Ben Silverman

The American Staffing Association reports there are 17,000 staffing/recruiting companies in 35,000 offices in the United States. And they all have a similar mission: connecting job-seekers with employers.

Standing out online is challenging, especially when you’re within a saturated industry like recruiting. Here are three common problems seen in HR marketing departments, and how they can be solved with a unique content marketing approach:

Problem 1: How do I differentiate my service to bring more leads in the door?

In your efforts to stand out from the rest of the HR pack, the first step is to identify your value to candidates and employers.

To candidates, it might be:

  • You have the most hassle-free process for connecting talent with opportunity
  • You have the largest amount of offerings
  • You have the highest quality offerings
  • You are looking out for best long-term interest of your candidates

To employers, it might be:

  • You represent the best variety of candidates
  • You have an intimate knowledge of the employer’s industry and work specifics
  • You have a track record of high placement rates

Content can become a positive first impression

When searching for a staffing firm, both candidates and employers will be drawn to brands with the most online influence, built on strong content and SEO. Not only will audiences naturally choose what appears to be the highest quality result, but ever since Google implemented Panda in 2011, they’ve actively been filtering out low-quality sites, and rewarding good ones. The more visible a company is, the more likely an audience would view them as a social-savvy, modern, in-demand and successful agency. The audience’s final takeaway is that this company might have the best jobs or applicants and be the right one for them.

Stay relevant in a changing industry

In a time when, Craigslist, Indeed and other job megasites are squeezing more traditional HR firms out of clients, it might be tempting to aim exclusively for number of clients and ROI. Many companies recognize that content is important, but don’t want, or have time, to generate topics.


Competition with HR giants has also changed the industry by making the traditional HR world smaller – “a good or bad experience with an HR company can go a long way,” said Brafton’s Sales Director, Stacy Randel. “Build your brand based on your best assets – your clients and candidates” because nothing is more important to a client than a candidate and vice versa.

Draw inspiration from what’s already baked into your business model

While the total number of candidates and employers are important for maintaining a strong bottom line, having a solid content strategy is extremely valuable for anyone in the HR industry. Armed with effective content, your firm can work to prove that you are:

  • experts in your field, and willing to share tips, articles, and insights
  • successful at connecting qualified candidates with great opportunities
  • a dynamic, insightful company focused on more than just the minimum industry standard
  • thought leaders in the industry

When you’re showcasing original and bold ideas through content, you can naturally start to be perceived as an industry thought leader. Your audience will recognize it, and new audiences will become aware.

Problem 2: How can I make my company a “thought leader” when everyone’s giving the same tips?

HR marketers recognize the value of thought leadership but don’t know how to deliver content that hasn’t been said before

We now know that clients and candidates value original content because it demonstrates expertise in clients’ business and thought leadership in the industry. How do you know what the most effective content is, and how can you make sure your content is important, universally valuable, but original?

The challenge in being a thought leader and generating original content is not unique to the HR industry. The Altimeter Group found that 57 percent of marketers report custom content marketing is their top marketing priority, but 15 percent of marketers say their “thought leadership content” comes off as sales collateral.

Build a diverse content portfolio to stand out

One surefire way to breathe new life into stale topics is delivering the information in a surprising, unexpected way. That said, no matter the form of your content, or the media it is presented in, it should help to define your brand as brimming with information and valuable advice.

Search for the best web results on the “same-old” topics that HR firms write about and figure out how to say it better. Is there an info gap you can fill? Might video best deliver the message? Here are some proven dynamic techniques for generating and publishing thought leadership content:

  • Success Stories
    • These not only show that you have success connecting clients with candidates, but are easily relatable and encouraging for your prospective clients. Success stories can give your audience a reason to trust you more.
  • Tips / Advice
    • This type of content will help you continue to build a relationship with current and potential clients and candidates by “letting them in on” key industry information. It helps to make your site a destination for your audience, not solely a service for finding candidates or employers.
  • Gated content
    • Putting your high-quality content (such as ebooks, demos, or kits) behind an email or login offers lead generation opportunities as well as data about who is downloading your material
  • Features/blogs on a client’s industry
    • Features and blogs demonstrate your diversity of clients, as well as your knowledge of their industry. They provide dynamic, interesting content outside of the realm of HR
  • Case Studies
    • Case studies are detailed examinations of businesses, trends, industries, people, and more. They can help establish your knowledge of the industry, as well as highlight your successes and processes.
  • Videos
    • Videos (testimonials, corporate promo, company culture, vlogs) are an engaging way to deliver content
    • Help increase your brand’s visibility on SERPs

My coworker Sean recently published an in-depth blog about HR topics, audiences and thought leadership for candidates and clients. You can read it here.


Problem 3: How can I balance creativity within a data-driven strategy?

It’s important that reporting results back to executives doesn’t detract from creating authentic marketing outreach.

68 percent of marketing professionals feel pressured to show ROI for their marketing spending. Directors are often concerned with the number of candidates and clients significantly more than with the brand’s influence or individuality. Some HR companies in our data even value the number of candidates and employers in their system over increases in web traffic.

Efforts to enhance SEO, web traffic and content don’t divert resources away from building revenue- they lead to it.

A solution for balancing ROI with content marketing effort is not to change how much you value ROI, but change what factors you consider when calculating it. Using your analytics, you can calculate the real world worth of a published piece, a tweet, or a video.

In a recent article on Brafton’s blog, Social Media Engagement Manager, Sumit Sharma explained how you can map your content marketing strategies to long-term financial benefits by “defining the value of a ‘conversion’ specific to your business.” Create a custom unit through which you can extrapolate value. Whether it’s a piece of content that leads to a candidate signing up, or a video directing a client to your website, the data can eventually be mapped to bottom line ROI, giving each piece of content a theoretical dollar value.

→ READ MORE: Step by step for setting up Goals in Google Analytics

Setting yourself apart

What are the differences between thought leaders and “thought followers”?


  • embrace changing technologies, and are open to updating methodology and strategy
  • confident in analyzing and predicting trends
  • comfortable (and proud) sharing their steps to success
  • measure success in terms of influence
  • Predict and set the industry trends of the future, and are aware that future audience needs will need to be addressed


  • Devoting Blog or News sections only to internal affairs and the company’s achievements, rather than analysis of the industry
  • constant roll out of content, with quantity over quality
  • Measure success only in terms of sales and bottom line ROI
  • Cover only the known, current needs of their audience