How to Start a Careers Blog Your Candidates Will Actually Read
The secret’s out: recruiting and marketing are tying the knot. In a recent survey from LinkedIn, employer brand was the number one thing companies said they would invest more in if their recruiting budget was unlimited in 2017. The challenge is, the world of employer branding is big and most companies (with budgets that are limited) aren’t sure where to place their bets. The good news is, building a strong employer brand today starts with something that costs nothing at all: inbound marketing.
Unlike ten years ago, top talent isn’t waiting for us to start the conversation anymore. Candidates are sizing employers up on Google and Glassdoor long before they talk to a recruiter. That’s why we need to take an inbound marketing approach by meeting candidates where they are with content. We need to tell our own employer brand story, and we need to tell it well. We call this inbound recruiting, and one big part of that playbook at HubSpot is our careers blog, Move On Up.
Since we launched Move On up in March, we’ve published posts on everything from phone interview tips and resume tricks, to personal accounts about working remotely and coming back from maternity leave. But more importantly, we’ve learned a lot about creating employer brand content at scale. If you’re thinking about starting a careers blog, or hoping to grow the one you have, here are four key steps we took (or stumbled on) to launch and run Move On Up.
1. Understand Your Candidate Persona
A big mistake I’ve seen companies make with their careers blogs is writing about what they think their candidates will find interesting. The result? A vacuum of posts that put the employer first. Bottom line: Successful employer brand content is candidate-centric, not company-centric. That’s why before you can start blogging, you should have a deep understanding of who your reader is. Otherwise you’ll spend time writing, formatting, and promoting content that isn’t actually helpful (or share-worthy) to your audience.
So how do you discover which types of blog posts will hook your readers? Cue persona research. If you haven’t yet, recruiters today should follow marketing’s lead and develop candidate personas. Work with your team and hiring managers to identify employees who represent the traits of your company’s ideal candidate. (Depending on the size of your organization, and scope of positions, this could be between two and four core personas.) Then, go straight to the source.
Host a focus group or one-on-one interviews with these employees to gather content insights: What did they Google when they were looking for a job? Was there any part of the application process that was confusing for them? What did they wish they knew about your company sooner? Are there any examples of careers blogs they recommend we learn from? Having a clear vision of who you’re creating content for and what resonates with them is critical in creating employer brand content that sticks.
2. Create a Topic-Powered Content Calendar
The tricky thing about blogging (and probably why only 23% of companies report having a careers blog) is that it’s always “on.” As soon as you publish a post, it’s time to start drafting the next one. That’s why I recommend creating a content calendar. Use Trello, Google Spreadsheets, or any collaboration tool that works for your team to map out which topics you’ll blog about, with their expected publish date. Blogging once a week is ideal but for most recruiting teams without full-time marketing support, two to three times a month is a good target. Be realistic about how frequently you can publish content from the start, and then scale up or down as needed.
Not only will a content calendar keep you and your team on top of timelines and due dates, but it’s also a one-time investment that will give you a library of topics and titles to work with in the future. To create a list of potential blog topics, start by referring to your candidate persona research for themes, and if you already have existing employer brand content, evaluate which topics or angles perform best. Next, it’s time to do some more research.
A helpful exercise we did with our recruiting team at HubSpot was a blogging brainstorm. On a piece of paper, recruiters wrote down popular questions they get from candidates, and on the back, they wrote their own biggest recruiting challenges. With the help of a few marketers (and lots of brainstorming), we then came up with 10-15 blog titles that would be helpful and interesting to candidates, but also valuable content for our recruiting team to have. Our content calendar is flexible if a more timely topic comes up, but having topics and timelines mapped out is invaluable in staying on top of blogging.
3. Leverage Employee-Generated Content
Some of the best content marketers and bloggers in the world work at HubSpot (I may be a bit biased), but they’re not typically the ones writing for our careers blog. It’s the employees on our support team, in the sales organization, or building HubSpot software. Empowering employees across the company to create employer brand content has been a critical part of getting our careers blog up and running. Here’s why.
Employees are your number one asset when it comes to blogging because they’re the ones readers want to hear from: 66% of candidates believe interactions with employees are the best way to get insight into a company. Everyday employees have the front row seats to life at your organization, and for candidates, that trumps professional blogging skills. At HubSpot, we have ‘how-to’ guides on our internal Wiki to help employees become careers blog contributors, and we host office hours with content marketers for one-on-one workshopping once employees have a draft ready to go.
The other reason it’s so important to get employees invested in your careers blog from the get-go is simple: Recruiters don’t have enough bandwidth. You need contributors and a collaborative team to keep an employer brand content machine running. That’s why, even at HubSpot where we have a growing team of top-notch marketers, inbound recruiting is a team effort. So give employees the resources and incentive to help grow your employer brand; it’s a win for you and a win for the candidate.
4. Don’t Underestimate Promotion
The most overlooked part of blogging is the promotion piece. But there’s a problem when that happens: No one reads that blog post you spent so much time on. It’s true that content is at the core of inbound recruiting, but candidates need to be able to find that content. That’s why promotion shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, be proactive by creating a checklist of platforms where you’ll share your careers blog content. If you don’t have dedicated social media channels for recruitment, work with your marketing team to share blog content on the usual suspects like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Make it easy for employees to share content on their own networks by providing lazy tweets or suggested copy and graphics. Additionally, your blog should be set up so that readers can subscribe for future content and updates. Email your subscribers with the blog post and ways to share it.
Then, spend some time thinking outside the box on each post; depending on the topic, there might be some additional strings you can pull. For example, at HubSpot, when we published a careers blog post about maternity leave, we shared it in our internal #parents Slack channel. Or, when we published a post from our female Director of Engineering about why more women should work in tech, we successfully pitched it to a news outlet that had been doing a series on diversity in the tech world. It might take a little bit of extra time, but amplifying your careers blog content goes a long way in growing your employer brand over time.
Solve for the Candidate Experience
If you’re thinking about starting a careers blog, you’re on the right track. It’s more important than ever for employers to start thinking like inbound marketers when it comes to attracting top talent. Knowing your audience, creating timelines and topics early on, and empowering your employees to create and share content is a great way to get started.
But the biggest impact you’ll have with your careers blog is putting the candidate first. How can you help them in their job search journey? Are there ways content can make their lives easier? Keeping them top-of-mind is how you’ll make inbound recruiting stick at your company. Let creating a remarkable candidate experience be your truth north.
Interested in the topic of employer branding? Check out our new eBook, The 2016 State of Employer Branding. This eBook is key for companies both starting or well into their employer branding journey: