19 Minute Read

Create Winning EB for Knockout Recruitment

You have your recruitment strategy, you’ve created what you think is a winning employer brand, but how do they look side by side? We’ve all adopted “lax” workspaces, we’re dabbling with work from home days, and flexible work schedules – we know all the different perks and benefits employees want, but is it working? Are these offerings actually pulling in award-winning talent? Should we focus on generational trends? Industries? Fields of study? 

What does #EmployerBranding have to do with #Recruiting? Everything! See what we mean: Click To Tweet

Before jumping in head-first, we need to first work on identifying the candidate personas. Building a candidate persona for recruitment is just like building a buyer persona in marketing. The same rules apply as they rely heavily on research and common sense to understand the target audience. Candidate personas, like buyer personas, need to focus on three things to be effective:

Who this person is
What they do all day
What issues keep them up at night

Step 1: Create Job Family Personas

It’s like a candidate persona tree, so, for example, you have your Management positions as the main persona, but then the different departments where the management roles are housed would be your sub-candidate persona.

Job Family Personas Example:

Management – What kind of managers are successful at our company? Are our best managers successful because they’re team players with a first here, last to leave mentality OR are our managers successful because they command authority and have mastered delegation? Do we need management teams who take direction and do what they’re told from management above or do we need managers with entrepreneurial spirits and aren’t afraid to pioneer their own paths to create new processes or departments?

Being a good manager means different things to different companies depending on your organizational structure and culture, but it’s defining those characteristics that shape your entire plan.

Once you have this understanding, you’ll build out the actual candidate persona to inform SEO keywords to be used in all copy, job ad messaging, social messaging and all outreach. We’ll call them power words.

Step 2: Make the Candidate the Star of the Ad

The job ad should resonate with candidates and speak to your targeted candidate personas. You already know someone that may fit this persona if there is a similar role in your company. Ask this person about their mobile/internet habits and more.

  •      What are they looking for in an employer?
  •      What are their hobbies and interests?
  •      What kind of work/life balance benefits them the best?
  •      What challenges stem from their upbringing?
  •      What are their long term professional and personal goals?
  •      What objections may they have to working in your industry or company?
  •      What life-stage are they currently in? What milestones have they met or what milestones do they expect in their future?

Keep in mind these can’t be discriminatory, but if having a family is important to your target candidate, then highlight the great benefits your company offers to make their work/life balance.

Look for common answers and develop a way to organize trends for each category. If the position you’re hiring for is a desk job, but the candidate you’re targeting is a military veteran with a bachelor’s degree who doesn’t want a desk job then your recruitment messaging needs to focus on the other parts of the job that don’t require desk work.

“Hiring for cultural fit above skills is a great idea, because you never know how much an employee will be developing, growing and changing over time — they could be in a completely different role by next year… And it makes sense to do so based on the industry and market you’re in, too: If you’re an accounting company, for instance, you don’t necessarily want to hire someone who’s chaotic and extremely creative. If you’re a cutthroat, uber-competitive, cutting-edge company, you don’t want to hire someone who’s very laid-back and not as driven by competition, for instance…” – Todd Raphael (@ToddRaphael), Editor in Chief of Recruiting Media Company

In recruiting, candidates can be segmented much like consumers so recruiters can adapt their recruitment messaging and improve results. This is particularly important when it comes to creating job advertisements. Let’s take a look at Gen Y:

Pretend you’re targeting Gen Y job seekers who have obtained their bachelor’s degree. First, you’ll want to fire up Google and research issues and trends influencing your targeted candidate audience. Make sure to set search parameters to be timely, within the past month or past year (no later), and relevant. Gather as much statistical information as you can and compile a brief trend report that highlights key identifiers of your targeted group.

Research from a Multi-Generational Job Search Study shows:

  • 57% of Gen Y job seekers value meaningful work and job security.
  • Gen Y job seekers value workplace flexibility (30%) and higher salary (41%) more than Gen X and Baby Boomers.
  • Almost half (48%) of Gen Y has considered going back to school instead of continuing their job search.
  • 31% of Gen Y job seekers have considered starting their own business instead of continuing their job search.

From the research, you can see that your targeted audience is concerned with job security and doing meaningful work, values workplace flexibility and a higher salary more than other working generations, and is more inclined to go back to school or start their own business instead of continuing their job search. This tells us that Gen Y job seekers are ready to do what it takes to build their career, they want to do work they’re passionate about, be compensated well, have a work/life balance and feel secure in their positions.

While it’s not safe to stereotype a candidate segment, it is okay to use the information as a generalized framework for recruitment messaging creation. As a conclusion to this brief, you’ll want to exemplify how your company, if applicable, supplies these generational demands.

Step 3: Align your Buyer Personas with the Sales Stages

We do this in marketing to create content that reaches the person at the right time, and this can be applied to your candidates too. The passive to active spectrum is ever-growing as technology is giving candidates more options than ever before.

Branding and Marketing have lots in common. Numero Uno? They all run on content. If marketing and branding campaigns are the car, then content my friends is the fuel. Content includes, of course, blog posts, but also literally anything your audience can consume.

In content marketing, the sales stages are:

  • Awareness of the company and open role
  • Consideration to apply for the role
  • Decision to move forward with the interview process

Numero Dos? Providing this information beforehand can help them self-select out of the process. If you publicly share a diagram of your organizational chart and the ebbs and flow of each department, you’re helping a candidate who is looking for a flat organization self-select out of the process before you waste your time screening and interviewing them. Get that information out there with these:

  • How To (at least 3 steps)
  • Comparison/versus (Why we’re better than the other guys)
  • Guides (How to be a successful FILL IN THE BLANK)
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Diagrams
  • Reviews

A key goal here is to create content that not only attracts those who have already applied but is still relevant for those earlier in the funnel. As we all know the candidate experience doesn’t stop with the application or even the offer letter. So start building past just attraction and seal the deal. What if you put your offer letter, swag intro, employee reviews or even interview scheduling emails into your editorial calendar? It’s what marketers do, right down to the last three stages of that funnel we discussed.

  • Retention – Keep em in the process
  • Renewal – Beat your competition to the offer and onboarding
  • Sales Enablement – Give your managers the tools they need to seal the deal

Examples include packing checklists for traveling nurses, interview guides for career centers in target schools, goal setting workbooks for management candidates and more. We all need a little help doing our job and many of us find it on the internet. Once you start creating candidate focused downloadables you will have a much better chance of attracting new applicants.

Now let’s talk structure. We use Google Sheets for our editorial calendars but there are plenty of plugins if you’re a HubSpot or WordPress user you can use, especially if you’re only managing one blog or set of social tools:

Step 1: The funnel build

  • Lay out your personas on the left. Yours can be role based or they might be seniority based, but make sure they each have their own line for every stage of the cycle.


  • Build your stages across the top. This gives your content a linear feel and makes it easier to fill in the blanks. Awareness, Consideration and Decision if you want to start simple and Interview, Hire, and Onboard if you wanna get crazy.


  • Select your content types. At RBM, we use little acronyms for all of them because there are a lot. We just create a large space above the calendar to spell out what they all mean. Pro Tip: If they’re all blog posts, you’re doing it wrong 🙂


  • Under each section, write a question your persona might ask. This can help you determine if the content you place there later is actually helpful or you just wanna be done with this whole exercise already.


  • Fill in content types until you have all the blanks completed and a solid cycle or piece of content in each section. You don’t have to fill every square (although it will make your job easier later) but you do need to make sure you’re hitting every stage and sub stage. This is a great place to add your inspire links.

Step 2: The Ed Cal Build

Build campaign ideas. At RBM we build out a campaign for every month or so. Use the info gleaned from both your hiring research and the editorial calendars you collected earlier. Depending on how often you plan on releasing content, you may want to include social updates and imagery in this section.

  • Separate them out using one of the following criteria:
    • Month
    • Time to Hire
    • Quarterly hiring goals


  • It will be very tough to create content for every persona in every stage every month, so keep in mind that awareness and even consideration content can serve dual purposes. For example, a video you create for one persona in the awareness section might be just the thing to send someone in the decision phase. Or your blog post about the engineering team could be exciting to someone applying to your marketing department.


  • At the top add your internal code (ours is color coded and reads: written, internally approved, sent to client, client approved, published)
  • In the space at the top, you should also list your authors and what categories, tone and topics they cover.
  • Now add your month, campaign name and days and dates along the side (this is important because some days are better to publish on and you’ll be adding in events later).
  • If you’d like add the resource type. These are the little codes that tell you what kind of content it is. Hint! You can repurpose an article into a podcast and a stats brief into a video! Gasp.
  • The next column should contain your headlines: Whether it’s the headline of a blog article, a video, a subject line, social message or guide, it has to follow a successful formula. And we ALWAYS choose to turn to research…
  • Add a column for the author as well, so you don’t repeat the same voice over and over. After all isn’t the goal to include people?
  • Then add the link once it’s published for record keeping.
  • In the final column add your inspiration links, preferably from competitors or companies you admire.
    • Outbrain conducted a study of 150,000 article headlines to see which characteristics got the most clicks. Here are the key takeaways:
    • Titles with eight words had the highest click-through rates and performed 21% better than average.
    • Using a colon or hyphen to indicate a subtitle improves headlines by 9% (hint: this is where the #3 tip – increasing length – can come into play).
    • Attach an image to increase clicks by 27%, and make sure the image size is optimized for social feeds.
    • Use numbers in your headline to increase the click through rate, especially odd numbers because they have a 20% higher click rate than even numbers.

Another great tool? Hubspot’s Headline Generator. Just google it and WIN NO MATTER WHAT.

Some tips:

Copy: We always require our content team to provide what we call “inspires” on whatever subject matter or type of content they’re creating. Email: needs a layout inspire, Blog: needs a competitor inspire, Landing Page: needs an inspire, Social Posts: needs successful inspire. Why? So we can create better content than the best content that’s already out there!

CTAs: These are the most important aspect of your content and should be at top of mind no matter what stage or persona you’re working in. Every piece created should lead them to the next piece. Link related articles up, send them to the next appropriate step in the process with bolded links, callouts, buttons, whatever works for your system! The key idea is to drive them from your top of the funnel (awareness) content to your middle of the funnel (consideration) to the bottom of the funnel (decision) and get their emails!

Now once you get on a roll of creating lots of content, you can go back and repurpose it all to create even better more engaging content. By looking at what’s been the most successful (most views, most CTA clicks, most downloads)! Combine blog articles to create a guide, turn an employee testimonial blog into a video, and so on! In fact, this entire presentation was created from content myself or my team had already made!