Talent Acquisition Technology


Digital Recruitment Marketing: It’s All About the Online Candidate Experience

By Shannon Bennett
Digital Marketing Manager

In the world of talent acquisition, a brand’s presence online can lead candidates to discover new opportunities. And, employers and brands are taking the hint – maximizing the online candidate experience through personalization and optimization.

This brings us to the importance of digital recruitment marketing. Digital recruitment marketing is a way for employers to source and attract potential candidates; it can include social media, email marketing, display advertising and more.

In this article, we’ll dive into some important aspects of digital recruitment marketing, including building personas, trending digital marketing strategies and channels, and website optimization.

Understanding & Creating Candidate Personas

Understanding the key characteristics of the candidates your organization wants to hire provides context to who they are, which is why organizations create candidate personas. Personas are profiles that represent different types of candidates, focusing on individual characteristics. They help create alignment across your recruitment and sourcing strategies.

Personas are organized, analyzed and assembled by gathering internal data that reflects candidates’ behaviors, interests, goals and challenges. Let’s discuss how to build your personas.

How to Build Candidate Personas:

1. Gather Your Data: Focus your data on successful hires and placements within your organization. Interview professionals who currently work in the type of role you’re seeking to fill to understand what qualities make them successful. Prioritize data points such as:

  • Demographic information
  • Background
  • Personal attributes
  • Qualifications
  • Goals
  • Objections
  • Web activity

Also, try to gather anecdotal evidence or commentary by consulting other recruiters and hiring managers who have hired for that role in the past.

QUICK TIP – Aim to gather as much information as possible regarding each position or job opening. The more data you have to work with, the more detailed your personas will be.

2. Identify Trends: Once you’ve gathered your data, it’s time to analyze the information and identify shared trends and traits. This is where your personas will really start to take shape. How do you do this? Start by asking some important questions:

  • Which characteristics or traits do ideal candidates share?
  • What motivates the ideal candidate?
  • Where does the ideal candidate search for jobs?
  • What are the ideal candidate’s goals and aspirations?

These questions – and those similar – will lead you to draw conclusions about the candidate who will best meet your needs for any given role or job opening.

3. Assemble Your Personas: After collecting and analyzing your data, the next step is to assemble your candidate persona profiles. At this stage, you will use the insights you’ve discovered to create a profile of your hypothetical candidate. Some organizations create personas and associate them to profiles with names and pictures to seem more realistic and multi-dimensional; however, be aware of unconscious bias. A good way to avoid bias is to create personas that are based on research and surveys done within your organization, and to focus only on the specific needs and challenges of potential candidates.

What’s Your Digital Strategy?

Content Marketing
Before you post on your digital marketing channels, focus on the importance of strategically crafting your content. The content you post should be more about your audience, or potential candidate, than it is about your brand. It’s a conversation that says, “We would be lucky to have you as an employee,” versus, “You would be lucky to work for us.”

To have this conversation, your content needs to adhere to your candidate persona’s desires and interests. Your content also has to create a narrative and capture your audience’s attention, while driving home your selling points in a concise way. For example, social media is one trending digital marketing platform. It is also a very distracting environment, and you have very limited time to connect with candidates. So, it’s vital to know what you need to say to them via posts, tweets and images, and truly connect the right candidate, or persona, with your open jobs.

Social Media Marketing
I recently hosted a Talking Talent Webinar, “Digital Recruitment Marketing: A Guide for Employers.” During the webinar, I asked attendees to answer the question, “Which recruitment marketing strategies would you like to implement at your organization?” What was one of the top answers? Social media marketing, of course, with 36.4%.

Although proven to be effective, not all social media channels are created the same. Each platform has its own particular set of users with their own quirks as to how they interact with content. Candidate personas can help you identify your target candidates and shape your social strategy to fit each candidate’s specific preferences. You can utilize them to prioritize the platforms you use, to personalize your messaging, and to share content that engages your ideal candidates.

A helpful tip when approaching social media marketing is to start by researching all of your top competitors. Check each of their social media pages and see:

  • What content they are posting
  • How often they are doing so
  • How many users are engaging with that content
  • What platforms they’re using

Once you conclude which social media platform is yielding the greatest results – whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – focus your personalized content on that particular site.


  • 80% of employers say social recruiting helps them find passive candidates
  • 70% of hiring managers say they have successfully hired through social media
  • 91% of employers are using social media to hire talent today

Source: Betterteam

Career Sites Matter – A Lot
If your targeted candidates engage with you on digital recruitment marketing channels, often they then arrive at your website. Your website is the backbone of your digital footprint. Not only should an immense amount of effort go into creating a site that has engaging content and is aesthetically pleasing, but it must also be user-friendly for potential candidates.

It’s vital that your website or career site is optimized for job-seekers. Optimizing key words in job descriptions, and ensuring your links are working properly and that your site is mobile-friendly can help candidates find your organization and apply to your jobs.

When building a career site, the process, structure and flow of the site must be deliberate. Site flow is a major contributing factor to increasing the number of candidates that move through the funnel and make it through the application process; it’s all about user experience.

What’s Important in the End

Ultimately, an effective digital marketing campaign takes time, patience, planning and teamwork. It’s important to build customized campaigns that cater to candidate personas, be clear on your branding efforts, really push your employer brand’s unique selling points, and optimize your careers site for search engines and conversions. Put together, each aspect contributes to a strategy that is focused on personas and will be beneficial as you move forward in searching and engaging with candidates in the digital recruitment space.


Key Takeaways

  • It’s important to implement digital campaigns for your brand based on candidate personas in order to know who you’re looking for and why – and where you can find them.
  • Personas help you and understand what is important to your current and future employees.
  • The main goal is to connect with candidates where they prefer to receive information.

Integrating AI Into Your Passive Sourcing Strategy

Product Marketing Leader

With unemployment at near-historic lows in most major economies and a seemingly limited pool of available talent, it looks like it’s time to get passive! Passive? This might seem like an odd word choice, but passive candidates are simply highly qualified candidates not currently job-hunting while active candidates are applying to your open roles right now.

Research indicates that passive candidates may be more successful in organizations than active ones. Furthermore, passive candidates that are sourced, or contacted directly by a recruiter, are twice as likely to join an organization.

Regardless of whether a candidate is active or passive, data shows that it takes an average of 42 days to fill a role with a qualified external candidate. Some roles take longer, such as 67 days in the UK to fill a product management role. Engineering roles are also consistently harder to fill, taking 58 days in the U.S. and UK and 56 days on average in the rest of the world. When these types of hard-to-fill roles are needed, passive sourcing can be the best option to pursue.

What is Passive Sourcing?

Finding a qualified hire usually consists of a mix of active and passive applicants. Today, recruiting teams find passive candidates through various means, such as referral programs, online forums and job boards. More recently, recruiters have also started posting to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find their next hire.

Historically, passive sourcing searches were completed through tedious Boolean search strings using dozens of search terms – like location, phone number and email address – to find candidates. But, these searches are manual and time-consuming.

How Does AI Improve Passive Sourcing?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost to hire a new employee is $4,129. Meanwhile, recruiters can potentially carry a workload of 30 to 40 positions at a time.

Add up these numbers and it might take several months for a recruiter to fill their open roles. Meanwhile, organizations also lose months of productivity and revenue from unfilled jobs. Compound these losses with the rush to hire someone that might not be right for a role, and there is a possibility the recruiter may have to start the cycle all over again.

How can AI help? As AI’s influence throughout talent acquisition grows, sourcing qualified, passive candidates in record time is now possible.

Massive Data
AI excels at scale. Finding candidates instantly, AI algorithms can improve with each search, creating increasingly more intelligent sourcing. This is done by compiling and analyzing a massive data set of millions of pieces of information, including potential candidates’ social media profiles and past online activities, among other data.

AI’s passive sourcing function can also find triggers that indicate a candidate’s interest. Using an engineering requisition as an example, AI tools can scrape the internet for candidates with specific job skills. You might set up a search to find candidates with electrical engineering backgrounds with five to 10 years of experience that are active on LinkedIn. AI will identify these parameters, search all available channels – including email, text, chatbot and phone records – and then aggregate the data and deliver a pool of qualified candidates to the recruiter.

Improved Personalization
AI applications can also send targeted information to candidates using marketing-like campaigns, bringing in “leads” to help grow talent pipelines. This activity targets the right persona, or type of candidate needed for a role, and keeps passive candidates better engaged or “nurtured.” It also creates a unique candidate journey.

A recent report found that organizations with an employer brand platform experience an average turnover rate of 10%, compared to the overall turnover average of 16%. At PeopleScout, we know a positive employer brand plays a significant role in a recruiter’s ability to hire talent. We implement AI sourcing and digital brand recruitment marketing campaigns through our Affinix™ platform, which streamlines the sourcing process. Using these digital campaigns reinforces a company’s employer brand and, consequently, increases the conversion rates of future potential passive candidates.

Considerations with AI Passive Sourcing

While using AI to help source passive candidates is beginning to help organizations, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Mind Your Algorithms
Countless articles lament how well-meaning developers accidentally create biased AI tools. Most recently, Amazon released a recruiting tool that put female applicants at a disadvantage by favoring more masculine language such as “executed” and “captured.” Therefore, AI algorithms should be used in concert with other recruiting tools and constantly monitored pre- and post-build. Organizations such as OpenAI, the AI Institute and Explainable AI, among others, are reviewing AI’s influence to make sure issues like unconscious bias are appropriately addressed.

Fit AI into Your Strategy
AI has the potential to improve aspects of the full recruitment cycle – from sourcing and screening to selecting, hiring and onboarding. However, AI is only part of your toolkit and should be thought of as an efficiency tool to help balance automation with the human touch. Monitor and adjust your strategy by testing AI’s sourcing skills. Because of the rapid data feedback loop you receive from AI, you’ll be able to quickly tweak social media and email campaigns, as well as content you use to interact with candidates.

Getting Started with AI Passive Sourcing

According to a Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 38% of companies are already using AI in their sourcing strategy, and 62% expect to implement AI in some way by the end of 2019. In order to prepare for AI passive sourcing, keep the following in mind.

  • Assess your current state. Are your operations streamlined today? Do you have existing issues with your methodology that need to be resolved before AI is added to your recruitment platform?
  • Centralize your efforts so your AI tools tie together and create information in one place. Also, make sure all data streams, such as information from candidates and job boards, are collected in one place.
  • Choose your vendors wisely to bring your AI ambitions to life. If the vendors you use are not able to articulate their business plans, financial stability and longer-term technology capabilities, walk away.


Recruiters need to monitor AI passive sourcing capabilities as one of many AI efficiency tools to execute in the recruiting process. While ongoing debates swirl about the effects bias from AI efforts can create, if implemented and monitored properly, AI can also yield huge returns for your passive-sourcing efforts.


Key Takeaways

  • Finding qualified candidates in a difficult labor market continues to be a challenge. Many candidates today are passive or not looking for work. Sourcing passive candidates manually can be time-consuming and inefficient for recruiters.
  • AI passive sourcing has begun to show benefits. AI passive sourcing sorts massive data sets quickly to find potential candidates that align with a position’s ideal candidate profile. Bundled with digital recruitment marketing and employer branding, prospective passive candidates can be further nurtured in a personalized way through AI.
  • To start implementing AI passive sourcing efforts, make sure your organization begins with smaller tests to measure effectiveness.

Amazon Web Services: How AWS Helps Futureproof Our Talent Technology

Leader of Technical Delivery

The technology development cycle is accelerating at a pace that is hard to catch. New services, new devices, new products – it can be overwhelming. When I was exploring joining PeopleScout as the Leader of Technical Delivery, I knew the organization was keeping pace because of the modern architecture and skilled technical teams that were already in place.

At PeopleScout, we effectively manage our development cycle to produce products like Affinix™, a talent technology platform built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform. We continue to reap the benefits from that foresight today. Our Affinix development team is located at our global headquarters in Chicago, and we have team members in Latin America, Costa Rica, Peru, Australia, Manila, India and Europe. Every day, around the world, our staff works together to release code for Affinix using AWS.

What is Amazon Web Services?

AWS became the cloud infrastructure arm for Amazon in 2006, when it began offering pay-as-you-go, infrastructure-as-a-service to businesses – now known broadly as cloud computing. AWS started selling cloud “instances” others could reserve when companies needed additional capacity. While AWS started first with public cloud compute, the company now offers more than 90 different services to clients ranging from storage to Internet of Things (IOT) applications. PeopleScout uses Elastic Cloud Compute Service (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), Lambda and other AWS services to power Affinix.

How AWS Makes Affinix Better

We chose AWS as the foundation for Affinix because it is the market leader in cloud infrastructure services. AWS invests more resources than its competitors, and is the leading innovator in this space.

When my team has to solve challenges, we have the independence and flexibility we need with AWS. Sometimes, with other providers, you are limited by what you can use due to license costs or contracts you can’t get out of. With AWS, we don’t have limitations in terms of other technologies or resources we want to use as part of the Affinix platform. We are free to use the right technology as we innovate and evolve Affinix.

Scale and Expansion
Most people have participated in an IT project that took way longer than expected. I think that is a shared experience. Why does that happen? Most delays trace back to scaling out infrastructure or hardware. In order to do this, you need permission to procure, select, configure, test and load balance infrastructure for each new project you launch. This is a huge undertaking, and can become an exhaustive process to complete.

AWS eliminates these steps, allowing us to scale our infrastructure through the cloud. If you don’t already understand how “the cloud” works, think about it as a utility – let’s say your water supply. Imagine one day your yard needs more water than usual; it has been extremely hot, so you run your water for a few hours instead of a few minutes. Even though your water supply is spiking more than average today, your sprinkler doesn’t stop working. You also don’t store water in your basement in giant, intimidating, wall-to-ceiling containers waiting to be used. Why would you?

The public cloud is similar. Traditionally, companies have owned on-premise data centers full of expensive equipment that’s often underutilized. Alternatively, some companies rent part of a data center through third-party providers. This is more efficient than using your company’s on-premise location, but you still need to buy more infrastructure to prepare for peak usage. With AWS, we can turn computing and storage needs up or down virtually – without having to buy infrastructure to manage each project. With Affinix, we use AWS’s autoscale capabilities that allow us to set thresholds on capacity.

AWS is also a great partner for international expansion, offering regional and country-specific support for data residency, data sovereignty and certain region-specific compliance initiatives. Increased speed-to-completion is a factor here, too. Previously, it took months to bring a new international location online; now it takes a lot less time. For example, we just launched an Affinix instance in Europe. The rollout from start to finish took about a month. With traditional infrastructure and hardware, it would probably take three to six months.

Security & Compliance
Security is one of those topics that isn’t that interesting until it is. For us, security is critical because our brand reputation and our clients’ reputations are at stake if these issues are not handled correctly. The innovation AWS offers Affinix and our clients in this area –  including data encryption, intrusion detection and firewalls, and much more – provides me with peace of mind.

AWS takes responsibility for the software services its clients use, as well as its hardware in various regions and zones through its Shared Responsibility Model. As a client of AWS, we manage operating systems, platforms and data.

After security, the next logical step to think about is compliance. I view compliance as a byproduct of security, or proof we are as secure as we say we are. AWS makes it very easy to be compliant. With giant regulatory projects such as the EU’s GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Protection Act in 2020, we have encountered no problems using AWS.

AWS can dramatically reduce the cycle time it takes to launch an idea on our Affinix roadmap. We release code regularly – now more than once a day – by releasing very small software updates. The smaller the release, the easier it is to observe and react to quickly. If we see any issues, we can pull that code back. We do this by using AWS’s monitoring capabilities that track how every bit of code is performing. And, if one of these small releases isn’t performing correctly, we immediately roll it back and fix it; it is that easy.

This type of release cycle is extremely efficient. We can now take a giant collection of features and incrementally – and predictably – release them with improved speed throughout many days. Previously, development teams would wait three months for these types of results, using older software development methodologies generally referred to as “waterfall”-type processes. PeopleScout is an Agile development shop, meaning broadly that we focus on small, regular improvements at a faster pace. AWS aligns well with our philosophy.


Growing with AWS has made Affinix better – for our end-users, candidates, clients and PeopleScout. We are a more modern, innovative, tech-focused organization because of the AWS platform. AWS has created benefits for our internal teams, as well. Five years ago, our team was spending 50% of its time performing repetitive tasks related to infrastructure support. Today, because AWS manages the scaling of our hardware, international expansion and streamlined information security, our team has time to focus where we should focus – on new product development and ongoing Affinix innovation.


Key Takeaways

  • PeopleScout is a modern, innovative company that had the foresight to build Affinix™ on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the beginning.
  • Partnering with AWS makes Affinix better by giving us the scale and expansion we need, the security and compliance we require, and the speed we want to meet our growth targets.
  • The benefits of working with Affinix has allowed our development team to spend less time on infrastructure tasks and more time on new product development and ongoing Affinix innovation.

Talking Talent Leadership Profile

Co-Founder, Aptitude Research

Trend Writer

Does your talent acquisition program spark joy? If not, Madeline Laurano is here to help. Laurano is the co-founder of Aptitude Research, a research firm focused on talent acquisition. Based on her proprietary research, Laurano sees a talent acquisition landscape that is crowded and complex. During her keynote presentation at PeopleScout’s 2019 NEXT Talent Summit, she focused on simplifying the process.

Every year, Aptitude Research conducts three major surveys to gather qualitative and quantitative data about the talent acquisition landscape – from the biggest challenges facing recruiting teams to how leaders in the field are integrating innovative technology into their programs. We spoke with Laurano about the trends she uncovered in her surveys and how she applies the “Marie Kondo” method to talent acquisition and talent technology.

What is the biggest challenge in talent acquisition today?

The biggest challenge across organizations of all sizes and industries is that talent acquisition has become so incredibly complex. We have new technology solutions; vendors entering the industry that provide everything from employer branding to innovative assessments; and organizations that need to expand the skills and breadth of knowledge on their talent acquisition teams. While this presents exciting opportunities, at the same time, it’s creating a lot of challenges. We have to be able to manage all of these different priorities while making sense of the technology we’re using and the strategies in place.

How do you determine which talent technology solutions are the right fit for your organization?

It’s going to be a little bit different for every company, but it’s best to start at a very basic level. Every organization needs an ATS, an onboarding system and some type of recruitment marketing platform. That’s what I call the trifecta. Every organization of every size should have that. Those three systems must be in place to make sure that you have a way of engaging, tracking and managing talent. That’s the basic tech stack.

After that, it’s important to look at what you need to support your goals – whether it’s automation, enhancing communication, providing stronger branding, or sourcing and assessing candidates. Most organizations have screening and assessment solutions. We’re seeing more and more companies using some type of interview management system. Then, there are a lot of sourcing and branding solutions.

I think we need to simplify the talent technology ecosystem as much as possible. That comes down to building the best trifecta – the basic tech stack – and strategically adding additional technology where it will have the greatest significance. There are companies that pull together all of these disparate solutions into one unified technology; PeopleScout’s Affinix™ is a great example of that.

When you’re looking at technology partners, how do you determine if they are the right fit? What kind of questions should you ask, and what should you look for?

It’s really looking beyond just a demo and beyond what’s on somebody’s website. I evaluate technology partners using four buckets: company, product, differentiators and roadmap.

First, I like to ask, “What are the company’s values? What’s the strength of their leadership team? How many employees do they have? How many employees are focused on research and development? What does their customer base look like? Who is their target customer?”

The next piece involves looking at the product, getting into technical questions, and thinking about things like mobile compatibility, the suite of services and the languages that are supported.

Then, it’s about the differentiators. I like to ask technology providers to explain what their differentiators are, and then – after going through the process and understanding what they do – figuring out if I’m seeing the same differentiators. That can be very telling.

The final piece is asking about the roadmap. “What’s planned for the future? Is this a provider truly invested in making enhancements and providing flexibility to organizations?”

How do you simplify your talent acquisition process? What does simplified look like?

We’ve heard of Marie Kondo and her method for organizing and decluttering our homes. I think organizations need to take that approach to talent acquisition. This is especially relevant when it comes to talent acquisition technology.

Companies are using so many different providers to accomplish certain goals – our research shows it’s an average of 30. When you have so many solutions, you don’t have consistent data sets to look at, so it’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Leaders need to be able to figure out what talent technology their organization needs, how it’s going to be used, and how they can narrow down the list of providers to only those that are most effective. As an example, when it comes to recruitment marketing, a lot of companies are using several different vendors within their organization; only 2% of companies are using all of the capabilities provided by each tool. Leaders need to look at what’s not working and think about a provider that can support the organization with a more holistic strategy.

What advice can you share with talent acquisition leaders who are looking ahead to 2020?

When it comes to making your talent acquisition program more manageable and simplifying your technology stack, think about which providers are truly partners and able to support you in many different ways. That’s really important.

Then, think about what skills you need to make your talent acquisition function successful, whether it’s digital expertise, data scientists or more employer branding services. Focus on how you can either bring those onto your team or find an outside provider to partner with you.

The final piece is thinking about embracing some of the areas that haven’t traditionally been part of a talent acquisition function – taking ownership and being a champion for them. Employer branding is one example. We’ve seen a lot of talent acquisition leaders and professionals embrace branding and become experts in that area. Data analytics is another. By advocating for solutions in these specialized areas, talent acquisition leaders move their program ahead of the competition.

Finally, have fun! There’s so much in talent acquisition that can feel tactically overwhelming, but advocating for new solutions is empowering. So much is changing, but with that change, we’re seeing exciting opportunities for improved data, robust employer branding and more. This is an amazing industry to be in, and we can’t forget that.

Listen to the companion podcast at peoplescout.com.