Content Marketing Basics for University Recruiters

intro to content marketing

Let’s play a little game. I’m going to say a word and I want you to decide whether it’s an “old school” or “new school” approach to recruiting. Ready? Let’s go!

Transactional. Did you say “old school”? Nice!

Relationship-based. You said, “new school,” didn’t you? Good work! You really know your stuff!

Clearly you already know that the world has been shifting, and one of the biggest changes is in the way that people get information and make decisions.

This is just as true for the way we find restaurants and hotels as it is for the way we decide where to apply to jobs, and ultimately, where to accept offers. And content marketing—the process of using blog posts, videos, infographics, and other “content” to attract potential customers—has been playing a big part in this shift.

So much of the university recruiter’s work depends on branding and relationship building, and content marketing is a tool that can help you with both of these objectives. We asked Tracey Parsons, CEO of CredHive, to discuss some content marketing basics and how they can be applied in a university recruiting context.

What is content marketing? And why should this be important to recruiters?

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating relevant and valuable content to attract a specific market segment. Why this is important to recruiters is that content marketing can help recruiters get better, more aligned candidates to the roles they are trying to fill.

Content marketing helps candidates select themselves in and out based on the content that is shared. Content marketing can save recruiters time because it can pre-educate candidates prior to application, let alone interview.

What are a few examples of ways employers have used content marketing as part of their recruiting practices?

DaVita is one of my favorites and a former client. They do an amazing job with content and social. They have a blog, do live recruiter chats on Facebook, and have a specific LinkedIn Group to answer questions. They are incredibly robust in their work.

What are some of the most common reasons employers are hesitant to engage in content marketing, and how can those be overcome?

Time and resources are two big hurdles. People think that it is going to take a ton of time and a ton of people. It doesn’t have to. I work on CredHive social media about 1–2 hours a week.

Other teams have assigned recruiters to monitor the conversation while someone else takes the lead on curating and creating content.

The other hurdle, which is a bigger deal, is this: Many companies just want a flood of candidates. That is their benchmark of success. Which is really hard on recruiters. And honestly, it is not the best model. More is not better; better is better. But that is going to take a big paradigm shift for many employers.

Let’s say I’m on a small university recruiting team with limited resources. What are some simple ways I could try out content marketing and how would I measure my success?

Start small. Really small. First, I would find your voice. What do you want to stand for to recent grads? Write those things down.

When you know the types of content you want to put out and share, you can then start pulling together a list of places that already have great content and a strong group of readers (make sure they are in your target audience).

Then, start sharing that content through your branded pages as well as your personal accounts.

When you start, just share other people’s content. You can then see what content starts to bubble up with your target audience.

For example, with CredHive, we share a lot on workplace productivity, creativity, career planning, and job search tips. The content that gets the most attention: productivity and career planning. So, we started to create content on those topics.

Then, instead of launching our own blog that would have zero subscribers and viewers, we pitched other bloggers to post our content. This way, we start getting traffic from places that already have traffic.

And we always follow back and we always comment and interact with people who share our content. It’s just good business!

You can measure success by seeing if you have candidates interacting with your content. It is best to track quality of candidate before content marketing and quality of candidate after.

How long do I need to stick with content marketing to be able to make an accurate assessment of the return on investment? If things don’t seem to be working, what should I do?

Look at cost per lead (candidate) before content marketing and after. See if content drives down cost per lead (candidate) after content marketing is in place. You should see a return on the investment if you start small and focus the efforts on delivering what is interesting to your candidates.

I’ve seen some data that says college students don’t want employers to connect with them on social media for various reasons (e.g. they don’t want classmates to know which companies they’re considering, they want to keep personal and professional life separate). What does this mean for employers’ content marketing strategy?

I can see that point of view. I do not like to follow companies on social either, but I love good content, which is why I love Twitter and LinkedIn so much. I get a lot of great content from those channels.

But, the biggest piece of content marketing is blogging. They are everywhere and drive so much of the content marketing engine. And as I mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be your blog either, it could be someone else’s blog!

The next step: Try some of the strategies Tracey suggests, like outlining your voice and your goals for content marketing. Find other blogs and forums where similar topics are already being covered, and start sharing that content through your social media channels. Don’t forget to let us know how it goes!

Still wondering if content marketing makes sense for your program? Join us for our webinar, “How to Attract Students with Content Marketing,” on Tuesday, September 30 at 10am Pacific.

Tracey Parsons has been developing digital, mobile, and social solutions for nearly 20 years. Currently CredHive’s CEO, she is working to change the way hiring is done. Her team has created a more modern, visual, and engaging experience that is good for both talent and employers. She writes for and serves as a consultant to a variety of clients in the Talent Acquisition space.


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