Why Recruiting And Vampire Slaying Are Just About the Same Thing

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Mar 10, 2014
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

In folklore, a silver bullet is the only weapon that can take down The Big Bad: a werewolf, a witch, or another creepy creature that’s looming over you. In the movies, silver bullets somehow always seem to work and solve whatever problems there may be.

In recruitment, many of us constantly look for a silver bullet. We search for that one magical tool that will help us find the perfect candidate: a flawless email template that we can continuously use to immediately fill our pipeline or a directory that contains the names, email addresses, and career status of every person on Earth. Sounds like a dream come true!

Reality check: there is no silver bullet in recruitment. Recruitment is a challenge. Recruitment takes time and effort. Recruitment takes skill and talent. I like to think of recruitment like she’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which was a supernatural TV drama that ran in the late 90s to the early 2000s and focused on the life of Buffy Summers, also known as The Slayer, who was chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness).

The World of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The World of Recruitment

Buffy had many adversaries

Recruiters have a lot of challenging reqs

Buffy got beaten up

Recruiters face frustrations and differences with their hiring managers

It took Buffy seven seasons to finally rid the world of The Big Bad

It’s going to take you some time to hire the right candidates for your hard-to-fill roles

Buffy never had a “silver bullet”. Ok, well she had wooden stakes, but that wasn’t the only tool she used when taking on The Big Bad. She honed her existing skills, consistently learned new tactics, launched into an attack with a plan (hello!… episode #55 and 56: Graduation Day Parts 1 and 2), and she tailored her weapons based on the enemy she was going to fight. I mean, Buffy didn’t bring a wooden stake to fight Glory, now did she? (And for those of you non-Buffy fans out there, Glory was a god from a hell dimension and was Buffy’s archrival in season five).

Many recruiters can take a “stake out of Buffy’s weapons chest” and use her approach when it comes to recruitment. For the stake… I mean sake, of time, let’s focus on research and tailoring your plan of attack.

I’m a huge advocate of using tactics that marketers regularly use to draft diversified recruitment marketing plans (RMPs). Each new RMP requires research and tailoring to be successful. Just like Buffy did her homework on new opponents to determine how to remove the latest Big Bad from her plate, you need to do a little digging on your candidates to fill your req in an efficient manner.

Start by asking these questions about your candidates:

  • What does your perfect candidate look like?
  • What are their habits?
  • Where do they spend time—both digitally and non-digitally?
  • Geographically, where are they located?
  • When do they work?
  • Are they at a desk all day or are they only able to access phones, computers, and tablets before or after work?
  • Is it possible they have young children?
  • How digitally-savvy are they?
  • Do you need to have a specific focus on diversity and inclusion?
  • What personality would fit best with the existing team and (potential) employer’s culture?

In order to accurately target your candidates, you need to know them, just as marketers need to know their customers. Marketers typically look beyond traditional demographics to something called “psychographics”. Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle. While typically used in advertising and market research, psychographic attributes can be extremely helpful in creating an effective RMP. By asking questions similar to the ones above, you’re starting to learn some of the psychographics of your candidates.

Let’s create some possible answers for a few of the above questions:

  • Where do they spend time—both digitally and non-digitally? Perhaps the night shift nurse you’re recruiting is a big fan of Scrubs Magazine and reads its content both online, on Twitter, on Facebook, and in print. Get creative and think outside the box to see how you can make use of your candidate’s habits to get your reqs and your employment brand in front of Scrubs Magazine’s audience. And if it means you might spend recruitment marketing/advertising dollars, I’d be willing to bet that Scrubs Magazine would be willing to share as much information as they can about their average customer-base with you to help you determine if this is, in fact, the right audience for you to target.
  • When do they work? The times of the day that you’re going to post and share new content are going to vary based on someone’s shift. A night shift nurse isn’t going to be awake to engage with you just because you’re awake and tied to your computer between 8am and 5pm.
  • Is it possible they have young children? If your average candidate has young children, chances of them being able to look at job postings and research career information before the kids’ 8pm bedtime is slim to none. Use this to your advantage in timing and targeting your content! Long adverts + tired parents = fewer candidates in your inbox.
  • How digitally-savvy are they? If you find a great nursing candidate on the Operating Room Nursing group on Facebook, yet you’re not Facebook friends with that person and you try to send them a message, will they know to check their “Other Inbox” for messages? Do they even know they have an “Other Inbox”? Maybe you want to spend the $1 to send that message straight to their regular inbox instead!
  • What personality would fit best with the existing team and (potential) employer’s culture? A formal and professional corporate culture, where business professional dress code is de rigueur, should be reflected in the tone, style and the language of job adverts and descriptions you create. Conversely, when you create job adverts and descriptions for a corporate environment that embraces jeans Monday through Friday and where bosses regularly hand-deliver beer to their employees’ desks at 4pm on Fridays, you should use a more conversational language and casual tone. Candidates are smart and can tell the difference between the two. Someone who isn’t comfortable in one environment will be less likely to apply for a role in such organization, thus saving you time and effort in vetting him/her.

By “getting inside your candidate’s head,” you can more efficiently target them and spend your recruitment marketing dollars more wisely. Like any good marketer, when recruiters use a combination of psychographics and demographics, you will know where and how your candidates spend time, which will help you eliminate the guess work in your recruitment marketing strategy. This information will also help you speak to your candidate more directly, enabling you to write a job advert that will resonate with them. Using research, planning, varying your tactics, and tailoring your approach to each position will allow you to channel your inner Buffy and fill those reqs.

image credit: bigstock

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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