Category: Brand (page 1 of 2)

How to write headlines: 8 tips for recruitment marketers


There is an 80:20 rule when it comes to writing online, and David Ogilvy put it so well when he said you should spend 80% of your time focusing on the headline.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

The five most important headlines you should consider are:

  1. Blog titles
  2. Social status updates
  3. Email subject lines
  4. Website page titles
  5. LinkedIn headlines

For each of these there are some rules and formulas which are universal.

Tip One: Relevancy

Make sure your headline is relevant to your audience and feels like it has been written for them. Consider using words that are specific to them like “The 3 mistakes hiring managers make when dealing with recruiters”. (By the way, negative headlines really capture people’s attention.) This will potentially reduce the volume of people interacting, but increase the relevancy of those interacting. And what matters more : volume or quality?

Tip Two: Solve problems

Try answering questions you are being asked regularly. “How to …” is the most powerful term in digital marketing. Leading with this allows you to start solving business problems your targets may have.

Tip Three: Timeliness

How timely is your content? Tie your headlines to something that is happening right now. This drives up the urgency in the reader. The downside is that the content won’t be evergreen so you may not be able to keep coming back to it.

Tip Four: Tool Up

Use tools! Check out Adestra and their subject line analysis tool. It allows you to see if the key words you are using are likely to boost or drop your open rates. Using this I can see that the key word “danger” in a subject line should increase clicks in my email.

Tip Five: Short

Short and sweet. It works for blogs, social media, emails. With email marketing it is crucial you have a short email subject line especially as nearly half of all emails are now read on mobiles.

Tip Six: ACTION!

Drive action by using verbs. These doing words will help your audience start to take action themselves.

Tip Seven: Question?

Ask questions of your audience. They will be more likely to read and respond.  Wouldn’t you?

Tip Eight: Use numbers

People click on titles, updates and emails with numbers In. Use them sparingly though as some people have become bored or listicles (articles made entirely of lists). That said they still have some of highest click through rates.


So I should write a post called “5 mistakes recruitment marketers make with headlines” next week and use “How to write headlines: 8 tips for recruitment marketers” for this post.  Lets see how it works…

Creating video in recruitment

Video is easily the fastest growing content type online. The problem recruitment companies face is that it feels expensive and hard to start. It doesn’t have to be though.


What makes a good recruitment video?

Attention. Grab your audience and stand out. This means being selective with the thumbnail you use, the cover image, the title and video description.

Once you have your audiences’ attention it is about making sure the content is good quality to maintain interest through out the video.

Story is crucial in maintaining attention but also delivering a message. Think about the structure of the content and narrative. If you are writing a script then edit in the same way you would a blog or article. Take out anything that isn’t essential.

If you are looking for a simple framework to creating content check out this.

Action. The next steps need to be considered when creating video. Ensure that you have something for your audience to do once they have watched your video – it might be to visit your website, share the video, check out a job or learn about your services.

But it all sounds expensive.

It doesn’t have to be. If you are outsourcing video creation to an agency there are businesses that can work to pretty much any budget.

If you want to start out producing your own content because it is cheaper, you want more control or quicker turn around times then the good news is that it can super simple. In fact you can shoot HD video and edit it entirely for free using your iPhone.

I would recommend investing in a tripod and a phone attachment. These vary in price from a £1 (from Poundland – no joke!) to £30 for a good tripod.

If you can stretch the budget I’d recommend getting a DSLR camera as this will also take good photos that you will be able to use in other places like your website or for social media.

Tips for making video yourself

Do make sure where you are filming is well lit. Aim for natural light, don’t put your subject in direct sunlight as it will wash out your picture.

Do film in a quiet place with limited background noise. If you can’t avoid the background noise then try to be close to the subject or set up a second recording device and record an audio note. These two files can be merged when you edit. You can also buy an external mic to connect to your device.

Do use your tripod. Nothing screams poor quality recording more than the jogging of a camera.

Don’t film portrait. Have your phone horizontal unless you are doing something on Snapchat.

Good luck and get shooting!


Improve your personal brand on LinkedIn

Even the best marketing, PR, advertising and branding professionals neglect their own personal brand. But by ignoring themselves they are missing out on business opportunities, jobs and are building the wrong associations in others’ minds.

Take the bull by the horns and make a couple of quick changes to make sure that every interaction with you online is as impactful as possible.

Start by thinking about the five key messages or stories that you need to tell.

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • My mission
  • What I do
  • What that means for you

Five key messages

Who am I?

This should be a short introduction to you. It is essential that it is easy to tell across multiple channels and be as relevant on the homepage of your website and LinkedIn page as it is being told by someone else in reference to you.

A good profile picture is essential. You are seven times more likely to receive a response to an InMail if you have one. In addition, it helps should you bump into someone at an event or meeting. The style of the picture should reflect how you wish to be perceived. A picture of you down the pub might be the picture you have to hand but that isn’t the lasting impression you want to leave (unless you are a publican of course).

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of this conversation or this content that you are making me read? What are you trying to achieve? Be up front about your objective.

My Mission.

Explain what you stand for. This needs to include your core values and your mission statement as well as what motivates you.

What I do.

Your mission should be more of your “why” and this is more “how” you do your job. Find your USP – your unique selling proposition and explain it to your audience.

Instead of just explaining what we are selling you could equally discuss the UBR – the unique buying reason; the reason that people buy instead of the reason we sell.

What that means for you.

Complete the circle and give case studies and testimonials of how you have helped or impacted others. It is essential that you have success stories that demonstrate how you have achieved your mission through what you do and how you do it.

Putting things into practice

Now take a look at your LinkedIn profile and see how these elements take shape.

Use your headline not to show your job title, but instead how you can help other people. This is your succinct Who I Am content.

Build out your Summary with your full Who I Am message and then explain Why Am I Here followed by My Mission.

Each section of your Experience should explain the My Mission of the company you work for or represent. Then you can go on to explain What I Do highlighting your USPs (or UBRs). If your role involves a process that you take people / businesses through it is wise to document that.

Use both the rich media components and Recommendations to show what you have done for others. This is your online portfolio that highlights What This Means For You should someone choose to do business with you.


Double check that your contact details are up to date and that it is easy to get in touch.

You can add up to three links on your profile – make sure you use them! At the very least link to your company website. A few other options include social media sites, specific areas on your website (such as testimonials or services), your blog or a portfolio.

To see an annotated guide check out the slides below.

Sales Vs. Marketing – should you do one without the other?

The best recruiters act like marketers. The best marketers act like sales people.

The challenge modern businesses face is that whilst the roles of marketing and sales are on their way to converging, the day to day activities each party undertakes are still distant cousins.
According to HubSpot the tools that marketers prefer are predominantly inbound lead generators – like social media, whereas sales professionals lean more towards outbound tools – like the telephone and email.

Marketing vs Sales

Inbound activities such as social media and content marketing are like marketing with a magnet whilst cold calling and untargeted traditional advertising is marketing with a proverbial sledgehammer smashing your prospect over the head with your message regardless of their interest or relevancy. Thoughtful and targeted still works when it comes to advertising and cold calling. Take for instance the practice of calling companies who are posting job adverts; if you are recommending the perfect candidate the client is more likely to listen to you. That is smart and relevant. Your prospect has an obvious business problem which you can fix with your candidate.

In the above example I say “more likely” because the fact of the matter is that this prospect has probably had a dozen calls this morning already and two dozen emails with the “perfect candidate” being speculatively pitched.

2013-11-26 09.18.422

Rather than extol the virtues of inbound marketing and sneering irreverently at telesales professionals I truly believe that both have a place and should work in conjunction for maximum impact. Having started my career making cold calls (a job / challenge that I absolutely loved!), I believe that there is a still a place for telesales and cold calling. However cold calling without the support of marketing is like bringing a knife to gun fight.

One person, one phone, how many calls?

It is impossible to make unlimited calls within a finite timeframe, and although training and coaching can help people to hone the skills of a sales person on each call it is still a lot of investment with a variable return.

Whilst I would never say that marketing generates 100% returns I will say that the equation of sales and marketing working together is better than the sum of their parts.

Sales + Marketing = <Sales only OR <Marketing only.

(Measuring the ROI of social media is hard – but here are a few ideas)

Marginal Gains

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”
Dave Brailsford

Mr. Brailsford was on to something. The fact his cycling teams won 59 World Championships and multiple gold medals at the Olympics was no fluke. Make everything you do more effective and your business will be more successful.

  • Training makes each call better.
  • Good call lists and research make every call more relevant.
  • Fantastic candidates to pitch increase the likelihood of a close.
  • Warmed-up contacts who have been marketed to make for better calls and conversations.
  • An inbound lead makes for the quickest of turnarounds.

Maximise your calls
In the same way that untargeted calls get little return it makes sense to have a targeted approach to marketing. Focus your energies and resources on a specific audience which is manageable (by manageable I mean reasonable within the means of your time, budget and skills). Select the audience you want to influence and begin to market to them.

Business courses and marketing qualifications talk about the “buyers journey”,” sales funnel” or “marketing funnel”. Familiarise yourself with it. Understand who needs to see your business and start to build up awareness with this target audience, deliver a message that makes them consider you and your services. If that message is good enough and resonates that target audience will start to generate a preference or bias towards you compared to other businesses and competitors. At that point you may well drive conversions directly through inbound leads, but equally you should be targeting these people with traditional sales methods like telesales. Calls to a warmed up audience are substantially more likely to drive returns.

Buyers Journey

According to the Harvard Business Review 57% of a decision to buy from a business happens before contact with a sales person. That top of the funnel marketing activity dictates the success at the bottom of the funnel.

The Cold Call

Killing the cold call starts when you warm up the audience with marketing. A colleague of mine worked for a well-known recruitment agency (the one where everyone wears blue suits and brown shoe wearers would historically be sent home to find more appropriate attire). In his years at this agency he never once made a cold call. The reason being that every person he interacted with already knew the business, the brand and had made their mind up if they were good or not. The quality of the recruiter rarely came into question as quality was assumed based on the brand’s reputation in the market. When this colleague moved to a start-up he finally learnt what cold calling was. Introducing a new business or a new concept is hard when your target audience has no frame of reference to work with.

If you ask him where he preferred working he can’t deny that life was easier at the well-known agency.

Make your life easy. Be a well-know agency.  Start marketing now.

Why I Never Wear T-shirts to Client Meetings

LinkedIn is one of the most laid-back companies I’ve worked at from a dress-sense perspective.  I’ve seen people wearing shorts in the office.  Actual shorts.  Sometimes even with flip-flops.

Whilst I have adapted my old-fashioned ways and developed a fondness for Casual Fridays (heck, I’ve been spotted in a t-shirt and hoody) I will never see a client in a t-shirt.  And neither will the majority of my colleagues.

But why not?

A t-shirt in a business meeting doesn’t deliver the right message.  No matter how laid back your company or your client, if you are discussing a professional solution the industry standard is to wear something professional.  Not necessarily a suit.  Suits are no longer the by-word for professional.  That isn’t expected in this day and age.  But you need to wear something that meets the standards of a professional company.

Casual Friday Darth Vadar

Your clients and candidates expect to see you in a certain way; and whilst you may wear shorts and flip-flops in the office when no-one is around, you need to be dressed to impress online.  How are you positioning your business across your website or social media?  Is it shorts or a shirt?

Having a minimum standard is essential.  A website and social media presence today is how you are dressed when no-one is looking.   Button up or risk the chance of failing at the first impression.

Some of my best friends are Active

In recruitment marketing people seem to see the Active Candidate as a dirty word.  We just forget about these folks. The fact is some of my best friends are Active.  Probably 25% of them in fact…


25% active – 75% passive

These active candidates who only make up between 20-25% of the talent out there have nothing wrong with them.  They may still be able to do a good job for your business, and we shouldn’t forget about them.

When I started as a recruiter I focused on purely active people.  During that time I placed my now-wife (she ruined my profit margins by negotiating an extortion pay-rate), as well as friends and family in roles when they were looking. I was a hero to them.

As I became a better recruiter I realised that only tapping into those who were looking wasn’t going to allow me to fill every role I picked up.  This is when I went Passive.  I was finding the best people in the market, not just the best on the market.  I was a hero to my clients.

Today I am not a recruiter; I haven’t been for years.  But I still get emails and InMails from contacts asking if I can help them with their next job.  Some of these contacts I placed previously, many of whom I didn’t and for years I’ve been completely useless to them… but suddenly I am useful again when they become active.

Why contact me?  Why not Google a recruiter?

Because all I do, all day, every day is talk, share, blog, Tweet about recruitment.  They see me as the expert in this field.  I have managed to stay top of mind for several years and my brand is such that I am still a trusted advisor.  I will say this: there are much better recruiters than me out there (the best I worked with was probably Elleni) – but why would someone go and look for them when they know exactly where I am?  Let us not forget that not everyone trusts recruiters, and in fact the recruitment industry in general still doesn’t have a great name .  People go where they see an expert and avoid a cowboy.

No matter how well known you think you are, how many candidates you have placed or how big your database is you can’t guarantee that your target audience is thinking about you right now or at the moment they want a new job.  Ask yourself: when was the last time my target audience thought about me in terms of their career or their next job?

When friends and family contact me for advice on their CVs or interviews I am more than happy to help.  In fact, most of the time I am flattered if not a little surprised.  But when you think about my social footprint I seem a pretty logical choice.  Recently whilst on holiday with my wife in Mexico I had a bracelet made.  I shared it on Instagram…

#Staffing taking over in #Mexico now. Don’t hate the player – hate the game. #Staffing4life

A photo posted by Alex (@alphanovembercharlie) on

Recruitment consultancies need to constantly get their message out to market to promote the fact that they are experts in recruitment and experts in the industries in which they work, otherwise they won’t see the applications, registrations or inquiries when people finally become active.

Buyers Journey

The investment of time, resource and skills upfront may seem large, but it generates a never ending cycle of potential talent.  Build your brand, build awareness and build a following and you can reap the rewards long term.  Stay top of mind as your ideal candidate may just be becoming active…

5 Recruitment Trends for 2015

1. Expect Growth in the Recruitment Sector

Month on month the REC has seen more placements made through recruitment agencies.  This has resulted in an increase in turnover, and according to the latest figures from HSBC’s investor report, the recruitment industry is making nearly £10billion more than it was four years ago.  This trend is likely to continue well into 2015 and beyond with most European governments expecting an improved outlook on jobs and the economy.

The challenge is that the roles recruitment agencies are filling are increasingly the harder to work placements as employers are trying to “go direct” for the “easy” positions.  Scarce skills are becoming scarcer and there are less and less people available on the market (see report below).


2. Recruitment Revenue Will Go Up

As the margins in permanent recruitment continues to rise (by 5.7% between 2013 and today according to KMPG and REC) there is real potential for recruitment businesses to improve their turnover in 2015.  Salaries are also due to improve in 2015 which means even if margins remain stable total revenue should improve.

The challenge will remain finding the right people, having those people interested in talking to you and making placements.  Establishing a true unique selling point and truly understanding the value you deliver outside of just sending CVs is going to be crucial to maintaining the fees and margins that we are expecting.


3. Small Businesses Challenging Big Businesses

Across global, large and small recruitment firms huge effort is being put into developing a clear brand and concrete message to market.  Whilst many larger brands struggle to create relevant propositions for each of the industries or functions they recruit for, smaller businesses are taking full advantage of their expert status.  As businesses continue to focus on niche skills this will only become more commonplace.

The challenge will be to grow and diversify whilst still maintaining what has made your business successful in the past.


4. Serious Mergers and Acquisitions To Take Place

In 2011 the biggest purchase acquisition was for $770m when Randstad bought SFN Group (at the time the world’s 13th largest staffing firm).  In the past year we may not have seen acquisitions on that scale, but the number of purchases has shown confidence in the market and the perceived value of the recruitment sector increasing.

NES (who themselves were bought in 2012 for £234m) made two investments this year to cement their foothold in the Nordic oil and energy sector.  Allegis (the 32nd largest private business in the US) bought Talent2 to further strengthen its APAC offering.  Hays invested £28m for 80% of Veredus Corp to further develop their offering in NAMER in the IT recruitment space.

According to the 5th largest global recruitment firm Recruit Holdings’ President Masumi Minegishi, their business is likely to acquire in order to further develop their global presence.

“We are constantly eyeing deals globally and have more than 50 potential targets on our list,” says Minegishi in his latest interview with the Wall Street Journal.

With more large businesses looking to acquire in order to broaden their base expect to see a raft of moves for middle tier recruitment organisations.


5. Recruitment Firms Take Their Employer Brand Seriously

This week LinkedIn published a list of the top 25 most in demand skills of 2014.  Globally “recruiting” was the 15th most in demand skill.  In Brazil it was 2nd, Netherlands the 5th, the UAE 8th and UK 17th.  I have no doubt that this trend will continue as the industry sees more money pumped in from investors, through improved margins and profits in the sector.

The challenge will be to stand out from the crowd and to improve the brand of the recruitment industry as a whole.

Companies like Lawrence Harvey are doing a great job of this with collateral like their recent video.

Recruitment Trends 2015What are the top trends you see emerging in 2015?  Leave  a comment below…

Being 1 in a Million

When I was growing up a million was a massive number.  Working in social media meant that a million suddenly got really small.

829 million people visited Facebook a day in June 2014.  500 million Tweets are sent daily.  LinkedIn has over 313 million members.  6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.

That means that if you want to be 1 in a million on Facebook there are going to be 829 other people just like you.

If you send a 1 in a million Tweet there are 500 others just as good every day.

If are a one in a million graduate applying to a job on LinkedIn then there are 39 other applicants equally as qualified as you.

Average doesn’t cut it.  Above average doesn’t cut it.  Being awesome isn’t something you aspire to be – you have to be awesome in everything you do, or risk being forgotten.

One in a Million

Spend more time in less places.  Focus on being awesome where it counts.  Stand out or stand down.



Here are a few other social media statistics


  • 654 million mobile daily active users on average in June 2014
  • 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June 30, 2014
  • 1.07 billion mobile monthly active users as of June 30, 2014


  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute


  • 271 million monthly active users
  • Vine: More than 40 million users


  • LinkedIn members did over 5.7 billion professionally-oriented searches on the platform in 2012.
  • More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages
  • There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.
  • LinkedIn members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups.
  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.


Recruitment Snakes and Ladders

First impressions count.  So do last impressions.  All the impressions in-between, well they count too.

Recruitment is a game of snakes and ladders.  Every interaction with a client or candidate creates an impression which either pushes them forward or drives them backward.

Snakes and Ladders

You answer the phone within three rings.  Move forward.  You were polite.  Move forward.   You follow up when you said you would.  Move forward.

You didn’t spell-check your email.  Move back.  You left six voicemails in one afternoon.  Move back.  You sent them fifteen irrelevant CVs.  Go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect your recruitment fee.

Interactions don’t just happen with your consultants.  They happen when people visit your office and are greeted by a friendly receptionist, when they sit in a comfortable chair in your board room, when they drink from your un-chipped coffee cups.  But they equally happen online.

In fact there are probably more people interacting with you online each day than ever meet your friendly receptionist or drink from your coffee cups.  Unless each of those online interactions is positive and leaves the right impression they may never get the chance to sit in your comfortable board room.

Don’t let your website, social media presence and digital credentials be a box of snakes.

The lie we tell about the marketing funnel

One lie we tell ourselves is that if we catch someone at the right moment we can get them to do what we want with our business.

Sometimes we get lucky.  But luck isn’t what makes us truly successful.

If you studied marketing or business you will have learnt The Buyer’s Journey.  It shows people going in at the top, and, at the bottom revenue comes out.  The idea being, that the more people you put in the top the more people come out of the process and the more money you make.

Buyers Journey

The Buyer’s Journey

In recruitment marketing “Purchase” is normally replaced with “Convert” which can include applications from candidates or contact from a client with a job role.

Search engine optimisation and behavioural advertising were meant to kill the funnel.  But guess what?  It still exists in 2014.  It will still exist in 2015.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it still exists in a twenty years.

Search engine optimisation is meant to get people to the point of conversion as they start looking.  But before they start looking ideas have already started to form in their mind as to what they want to buy, what sort of provider they are looking for and what sort of budget they are willing to spend.  They have preconceptions as to whom or what might be best for them.

If you Google “flights to Paris from London” you are likely to find a variety of sites flaunting their wares.  What do you look at first?  Instantly you know a little about the sites you might click on.  Each site – and each brand – has its own connotations.  Some you lean towards, other you actively avoid.

Google results for "flights to Paris from London"

Google results for “flights to Paris from London”

If you don’t have an affinity for a brand or business you start to do your research.  At that point there isn’t much time to build up Consideration and Preference before telling people to Purchase.  Don’t leave it until then to influence your target audience.  It is dangerous and leaves you in the same position as your equally unknown competition.

The question shouldn’t be “how do I make sure I am there when someone looks?”  It should be “how do I make someone want to interact with me when they are looking?”

You can’t bypass Awareness, Consideration or Preference.

Look again at the listing above.  You probably recognise at least four companies.  What do you think about each of them?  Which would you be likely to click on?

Spend your time building a brand.  Become recognised for what you do and how you do it.  If your message resonates with your target audience, when they do start looking for products or services like yours, you will be the one they come to.

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