Clever Clogs Recruitment Advertising

“Would actually help if the HR profession (eg. CIPD) rewarded professionalism and candidate experience, not clever-clogs advertising.” Now this was tweeted on Monday during #truchat – a Twitter-chat predominantly ‘attended’ by Recruitment consultants and other JobBoard-types from what I could see. It’s a facile comment. And that ‘clever-clogs advertising’ is as annoying as hell to any decent Recruitment Comms business.

It’s the thought that ‘clever-clogs advertising’ has nothing to do with recruitment professionalism or candidate experience that really gets up my nose. And not just ours as a creative agency but for our clients too. Tell that to two of them, PaulUK and Nando’s, who were the winner and finalist in the Candidate Experience at the 2009 CIPD “Pretty Pictures” Recruitment Marketing Awards.

Maybe it’s borne of the fear that recruitment comms can obliterate the need for consultants that some hold that opinion. Last year, one of our clients saved over a third of their budget utilising a new employer brand and direct recruitment materials instead of relying on consultancies. They hired better candidates. Much higher calibre people. Increased their profile in their sector. And started to receive more speculative applications than ever before.

Famously, our work for Pret (which also won many of these clever-clogs awards) recruited more managers with just 4 trade ads a year than the previous consultancies who charged four times as much. Who’s being clever now? Creative impactful strategies and materials that improve candidate quality, reduce cost per hire and recruit effectively. What more could HR want?


  1. Alconcalcia Said:

    It is indeed a facile comment, but one that sadly you hear more and more these days in a world where increasingly the recruiter’s ‘one off transactional fix’ seems to be de rigeur amongst that community.

    Indeed recruitment is the only industry I know that is so quick to dismiss the need for decent advertising and marketing. It’s an opinion honed no doubt largely from a failure to be at all creative with any messages that are put out to marketplace or on ‘job boards that don’t work’ as they are known to many in the recruitment consultancy business.

    I have worked with many recruitment consultancies in my time and back in the day the ones I looked after understood the need for creativity in a competitive marketplace. Take the IT industry for instance. One agency I worked for used to help fill the then 100+ pages of the likes of Computer Weekly and Computing with campaign after campaign of client paid creative advertising. Messages that the recruiters client was happy to pay thousands for as they knew that not only was it advertising for jobs it was building up their profile as an employer. it was a pleasure to work on such campaigns.

    Some go-ahead recruiters even spent a lot of time and money on getting their own in-house messages right and creating house styles that went way beyond just a one line listing and a phone number. Campaigns that built up their reputation as a consultancy of choice. Somewhere along the line though there seems to have been a huge change of mindset amongst many – a latter day transformation that goes way beyond the fact that the press is no longer the place to be seen. Whereas many recruiters used to know that creative advertising bore the fruit of its labours, now many seem to think that the only way to recruit is to turn to social networking.

    ‘The job board is dying’ they will tell you. Well yes it is if you post dross on there as so many recruiters do, yet the recruitment advertising industry remains a massive business. Why? Because people who understand advertising know that it takes a lot more than scatter-gunning a few cut and pasted job descriptions on a variety of job boards and hoping for the best. There really is a method to recruitment advertising madness, but sadly there is also madness to some recruiters method of recruitment advertising.

  2. I think I should comment given that I set up the #truchat on monday night that you have glanced at and reacted to. Probably the most important point your readers should be aware of is that the tweet was made by Graham Salisbury. For those who don’t know Graham, he is a university lecturer in HR, writes daily case studies on his blog and is no doubt a card carrying member of the CIPD.
    If you read Graham’s blog, he is also far from being a fan of recruiters and was open in this view throughout the chat. He is not a recruiter. He does not work for a job board.
    Graham’s tweet said: “It would actually help if the HR profession (e.g. CIPD) rewarded professionalism and candidate care, not clever-clogs advertising #truchat”. The point in context of the conversation is that there are no awards for candidate care, there is however, awards for marketing and advertising. without wishing to knock the great work done by yourselves and others on employment branding and marketing, the areas of candidate experience and care goes unrewarded. I think it is a fair point and should perhaps be reflected in your post.
    Employer branding and talent attraction is a key part of the recruitment process. The more that can be done to improve this the better. it is however, only part of the process. Would be glad to have you in #truchat talking branding next Monday 9.00PM. No need to sign up, and being on twitter, anyone can join the conversation.

    • Thanks for the comment BIll.

      The point that Candidate Experience (care) is not rewarded/awarded is actually untrue. As I said above there was a category specifically for it, as there is again in this year’s CIPD RMAs. It awards employers (and their comms agency) for the candidate’s entire recruitment journey from attraction and application through to their experience when they join and beyond. The whole cycle. Including the care with how the employee is treated along the way. It doesn’t separate this from the Employer Brand but includes it as that is integral to the whole experience.

      • I’m happy to stand corrected. Being marketing awards I took them to be just that. If it is awarded for the candidate experience from the candidates view point, rather than the functionality or creative image, then I stand corrected.
        Matt, in my view, employer brand is everything that the company is. I’m sure marketing comms reflect, report on and communicate this to the outside world. for a recruiter, the biggest part of this is talent attraction. No doubt this is why employer branding in terms of “advertising” gets the most comment from recruiters on twitter. H.R. will have other interests including employee engagment, retention and recruiting. It is largely H.R. and management that deliver this. Comms will overlap or facilitate in many of these areas, again as part of the process, not the process itself.
        Thanks for provoking further comment. i have much to learn from you guys. It’s good to hear from different sections of the market to get a balanced view point

    • As I seem to have been the cause of a great deal of words being written, I thought I’d add a few of my own to clarify my position on this important issue.

      I believe that my credentials fully equip me to pass comment on the current state of recruitment.

      In my previous life as a senior HR manager in a major (and I mean major!) UK organisation, I have established in-house recruitment teams that have successfully delivered hundreds of skilled employees year upon year. I have therefore probably recruited more employees than the majority of recruitment consultants have had hot dinners. To use the current cliche: I know what good looks like.

      I have regularly managed recruitment campaigns with annual budgets of over £1m.

      Campaigns in which I have been involved have won national awards for their creativity (clever-clogs or otherwise!)

      I have also managed the service provided by third-party suppliers of recruitment, including that of a fully outsourced recruitment process.

      But all the above is utter trivia if two questions are not addressed.

      1. The question of the recruiting manager: where are we up to in sourcing my vacancy?

      2. The question of the candidate: where are we up to with my application?

      My comment yesterday was made while looking at this issue from the perspective of the candidate. The candidate (sorry guys!) simply couldn’t give a stuff that the company’s recruitment campaign has won awards for its novelty or innovation. He or she is bothered with one thing and one thing only: how is his application being managed by the recruiting body (be that an in-house team or an agency).

      And in the vast majority of cases (in-house or otherwise) the service currently received by the candidate is shoddy, unprofessional, haphazard and rude. Ask any candidate who has had dealings with the current recruiting organisations and they will give you exactly the same response.

      So, when the latest edition of Personnel Management or Personnel Today drops through my letterbox, and I see the plethora of grinning and frequently inebriated faces of those receiving awards at the latest recruiting industry shindig, the question I wish to ask is this: when and how is the HR profession as a whole going to face up to the fact that we need to value and reward those recruiting bodies that demonstrate excellence in candidate care, not just those that produce the wittiest and most imaginative adverts? Because, guys, it’s the candidate that matters. Forget that at your peril.

  3. Matt Said:

    Hang on Bill isn’t employer brand the whole process and indeed the candidate experience? In fact everything about the company, its EVP and crucially what people say about it.

    I’m not sure why a lot of the recruiters on Twitter seem to think it’s some small subset of recruitment advertising.

  4. Alconcalcia Said:

    Call me old fashioned, but to me a ‘clever clogs’ campaign is as much about the novelty and innovation as it is the back-end i.e making sure those that respond have a pleasurable experience throughout the process. It would be madness to spend lots of money on an all that exposure and then mess up the response handling.

  5. Alconcalcia Said:

    I would also add that this whole bad candidate experience thing only seems to have been on the increase since the price of slinging a post on a job board has come down and down. If you pay thousands for a decent advertising campaign I am sure you want to try your utmost to get the response handling right. If, however, a recruiter pays less than £100 to appear on 5 job boards then do they really give a flying one about the candidates they fail to get back to? I very much doubt it.

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