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Staffing and Marketing: What Two Industries Can Learn From Each Other

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I’ve worked in the marketing industry for about a decade. I’ve worked for universities, lawyers, and more before finding my place at HiringSolved. I came to HiringSolved knowing nothing about the hiring process outside of what I’d experienced as a candidate. Still, since day one, I’ve been struck by similarities between staffing and marketing.

But it’s not just our similarities that are striking – it’s our differences. In recent months, I’ve found myself pulling marketing ideas from staffing teams and seeing staffing teams pull ideas from marketing.

In this blog post, I wanted to dive deeper into what these two industries can learn from each other.

Are Staffing and Marketing Really That Similar?

Katrina Kibben’s LinkedIn post about recruiting and marketing first caught my eye and got me thinking about this, and I think they explained it perfectly.

“Marketing is not recruiting. Yeah, I said it and I’d argue that with anyone. If recruiting *is* a marketing job? It’s the hardest one in the world.

Marketers try to get 1% of the world to know about a brand. Recruiters take the whole world and break it down to 1. When you’re trying to do that work? You need to spend your time on the efforts that matter most, not some roadmap or plan. Marketers can do that – you as recruiters have to adjust in real-time to hiring needs.”

Katrina Kibben

In my past four years at HiringSolved, I’ve had a courtside seat to ways in which marketing and staffing beg, borrow, and steal from each other. I’ve seen the tips on LinkedIn, the video clips circulating on Instagram promising results that I’m not even sure the creator got from some of the tactics, and the off-putting claims that “staffing and recruiting is really just marketing.” (Spoiler: No, it’s not.)

The Similarities

While we may not be the same, staffing and marketing have some particular similarities almost across the board.

An Understanding of People and a Bit of Psychology: It’s important to know that our industries are people businesses. To be successful, you need to understand people. What makes them tick? Why do they want to reach out? What is the most important thing to them, and how can you help them reach it?

Value Propositions and “What’s In It For Me?” Mentalities: With that in mind, most marketers and recruiters need to work with the “What’s in it for me?” mentality that all leads and candidates have. Sometimes it requires empathy and sometimes just a bit of creative thinking, but successful marketers and recruiters are excellent at putting themselves in another person’s shoes.

Respect for Journeys and Touchpoints: Whether the candidate’s journey or the buyer’s, you need to grasp how people move into and through your process and what communication you’re touching them with.

The Differences

Goals: As Kat mentioned, as a marketer, I’m trying to get as many eyes as possible on a campaign. As a recruiter, you need to find that one person. While we’re both looking for people, the goalpost is in an entirely different place.

Plans and Roadmaps: To quote again from above, “You need to spend your time on the efforts that matter most, not some roadmap or plan. Marketers can do that – you as recruiters have to adjust in real-time to hiring needs.”

Marketing is a long game. If a campaign gets a conversion in a 3-month window, I call it a success. If you, as a recruiter, take three months to get a hire, I doubt “success” is the word you’re using.

You need to be able to adjust in real-time to the most ever-changing thing in the world: people.

Emotional Investment: While this isn’t to say that marketers don’t care, there has never been a more emotionally invested group of people I’ve ever worked with than recruiters. 

I might be writing tweets, but you’re changing lives.

All of this said, there’s always more we can learn from each other.

What Marketing Can Learn From Staffing

Alright, fellow marketers, I’m putting us in the spotlight first. There are some things that staffing recruiters just nail while we’re still fighting over the campaign budget. 

Here’s what we can learn from them:

It All Comes Down to Personal Connection

Recruiters are incredible at building personal connections and relationships (when they have the time and space to do so). We see all the time that the most valuable campaigns we can create are the ones that build personal connections. Whether through being funny and human on Twitter or through a resource that focuses on people, not products, we produce more positivity, trust, and value when we make personal connections and relationships.

Sometimes You Just Need One

Staffing recruiters are always looking for one person to fill a role perfectly. They’ll find a silver or bronze medalist just to be safe, but they’re looking for the one. In marketing, we often base our success on how many people see something we’ve created. The more, the better.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s good to remember that sometimes we just need the right person to see it at the right time.

Invest in Your Database

Along the lines of personal connection, staffing teams and recruiters understand the value of their databases. They’ve spent years cultivating their ATS, Rolodexes, email list, phone contacts…whichever database they use; they know how to work it. As marketers, we’re sometimes so focused on growing that we forget to invest in where we already are. 

For example, if you already have an email list of 80,000 people, instead of running a followers campaign, you rather focus on moving that list through the funnel or rewarm them with an automated nurture campaign.

What Staffing Can Learn From Marketing

If marketing can learn from staffing, there’s no doubt that staffing can also learn from marketing.

Automation Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

If there’s one thing the marketing industry took to like a fish to water, it’s automation. When we’re aiming to get as many eyes as possible on something, we know there’s no way we can spend the time it requires to individually create emails, social posts, and more without it.

Staffing may use different kinds of automation (your team might be more interested in verifying data rather than sending automated nurture emails), but the process of implementing it is similar. You should always start with understanding the value of automation and only implement it to augment your existing skills rather than replace them.

Let’s be honest: Nothing will ever replace humans. But automation can help you spend time on the things that matter and less time on the administrative side.

Aim For Delight

HubSpot uses a flywheel system to define the buyer’s journey as stages: Attract, Engage, and Delight. All too often, we all get stuck on simply completing a task. The goal is just to get it done.

But the aim should be to delight.

As a staffing firm, you need your clients to come back. You need your candidates to want to continue working with you. You need to build relationships that are longer than a single contract, and aiming for delight is the way to do that.

Content, Content, Content

I know, I know, it’s so out of the blue to hear a content marketer tell you that staffing firms should work on their content marketing, but it’s true!

Bullhorn has a great article about what sort of content candidates are looking for from staffing teams, which is a great place to start.

But maybe you want to use content to attract new clients as well. Markitors has some suggestions on getting started.

Content is a simple resource that can help your firm attract candidates, engage clients, and explore your own expertise. Don’t forget that it’s not just blogging content that’s valuable! That LinkedIn post from your top recruiter? That’s content! That outreach email template with the highest response rate you’ve ever seen? That’s content, too!

If you feel the time doesn’t exist in the day to create new content, that’s totally understandable. Repurposing or even just resharing content can be a great way to ensure you consistently post and share without a massive time investment.

Whether you learn from our similarities or our differences, staffing and marketing can be a resource for each other. 

And in a world where we need a little more connection, who are we to ignore a chance to learn?