By Kelsey Meyer published July 26, 2016

How We Used Content to Hire 30 People in One Year

content-hire-people

The success or failure of your content marketing efforts rests on your ability to build a team of dedicated, talented people to power your strategy, and that’s no quick or easy responsibility.

Yet, there aren’t hacks for hiring people like there are for, say, creating content. You’re probably not going to find an article that promises to tell you “how to hire 10 people in 10 minutes” the same way you may find one that says you will learn “how to come up with 30 content ideas in 30 minutes” — and there’s a reason for that.

Finding and hiring good content marketers takes significant time, resources, and skill. Our content marketing agency has hired 30 people in the last 12 months. Our secret weapon? You guessed it: content.

People want to work for the best in the industry

Too often, teams think of content marketing solely as a tool for sales growth and forget another critical group of people reading content in your industry — potential employees.

Just like your prospective customers want to hire the best of the best, prospective employees want to work with industry leaders, too. Those future employees want to know that the team they’re about to sign on with is credible, innovative, and ultimately worth committing their talents to — and when it’s done right, your content can show them that.

Start with strategy

As with every content marketing initiative, a documented strategy is absolutely essential; using content as a recruitment tool is no different. To be successful in using content for hiring, you need to include it as an element of your content marketing strategy. Here are some tips to get started:

When using content for hiring, you need to include it in your #contentmarketing strategy says @Kelsey_M_Meyer Click To Tweet
  • Develop a persona for your ideal candidate. The first step in any strategy is knowing your audience. Who is your ideal employee? What kind of background or skills and interests does he or she have? What niche publications does your ideal audience read? What kind of content does the audience engage with?

Understanding who your audience is (and creating content specifically for that audience) is central to your strategy — whether that audience includes future customers or, as in this case, potential candidates.

  • Involve human resources in your content planning and creation processes. By including someone from your HR team in your planning session, you’re making sure both departments understand expectations.
Involve HR in your #content planning and creation processes says @Kelsey_M_Meyer Click To Tweet

During one of our most recent rounds of hiring, our director of recruitment joined forces with our marketing team to develop an article for our blog about what it’s like to work here. As our director of recruitment, she had a ton of unique insights to offer potential candidates, and with the help of our content team, she was able to write and publish those insights to educate our audience of potential candidates.

  • Indicate recruitment as a goal of your content, and outline the metrics you’ll use to measure it. Aligning your goals and metrics during this process will help your team know if you’re actually reaching the most qualified candidates — and it’ll help you readjust your efforts, if need be.
Indicate recruitment as a #content goal, & outline the metrics you’ll use to measure says @Kelsey_M_Meyer Click To Tweet

For example, the blog post written by our director of recruitment included a call to action that directed readers to check out our “Careers” page and apply. This article generated the highest click-through rate of any blog CTA published that month, and we received a lot of great applicants who told us they’d read her article before applying.

Use content to shine a light on your culture

Once you have a strategy, it’s time to execute. Beginning with the description of our persona, we work backward to create content that the candidate might enjoy.

For us, our ideal employees are intellectually curious, entrepreneurial-minded, and well-versed in industry trends to stay ahead of the curve — which means they’re reading online publications to learn about content marketing and how they can improve. Knowing this, we can prioritize content for publications like MarketingProfs with the understanding that our next great hire could be reading what we publish there.

Depending on your ideal candidate, you may want to do the same. While traditional career sites and job boards are great for casting a wide net, they may not yield as highly targeted results as an article in a publication read religiously by your ideal hire.

Beyond industry-specific articles on niche sites, we also write for broader publications like Entrepreneur about the benefits of a company retreat and what makes a good company culture. Articles like these show potential candidates what we’re all about in a way they can relate to — through written content in online publications they’re regularly reading.

We’ve found that it works to share information about your company and culture this way instead of simply incorporating it in the job description, because it more clearly shows potential candidates the value of working with you (and it’s easily shareable). What do you see more on social: people sharing job descriptions or people sharing articles? If you want the highest number of content marketers to hear about your company, publishing to online publications is a great way to broaden your network of targeted candidates.

Make content part of the application process

When you’re hiring content marketers, you have to make sure that writing, editing, or analyzing content is part of the application process. Too many companies make the mistake of simply asking for an existing writing sample and judging candidates’ ability based only on that.

Often, what you really want is someone who can write about your specific industry. Be mindful of the topic and overall assignment during the interview process, and make sure the candidate’s final product gives you a thorough understanding of the future work.

The difficult part is making sure that reviewing all of these content tests doesn’t take over your hiring manager’s life. Here’s a bit of insight into how the process has worked for us:

  • Hiring writers and editors: When we hire a writer or editor, we give each candidate the same test article. This way, we can compare apples to apples and review more easily. We also have our team of 15 full-time editors take turns reviewing to get a diverse set of opinions and to keep all the work from falling onto one person’s plate.
  • Hiring account strategists and content strategists: For interviews with our client service team, we give second-round candidates an assignment to complete at home and present to us during their final interviews. The assignment — developing article topics and demonstrating how they fit within a client’s strategy — is given once we’ve determined that an individual has the basic experience, skill set, and personality that make him or her a good fit for the position.

It is not an opportunity to get free work out of a skilled marketer. The assignment should never take longer than two hours, and the work they produce should never be used for a client.

  • On-boarding new employees: Now that you’ve attracted the best talent through your content and vetted them through an exercise where they worked on a piece of content, it’s time to welcome them to the team and prepare them for their first day. For many people, starting a new job can be intimidating. Using content can help quiet those fears and make them feel more confident walking into their first day.

We send new employees a “before-day-one” document that tells them everything from when to arrive and what to wear (spoiler: it’s whatever they feel comfortable in), to what to expect in their first days. It also includes about a dozen links to articles we’ve written that we suggest they read to be sure they’re as prepared as possible to jump into the business of content marketing.

Although the process isn’t as quick and easy as coming up with 30 ideas for your next blog post in 30 minutes, it focuses your recruiting and attracts qualified candidates who are familiar with and excited by your company — and that makes recruiting much easier. By using content at different points in your recruiting and hiring process, you can attract truly great content marketers and build a better agency.

Ensure that you are ahead of the curve in content marketing and subscribe to CMI’s daily or weekly newsletter with expert insight and practical tips to take your program to the next level.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Kelsey Meyer

Kelsey Meyer is the president of Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands. For more on matching metrics to goals and tracking your performance, download Influence & Co.'s customizable analytics template. Follow Kelsey on Twitter @Kelsey_M_Meyer.

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  • Wally

    Excellent post Kelsey! As with most things there must always be a purpose.
    Great post.

    • Kelsey Meyer

      Thanks for the comment Wally. I agree! So many content marketers think they should just be creating content for the purpose of creating content, and miss out on really creating a concrete strategy behind it.

      • Wally

        I have been trying to prove this concept to the print industry. The truth is you can’t do it all. The platforms for content are many. The scope of content is huge. Attempting to master each and every one will put you in the poor house. I have found printers to be very much against specialization. They all want to be the “everything” printer. Crazy. Yet you can be that. It just means that you have to find partners or establish relationships with other organizations that do things better than you do. They seem to fight this concept. I don’t know why. They cling to this “old school boys club” concept and it is killing them. There really aren’t any real trade secrets out there. I can find almost anything with a few searches.
        Thanks for letting me vent!
        wally

  • rogercparker

    Dear Kelsey: Things for highlighting this often-overlooked example of the power of content. And, thanks for sharing a detailed implementation plan.

    Many years ago, as I described in http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/09/this-7-step-content-marketing-plan-earned-an-87-million-paycheck/, we found that applicants from competing stores would show up the day following our Buyer’s Guide newspaper inserts.

    As you have shown, credible and consistent content creates a “halo” that benefits all aspects of a firm’s operations.

    • Kelsey Meyer

      Thanks for reading and commenting Roger! I agree that the halo effect with content marketing can impact all aspects of a firm’s operations. We see happen most frequently when companies are consistently creating content because the impact starts to compound. Thanks again for reading.