Why recruitment companies need a CMO

In order to outpace the competition, recruiters need an agile and responsive marketing strategy, according to Gordon Burnes, CMO at recruitment software provider Bullhorn.

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Job boards used to be the dominant channel for sourcing candidates. However, the world of recruitment is changing – and rapidly so.

The range of channels available to recruiters is expanding, and job boards now have to compete with the likes of social media and search engines entering the market.

As the number of recruitment channels has increased, so too has the number of firms. According to information from Companies House, more than 900 new recruitment agencies launched in the UK last year. Given that this is the fastest rate of year-on-year growth seen to date, it’s clear that competition is fierce – and firms need to work harder than ever before to stand out.

Recruitment companies require strategic marketing leadership to successfully differentiate from the many other companies out there. A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) plays a crucial role here, leading the optimisation and delivery of complex marketing programs that help set the business apart.

However, too few firms have made room for a CMO. A recent Bullhorn survey of 99 recruitment companies revealed that 87% don’t have a CMO and 74% don’t have a Vice President of Marketing. What’s more, 45% said that their marketing leader does not manage a budget. A further 46% admitted to not having a coherent marketing strategy to guide them through the year ahead.

As new channels, new technologies, and new trends continue to redefine the recruitment industry, the role of the CMO will only increase in importance. Here’s how the CMO can make a real difference – and why competitive recruitment firms can’t do without one.

Identifying the right channels

It’s no longer feasible for firms to use a single channel – or message – when sourcing candidates. However, the landscape of modern marketing channels is overwhelmingly diverse – and not always easy to traverse. It’s the CMO’s responsibility to identify the channels best suited to the company’s needs, and subsequently to put the necessary organisational and technological infrastructure in place to optimise the delivery of cross-channel marketing programs.

Our survey shows that the top three marketing channels recruitment agencies are planning to allocate a higher budget to are: organic social media presence (cited by 60%), email marketing (50%), and job boards (also 50%). Conversely, the top three channels which will receive less budget are direct mail (cited by 37%), career fairs (36%), and pay per click job ads (34%). This indicates an important shift in recruitment marketing: cutting through the noise and focusing on personalised engagement through the right channels is the key to boosting placement rates.

Chief Marketing Officers, much like other business leaders, are increasingly reliant on data to make informed business decisions. Access to data-driven insights enables CMOs to allocate budget and messaging to each channel for optimum results. Of course, the entire firm needs to adopt a data-driven mindset, and the CMO is one of the senior figures responsible for leading by example.

Staying on top of trends

The world of work is fluid; new trends come and go all the time. Any new developments will inevitably have a direct impact on recruitment marketing priorities. With that in mind, the CMO needs to keep track of emerging trends and make sure that the marketing strategy can accommodate them at short notice.

For example, as low-skilled jobs are increasingly automated, employers are looking to hire people with ‘soft skills’. They want employees who can manage complex tasks within relationship-orientated jobs. This in-demand talent isn’t easy to come by; and re-engaging dormant candidates, for example, is now a top priority for firms.

Both old and new candidates are considered equally important in the race to place people successfully. It’s up to marketing teams to devise compelling re-engagement campaigns to renew a skilled candidate’s interest in new opportunities.

Furthermore, CMOs must consider macro developments such as the ageing workforce, gender equality in the workplace, the popularity of flexible working, the growth of the contingent workforce, and access to global talent pools. These broader labour trends will inform the firm’s targeted communications campaigns, shape its brand messaging, and guide the marketing strategy as a whole.

Embracing new technologies

Navigating the recruitment lifecycle in a digital world can be a bit tricky – even for the most switched on recruiters. Fortunately, a range of technology solutions exist to help recruiters stay ahead at each stage.

Marketing automation software, for example, can streamline marketing processes such as customer segmentation, email marketing, social media engagement, and campaign management. Chatbots are another way that firms can harness technology to enhance their customer and candidate engagement – while simultaneously freeing up recruiters to focus on more strategic work.

The choice of available technologies is vast, but not all are worthwhile. Data analytics helps CMOs stay on top of what is – and what isn’t – working. To justify their expenditure on new technologies and campaigns, CMOs need to demonstrate a strong return on investment. In addition to this, any use of data is subject to complex rulebooks like GDPR. The CMO is ultimately responsible for making sure that marketing activities operate in line with the law, as any data breach could result in a hefty fine for the firm.

Time to hire a CMO?

Any recruitment firm that doesn’t currently have a CMO or marketing leader needs to hire one sooner rather than later. One of the best ways to outpace the competition in today’s environment is with an agile and responsive marketing strategy led by a seasoned, trustworthy professional. It’s important that firms rethink the importance of marketing leadership; it’s not just a nice-to-have, but rather, a key component of achieving – and maintaining – success.

  • Bullhorn is a cloud computing company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The company provides customer relationship management and operations software for the staffing industry.

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