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Key takeaways:

  • Diversifying Media Strategy: T-Mobile’s shift from solely relying on paid media to embracing owned, earned, and leveraged media showcased the importance of a holistic approach in meeting recruiting goals within budget constraints.
  • Leadership Buy-In and Education: Securing support from recruiting leaders and implementing comprehensive education strategies were vital steps in ensuring successful adoption of the new media approach among recruiting teams.
  • Candidate-Centric Approach: Recognizing the evolving behavior of job seekers as consumers, T-Mobile emphasized the need to target multiple touchpoints throughout the candidate journey, supported by data-driven insights and transparent communication.

In mid-2018, T-Mobile Senior Employer Brand Marketing Manager Marie Lo and her team realized that, as the recruiting teams came to them with their needs, they were always asking how they could increase their paid media usage, instead of using other media resources available to them.

“But, while advertising is an important component of any marketing strategy, we don’t have unlimited budget,” Marie said.

She and her team saw an immediate need to transform the way they educate how their recruiting teams think of and interpret media.

They started focusing on other forms of media they could consider for a more holistic and integrated strategy to meet their recruiting goals.

“Of course paid media will always be one component of it,” she said. “But it’s not the end-all, be-all solution.” Marie and her team decided to focus on owned media, earned media, and leveraged media to build out their recruiting team’s media tactics.

She wanted to make sure recruiters knew that, through earned media, they could build a stronger partnership with their internal PR teams to explore opportunities in local areas and promote events or job openings. And, through leveraged media, they could take advantage of T-Mobile’s outreach and events team — which uses mobile trucks to promote the T-Mobile brand in different cities — to increase careers and recruiting visibility.

Once Marie and her team identified the core components of their media transformation, they started looking at educating the recruiters and getting them on board.

They started with their weekly HR all-hands call — which goes out to all of their HR and Recruiting teams — to present on the changes.

The other touch points included working with their recruiting leaders. “We wanted to find time with them separately and educate them about taking this more comprehensive and holistic approach,” Marie explained. “We needed to get their buy-in because ultimately, we need the recruiting leader support to get this down to the recruiting teams.”

Because this media transformation requires a behavioral change, Marie said getting leadership buy-in and developing a comprehensive education strategy was crucial.

“It’s important to leverage all these different channels,” she explained. “For a lot of recruiters, their background isn’t in marketing, so we find that doing a Marketing 101 education session and then going into why we need to apply a comprehensive marketing strategy is the right way to start.”

She said, throughout their process, they had to make sure the recruiters first understood the importance of marketing, or the rest of their advice wouldn’t stick.

As part of their education process, they’re also educating their recruiters that candidates behave like consumers throughout their job search.

“Because of this new behavior amongst candidates, we also apply corresponding marketing strategies and tactics to go after the candidates we want,” said Marie.

She and her team found Glassdoor research data shows that, on average, candidates go through 18 touchpoints before making the decision to even apply. Because of that, they wanted to emphasize to recruiters the importance of including non-paid media touchpoints.

“That could be through one of our events, word of mouth, or employee referrals — or candidates may look at Glassdoor or do a Google search,” she said. “There’s a whole list of potential touchpoints for candidates, and we really need to show up at those touchpoints. If they’re looking for us, we need to be there.”

They also developed a video component to provide their recruiters with a visual element to aid information retention.

“We made a video where we interviewed a number of new hires and asked them about their journeys to finding careers at T-Mobile,” said Marie. “All of their journeys were different, but it was also clear from their stories that the journey wasn’t linear. Someone could start out with a Google search, whereas someone else heard from a friend, or started out as a T-Mobile customer.”

Marie and her team used these videos to drive home the importance of targeting multiple candidate touchpoints in the recruitment process.

But, Marie and her team found that the majority of those journeys start out with a search engine.

“We realized we weren’t investing enough efforts in paid search marketing, but if someone searches ‘T-Mobile,’ our consumer marketing team would show up,” she explained. So they had to figure out where they could partner with that team and fit into those results.

When they started this media transformation, Marie and her team didn’t have the governance in place to increase their paid search marketing efforts. They partnered with their in-house marketing team to consolidate all paid efforts so all of T-Mobile search would come from one place.

Throughout the transformation, they also leveraged partnerships with other teams across the organization to aid in their recruitment efforts.

For earned media opportunities, they partner with their PR team. “It’s really about making it visible to our recruiting teams that they have that access to PR and that team can help build press around their recruitment needs, locations, and call centers,” Marie explained.

Then, through their partnership with the T-Mobile Outreach and Events team, recruiters could go around in a mobile truck to build buzz and awareness around T-Mobile as an employer of choice.

But, according to Marie, identifying the right partners and building those relationships didn’t happen overnight. “It took some time to figure out because T-Mobile is such a big organization,” she said.

According to Marie, the most important component of the transformation was making sure the recruiters believed in the new direction.

“It’s been great for me to see that they understand and have bought into ‘the why’ of the transformation,” she said. “It’s been eye opening for them to see that candidate journeys are very much like consumer journeys, and that we can no longer apply what we call ‘post and pray,’ where we post a job somewhere and just hope that people will apply.”

Through their education sessions on the HR all-hands calls and their relationships with recruiting leaders, Marie and her team have been able to drive home that people won’t apply if they don’t understand who you are and what you represent.

“Our call to action on everything was always just to apply,” she said. “We realized that even when we did paid media, it was really application driving media. But when people don’t first understand who T-Mobile is as an employer, they’re not going to be engaged to apply.”

Marie said, throughout the transformation, the biggest challenge has been change.

“Any change that happens within an organization and gets people out of their comfort zone is always challenging,” she said. “But I think with any change that happens, as long as you have a strong education component and a good communication plan, then you can work around that challenge.”

Marie said they were also very transparent with the transformation they were doing and why — and that transparency was helpful to the transformation’s adoption and success.

She emphasized that, for anyone looking to tackle something similar, it’s important to have data.

“Whether it’s quantitative or qualitative data to support your case, it can make a big difference,” she explained. “We leveraged third party and internal research to identify where we needed to be.”

She said it all comes down to educating recruiters on the value of targeting different and multiple touchpoints. “Candidates go through a long list of touchpoints before they even apply,” she said. “And through research, we were able to really demonstrate the need to expand our recruitment marketing too so we can show up across all these various and relevant touchpoints where our candidates are. Success is all about showing up where and when it matters.”

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