In today’s tight labor market, recruiters need innovative tactics to increase awareness of their open roles and reach the right candidates. So why not take a page from the marketing playbook?

You’ve likely heard about the “talent pipeline.” In marketing, there is something similar: a customer journey "funnel." But whereas a pipeline has the same width in all its phases (and can get blocked or overwhelmed!), the marketing funnel is split into stages that grow progressively narrower as you move closer to the moment of purchase — or, in the world of hiring, the moment the candidate becomes an employee.

At the top of the funnel comes awareness. In this post, we’re going to look at how applying some marketing techniques to increase job seeker awareness of your jobs can positively impact your inbound recruitment success, reducing resume screening time while increasing the number of quality applicants.  

Know your audience

When you advertise a job, you can wind up with a lot of resumes to look through, but many of those applicants may not have the skills you’re looking for. You can waste a lot of time searching for the right match in the pile.

Targeted advertising can cut down on this frustration, as it shows ads to people who are more likely to be interested in the product — in this case, your jobs — based on criteria such as work experience, online behavior or location.

Knowing your audience is key here. Think about your ideal candidates and the different characteristics that define them. What skills do they have? What interests? Where do they hang out online?

Answering these questions will help you create job ads that target specific audiences based on demographics and behavior.

Two types of targeted advertising

Let’s take a quick look at how this works in a recruiting context.

Demographic targeting serves ads based on the job experience and backgrounds of the people you’re trying to reach.

  • How it works: Social media channels typically allow users to input their current and past work experience on their profiles. If this data has been filled in, the social channel will be able to serve ads only to people with a job title you’re looking for.
  • Example: If you're hiring a Registered Nurse (RN) with experience for a new ward, you can increase awareness by serving your ad to all social media users who have "RN" listed in their work history on their profiles. This broadens the scope of your audience beyond the requests you would normally get from people simply landing on your job site after hearing that you are hiring or opening a new ward.

Meanwhile, behavioral targeting serves ads to those who exhibit similar online behaviors as the people you're trying to reach — say, reading articles about nursing online — but who haven’t included this information on their profiles.

  • How it works: Social media channels keep data in relation to each person’s profile. They then use this stored data to match an audience to your targeting criteria via their custom algorithm.
  • Example: People who work 9-to-5 jobs may be more likely to browse social media channels before and after working hours, Monday through Friday. 
If you want to reach these people, you can set your ads to be displayed only before 9am and after 5pm on these days. Social platforms can further refine the people who see that ad by referencing stored data about the times of day people are online.

Of course, this is just to get you started. You can go a lot deeper by researching behaviors or marketing insights online and learning from the performance of your ads

Use a variety of channels for your targeted ads

Deciding where to advertise is also key. Think about the channels most used by the job seekers you're trying to reach and prioritize advertising there.

Here are some channels you can begin with:

1. Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

By using social media to place ads on people’s feeds about an open position you can reach both inactive and active job seekers. These ads will be placed in the feeds of people who meet certain characteristics or the targeting criteria we discussed above.

Inactive job seekers are people who are not actively searching for a job. They will be served your ad because their interest in past content on social media or their behaviors match your targeting criteria.

Active job seekers are those who are looking and applying to jobs and are targeted on social media because of their recent job search behavior. (Learn more about social media recruiting tips and strategies here.)

2. Indeed Targeted Ads | Apply

Using a digital advertising solution such as ITA | Apply allows you to reach active job seekers who may not have been aware of your role or company otherwise.  It serves your job via a digital ad to qualified job seekers on based on behavioral data.

Let’s look back at the nursing example above: If a job seeker has just submitted a registered nursing application to a neighboring hospital, they can now be served an ad for your open position. For more information, check out the ebook (and here’s an example of how a major retail firm, Hobby Lobby, used the solution to reduce their cost-per-hire by 50%).

Once you’ve mastered these you can also look into the possibility of using display ads: banners or clickable ads on websites that drive traffic to your job or site. Or you can use behavioral targeting to simply place display ads on sites with content aimed at nurses or health care practitioners, driving traffic to open nursing roles.


Integrating targeted advertising helps capture potential applicants at the initial “awareness” stage of their job search, allowing recruiters to more easily identify talent — and increase inbound recruiting success.

Becoming an expert in marketing strategies won‘t happen overnight, but by using the tactic of targeted advertising and applying it to your inbound recruiting, you should see results almost immediately.

Looking for a deeper dive into targeted advertising on Indeed? Click below to get started.

Happy hiring!

Carmen Bryant is Director of Marketing, US at Indeed.