#177 Targeting in Marketing for Active and Passive Job Seekers

Blog header #177 Targeting in Marketing for Active and Passive Job Seekers  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Targeting in marketing is a nuanced approach that targets distinct groups of people with tailored messages and strategies.

Active job seekers are on the hunt, openly searching for new opportunities. They respond to direct, clear job postings and calls to action.

Passive job seekers, on the other hand, aren’t looking for new career opportunities. They require a more subtle, engaging approach, often through storytelling or addressing mutual interests, values and painpoints in life to spark their interest and start following more of your content and messaging.

Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party. You wouldn’t send invitations randomly to everyone, would you?

You’d invite people you know,  who enjoy parties like the one you are organising.

Who know you and you trust that they are likely to come and have a good time at your party. This way, you use your time and resources to create a fun event for the right people.

Targeting in marketing, it’s similar. 

A target audience is like the list of people you’d invite to your dinner party. It’s a specific group of people most likely to be interested in what you offer because they share similar interests, aspirations, lifestyles, attitudes, values and desires for life.

Just like you wouldn’t invite the whole city to your dinner party, smart business marketers do not market their offer to everyone because not everyone will be interested in it. There is not such a thing that everyone finds equally appealing.

No such product, service, workplace or a job.

In fact, the more specific and precise you can be as a marketer about your target audience, the more likely your marketing will be successful and return the value you expect from it.

In this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, we’ll tap into target audiences in talent marketing, and more specifically in the different target audiences when it comes to employer branding and recruiting.

This is a super important episode for everyone working in talent marketing today as the success of your short-term and long-term talent marketing depends on how well you understand and have defined who you are trying to reach.

Based on my long experience working with hundreds of organisations and even more people and projects during my +20 year career, talent target audiences remain a bit of a mystery for those in this field and their management and marketing stakeholders. It’s time to crack this nut open and clarify what’s in it!

Listen to the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast on your favourite podcast app

Subscribe to this podcast on your favourite app, and you’ll never miss a new episode about modern employer branding!

Better yet, if you love this podcast, make sure you rate it on your favourite podcast app!

Here are some of the platforms where you can find this podcast.


Targeting in marketing – 3 reasons why targeting is crucial for your marketing success

Targeting in marketing impacts your messages and offers and using the correct media and channels based on who you are trying to reach is key to successful marketing. 

Without targeting in marketing, your efforts can become like a ship without a compass—lost, ineffective, and wastefully drifting in all directions.

Here’s why targeting in marketing is crucial:

  1. Relevance and Engagement:
    Targeting allows you to tailor your messages, offers, and content to meet your distinct audience’s specific needs, preferences, and pain points.

    This personal touch increases the relevance of your communication and boosts engagement rates. When your audience feels understood, they’re more likely to interact with your content, follow your call to action, and become loyal followers and brand advocates.
  2. Efficient Use of Resources:
    Marketing budgets are not infinite pools of resources. Targeting in marketing ensures that you allocate your budget and efforts to the market segments most likely to respond positively to your offerings.

    This efficiency not only maximises your return on investment (ROI) but also prevents the waste of resources on uninterested parties.
  3. Competitive Advantage:
    Differentiation is key in a crowded talent market. Focusing on a specific target audience enables you to craft unique value propositions that set you apart from competitors.

    This focus can be particularly effective in niche marketing, where specialised offerings can make your brand the preferred choice for a specific talent audience.

Example of targeting in marketing for a specific talent audience

Let’s think through an example.

Think about technology professionals, or, to be even more specific, software engineers.

If technology is untampered territory for you, replace ‘software engineers’ with your specific target audience.

This specific target audience is specific enough for us to know that they work in software engineering, but that’s all we know of them. 

I’m pretty sure that among those millions of software engineers in this world, you would not be hiring randomly just anyone, right?

You’d have more criteria such as level of education and experience, certifications and qualifications, language skills, personality traits, attitudes, motivators, values.. the list is nearly endless!

What this means is that you know not all people matching this job title or genre are the same. The more you can distinguish between those talents you’d ideally hire from the rest of the talents in this talent pool, the more targeting you are doing.

Defining your target audience as properly as possible is key in successful marketing outcome.

The risks of poor targeting in talent marketing

Without precise targeting in marketing, you’re essentially casting a wide net in the hope of catching something when you could be operating like a pro fisher, knowing precisely what pond to go to and which rod to pick to get exactly the fish you want.

I want to address some of the key risks of poor targeting in marketing to your talent audiences.

  1. Targeting ‘everyone’:
    This scattergun approach means a lot of your marketing budget is spent reaching people with little to no interest in your offering. When you attempt to target everyone, you do the opposite: targeting no one.
  2. Diluted Message:
    Trying to appeal to everyone results in a vague and generic marketing message.

    This is very obvious in most employer value propositions, which promise little to nothing and, therefore, resonate with no one. In the quest to be universally appealing, your employer brand’s unique voice and value get totally lost and diluted.
  3. Opportunity Costs:
    Focusing on the wrong audience or not targeting at all means you miss the opportunity to deeply connect with the market segments most aligned with your brand’s offerings and values.

    These missed opportunities can have long-term impacts on employer brand growth and your share of the talent market.

To navigate these challenges in the lack of targeting in marketing, it’s vital to continuously keep up to date with your target audience and talent market.

Gather and analyse data about your target audience, target market and your company’s position as an employer among the key competition to stay competitive and adjust your talent strategies as you gain insights. 

Effective targeting in marketing is not a one-time task but an ongoing process of refinement and adjustment.

Understanding the audience: The heart of the matter when targeting in marketing

The crux of effective talent marketing is this: knowing your audience and knowing the difference between your recruitment audience and your employer branding audience. 

In the landscape of talent acquisition and employer branding, this pivotal distinction often gets blurred – the difference between target audiences for recruitment campaigns and those for employer branding. 

This distinction is not just a matter of semantics; it’s the cornerstone of a strategic approach to attracting and retaining talent and must be addressed professionally when targeting in marketing.

The other focuses on target audiences that the organisation needs right now when the other consistently builds new audiences for future hiring needs.

Thing of the relationship between recruitment marketing and employer branding like a wheel always on motion. Employer brand marketing paves the way and plants the seeds for future success and talent acquisition plocks the fruits of labor.

The target audiences are different starting as wider segments where mutual interests are first based on mutual interests such as inspiring values,  purposes, mission and inspirational and charismatic leaders and business influencers.

As people in the audience become more familiar with how much in common they have with your organisation, things become more personal and precise.

In employer branding, attention is being placed more on: “Would there be something for me some day?”

Using ‘The Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️’ to help targeting in marketing

An image visualising the Candidate Journey of the Information Era designed by Susanna Rantanen and  one of the core frameworks in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️.

People start on this journey with multiple organisations at different times and stages of their lives. They may come off the journey with some organisations only to return again if and when mutual interests meet again.

This employer branding journey may take months or even years, and job titles do not define target audiences.

Job titles come into the picture with talent acquisition at the end of the journey when the person—now a recruitment lead—enters the recruitment funnel and becomes actively interested in your career opportunities.

It’s the vital and significant to differentiate between the recruitment marketing audience and the employer branding target segments.

Image of an eBook about a new employer branding strategy by Susanna Rantanen

How to separate your target audiences for recruiting and for employer branding

For recruitment, your target audience is as dynamic as the roles you need to fill—fluid, changing, and defined by the skills, attributes, qualifications, expertise, and other needs of your business at the moment of hiring—not in the future, but at the moment of hiring.

For employer branding, your audience is broader and evergreen, tied not to specific roles but to the essence of what your company stands for and needs to be known as over the next 2-3 years. This is the time frame we work with in employer branding. And it is always the cumulative next 2-3 years, always in motion.

When recruiting, target audiences are very specific, but recruitment marketing can and should be slightly more fluid to invite potential candidates at the ‘ends’ of the profile to consider the role. Who knows if the right person is slightly something different from what you hired before!

Employer branding thinks about the future and what this organisation needs to be known for and how it should feel different from other options for the same audience.

Sometimes employer branding may fully focus on a new talent segment to build a strong employer brand in a talent domain where your organisation has never been known but must become known because of your new business strategy.

The difference between recruiting and employer branding audience is who you hire now and for what and who needs to know you and as what over the next 2-3 years.  

Example: Targeting in marketing for a healthcare company

For a healthcare company, for example, the core recruiting audience would be healthcare experts. 

These individuals are crucial because they contribute directly to the business’s central competency, and the shortage or lack of them is detrimental to the business and customers.

They’re the ones who need to see your company as the paramount choice in their field from the employer brand and top-of-mind perspective.

Other roles, often called support roles, while vital, are different from roles this organisation is likely to hire as much and as often as healthcare professionals. However, these roles don’t define their employer brand.

This organisation needs to be known as a specific and distinct healthcare employer. But it doesn’t mean these other professionals would not resonate with the employer brand through their potential and alignment with the company’s mission and purpose – and what opportunities and challenges there are in this industry that resonate with them. 

They [business professionals] are part of the organisation’s story, contributing to the narrative in their unique ways. While they are not healthcare professionals, they are healthcare business professionals. There’s a difference that impacts targeting in marketing and how you build your employer brand to resonate with them.

Targeting in recruitment marketing: A laser-focus to match immediate hiring needs

When we talk about targeting in talent marketing and more specifically for recruiting, we’re talking about precision. Precision became even more vital with digital marketing and advertising for talent acquisition.

Imagine a sniper zeroed in on a specific target – that’s your recruitment profile for your campaign. It’s all about the now seeking active job seekers as candidates who perfectly match the current job vacancies with their unique skills, experience, and potential to add value immediately.

Targeting in marketing for active job seekers needs to be a high-definition picture of who you need right now.

It is crafted from the detailed criteria set by the role’s demands, the current status and needs in the team and division, and the cultural addition you’re looking for.

But recruitment is, of course, not just about filling a vacancy. 

It’s about finding a match for the organisation’s way of work, the aspirations for its culture, and the ambitions for its future.

In this context, finding talent means finding someone who embodies the company’s values, fits seamlessly into its environment, and can chase its goals with vigour and passion.

Did you know that it’s much harder to match all of these criteria during a recruitment campaign if you don’t have enough employer brand awareness in your specific talent market and have your targeted audience’s sustainable attention to your hiring?

Did you know that it’s much harder to match all of these criteria during a recruitment campaign if you don’t have enough employer brand awareness in your specific talent market and have your targeted audience’s sustainable attention to your hiring?

Susanna Rantanen

That’s why you should start employer branding way before you start hiring. And continue employer branding hiring or not.

Employer branding positions you as a specific kind of employer, organisation and work place attracting people who want to use their skills and potential for your purpose and mission when the time is right for them and your organisation.

They [this organic audience you have built] notice your vacancies and keep taps on who you hire and when. When they have chosen you as their top employer, they are more likely to apply to your vacancies, delivering you the skills and experience you wanted and the match between your aspirations and ways of work.

This is unlikely to happen if you only focus on hiring and don’t know your audience or your talent market.

Employer Branding: Painting the future with broad strokes

On the flip side, employer branding isn’t concerned with the immediacy of any role needing to be filled. 

It’s about building a reputation, a specific perception and a promise of a better life. We call it the art of business storytelling. 

Through your employer brand, you’re not just speaking to those who could fill a role today; you’re speaking to potential future leaders, innovators, and game-changers. 

You’re engaging with individuals who may not even realise they’ll be part of your journey someday.

Your employer brand is your company’s narrative, encapsulating the mission, vision, and values that will resonate with people beyond the confines of immediate recruitment. 

It’s about connecting future talents’ destinies with your business’s unfolding story. 

This narrative is about paving a pathway for prospective employees to see their future intertwined with yours, even if the time isn’t right for them to join your ranks just yet.

I want to let you know that employer branding is not a one-off campaign; it’s a continuous communication process of aligning company missions with talent aspirations. 

It’s a methodological crafting of your business’s future through employer brand communication, which, for example, the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ provides you with.

You do this to ensure that when the paths of potential talents and your company do cross, it’s a meeting that’s been long anticipated and is mutually beneficial.

Who exactly are your target audiences in employer branding?

Working with target audiences in HR marketing

That’s all for this week, my dear audience!

Remember to subscribe to Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast on your favourite podcast app or YouTube! And while you are there, why don’t you rate this podcast, too!

Moi moi, see you next week at the same place and time!

You might also like these ones:


Other posts