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Retargeting for Recruiters: How to Bring Job Seekers Back to Your Site

April 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM Vivek Reddy

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Caroline Watts, a marketing associate at ReTargeter. ReTargeter is a full-service online display provider specializing in retargeting. You can find Caroline on Twitter and on Google+.

With quickly evolving HR technology, it's faster and more efficient than ever for job seekers to find open positions, connect with recruiters, make connections with people in their network and apply for positions online. At the same time, recruiters can search for and reach out to more candidates more quickly and effectively than ever before. Unfortunately, the increased opportunity for connection often means over-saturation for job seekers and for recruiters does not necessarily translate to more completed job applications from qualified candidates.

Using advanced digital marketing techniques traditionally employed by retail, consumer brands and B2B firms to draw in customers, recruiters can stand a better chance at bringing in more qualified candidates. One such technique proven to be effective for recruiters is retargeting.

What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting is a cost-effective form of online advertising which allows companies to reach out only to people who have already raised a hand expressing interest. In its simplest form, retargeting allows brands to serve online display ads only to people who have already visited their website. Traditionally associated with e-commerce (brands can retarget consumers who have abandoned a shopping cart, for example) retargeting is an effective way for many different companies with a myriad of goals to drive people back to their sites.

How can Retargeting be used for recruiting?

When it comes to job seekers, retargeting can be a great way to keep your company top of mind and encourage wearied job seekers to begin or to complete a job application.

From a technical standpoint, retargeting is incredibly easy to implement. All you have to do is add a simple line of code to your website, and your visitors will be served ads on other websites all over the web. Even a general branding campaign (e.g., serving well-branded banner ads highlighting your logo) can be an effective way to keep your company top of mind and remind candidates to return to your site.

If your company is already using retargeting, or if you want to operate on a more granular level, you can easily segment your campaign to serve unique ads only to job seekers. You can place a special retargeting pixel (the single line of code needed to track site visitors) on your careers page and serve recruiting-focused ads to those pages’ visitors. This particular route will be likely to yield even higher results than a generalized branding play but will require a specific set of ad creative focused on the job seeker.

You can include countless permutations of effective calls to action with the right one depending on your specific goals. If you want candidates to fill out or complete an application, calls to action along the lines of 'Apply Now' are probably most appropriate, but you can also use calls to action to encourage job seekers to join a talent community or sign up for a newsletter.

In addition, you can retarget email subscribers and serve display ads to anyone who opens your email. If you have an email newsletter specific to your talent community, retargeting is a great way to keep in touch and stay top of mind, without overloading members with too many emails. Finally, you can also target users by geography and advertise only to job seekers in a particular region. This tactic is particularly useful for advertising around events such as career fairs, recruiting events or networking sessions.

Potential Pitfalls

Retargeting is a powerful marketing tactic both for companies focused on selling a product or service and for recruiters looking to secure valuable candidates. However, you must make sure you abide by retargeting best practices to get the most out of your campaign. Follow simple guidelines such as capping frequency of ad display (i.e., limiting the number of impressions served), adhering to any privacy requirements around retargeting and using only top notch ad creative to get the attention of job seekers and you should see great results!


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