This year, former BAE Systems Recruitment Marketing Manager Amber Messersmith and her team kicked off a project that is laying the groundwork to amplify and optimize their recruitment marketing strategy: targeted candidate personas.
For Amber, improving their ad targeting strategies and focusing their candidate segmentation meant researching and really getting a handle on who their audience is. “I wanted to be very clear in terms of who it is we’re trying to reach and strategic about the message we use to reach them,” said Amber.
So they got to work with their agency partner to build out candidate personas that would lead to successful recruitment marketing messaging.
The first thing Amber’s team and their partner did was look at the highest priority roles they wanted to fill and develop appropriate targets based on them. According to Amber, they have five specific personas they’re looking to target: engineers, intelligence analysts, skilled tradespersons in manufacturing and maintenance, veterans and the military community, and students/candidates early in their career.
“In terms of our entire candidate base, it’s bigger than that,” explained Amber. “But for efficiency’s sake, we needed to categorize as much as possible because we don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to personalize every piece of content for every candidate at this juncture.”
Once they found their categories, Amber and her team worked to personalize and humanize their content.
Amber shared that a priority for the team is increasing the personalization of their messaging –- and she said the best way for them to do that is to improve their understanding of who their audience is.
“When we’re trying to recruit an engineer, we want to speak to them in a language and from a place that makes sense for them and really speaks to their values,” said Amber. “Everything we do is rooted in our employee value proposition and focused on how we can communicate the distinct value that BAE Systems brings to a potential candidate.”
In their targeting strategies, they also work to leverage their employees –- using employee photos and stories that can bring their narrative to life.
Amber said another key component of the project is establishing and maintaining consistency across their targeted messaging.
“We have a lot of different business areas and stakeholders who, if left to their own devices to create marketing materials, could result in an employer brand that looks 10 different ways,” explained Amber. So, she and her team made it a priority to maintain more consistency and a coherent brand voice through their recruitment marketing strategy.
“Coherent messaging rooted in our EVP is also important for the candidate, so they can see who we are as an employer,” she said. “One of our biggest challenges in recruitment marketing is awareness, and the best way for us to increase our brand awareness is to be consistent.”
Now, every time a candidate engages with one of their brands, they have a similar experience.
Amber and her team are leveraging Google search and social media to put BAE Systems’ employer brand directly in the paths of candidates who are looking for certain jobs or industries.
They are engaging more on social in collaboration with their corporate communications team and making sure their career site and other owned properties are using the same language and sharing the same stories as their targeted ads.
“With Google, we can target explicitly when it comes to geography and the types of keywords candidates are using in their job search,” explained Amber. “We’ve built landing pages that are based on location and our sector or business area, and we deliver search ads to folks in that target based on those keywords.”
Amber says they’ve found a lot of success through these strategies. “It’s very cost effective as far as driving traffic and apply clicks to our career site,” said Amber. “Social is great for us from an awareness perspective and building brand equity -– which includes telling stories about our diversity inclusion efforts.”
As they grows the project, one of the biggest challenges the small team faces is bandwidth.
“We have a lot of shifting priorities,” explained Amber. “Trying to really be smart about how we prioritize our time and goals has been one of the biggest challenges for me.”
She shared that getting buy-in from leadership was also an initial obstacle her team had to overcome, but by sharing the vision and purpose for the project they were able to demonstrate what they could achieve and why it mattered to the business. “Coming to them with a solid rationale and a strategic approach made the process much easier,” said Amber. “Now they’re really excited to see where it goes.”
For others working to optimize their ad targeting, Amber shares that thorough research is critical.
She said you want to get as much data as you can about the current perception of your brand. “Doing a gap analysis and getting a foundational understanding of where you are is a great place to start,” she said. Then you can work from there and figure out which locations, demographics, or skill sets you’re going to focus on first.
“It’s key to educate yourself and be knowledgeable about your brand –- and build relationships within the organization,” she said. “Especially within large companies like mine with people all over the world. Since we sit at the headquarters, being able to reach out and make connections and have those conversations makes a world of difference. The best way to persuade others on an idea, project, etc. is to show my passion, and if I can ignite that same level of interest and passion based on how I communicate, that’s a win.”
Amber Messersmith has been a member of the Talent Marketing Board since 2018. You can follow her on LinkedIn.