Recruitment Hacking – Tools To Grow Engagement, Attract Quality and Kill Drop-off

Written by Iain Hamilton

As recruitment evangelist and with a real passion for all things talent attraction, Iain provides recruitment marketing services to clients throughout the UK and America. From employer branding strategy to talent generation campaigns and using bespoke 'experience funnels', Iain builds outstanding talent pipelines using non-traditional recruitment technologies. Iain's toolkit includes his own super smart, AI Recruitment Bot platform.

The recruitment industry is awash with new tools to automate screening, engagement, sourcing and many more things. In fact, I have just thrown my hat into the ring by launching a new Recruitment Chatbot service, but enough of that for now. The challenge is knowing which of these tools to use and if any of them will provide the value we need.

This is where recruitment hacking comes in. No, don’t panic, as we are not going to go all modern day James Bond and end up in some form of espionage. Recruitment hacking is just another name for growth hacking or life hacking,  essentially always testing new ways of attracting, engaging and improving processes. Recruitment hacking can be very difficult to implement in large organisations, or in overly process drive HR functions.

I have been vlogging, blogging and talking about recruitment hacking for a while under the banner of #tahack. Through this time, I have regularly focused on #tahacks that any recruitment or HR function can implement without changing process, wasting a lot of time, or needing to make significant system improvements.

Sounds too good to be true…right?

Well, here are my favourite #tahacks of recent:

Attracting the Right People

For as long as I have been in recruitment, we have been using methods like job boards, radio ads, newspaper ads, events and many more ways of attracting people. Unfortunately, we have never paid the same attention to attracting the RIGHT people. All of the platforms we use attract anyone, rather than the right people.

We made some steps towards this goal with LinkedIn Recruiter and some job board databases, but when it comes to publishing job ads, it is still the same old. I got fed up of having to be a rejection function, i.e. processing hundreds of applicants but very few could be called a candidate for the job. I wanted to be a recruitment function, and so I focused on finding a way to attract the right people.

The tools I use for this #tahack are Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on LinkedIn and Facebook. By using the targeting options on both of these platforms, you can publish adverts which ONLY display to your intended target audience.

As an added benefit, these ads are PPC, meaning you only pay when someone from your target audience clicks, which puts them leagues ahead of standard job boards and Indeed, where you pay per job ad or applicant.

PPC ads are easy to set up but difficult to master, which fits perfectly into the ethos of a TA Hacker. You can set a daily or campaign budget of anywhere from £10 per day to as high as you want.

The best way to start is to select a job, create an ad, set a budget and watch the engagement reports that both platforms provide; then change the text/picture/headline and test which gets the best results.

By doing this, not only have you started hacking your way to far more impactful advertising, but you have created your first A/B test. Continue this approach over time, and you will see some superb results.

Automating Attraction

Let us assume that you have started hacking your way to job advertising genius by using the approach above. But wait, people don’t want to see just job adverts; they want to know so much more. When considering a career change, people want to know things like:

  • What does their team look like and will I fit in?
  • What are the career opportunities for me, and do people progress their career?
  • What value will I be able to offer, and what will I get in return?
  • Does the company have a good reputation, and do they support the community through corporate social responsibility? (Will I be proud to work for them?)

These are all the intrinsic desires we do not answer, so why not hack your way to what I call ‘experience pipelines’? An experience pipeline tells a story over a period of time, usually 2 – 4 weeks. The pipeline ends will a call to action or an approach by the recruiter but, more importantly, there is a series of content helping each person consider your company as the employer of choice. This looks like:

AudienceA new talent pool which you have not engaged with meaningful previously.

  • Week 1 – An advert leading to an article about the great products/services your employees provide to clients, include a call to action to subscribe.
  • Week 2 – Ad leading to an article about the team that works in an office local to the people you are trying to attract. It is smart to not only showcase what it is like working in the team, but also touch on the social aspects of your team to show a work/life balance.
  • Week 3 – Ad leading to an interview/video of a person who works in a similar position to the people you are trying to attract – allowing your audience to get a feel for what it would be like to be employed in the position.
  • Week 4 – Ad leading to an article from a business leader showcasing the business core values, the value propositions you offer to employees, and a call to action to start a career conversation.

The aim, by the end of this, is to have your target audience really know what it is like to work in your business and to think of you and your team as the place they want to work. This is a fairly simple pipeline and can be made even more impactful by tying in some email comms, events or re-targeting.

Yes, it will take some effort to create this content, but probably not as much as you think. Have a look at Ben Gledhill’s DIY employer branding toolkit if you need some ideas on how to get going.

By combining this approach with the previous, you can start to drive your talent attraction in a very strategic way. Start by setting your first ad budget to £10 per day. On Facebook, this should enter 10 people per day into your campaign. By the end of four weeks, you should see 5 -10 engaged and qualified candidates that you can start real career conversations with per day.

If you need more than 5 – 10 candidates per day, then set your budget higher. After a short while, you should know exactly how much you need to spend to attract enough people to satisfy your workforce plan. If you don’t have a workforce plan, then speak to Foresight today!

Killing Drop Offs, Targeting Tiptoe’ers and Reducing Cost

Tiptoe’ers…that’s definitely not a word, but you know what I mean. To avoid confusion, I mean the people that visit your website and jobs board who are qualified candidates but don’t take the step to apply. This is often because they are wary about whether they really want to work for you, and the comfort factor kicks in…the drop-off.

This #tahack requires a bit more effort, but if you have been doing the above, you will have the proof to force this one into action. Now we are going to use a thing called a pixel – both LinkedIn and Facebook provide these, and so do others like Google and Twitter.

A pixel is a piece of code that sits on every page of your website to track the people that visit. Once a person has visited a page, the pixel sends that info to the social network/ad partner and puts that person into an audience. You can then advertise to this audience using their paid advertising but, just as importantly, you can remove them from an audience based on a page visit.

So, here are my 3 pixel hacks:

  1. Target drop-offs and tiptoe’ers – Use the pixel to zero in on the audience that visits your job ad but not your ‘thanks for applying’ page, then run this audience through your targeting to make sure you only advertise to potential candidates. Then push ‘experience funnels’ to this audience, and help them think of you as an employer of choice, encouraging them to apply in the future.
  2. Understand your applicant blockers – Install the LinkedIn pixel to every one of your application process pages. By doing this, LinkedIn will start to track how many people visit these pages. After a short while, you will begin to see how far people make it in your application process and where people drop off. Use this data to prove any business cases you are creating to improve systems or engagement spend. The best part is that you can do this free.
  3. Reduce cost – Reducing cost often feels like decreasing activity or using a cheaper supplier, but not in the world of a #tahacker. Using the LinkedIn and Facebook pixels, you can easily track when people subscribe, apply or enter your talent pool. You can then use the pixel to remove them from all future advertising, as long as you now start to engage them through email or other channels you own. By doing this, you run your ‘experience funnel’ and only pay to advertise to people who are already on your recruitment systems.


So, there you have it; a guide on how to get started as a #tahacker. My most recent #tahack has grown arms and legs, and we are launching a whole new service line around it. You can register for our webinar here where we will teach you how to do the #tahacks in the article, and show you our new and best #tahack yet.

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