Recruitment ads targeted at ‘passive job seekers’ could help employers avoid a mountain of irrelevant CVs

The digital age has made us accustomed to the pairs of shoes and gym memberships that follow us around the internet taunting us to respond, but are we ready for job ads to pop up while we browse? Recruitment advertising specialist Big Splash is using programmatic advertising in recruitment to help companies target ideal candidates and take the stress out of trawling CVs from across the world. 

Managing director Sharon Davies says it’s about looking for talent in places where talent hangs out, and that’s no longer job boards and the situations vacant section in the classifieds.

“They are on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms; they are looking at news. If you want to get their attention, you need to be reaching them where they are actively engaged already.”

Davies says the approach applies to any candidate, but even more so those who are not actively looking for a new position, but are open to the possibility of a new opportunity. This is because passive candidates represent a substantial pool of talent which, with the right approaches, can be effectively tapped.

“These individuals in particular are highly unlikely to be spending time on job boards or on Trade Me looking for a new job. But if something catches their eye – through a targeted Facebook ad, Google Ad Words or on Instagram, there is every possibility of making that hire.”

This effort to target “passive job seekers”, could be improved in New Zealand however, because employers remain hung up on the candidates they get from job boards. 

In an HR Daily Community blog, Davies wrote New Zealanders tend to take the “this is how we’ve always done it approach”, which limits willingness to try newer, better methods. But she pointed out, the quality of those candidates found on job boards is no guarantee, where as those picked up on Facebook and other social media sites recognised the position was so well suited to them to them, they clicked and applied. 

Davies likens programmatic advertising for recruiting to the dating app Tinder, saying that “finding the perfect employee is like going on a date – it’s people looking for people to find a perfect match”. And she says the better the digital campaign, the more “right swipes” you’ll get.

Earlier this year, the New Zealand police attempted to target potential candidates with campaign designed to make people question if they were the right kind of person for the force. A series of videos on TV and online showed a social experiment to see who would stop and help those in need on the street. According to the video, those who stopped, or would stop, care enough to be a cop.

However, it’s not just candidate behavior that’s changing. Davies says fragmented media channels have changed the recruitment space itself, because it’s more difficult to attract attention.

“It is difficult to attract and retain people’s attention in an ever-busier world. You need to be in multiple places to capture eyes and grab attention for long enough to make an impact. At the same time, there is heightened competition for talent in multiple industries,” she says.

Earlier this year, Edward McKnight faced that realisation when looking for employment. His dream job was the youth and innovation sponsorship manager at ASB, so he used ads on Facebook to target ASB staff as a way of applying for it.

While McKnight didn’t get the job at ASB, another new recruitment service, PreviewMe is hoping its methods will help candidates stand out and grab the attention of employers.

The website launched a couple of months ago, with a system that’s replaced CVs with videos.

CEO and co-founder Johnny Farquar told StopPress, video allows candidates to express or demonstrate their skills, confidence, cultural fit and other characteristics that would ordinarily be lost in a written word CV.

He also said employers are able to publish videos to show what the workplace culture is like and what it’s looking for in a new recruit.

So far, Deloitte, Augusto, Corner Store and NZME are among the companies using the website.

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