How a marketing approach helps reach early talent

The modern HR professional is, in many ways, a marketer. They need to get their company in front of the relevant audience in ways that make the company attractive to the talent they’re trying to recruit. 

When it comes to the early talent market, large corporations are beginning to understand the need to shift from individual recruitment (the sales approach) to long-term brand awareness and pipeline-building (the marketing approach). They have too many open positions and can’t afford to neglect their recruitment marketing. 

Gone are the days when companies could just post ads and expect to be flooded with qualified applicants. Today, labor shortages put talent in the driver’s seat. And the companies that don’t position themselves in front of said talent early and often will find that talent gravitating to the companies that do. 

This is all rooted in a basic marketing principle: if people aren’t aware of your product/company, it might as well not exist. 70% of high school and college-age students have already considered—and, in many cases, even decided on—the companies where they want to work or where they want to go to school. Are you on their list? Do they even know about you? If you’re not sure, you may need to take on a marketing mindset. 


The four key steps to building relationships with early talent 

If you don’t think that a critical mass of early talent is aware of you, it’s time to adopt an “early and often” approach by: 

(1) Looking at the relevant data 

(2) Developing a solid employment or educational brand 

(3) Building a marketing plan that gets you in front of early talent

(4) Delivering your story to the right people through high-impact campaigns and messages.

Step 1: Look at the data

To develop a strategy for reaching early talent, it’s vital to start with data and analytics.

Long before you ever encounter an ad, the advertiser launched a major research effort to understand and determine the best way to reach you (or lots of people like you). Similarly, recruiters need to research their target talent pools with facts and data. 

Anecdotal evidence and gut feelings won’t cut it. They’re often muddied by myths and misperceptions, and at the best of times, they fail to account for the complexities and range of differences present in an entire demographic. 

Marketers use data to help move leadership and hiring managers past gut feelings and onto the objective ground to help them build a strong outreach plan. Recruiters should use data, in the same way, to make sure that they’re (A) getting in front of the right people and (B) developing and driving a message that is on target for the audience we want. 

Step 2: Establish an employment brand that resonates

Branding seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, from Instagram influencers to legacy companies. The advent and maturation of social media, the emerging concept of the “personal brand,” and the race to connect and resonate with youth have all driven the popularity of branding.

Most of the time, we think of brands as consumer-focused. Companies and institutions build their brands to engage the people who use their products or service. But if you’re trying to attract early talent, you need to build your brand with talent in mind.  

Two types of brands

A successful talent-oriented brand has two parts. 

  • The presentation brand.

This is what we tend to think of when we hear the word “branding”—logos, fonts, theme songs, slogans, and more. Do you have a strong visual style? Is it instantly recognizable? Is it appealing? Do you have a compelling, simple phrase explaining your company that will stick in people’s memories?

You have a better chance of getting and staying on your audience’s radar if you’ve established a strong presence in their day-to-day life. Of course, not every company can be a household name like Netflix or Starbucks. But if you’ve assembled a strong presentation brand, each contact you make with early talent makes it more likely that they’ll remember you next time. 

  • The value brand

This aspect of your brand is more complicated than hiring a talented UX designer, but it’s arguably more important. Tallo surveys have found that 87% of early talent prioritizes finding meaning at work over making money. So to reach and effectively engage early talent, your company needs to have a strong value brand. What does your company stand for and believe in? What kind of person works at your company?

Most crucially, you need to articulate how early talent’s ambitions and capabilities can contribute to your mission, vision, and accomplishments (which, of course, requires data). The person best suited for your company is the person most excited about your mission. Students think about what they want to do at an early age. Some select courses with specific career alignments as early as middle school. But that doesn’t mean they know how their preferred career areas and skills align with the valuable work they can do for your company. You need to bridge that gap for them.

Step 3: Build a solid marketing strategy  

A marketing strategy must accomplish three tasks.

  • Build awareness. People don’t know what they don’t know. This is especially applicable to talent marketing. If a prospective employee doesn’t know about your company or has a hard time learning about it, then it might as well not exist. This means that the effective talent marketing strategy is the one that companies use to raise awareness about the company, the brand, the open positions/opportunities, and the employee value proposition.
  • Stay high-level. A marketing plan is a broad, high-level plan that a company uses to reach and communicate with a large targeted audience who wouldn’t otherwise know about the company and its services and values. Unlike the more tactical or sales-like approaches, companies use to win individual deals or fill individual roles, a talent marketing strategy develops the company’s voice in the broader talent market.
  • Focus on the long game, not the quick close. To ensure long-term recruitment success today, you can’t focus just on the quick, one-off hiring wins. Yes, companies have occasional lightning success with messaging and go “viral,” but that isn’t what you should plan on. Consistency, authenticity, and persistent and influential messaging overtime win. If recruiters and hiring managers are the tactical salespeople of talent acquisition, the marketing strategy is the systematic approach used to build a consistent pipeline of talent into the company. 

Using data in early talent marketing strategies

If marketing is about starting a conversation, you need to know who you’re talking to. And if your audience were just one person or even a handful of people, you could take them out to coffee, have a zoom call, or talk to their friends to get to know them. 

But a marketing/pipeline approach is different from a sales/recruiter approach. The key is communicating with large numbers of people whom you don’t know on a personal level. And when the audience is large and disparate, you can only get to know them by analyzing data about them.

For early talent marketing, good data starts with the basics: their age, location, experience, interests, and other readily accessible facts. You also need data that are more specific to your goals: what work they’d like to do, what businesses/industries they find appealing, where they want to live, and more. For more on this, check out ->

Step 4: Run effective campaigns 

Once you’ve constructed a powerful brand and developed a data-driven marketing strategy, you still need to make sure your communications are actually seen by your audience. That’s where campaigns come in. 

Campaigns are marketing strategies in action. They use well-written, informative, entertaining, and often emotional content tailored to specific audiences to win them over. They’re typically distributed through a broad range of channels that include emails, social media, and digital advertising. 

Here, you’re going to learn how to optimize your own campaigns to successfully engage a new generation of talent 

Use digital platforms to reach early talent

However carefully crafted your message if it’s not delivered through the right medium, it won’t reach your target audience. Should you buy advertising spots on popular websites or TV networks? Should you take out a billboard along a local highway? What medium will actually reach the people with whom you want to connect?

For talent marketers, digital platforms are almost always the best fit. Unlike passive forms of advertising, like billboards and national campaigns, digital platforms aimed at college and career connection allow you to reach the specific subsections of the demographics that you’re interested in hiring. 

Many platforms, like Tallo, allow you to create tailored versions of your message to capture the nuanced preferences of the cross-sections of early talent that you’re trying to reach. Essentially, digital campaigns put the most relevant message in front of your target audience—and only your target audience.


Ready to start putting your marketing skills to the test and reaching out to early talent today? 

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