In his book “Outliers,” author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to become an expert in a field.

Since then, the theory has come under criticism. But even if that sounds like much too long for you (as it does for me), there’s no question that mastery or greatness doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires learning, understanding and strategic thinking about the subject at hand. And in this case, we’re talking about recruitment marketing and what it takes to do it right. 

Spoiler alert: it’s putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. This might sound simple enough, but considering how many templated messages get sent on a daily basis, it’s safe to say successful recruitment marketing requires a little more thought.

1. Develop personas, then tailor your marketing to candidate needs

By nature, recruitment marketing should be highly personalized and highly individualized. To achieve this, you need to know who you’re looking for and consult sourcing data for guidance. Once you have this information, develop personas by identifying the ideal candidate; determining where this person lives, works and hangs out online; and figuring out why they would want to work for your organization. And while these may sound like tough questions to answer, your marketing will be all the better after completing this exercise. 

See, once you have an idea of who you’re looking for, you can essentially pattern your recruitment marketing to suit their needs. Think of it like StitchFix for jobs, with you being the stylist in this scenario. You have a sense of who the potential candidate is and what they’re looking for from an employer. Your goal is to put a message in front of them that grabs their attention and makes them think about their career and the opportunities that are out there. 

2. Target your candidates one to one

Similarly, in creating these personas, you need to learn what makes your targets tick and develop drip campaigns that find them where they are online. You might go to an obvious channel like Facebook or Twitter, or maybe you need to think more expansively and look to Snapchat or even TikTok. Perhaps you need to add some music to your job descriptions to catch the eye of a creative Gen Zer. Point being, it’s these sorts of microexperiences that reinforce that candidate’s journey and leave them with a good feeling — as opposed to the frustration of receiving the aforementioned stock message that feels both impersonal and unwarranted. 

As recruitment marketers, we need to aim for “one to one,” not “one to many.” The latter is an all-too-common yet hopelessly misguided attempt at efficiency in place of effectiveness — and that’s no way to forge a relationship in 2019. 

3. Pay attention to tone and resonance

Once you have your tailoring and targeting down, it’s time to dig into the minutiae of your campaign. And here’s where those generational differences really come into play. 

For instance, if you’re talking to baby boomers, you’d want to demonstrate some respect for their level of experience and talk about what they’re seeking to do in the workplace. This might include a message such as “a job that’s perfect for where you are in your career.” For a younger millennial or Gen Zer fresh out of college, you might adjust the language and communicate more of “a gig that meets your needs and lets you hustle.” Your messaging should reflect different levels of experience, different career goals and different mind-sets.

Taking this a step further, you also need to think about your design, fonts and iconography. Ask a few Gen Xers if they have a Bitmoji, and chances are they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Ask them to solve a carefully curated visual riddle, and now you’ve got their attention. Every aspect of a great recruitment marketing campaign accounts for who, what and where you’re messaging. 

Additional things to consider

Somewhere in the time you spend putting all this together, there will be other factors that pop up — employer brand for one, and the employee value proposition (EVP) for another. You might be wondering why we didn’t talk about these earlier, and frankly, it’s because truly successful recruitment marketing puts the candidate first — ahead of all other priorities. Yes, you want them to know about your organization and why you’re so dang special; however, these are the secondary and tertiary messages layered and baked into your communications. Upfront, you want to connect with the candidate — and that happens when you put them first. 

Employer brand and EVP become increasingly important as the candidate moves through the marketing funnel, approaching the application (i.e., conversation) step in the process. But if you don’t woo them from the start, they’ll probably bail before they get that far. 

So before you get caught up trying to be the G.O.A.T. (that’s “greatest of all time,” folks) to everyone at once, get your tailoring, targeting and tone in order and then take it from there.

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.