Does Direct Mail work for Recruiting?

By | November 4, 2010

Direct mail works for a recruiter when it’s contained, targeted, and ready-to-roll when the phones ring.

Chris Taylor is vice president at Davis Advertising in Philadelphia. Awhile back, Chris posted on LinkedIn’s Direct Mail Group, commenting that “From the perspective of recruitment (help wanted) advertising, direct mail has significant advantages over other advertising media.”

Chris acknowledges that direct mail has an image problem among some employers. “Our clients — human resource professionals planning recruitment advertising campaigns — regard direct mail as old-fashioned.” But Chris is still a believer. “We just launched http://www.talentmap.jobs/. This site actively promotes the use of direct mail to health care employers.”

Chris’ endorsement intrigued me, so I checked out TalentMaps, which is quite an interesting approach to recruiting (you should take a look). Then I checked in with Chris to find out more about how his company uses direct mail to recruit.

How is direct mail being used to recruit?

“Our clients are primarily human resource professionals who are looking to recruit prospective employees who live within a reasonable commuting distance of their facility. We use mailing lists because no other medium reaches a higher concentration of our geo-targeted audience than direct mail. Typically, the number of recipients to a direct mail campaign is small, often less than 3,000 to 5,000.”

Imagine that! “No other medium reaches a higher concentration of our geo-targeted audience than direct mail.” Who knew? (Well, okay, you knew, and you, and you, and you…)

Chris says the degree of personalization that Davis employs in the direct mail depends upon the client, budget, and recruiting situation. “In my experience direct mail is the best resource for recruiting passive prospects. Generally, an employer’s first attempt at recruiting/sourcing candidates is done via job boards. But job boards only reach a small percent of the overall workforce. Typically, people who are not actively looking for jobs are not visiting job boards. When job boards fail, employers look for other ways to recruit (including staffing firms).”

Chris acknowledges that successfully marketing to passive prospects is much more difficult than marketing to active job seekers. No surprise there. But the reason isn’t that direct mail doesn’t produce.

“From our perspective, the problem is that employers use the same process to capture response from ‘passive job seekers’ that they do with ‘active job seekers.’ Passive prospects are not ready to be ‘candidates’ or ‘applicants’… they need a bit more persuading …. Moreover, most large employers funnel all applicants through their Web-based applicant tracking system. The process is (1) very cumbersome and (2) doesn’t have a process to handle individuals who would like to have a few questions answered before they apply.

Would an automated/trigger response system help HR departments manage incoming direct mail inquiries? I bet it would. And, yes, direct marketers can do that, too.

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