Recruiting is a Marketing Task

2008 | May 16 in Marketing , Management

By E-Myth Business Coach,

As an enlightened business owner, you understand the importance of doing market research on your prospective customers. For example, you want to know where they're located, any common characteristics they may have and, ultimately, as much as possible about how they think - their needs, wishes, and motivations. The goal, of course, is to refine your ability to effectively and efficiently target your message to those with whom you most want to do business.

Well, you may be surprised to learn that this wisdom equally applies in seeking prospective employees. In fact, marketing for customers and marketing for employees address the similar four key questions:

  • What is my likely trading area? (Where are my likely employees located)?
  • What is my product? (What is the position?)
  • Who is my "ideal customer"? (What are the qualities of my "ideal employee"?)
  • How can I best attract their attention?

Even when you are feeling the pressure to quickly fill an unexpectedly open position, you'll save yourself a lot of grief if you take the time in advance to get very clear on the answers to those four questions.

Marketing for employees

First, you want to know your "employee trading area." Unless it's a position with no geographic restrictions, location is important. The rule of thumb for most inbound businesses declares that customers will rarely drive more than 20 minutes to trade with you. This proximity effect applies to employees as well, and companies often forget that. At our company we discovered that those employees who live beyond a 30-mile radius of the office suffer a commute that simply adds too much time to their day. Ultimately, no one is well-served by this situation.

Next, once you know where to look for your employees, you'll want to define your "product" -- or what someone will do in this position. At this stage, think less about the actual work, and more about the kinds of work to be done and the qualities that would contribute to the likelihood of success in the performance of that work. Your goal should be to recruit candidates who have the aptitude and ability to perform certain kinds of tasks or actions, not necessarily those who have experience with the precise tasks or actions practiced in the position.

Third, identify the qualities of your ideal employee. Just as some businesses stagnate when they come to over-rely on "experienced" customers (those who habitually continue to come in and buy) and forget to pay attention to the needs of new customers, too often we'll recruit and hire "experienced" employees who will end up doing whatever is required to be done in their - and not necessarily your - way, and who will eventually leave for a job that offers them more challenge. Instead, your ideal employee would be a candidate who has the minimum required skills and qualities and who can be challenged to apply their skills and aptitude in new ways - your ways. You want to find someone who will happily approach the work and your company with a "student's mind."

Lastly, to attract their attention, don't advertise new positions based on job titles, rather recruit for candidates who have the characteristics, attitude, and qualities that represent the best fit for your position. And to be fully successful in this recruitment process, you must challenge your old ways of advertising as well.

A new way of recruiting

A client of mine needed to fill a Patient Intake Receptionist position, but for the first time did NOT place the ad in the "medical" section of the job postings. Instead, he assessed the ideal qualities for the job, and crafted his ad to ask: "Do you have a voice that smiles and projects confidence? Can you multi-task and prioritize in a fast-changing environment? Do you have impeccable spelling abilities, and can you write and speak clearly and concisely? Are you comfortable dealing with strangers from all strata of society? Do you possess a level of comfort in basic keyboarding and office equipment operations?" He reasoned that if someone possesses these skills and aptitudes, and if he had systems in place to support the tasks, it was really not necessary to have had previous experience as a "receptionist."

He ultimately hired a young woman with no previous receptionist or medical experience - but who did have all of the stated qualities, and who has since become a star in his organization and is on a solid new career path. She was the right candidate for the job because she lived within the "employee trading area," and could perform the kinds of work that needed to be done in the manner that my client wanted them to be accomplished. She could therefore ensure that the duties of the position were carried out correctly, because she was able to apply her essential qualities to the systems accompanying that position.

The next time you have a position open, why not think about how you can incorporate these market research principles in your recruiting system? You just might find your ideal employee!

What do you think? What special considerations do you incorporate into your recruiting process? What has been your experience recruiting for aptitude over experience?


  1. .JENNIFER R. says:

    Dear Michael and team,

    I believe strongly in the same process for recruiting for the team and for clients. The process in recruitment boils down to  a candidate possessing The right Attitude and the Right Aptitude of the candidate.

    It is also about knowing what the organisation wants to achieve from the appointment, which  uncovers the skill set that need to be in the prospective candidate.

    Knowing what the client and you want to achieve requires clarity and ensuring that clarity is reflected in an ad if you are advertising for the assignment. This is the premise of recruitment being an art form.

    Best Regards,

    Jennifer Randive

    Managing Director 

    focus direct Management Consultants

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel 009714 3554134. focusdir@eim.ae, www.focusdirect.net

    Submitted May 16, 2008 2:43 PM

  2. .Hugh D. says:


    Great article and we totally agree. 

    For sectors that like to hire within their own silos (e.g., healthcare, legal, accounting, etc.), your comments on hiring by characteristics, skills and most importantly, attitude is right on target. 

    Hugh Duffy

    Chief Marketing Officer, Build Your Firm


    Submitted May 16, 2008 3:14 PM

  3. .Larry H. says:

    Thanks for your comments, Jennifer and Hugh. And I really like what you said, Jennifer, about being very clear in advance about the company culture and what it wants to achieve. 

    I got an email earlier today from a client who is going through the pain of having to let a long-time loyal support person go because of her demonstrable resistance to changes in the company as a result of my client's E-Myth work.  I'd told her recently about my doctor story, and she embraced it "whole hog plus the postage" (as Michael Gerber likes to say). 

    She approached her favorite waitress at her favorite restaurant and wrote: "...She has all of the social skills we have been seeking...  I have had her tested and she scores extremely high on social, math and verbal reasoning and communication.  She seeks structure and works best under deadlines.  It appears to be a great fit based on what I want to do with the office and the incorporation of E-myth."

    I just love it when that happens!

    Submitted May 16, 2008 5:26 PM

  4. .Ivan S. says:

    In the Irish market – that is dominated with the recruitment agencies recruiting, would you see such model as a ‘workable’ one? The most agencies will try to get the candidate who is slightly overqualified, to impress the employer with a quality of the CV. Also they try to match the same role title – of the past and the future role of the candidate.


    So in a sense – the recruitment agencies (at least in Ireland) do all the opposite to what you are suggesting above.


    I like it, and can see it work beautifully, especially with the lower level positions like a receptionist you have described.


    Ivan | www.JobsBlog.ie

    Submitted May 17, 2008 8:06 AM

  5. .Derek G. says:

    I believe your article is spot on! As an HR consultant and recruiter we are constantly coaching our clients to shift HR from admin and forms to marketing and branding. In todays tight labour market, you need to set yourself apart as a different employer from the guy next door. Although many SME's don't realize it, they can compete with the big boys to attract top talent, they just need to do a better job of selling themselves to candidates.

    As for hiring, the number one rule for team and cultural fit - hire for talent (attitude), train for skills!

    I recently wrote an article called: The 4 P's of Hiring - HR Takes a Lesson from Marketing, which elaborates on some of the points you have here. Check it out at:  http://www.talentedgesolutions.com/news/articles/



    Talent Edge Solutions

    "Recruit and Retain Top Talent"

    Submitted May 17, 2008 9:49 AM

  6. .Larry H. says:

    Great article, Derek.  I especially like your suggestion to "Ask current staff what needs fixing and put action plans in place to make sure you deliver your promise" (as part of your strategy for attracting the right job candidates.)  At E-Myth Worldwide, we have an employee referral incentive that encourages current employees to recommend candidates for position openings.  I believe that most of our most recent openings have been filled by referrals from in-house.  This says two things to me: 1) As you suggest later in your article, the importance of networking for job-seekers as well as job-providers cannot be over-emphasized, and 2) If your employees are unwilling or unable to recommend your company to their friends and associates - i.e.: if they're not your most enthusiastic promoters - you probably have deeper issues than just a few unfilled positions!

    Submitted May 19, 2008 10:08 AM

  7. .Larry H. says:

    Thanks for the insight, Ivan -- and the link to your great blog. 

    Clearly, the recruitment agencies in Ireland are doing exactly what they should be doing in responding to the perceived needs of their clients (employers).  And I agree that, given the dynamics you describe, that most success with our strategy would be had in what is going to be perceived as the less specialized positions -- especially from the recruitment side. 

    Taking it one step deeper though, from an E-Myth point of view, a company's success and confidence in being able to recruit and hire from outside the pool of "experts" depends on the company's commitment to and success in establishing "expert systems" within the operation that makes it possible to hire someone with the skills and abilities to operate that system that is designed to obtain specific results -- even if that person's CV contained no prior direct experience. 

    Until that kind of dynamic exists within your client base of employers, your agency will always be tapped to find experts to replace the experts who are constantly moving on.

    Which I suppose, when you think about it, is good news for you,eh?

    Submitted May 19, 2008 10:24 AM

  8. .orang k. says:

    It was until I read this article last week, that I realized my mindset mistake in recruiting new employees. Recently I hired a very experienced candidate for Chief Accounting in my company. He works in his "way"  of  of doing things, not my way. And the result is chaos in the entire finance department of my small company. He doesn't seems to have a spirit/patience in building & cultivating new system. All he cares is that everything must work in his style..Thanks God that he finally resigned in just 3 weeks after he start. I wish that I read your article earlier. But as an old saying : Better too late than never !, thanks for the enlightment Larry. Will apply it into action A.S.A.P !

    Submitted Jul 13, 2008 9:50 AM

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