Like modern consumers, today’s job seekers know what they want. And our digital world has empowered them with greater choices, more convenience, access to volumes of online research, and the ability to transact over the Internet. In some ways, job searches have started to evolve in subtle ways that mirror the e-commerce approach most of us rely on routinely for material purchases. We reserve movie tickets online, we book travel online, we select retailers based on online reviews, and we even buy groceries through our computers or smartphones. Candidates too are conducting their job hunting business across digital platforms, and they have transformed into careful shoppers rather than impulse buyers. Successful recruiting, therefore, has shifted to become more of an exercise in marketing and business development. As recruiters take up this mantle and bolster their online presence, personal branding is more imperative than ever before. 

Recruiters or Candidate Marketing Professionals?

Finding talent for client or MSP programs isn’t significantly different than courting new customers. As Decision Toolbox CEO Kim Shepherd noted in 2015, the sales process aligns well with modern recruitment necessities: “The first step is to treat candidates as customers—not only because it will help land talent, but also because every candidate is, in fact, also a potential customer. That means nurturing every candidate who sends a résumé.”

In a business development approach to staffing, recruiting professionals should begin thinking of prospective talent as leads to be enticed and nurtured.

So much of modern recruitment marketing emphasizes engagement, social media interaction, and the promotion of a robust employment brand, for the agency as well as the client. But what about the recruiters themselves? As representatives and the primary points-of-contact for candidates, they too have a brand—even if they aren’t aware of it. Writing for Forbes, William Arruda discussed the importance of personal branding in the digital world:

In many ways, digital branding has leveled the playing field and enabled more professionals to increase their visibility with people – people who could be instrumental in accelerating their career trajectory. Being online gives you a platform that’s not connected to your title or how many people work for you. Instead, it allows you to share your knowledge, expertise, and opinions so you can connect with key stakeholders and build meaningful relationships.
That means the flesh-and-bones you need to be translated to the bits-and-bytes you. But the old rules of personal branding still apply. 

Arruda went on to describe “six sacred rules for personal branding.” Let’s take a look at these principles and see how we can apply them to staffing.

Fundamentals of Personal Branding for Recruiters

Nail Down Your Unique Value Proposition

Just as an employment brand showcases the differentiators, benefits, and promise of value to candidates, a recruiter’s personal brand should accomplish the same ends. “You must be clear about who you are, what separates you from your peers, and what your message is,” explained Arruda. “Visibility has no value without clarity.”

The Internet is a noisy, boisterous, crowded space. For a recruiter’s voice to rise above the din, it must be clear, unique, and convey a sense of individuality. However, this means more than doctoring up a clever bio on LinkedIn, although that’s essential too. 

Know Your Community

Today, building out candidate pipelines is more like developing talent communities. And client or MSP contact lists should be more like networks. Focus on your core, proven strengths and create communities that reflect them. 

Stay LinkedIn

Yes, trite as it may sound, LinkedIn endures as a sort of Holy Grail for a lot of hiring and sourcing initiatives. “LinkedIn is the place people go when they want to learn about you in a professional capacity – so make sure your profile is the online version of you,” Arruda recommended.

When posting jobs on LinkedIn, also try to rouse notice by breaking the mold with fresh and interesting subject lines. Today’s job seekers are a different breed—digital natives who grew up in an era of colloquial social media, memes, and Internet humor. Get creative. Go crazy. Experiment and see what works. Here are some “out there” concepts that have actually gotten results in the past.

Select Your Social Networks

“You’ll be more likely to adopt a regular habit of interacting with your brand community online if you enjoy the process,” Arruda said. “If you like visuals, consider Instagram. If you like to share pithy, witty quips, Twitter is your tool. You can’t beat LinkedIn as a place for making your articles visible.”

In recruiting, not every social network is the right tool for the job. But then, you never know until you try. The best way to determine your social media preference is to analyze the platforms that the bulk of your primary candidates use. So if you’ve discovered most of your talent via Facebook, make a concerted effort to create a vibrant Facebook profile, post regularly, engage your audience, and interact diligently. 

Be Present

The most compelling brands, whether personal or professional, are visible. You need your community to see you, and you must remain present when they respond. Like marketing experts, take a stab at creating an editorial calendar or schedule for posting. The prevailing best practices for social media publishing are:

All of that said, you don’t really need to post every single day. The secret is staying active and participating in the community you’re constructing. “Commenting on others’ contributions and sharing it with your brand community is a great way to stay engaged with your people,” Arruda suggested.

Analyze Your Data

To expand your “sphere of influence,” as Arruda called it, and continue to grow your community, you must analyze performance and audience data. Fortunately, there are tons of resources that include analytics for social media, such as HootSuite and Buffer. Maintaining and enriching a flourishing brand involves determining what’s working for you and what’s not. Data hold the key. Consider metrics such as:

Beyond the basics, you can also follow the best practices of inbound marketing and “score your leads.” 

You Don’t Need to Be a Rockstar to Be a Shining Star

In this digital century, savvy staffing agencies should be training their recruiters in the arts of inbound marketing and sales. And while that’s a much more complex topic, there are simple steps recruiters can take to begin the process. Staffing firms that help their professionals establish compelling brands will shine in a galaxy already overcrowded with emerging or dimming stars.