Four steps to writing better content for human resources brands.

How to write appealing HR content for candidates & clients

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Human Resource organizations’ blog content is the rare resource that can appeal to nearly any demographic. Certain HR companies specialize in a particular field, but generally speaking, there is something for employers, entry-level candidates, veterans of the workforce, those who are happily employed but want to keep up on changing trends, and various other types of readers.

There are countless HR blogs that spit out the same lists, statistics and information over and over again. These articles are little more than placeholders so the company’s blog isn’t barren. However, it’s my job to create meaningful content that separates my client’s websites from the rest of the pack.

By working closely with my clients and drawing upon my own creative writing background, I can take old topics and give them new life. Here are four steps to writing better content for human resources brands:

Think about goals before topics

First and foremost, anytime we kickoff a new client strategy, it’s about writing to meet their specific aims. The topics our clients are interested in can be similar but the goals are distinct according to the actions they hope readers will take. So the way we set up the subject matter will change depending on the ultimate message.

For example, let’s take the topic of “hiring the right candidates.”

One client specializing in applicant tracking software may want an article that discusses the best strategies for attracting top candidates.

  • To highlight the strengths of a client specializing in application software, one of the points should lay out the advantages of relying on a software platform to track applicants, trend data points, optimize advertising and perform other logistical tasks.
  • For a staffing company that matches employers and job seekers, a list of strategies will include both perspectives – how organizations can recruit better candidates and how candidates can find the right employer.

While brand/industry/audience vary greatly from client to client, I’ve found many of my clients favor a balance between:

  • Informative
  • Educational
  • High SME
  • Approachable

Understand your audience’s needs

Once you understand the end goals of your content marketing efforts, the next step is understanding what each target audience is looking for. This gets easier with experience, but when I write for employers, I consider which things an employer values and also try to imagine a few possibilities the average employer might not have considered. The same holds true for job seekers.

Sometimes the candidates or clients know everything about the product/service, while other times the audience has no idea. Understanding the reader’s subject knowledge will help me choose the appropriate tone.

To learn exactly what the audience expects requires us to keep an open channel of communication with my clients – you know their audience better than anyone. I usually start my research by exchanging emails, scheduling phone interviews and referencing similar resources for style – the more information our writing teams have, the better. After we set the tone in the first few articles, I usually have a good idea of the what the target audience wants to read.

Create separation from the competition

There are a lot of HR blogs and resources out there, so it’s important to create separation but not so abstract that you won’t be found in search results. Providing meaningful content is always the end goal.

There are a few ways to do that:

  • Consider seasonal or audience-friendly angles and headlines: For one HR client I compared good recruiting to planning a barbecue – planning ahead, providing something for everyone, being a good host. Seasonal or holiday-themed topics are always winners.
  • Play with writing style and format: The same topic as a list has a different effect than a news-focused story or an interview that addresses a similar theme. All three provide unique angles and different context.
  • Look at competition’s posts, and simply make yours better: The competition can tell me what kinds of posts are likely to gain traction, what’s been covered too much already, or which gaps I can fill in.

Recently I wrote a post about social media use for international assignment. I liked this topic because it presents useful information for wanderlusting job seekers and global companies, but also interesting, insightful ideas that nearly everyone can understand: how social media can benefit the workplace. It also speaks to the integration of technology in our daily lives.

Balance search-friendly & thought-leading

How-to articles and lists tend to do well, due at least in some part to the ways people search for topics. The better I can mirror blog titles with imagined questions, the better the articles tend to perform. However, balance is important, too – thought leadership is crucial to HR businesses, and that requires a few in-depth pieces, interviews, case studies and other types of content.

If there’s an in-house style guide, that’s always helpful: It tells me specific grammar and style points, but taken as a whole it also indicates what sort of tone a client prefers. Any other HR resources the client likes/follows are also helpful.

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Here are some ways HR brands have seen success with content marketing:

Sean Callahan
Sean is a Lead Writer for Brafton's Finance, Business and Industry desk, writing on topics ranging materials testing to sustainable building to HR recruitment. He helped establish Brafton's company-wide short story contest, the Arc, to showcase the many talents of his peers. When not at Brafton, he's writing, playing guitar, cooking, running and watching the Celtics.

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