have found that utilizing both can actually be more effective. For example, one study showed that offering pay-per-click (PPC) ads alongside organic search results in Google actually lifted organic conversion rates an average of 35 percent.

One great way to leverage paid media is through retargeted ads. Retargeting is accepted today across the Internet and is becoming one of the hottest recruiting trends. Here is how it works: Potential candidates visit your company’s homepage, career site, or social media pages, and upon later visits to Web (not just your pages), they are presented with paid ads announcing postings, encouraging them to learn more about your company, returning them to your career site, and so on.

In this way, earned media draws job seekers to your content and nurtures them, and paid media reminds them not to forget you—even if they aren’t actively looking for new employment.

If you follow the recruiting trend of combining paid and earned media, you will need to know how well it’s working, as well as what strategies are performing better than others. Analytics can show you the comparative value of both kinds of media and if they are succeeding in tandem. Moreover, detailed metrics provide a blueprint on how to focus future efforts.

If paid media isn’t going over well with a certain demographic or your content just isn’t connecting with another group of prospects, the numbers will indicate that so you can adjust. Paid media means you pay for the effort; therefore, analytics offer a way to get the most from your investment and, ideally, save money in the long run.

This combination strategy we’ve outlined is meant to provide value, and you will see it in terms of better applicants hired in less time and at a greater cost efficiency.

As already stated, today’s recruiting landscape stretches across many different media—the omni-channel, if you will. Today’s job seeker has a new profile: they are modern, they are informed, they are socially-savvy, and they know how to multitask, aka be in many avenues all at once. Potential candidates might be learning about your company via an Internet search, job boards, social media, email campaigns, YouTube, and word of mouth. Or, they might simply be typing in your company’s career site and finding you directly. Whatever their preferred methods (and sometimes the methods vary and overlap based on demographic), you have plenty of avenues available to create unique, focused content, employ paid options, and connect with candidates.

Do you combine paid and earned media? Do you find the combination effective? Have you found one or the other to be more effective and why? 

 Insider's Guide to Reaching the Right Candidates