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#96 Content strategy that helps your firm recruit the right talent

Staying current with developments in one’s field is important, so I attended the inaugural “Pinnacle” conference for experienced marketers, by the Society for Marketing Professional Services in October 2017.


I usually think of content marketing as a way to help professional firms to reach out to prospective clients. But there’s a second role to content strategy too – helping firms to gain the attention of potential employees. That’s one aspect I took from a presentation by Nicole La of TEECOM who considers her job to be creating great “experiences” for potential new hires, clients and existing employees.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time, ever since a leader of a not-yet-a-client firm in California said that her biggest problem is not finding clients, but finding people with the right skills to do the client work that the firm has been able to land.

I learned from Nicole’s talk that professional firms can use content strategy to attract two main kinds of potential hires:

1. Recent graduates of college and university programs – who are often looking for a chance to do interesting work that makes a difference in the world, that uses their skills, is fairly secure and comes with a good compensation package

2. Experienced professionals, project managers, and recognized “names” in the industry, who may need to be enticed away from their present employment

Two of the types of content that can help with this are case studies and manifesto type.

Here’s how to use both to help your firm find the right talent.

Case studies, but with a twist

I’ve advocated creating case studies as a way of gaining new business, reluctantly. That reluctance is based on the fact that most case studies are done out of ego gratification, and don’t have any information of use to a potential client (see Post #89 for more on that). A secondary and more elevated motive is to add more wisdom to the store of human knowledge, and that’s a good thing, but doesn’t do much for helping the firm build its book of business.

I wrote about how to prepare case studies that work in my very first post in this blogthey must have lessons-learned that can be applied by the potential client. I also talked about how case studies can be a bad thing, in Post #42.

Case studies done for recruiting purposes are different. They must have a “cool” factor, however that’s expressed. The message is, “Come work with us, and you can do work that’s just challenging and career-building.”

For many potential new hires, “cool” includes a project that provides an environmental or social benefit to the planet or the community. This means case studies must be filtered by three main factors:
  • Selecting projects that have that altruistic or sustainability “cool” factor,
  • Focusing the text on those “cool” aspects
  • Increasing chances that highly desirable candidates will find the information – through SEO that will make it likely to be found online, and publishing it in the right media.

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Case studies must not be done in a “look how clever we are” manner, but in a way that illustrates the values prized by job-seekers. For example, you might indicate how a project was done in a way that avoided cutting trees or otherwise disrupting habitat, how the project was done in a way that created jobs for people in the area, or how it produced fewer carbon emissions.

Many potential employees are aware that the firm’s clients may not be easily sold on the idea of lower-impact methods if it impacts the price or performance – and will like the idea of working for an organization that stood firm and convinced their client to go along with a more socially responsible or sustainable solution. If you can play up those aspects in your case study, that will increase the number of best and brightest considering work with your firm.

As with all content, it helps to provide that content in a variety of formats – and video is a particularly powerful way to present case studies that attract potential clients.

With many attractive employment options available to the best candidates, case studies published in professional and student media can help make the candidate aware of the firm and help them along the journey to working there.

Content that shows values that resonate

A second type of content that is good for recruitment is the “manifesto” or statement of values, maybe combined with the story of the firm’s genesis and growth. I’ve got something like that on my company website.

Many employees these days, particularly those who are most in demand, seek out employers that are in tune with their values. As mentioned above, this includes interesting work and a good comp package, but also work that makes the world a better place.

I’m fortunate that many of my clients do work that minimizes environmental impact of resource extraction, or helps make sure that stakeholders affected by a project are treated in an ethical way, or helps make workplaces safe. I’m an example of this – I actively seek out clients that help me live my values through my work, and avoid those that don’t match my values.

Employers can promote this through generating content that shows their values in action. Case studies, as above, are a big part of this – they show that the firm walks the talk.

“Manifesto” type content can also help – in which the company leaders set out their values and vision. That can include a story of the firm’s founding and how it came to define and live its values.

One challenge is getting this kind of content in front of potential employees – it’s hard to write without being a sales pitch, so it may be best if it lives on your firm’s website and social media, such as its LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Many potential recruits rely on LinkedIn and Facebook as a big part of their employment search.

“Recruiting” content must, as is “marketing” content, be designed in a way that considers the needs and situation of the intended recipient. But if it is, recruiting-content can go a long way towards helping to meet the larger purpose of your firm.

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Carl Friesen

Carl is the Founder of the Thought Leadership Resources and helps business professionals gain the skills they need to build their profile as subject-matter experts and thought leaders.

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