Finding candidates and employers is the most important challenge HR firms face. Learn when to target them and what kind of content works best for marketing.

Timing is everything: How to use content for the busiest HR season

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Every industry has seasonal peaks and valleys – and in the United States, we’re approaching a considerable peak for staffing firms. Significant hiring initiatives often come before or after the major holidays and vacation times. Monster.com’s blog mentions that  “The big months for hiring are January and February, and late September and October,” while other sources extend this hiring period until right before Thanksgiving. The holiday season is upon us (some say it even began the day after Halloween!).

The pressure is on HR marketers to use the next couple weeks to fine tune your efforts before the annual Thanksgiving hiring slowdown, and start prepping your strategies for the New Year content push.

Why it’s time for HR marketers to up their content game:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 270 thousand jobs were added to the workforce last month (bringing the year’s new jobs to almost 3 million, and total jobs to 142 million). While some job-seekers and employers choose to look for matches on their own, others turn to staffing and recruiting companies – and it’s important to set yours apart.

According to Frontline Source Group, up to 90 percent of companies use staffing services for hiring because they offer reliability, industry knowledge and a wide reach of candidates and employers. Content is a prime method for showcasing these qualities of your firm to people searching on the web.

What’s more: Job candidates’ use of recruiting firms has more room to grow. LinkedIn reports that only 35 percent of survey respondents have ever used a staffing firm to find a new job opportunity. Reaching the other 65 percent is a top priority of most staffing firms, as is reporting solid increases in clients back to directors. Creative, targeted content is your best bet for increasing your number of leads, and increasing connections you make.

Whether you are marketing to candidates or employers, there are several factors to consider in how you craft your content.

Best and worst times to hire, and how to use seasonal content:

Below is our outline of the fluctuation of hiring and applying activity, which should help to give you an idea of the most effective time to target your content campaigns. Aiming at employers and candidates when they are most invested in applying or hiring means they will be the most receptive to your content, and more likely to use the services you are marketing. Along with the seasonal outline, we’ve listed our tips for the most appropriate platforms and topics to keep in mind when you’re writing and publishing your seasonal content.

winterQ1: New Years

Some midterm college graduates enter the job market at the beginning of the year,  but in general, demand for talent often outweighs the supply of qualified candidates. Many companies’ new calendar-year budgets begin, allowing for creating and filling new positions. Job availability begins to dip in late winter.

Tips and ideas for content:

  • Target your content to recent graduates
  • Do some “content housekeeping” – Go through your recent content and remove old, outdated pieces to make sure all your content is accurate and ready for the new year
  • Cover seasonal topics – themes might include: New Year’s Job Resolutions, What To Expect in [next year’s] Candidates

Q2: Spring: Gearing up for summerspring

Jobs open up in preparation for the upcoming summer. Jobs in the tourism, hospitality, outdoor, and construction industries usually increase their hiring during this quarter, and many fall positions are also hiring to secure employees before the summer drought. Candidates and decision makers in the hiring process often leave for extended periods of the summer, so hiring in the spring helps to fill up positions before summer.

Companies are active in recruiting during the college graduation season. Appealing content, through a wide variety of media is crucial for helping you stand out in this highest-saturation period of job-seeking and hiring. 

Tips and ideas for content:

  • Target graduating college students
  • Include content about the jobs for lovers of the outdoors, travel, spring and the upcoming summer, and even the upcoming fall
  • Use video to stand out in this saturated period of hiring
  • Video is an increasingly effective forms of content on social media, especially as Facebook is prioritizing its natively uploaded video in news feeds and lowering the amount of time is takes for a view to be counted

summerQ3: Slow summer months

The first half of Q3 is usually very slow. Employers and candidates are often busy in June finishing the school year, and away on vacation in July. Many employers are still evaluating reports from the first half of the year and making decisions about their positions and their hiring seasons.

Though the summer marks one of the most inactive periods of hiring, it still can be useful for some candidates with interesting, nontraditional resumes and backgrounds to apply. In some cases employers might have more time during the less hectic summer to look over candidates.

By late summer, hiring activity often picks up again, with a focus on the end of the year

Tips and ideas for content:

  • Target vacationers and travelers with a mobile campaign
  • Use mobile-friendly formats like video
  • Be sure to keep the themes fresh and fun – something that your audience might read on a plane, on vacation, by the pool, relaxing

Q4: A dynamic hiring season to end the yearfall

The fourth quarter shows intense fall hiring activity, mostly in September, October, and early November. The biggest slowdown happens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (with the exception of holiday retail hiring).

According to Outbrain.com, Holiday-themed content consumption peaks around cyber Monday, and “Americans consumed more holiday content from their smartphones than from their computers on the last three weekends of November as well as on Christmas day.”

Tips and ideas for content:

  • End of year company summary
  • Plan mobile-friendly content campaigns,
  • Best Of, year wrap-up pieces
  • Statistical reports about the past year
  • eMarketer reports that 2016 is expected to be the first year that mobile ad spending exceeds desktop

Don’t get buried: The power of social content

If you publish at the optimized time (either seasonally or daily) when the most people are looking, you risk being buried. If you publish at a less traditional time, your post may be more clearly visible, but to fewer people. The best way to avoid having to choose between the two is to have the strongest content possible.

Publish to the right places. About 79 percent of candidates are likely to use social media in their job search and 73 percent of companies successfully hired a candidate with social media – that’s about 14.4 million job seekers who have used social networks to find a job.

Publishing trending, news-based, seasonally relevant content is the best way to be seen. You can read our strategies for staying original and using the best techniques and media for delivering content here.

Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman is a former marketing writer for Brafton. His writing experience dates back to his time reviewing music for The UMass Daily Collegian at UMass Amherst. Ben comes from a background in marketing in the classical and jazz industries.

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