Attracting talent used to be more cut and dried than it is now. If you were looking for talent, you would put an ad in the (actually physical) paper, or you’d depend on the word of mouth of suppliers and employees to get your request out there. Then along came the Internet, and it changed absolutely everything. Suddenly, there were job boards and search engines, social media and career sites, ratings sites, not to mention online ads.

Today, employers looking to hire are faced with lots of candidates and lots of ways to reach them. Employers have far more choices and more channels, but we all know from personal experience that not every channel is the same — otherwise, we’d all be using the same ones.

What do you use Facebook for? What about Twitter? Do you need a Pinterest board to reach those over-the-road truck drivers? Each channel serves its own purpose.

But it’s much more than that — when you focus on jobs, it gets more complicated. Veterinarians, engineers, and airline assistants are all very different jobs with very different skill sets. One strategy for reaching job candidates may not work for all careers or all the different levels within a career. And some professions are more active on specific channels than others, so it’s even more difficult to come up with a strategy. How can you determine which channels are appropriate for your candidate audiences?

Events? Channel. Referrals? Channel. Social? Channel. Review sites? You get the idea.

My first not-so-secret is source tracking by owned channels so you can tell where your engagement comes from. This includes low-intent engagement like social interaction all the way to high-intent engagement like clicking on the Apply button. Not sure where to start? Talk to your recruiting operations team who holds the keys to your ATS and career site to get the data.

To find out how industry leaders tackle this problem, I recently chatted with employer brand leaders at Delta Air Lines, T-Mobile, Banfield Pet Hospital and the consulting firm Proactive Talent to get their take. Here are a few of their secrets.

Driving applications vs. telling the best possible story

James Ellis, Podcaster and Lead Employer Brand Consultant, Proactive Talent

There are two ways to approach this question: Which channels will drive applications, and which channels will allow us to tell the best possible story?

The answer depends on which direction you lean. If you are living in a transactional world, where your goal is to herd candidates toward the Apply button to stuff the top of your funnel like a turkey in mid-November, look at where your candidates are and push, push, push.

Or, if you understand that we live in a “volunteer” world (when there are more jobs than people, and people don't take jobs but volunteer to join your mission), your goal is to tell the most compelling story, to deliver the most interesting and sticky reason "why." Once you have them hooked, the means of application is a formality.

So can you tell your story on Twitter? Do it. Can you deliver a meaningful "why" on WhatsApp? Do it. Video driven? Enjoy your time in Facebook and other powerful video channels. Have abundant people who live on forums and are deeply engaged? Go engage and get them to fall in love with your story.

Different channels have different audiences, so make sure your efforts align

Noelle Holdsworth, Employer Brand Manager at T-Mobile

We seek to align everything we do as an Employer Brand team to the candidate funnel and the business’s needs. From the initial attraction, whether it be our social channels or digital ads, we focus our content on our culture and our corporate identity as a leader in wireless and the tech industry.

The numbers tell us that different channels have different audiences, and so we tailor our messaging to fit that — for instance, we have a larger audience of current and potential frontline sales and customer care employees on Facebook and Instagram. We work hard to align and partner our efforts with the consumer-facing teams for consistent messaging and design across T-Mobile’s channels.

Research your target audience and build personas

Holland McCue, Head of Global Employer Branding at Delta Air Lines

The Employer Branding function at Delta is new, so we are just starting to define our inbound strategy. My first step in approaching our channel strategy is taking time to research and understand our target audiences and core personas within.

One exercise we went through as a team was mapping our candidate journey, starting with awareness, consideration and decision, against our macro personas — corporate, high volume and internal — to inform process design.

Right now my focus is on optimizing current investments and incremental lift of experience across the board, but that exercise has provided a framework for me to do the same against personas like tech, flight attendants, etc., and build an inbound strategy for each as we advance our function.

The importance of partnerships

Allison Dunsmore, Senior Specialist Employer Branding at Banfield Pet Hospital

We are in such a unique position as a corporate veterinary practice. We are set up like a big box retailer, but we offer a medical service. This can make connecting with our desired audiences challenging at times. We also have to be cognizant that veterinary medicine is still dominated by private practices where veterinarians run in small circles within their local communities.

A lot of what we do is trial and error, and we’ve found that depending on our own associates through focus groups and one-on-one conversations helps us direct our efforts. It’s been determined that we’re most successful when we partner with industry partners and organizations who facilitate job boards and career opportunity posting platforms. We’ve also begun to build out our social strategy focusing on Facebook and Instagram posting and advertising.


So that’s what our experts say — but what do you think? As we can see, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation where you put an ad up on Facebook and wait for the talent to come rolling in.

And while it may take some testing and experimentation (and then some more testing and experimentation), you’re likely to find that the more thought you put into it, the better the results will be. Really think about who you are trying to reach and where they’re likely to hang out online, then start connecting.

Happy hiring!