Hey recruitment marketers, if you get a bit tired staring at a blank page and wondering where to start, you’re not alone!
Whether you’re creating assets in canva, or writing articles or web copy it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some new (and old) tips I’ve developed over 15 years of marketing experience that’ll help get the creative ball rolling.
Ever heard the saying It’s easier to mow a lawn, then grow a lawn? Most of us find it much easier to spot what’s wrong with a bit of writing than to get that first few sentences down on paper to begin with.
I’ve been using Chat GPT to get me to “ugly draft” stage, at which point I can edit, add, tweak – sometimes completely re-write to my heart’s content. I even did it with the intro to this blog!
A word of warning on these tools though. They’re best used as a start point. They can trick you into producing stuff that feels great at first glance, but ultimately it’s just regurgitating the mainstream. If you lean on it too heavily, simply copy-pasting into your social presences and hitting publish, you’re joining a race to the middle - adding nothing new and before you know it, losing your audience’s attention.
And good content is all about stealing attention.
It may sound counter-intuitive, and marketing purists will be cursing me out right now, but hear me out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the job of building a successful social presence, sometimes it can be easier to start with the when, not the what.
You can use a fancy tool like Buffer for this, or keep it super simple with a spreadsheet template like this one. Personally, I actually prefer the spreadsheet version when I’m in planning mode. It means I can see everything at once, and if I start by populating the tab with public holidays, relevant celebration or memorial days, school holidays and key events in our business year, you’ll find you’re off the starting blocks before you’ve had to do any real creative brainstorming.
Part of populating these calendars is choosing where you want to engage - articles on a partner tool like MyMahi or ExploreCareers? Video resources in your Weirdly talent community? Social platforms? Content on your career site?
1️⃣ First, platforms you're already paying for:
Got resources or community nurture as part of your Weirdly contract? Paying for a featured article in an Explore Careers newsletter once a month? Create a line for each of these things and colour in a square each month to show when these will happen. You can always adjust the timing - just pick any date if you’re not sure right now.
2️⃣ Second, social platforms:
The temptation is to try do more than you can manage here. I have two golden rules:
✨ Go where your candidates are
✨ Prioritise platforms you also use personally
Look for the intersection - it’s better to be really strong on one social platform than spread yourself thin on two or three. Block out two or three posts per week, depending on the platform (this is why it's best to focus on platforms you're personally familar with - you'll have a better instinct for posting style/frequency/behaviour it'll make your content more naturally engaging).
3️⃣ Third, instore:
Schedule a couple of refreshes for in-store QR-code posters to keep quick-apply top of mind for walk-ins, then drop in any known dates for drop-in recruitment events your locations may be planning.
4️⃣ Fourth, careers site:
This is your most valuable brochure for candidates researching - both pre-apply and pre-interview. Schedule a quick content review at least every 6months - you may only spend an hour reading over the site, or you may want to update videos or copy. How deep you go is up to you, but having a date blocked out in your calendar for this will make sure it doesn't get forgotten.
This one is for those of you who find yourselves getting stuck for content ideas. Marketers like using party metaphors for different aspects of their job, and recruitment marketing is no different.
If you’re trying to make friends and influence people at a party, you’d never dream of walking up to a stranger, demanding their attention and launching straight into long stories about yourself. And yet, that’s a pretty common approach when you look at how most recruitment teams are communicating with their talent communities.
Instead, take a moment to flesh out three topic streams:
The key is, two of those streams are an opportunity to talk about your org and your jobs, and one should be about long-term connection. Then, when you’re plotting out your content for the quarter on that calender we mentioned above, make sure you’ve got a fairly event split between these three streams.
Don’t lose sight of the fact people are connecting with you because they’re interested in a job. It’s ok to sometimes tie that third stream back to your culture or your employees. The important thing is you’re constantly sense-checking by asking:
Would I stop scrolling to read this if I didn’t work here?
Write like you talk, explain it to me like I’m 12, cut out the jargon. However you say it, the message is the same.
Usually you’re hearing this stuff in the context of making your writing easier to read and connect with. But what’s often missed is it also makes your recruitment marketing activity much, much easier to write.
If creating your posts or emails or articles feels hard and like it takes ages, read what you’ve written so far out loud to yourself:
Everytime I find writing hard, it’s because I’m tying myself in knots trying to make things sound proper or smart or official or I’m obsessing over credibility.
If you’re getting stuck starting, try the old “say it straight, then say it great” approach. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, what am I trying to say here? Then write down literally whatever is in your head. Slang words, contractions, weird half-sentences and all.
Then before you start editing, first challenge yourself:
If that’s instinctively how you said it in your own mind, could that also be the simplest way for your candidate to get the message too?
There are situations where more formal language is safer - unsuitable and unsuccessful comms need the protection of more passive voice and formal phrasing.
But for the most part, we’re just people, telling other people about a job, or a culture or a process they need to follow. In those situations, the simplest, conversational language is almost always the easiest – for the writer and the reader!
- Using ChatGPT-type tools to get you a lawn to mow. Don’t rely too heavily on these or you’ll bore your audience, but they’re great for getting you off the starting blocks.
- Using a calendar like this to plan the where and when of your activity, before you have to do the creative “what should we do or say?” stuff.
- Come up with three content “streams” then stick to them. Creativity is easier with clear parameters!
- Write like you talk. That’ll let the ideas flow more freely and you can always go back and edit later.