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How to Find Job Seekers Who Aren’t Seeking Jobs: Part 1

The term “passive job seeker” is one that we all know well. It’s one thing to grab the attention of a candidate who’s explicitly looking for a particular type of job, but it’s another to connect with the candidate who is seeking out something else altogether. So how do we do it?

Create Natural Content That Speaks to Candidate Thoughts and Needs

This natural content could take any number of forms, such as social causes, company values or innovative projects, just to name a few examples. The possibilities are as infinite as thoughts in the human brain. Thankfully, there are powerful search engines like Google that can help organize the complexities of content on the internet and pair them with the desires of their users, neatly packaging them into easily digestible digital search results.

I briefly touched on this idea back in 2018, as my fourth point in this ‘Why SEO Does Matter for HR’ blog post. I intend to dig deeper into that point here, and hopefully it helps inspire some ideas for the future. Three or so years after that initial post, the concept remains valid, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

Short-Tail, Mid-Tail and Long-Tail Keywords

Before we get into this type of strategy, though, it’s important to have a search-optimized career site in place that can ideally address the following goals:

  • Short-Tail Keywords: Google for Jobs has opened up the ability for companies to organically rank for high-search-volume, historically-hard-to-rank-for keywords. Think keywords like ‘jobs near me,’ ‘warehouse jobs,’ ‘Boston jobs,’ ‘software engineer jobs,’ ‘grocery jobs,’ ‘Seattle jobs,’ or even just ‘jobs.’ These keywords are typically expensive to bid on for a pay per click campaign, and the still 100% organic Google for Jobs experience has really leveled the playing field here. Individual job-level pages are elevated up to the very top of the search results for these heavily searched keywords in many cases, and localized to each job seeker searching for them. It’s been a phenomenal boon to employers who have optimized their career site for this, and we’ve clearly seen the impact at the keyword level. Google has stated that their goal is to connect job seekers with the open jobs around them, and they have been successful in doing this.
  • Mid-Tail Keywords: The career site’s architecture and underlying SEO strategy is crucial to targeting these type of keyword strings in the core organic search results. When done right, these provide non-branded ranking opportunities, along with optimized destinations for branded search queries. These are the phrases that aren’t quite as competitive as ‘jobs’ or ‘jobs near me,’ but do generate strong search volumes around jobs. There’s an ability to rank within both the Google for Jobs set of search results and Google’s core organic rankings outside of them.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: These are precisely the conceptual type of keyword strings that I’m referencing here in this post. This content needs to live on a destination that is easily indexable by search engines. You may have a content management system (CMS) in place for your career site already. If you don’t have a natural CMS as part of your career site, feel free to contact Radancy about our Unified Platform and Self-Service content creation abilities through the CMS we’ve developed. These are the phrases that may not receive massive amounts of searches each month, but satisfy specific candidate needs that tend to require 4-5 or more keywords to describe. Many times, these queries won’t trigger the Google for Jobs search results, and they tend to be more informational in nature. We’ve seen that this area is ripe for Featured Snippets, which can also drive voice and conversational type search queries.

What’s Important to Your Organization?

Think of your career site CMS as your stage, your ‘blank slate’ to highlight what’s important to your company. This could be any of a number of things – a specific department, social causes, ongoing initiatives, goals, company values, geographic location, mission, innovation, projects, career path, benefits, sustainability, corporate culture, salary and benefits, veteran recruitment, or anything else in between and beyond. It’s your soap box and megaphone to the world.

Google currently processes over 3.5 billion search queries per day. Going back to available data from 2017, around 15% of search queries that Google saw were unique, meaning they had never been processed before. Think about how diverse those queries are for a second. There is a good chance that somebody, somewhere, may be searching for the same information that is important to your organization. It’s your job to get it out there for candidates (and search engine spiders) to find.

I’m a big fan of how Capital One builds content on their career blog and repeatedly refer back to them when talking about this idea. They’re actively writing articles around concepts that are important to them as an organization. Sometimes they create posts that aren’t about the company at all, but provide value to the reader. Many times, this perspective comes from a current employee, giving them recognition and an outlet to express themselves. This helps naturally attract candidates who share those same goals, values and aspirations. The organic symbiosis then helps drive the culture that the company strives for. One of the fantastic byproducts of this process is that it helps define the employer’s voice and brand in an authentic manner.

Having an all-in-one career site with CMS opens this up a step further, so you can choose to highlight specific jobs to be pulled in alongside a piece of content. Maybe you want to pull in supporting video or imagery, maps, or social media connections? A variety of these tools can help add value and provide support to the underlying message that you’re conveying to the reader/potential prospect.

What’s Important to Your Candidate + Real World Examples

If it’s still not totally clear what I mean, hopefully some examples will help. Let’s stick with Capital One to illustrate what I’m getting at. There are many more pages created than the ones I’m showing here, and likely many, many keyword combinations that allow people to find them. At their heart, though, many of these pages of content speak to areas that are important to candidates’ work lives, without going directly to traditional career-related search queries. If you can build content that satisfies what prospects may seek out with their hearts and minds, you’re in a powerful position to connect with them when they come across it.

In this first example, Capital One earned a #1 organic ranking for the keyword ‘mobile video interviewing,’ appearing after 4 paid ad spots for that keyword string (sounds expensive). This person may be wondering what that mobile interview process is all about in the post-pandemic world, but may not be aggressively applying to every job they come across. By reading these tips from Capital One, however, they’re naturally exposed to the company, and may decide to browse some jobs that are appealing to them. It’s a free click to Capital One, and a good read for the user.

As you can see here, Capital One was rewarded with a Featured Snippet here for a more specific conversational query related to mobile interviewing. Featured Snippets basically leapfrog the core organic search results and appear in a more robust search result, including more of a preview from the page itself. These are AI driven and, as I mentioned earlier, can power voice search results. Again, this is great visibility for them in the search results for a non-job-heavy search query.

Here’s another similar one

Along with interviewing via mobile, many job seekers have started jobs completely online during the past year. This is a new experience for most people, and it’s understandable that people may be a little nervous about the prospect. In this case, The Muse is given the featured snippet, but Capital One appears directly below, in the #1 organic ranking spot. Hopefully this employee’s experience puts the reader at ease, while highlighting Capital One as a company and exposing them to available jobs.

This screenshot was taken around this time last year, at the height of the pandemic-induced panic that we all lived through. In this case, Capital One was again given the featured snippet, with imagery pulled in directly from the destination page. This is closer to a direct job search, but not quite a job search. It was quite an uncertain time, but hopefully the insight here provided certainty to people who may be thinking about applying for a job during covid.

During this same timeframe, Zoom has been a constant companion to a lot of us. If you’ve been in Zoom meetings, I’m sure you’ve noticed some unique backgrounds. I know that I have. This post was created right as that trend was emerging, and has driven a large amount of organic search traffic to their career site. It’s consistently been a top 5 page in terms of traffic across the entire site, which is rather impressive. Again, it’s a very creative way to appeal to currently employed prospects that may find interesting opportunities available at Capital One. Since the spring of last year, there has been a lot of similar content created around this concept, but there are quite a few variations of this keyword string that they’ve been ranking on page 1 of Google.

Keeping with the remote work trend, this one resonates with me in particular. I’m a remote working dad of 3, and can easily see myself looking for tips, especially during those distance learning days the past two school years. Capital One is right there giving their tips to fathers needing some help. I may not be looking for a job, but this info brings me into the world of Capital One and careers with them.

Many companies have strong initiatives for hiring veterans and military spouses, and Capital One falls into this camp. Providing job search tips for military spouses is a great way to connect with these families. My sister is a military spouse, and I know firsthand that their lives can be disrupted geographically more often than most. She may not have been aware of what Capital One has to offer career-wise, but she can read some valuable tips from them and see for herself what opportunities may exist for her right there in the article.

This search query switches gears altogether and focuses on the practice of mindfulness as it relates to happiness at work. Mental health has been put to the test for many over the past year and a half, even being described as ‘languishing’ by the New York Times in this article. This is by no means a “job search” query in the traditional sense, but it allows Capital One to contribute to the conversation. Sky provides her own experience with mindfulness at work, and visitors can view available jobs alongside the left-hand side of the page. It’s a great example of attracting job seekers who aren’t looking for jobs.

One last example here – about setting up a productive office space at home. Presumably, someone who is looking for tips on home office space currently has work to accomplish in this space. What a great way to reach out to that individual with some tips on how to do this, while also exposing them to new job opportunities that catch the eye.

I could go on and on about these, but I hope you get the picture. All of these queries are “around the edges” of job searches, but not explicitly a job search query. They all provide distinct value to the reader and align with concepts that can easily be sought out via search engines.

This content is part of a well-rounded and multifaceted paid and organic strategy, and, as a result, brings in candidates that may be missed through more traditional recruitment angles. It’s one that has vast potential but hasn’t been tapped into en masse, although we are certainly seeing it building momentum.

Be sure to check back soon, when I’ll get into some of the real-world data associated with Capital One’s career blog, look at other benefits outside of direct SEO and break down some tips on how to execute a career-focused content strategy.

Radancy’s unified platform, augmented by rich data and deep industry expertise, is revolutionizing how employers attract and hire the talent they need. Want to see what we can achieve together? Connect with us today.

About John Elstad

John Elstad is SEO Director for Radancy. He’s experienced a lot in his 10+ years of online marketing, but still has a passion to learn something new every day. When John isn’t trying to move up the organic search rankings or distilling analytics, he's usually on the golf course or enjoying a tea party with his three little girls.

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