If you’ve ever worked on a campaign — whether it was for sales, marketing or even politics — you know your message matters. From word choice to imagery and iconography, you need to get the nuance just right so the message attracts your target audience

The same is true of recruiting and hiring campaigns, which require the right blend of branding, marketing, sourcing and selection to find the ideal person for the job. But how do you know if your message is actually resonating with candidates? 

Take these three steps to find out, and to craft a recruitment message that really works:

1. Ask job seekers and employees

Despite the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating the message, organizations don’t always validate; they often simply assume. As a result, the “secret” to killer recruitment messaging involves asking both candidates and employees what they think.

Your goal is to get actionable input on how the person knows your brand.

Your messaging should be written in pencil, never in pen — and obtaining this feedback should be a relentless, ongoing pursuit.

Like your outreach, the recruitment message needs to continually evolve to reach new job seekers through new outlets. And evolution is key here, as the status quo is anything but static. Be careful to strike the right tone so your message aligns with what’s happening in the moment (like the pandemic, for example). 

To collect the necessary feedback, consider posing a variety of questions, such as: 

  • What do you think of our brand? 
  • What do you think of our message? 
  • What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Why?
  • What part of our message makes you want to work here (or not)? Why? 
  • What can we do better? 

Try to keep the questioning positive, but honest. You can address the subject in conversations with candidates and employees, or send periodic micro-surveys. Either way, your goal is to get actionable input on how the person knows your brand, what they think of it and what you can do to improve your messaging. 

2. Raise your self-awareness

Learning what you can do better gives you a choice: Leverage this feedback and update your recruitment messaging to reflect what you’ve discovered, or do nothing. You don’t have to take the advice of candidates and colleagues, but you should at least consider it.

Recognize the value that outside voices bring to the conversation.

The fact is, even the best messages don’t always hit the mark once they reach their target audience. And chances are, you’ll quickly learn that certain parts of your recruitment message resonate more than others. 

Maybe candidates will want more information about your stance on diversity and inclusion, or employees will disagree with how you frame the corporate culture. Awareness is about becoming open to these opinions. 

Recognize the value that outside voices bring to the conversation; if you remain aware, you can learn something from every interaction. Put processes in place for analyzing the information and deciding what action to take. 

3. Take action

Action can take many forms: You might revise your messaging framework, bringing in a third-party resource to offer additional guidance. You could update your existing careers site and recruiting materials.

Think small, incremental changes coupled with a consistent feedback loop.

Maybe you’ll implement a new feedback process, asking candidates to grade your job descriptions and rate your recruiters. Or perhaps you’ll look to Deming’s philosophy of Total Quality Management, instituting a “vigorous program” of self-improvement for your entire workforce. 

Ultimately, action is what you make of it. Meet internally to discuss the options and determine what’s most likely to move the needle. Even if your recruitment messaging didn’t land, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do a complete overhaul. 

Instead, select a few findings that are feasible to implement right now, and make those changes first: Think small, incremental changes coupled with a consistent feedback loop.

It could be as simple as scheduling a photo shoot to replace stock images with real shots from around the office, then surveying candidates and workers on your website’s new look and feel. Messaging is a critical component of recruiting and hiring, and it’s never “one and done.” By following these steps, you can make your recruitment messaging reflect the great things your organization has to offer.


William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.