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12 common pitfalls that recruitment teams should avoid when reaching out to passive talent

August 16, 2023

Be careful with automation

Take precautions and plan out things when you automate marketing. The example below shows how a candidate receiving a message without substituting their first name. Probably the candidate’s first name was missing in this case. When you run campaigns to make sure that the system or automation tool alerts you with such edge cases which you can deal manually. Some tools are smart enough to exclude sentences or words when the values of the variables are missing.

In the following example, the same message was sent to the same candidate twice. Such occurrences can make you look unprofessional and can indelibly damage your company’s brand reputation. Define rules in your marketing automation tool to prevent such scenarios. Another common version of this problem is multiple recruiters on the same team sourcing profiles for the same job reaching out twice to the same candidates. Pick a tool that’s built with collaboration in mind to avoid such issues.

In the below example the automation script probably picked the first name from the username of the candidate(it’s common for developers to use pseudo names). The last paragraph of the message, however, is inconsistent and tells the candidate that the recruiter has done the research. And hence the rant!

If you’re saying in the message that you’ve spent quality time checking candidate’s fitment then double-check and preview the messages before sending them to candidates.

Learn to walk the fine line between asking & giving

Outreach messages are a way to meaningfully connect with potential candidates and start a conversation. You can’t expect replies from candidates if you are going to dump your job description in emails. Most candidates know what being “salesy” is when they see it. It doesn’t have a clear definition but is more of a feeling of being icky and inauthentic.

Use social proof wherever possible. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. Here are 5 great examples of how you can use social proof in recruitment marketing.

Be polite and professional

Be mindful of the language you use with candidates. Eschew terms like “resources” or “Dear candidate” or “to whom it may concern”. This kind of a language can be impersonal and off-putting, particularly when your recipient isn’t a candidate yet, but a potential one. Avoid overly formal expressions and treat candidates with the respect they deserve. Remember that with passive hiring you are the one selling the job to the candidates. Your response time, the language you use, how you speak everything matters in how candidates perceive your brand.

Sell only one thing

Keep your sales pitch short. In the below message you can see the recruiter pitching multiple services at the same time(work opportunities and resume development). The recruiter has done a very poor job of elucidating why they are reaching out to this candidate specifically(an answer that the majority of the candidates expect in the initial outreach).

Focus on culture not perks

Standard perks like free lunches, movie nights, and foosball tables aren’t differentiators anymore. And not all candidates are motivated by higher compensation as well. Recruiting candidates who put money first may result in an early turnover. Compensation-focused hires are likely to immediately jump ship when they’re offered even slightly more money from another company.

A higher salary is the primary reason why employees change jobs, according to a recent Glassdoor survey of hiring decision-makers (it was cited by 45 percent, and the next factor was advancement at 32 percent).

Spray & Pray marketing doesn’t work

With a “spray-and-pray” recruitment marketing strategy you advertise your job opportunity anywhere and everywhere with everyone, hoping that candidates will notice and praying your hard work pays off. But most often what happens is that recipients toss the message directly in the recycle bin, ignore the ad or delete the without even giving it a read

Instead take time to target your audience with segmenting. With segmenting you first break down your list into special groups of candidates who you can email separately with hyper-relevant content. Study shows that:

  • Opens for segmented email campaigns are 14.3% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Clicks for segmented email campaigns are 101% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Unsubscribes for segmented email campaigns are 9.4% lower than non-segmented campaigns.

Try avoiding work email addresses

In general, it’s best to avoid sending recruiting messages to potential candidates’ work email addresses. You don’t know who has access to those messages. Most corporate networks are monitored. Contacting them via work email can be sensitive to the candidate, especially since it leaves a trail of evidence discoverable by the IT /Admin department, so I would advise against it. If you misspell their email chances are that it may even land in someone else inbox. My thought would be to not reach out to a candidate via their work email unless that’s how they contacted you.

If you don’t have a personal email, then make initial contact by phone. The candidate can tell you they’re not interested and if they are, then they can share a preferred method of contact. However, if you’ve only on the work email address to reach the candidate then simply say ‘Hey —–, do you have a personal email? I would love to send you some info there instead.’ It works like a charm!

Be mindful of the location

When reaching out to candidate be mindful about their location preference. Expecting candidates to move across states and countries may backfire. The best way to find the geographical work preference of the candidates is by leveraging the data available on the internet and sourcing information from social networks. Many professionals add their country, state, or city when creating their online social profiles. Boolean search can help you discover those profiles on Google.

Proofread content before outreach

Spelling errors and stilted language can damage your credibility. Focus on surface errors such as misspellings and mistakes in grammar and punctuation. Ensure that there is no grammatical/capitalization/numbering error/spelling error and inconsistency in the format of the message. A lot of recruiters underestimate the importance of proofreading and simply decide to skip this step, usually due to deadline constraints. A well-written email can make your brand look professional and also increases the chances of replies.

Stop pestering candidates

Stop sending emails when prospects mention as not interested. Use a “cooling period” and give the candidate a break before you send your next email. If your marketing sequence is on autopilot then make sure that you remove the candidate from the nurture cadence. If your tool has collaborative features ideally it should also preclude other recruiters in your team reaching out to the same candidate.

Don’t sound creepy

Giving candidates too many compliments before you meet them will make you seem fake. Excessive flattery only makes you sound like a creepy stalker. Find the sweet spot. Make them feel unique and realize that your email is specifically for them. I recommend using relevant information that makes it clear you’ve done your basic research and are going beyond the surface level information.

Here’s a lovely example of what not to do. Microsoft was mocked for its cringe-worthy pitch to recruit their next generation of engineering talent. The company promised interns ‘hella noms’, ‘the best beats’ and ‘beer pong’ for ‘bae [‘before anyone else’] interns’. The below email was signed off with the embarrassing line: ‘Hell yes to getting lit on a Monday night’.

Exclude founders & entrepreneurs

The following are examples of messages that the founders of Stripe and Webflow received from recruiters at Brex and Facebook respectively. This could have occurred because the recruiter pulled a list and sent personalized emails in bulk. Spend some time to qualify the list before blasting emails. Exclude founders and entrepreneurs from outreach.



Amidst today’s noisy digital world, brands find it challenging to create meaningful connections with their customer base and target audience. Getting the target consumer’s attention and persuading them to buy from you gets even trickier. Hence, content marketing has become more crucial than ever for brands to attract, educate, and retain customers.

Content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be. Consistent, high-quality, and engaging content impacts your audience’s decisions through education and persuasion.

Depending on your business goals and requirements, the role of Content Marketers you hire will vary. The primary responsibilities revolve around forming consistent brand messaging and deciding upon a unique and identifiable voice, style, and pitch across various distribution channels.

From raising brand awareness to attracting a relevant audience to your website, boosting social media presence and engagement, generating leads, and building brand loyalty – content marketing drives all the growth efforts for your brand. When done effectively, it can help you:

  • Build positive brand awareness
  • Make your audience stick around for longer
  • Get better traction on social media
  • Gain more trust of your audience than ever
  • Generate qualified leads
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Boost business visibility with SEO
  • Position your brand as an authority
  • Cultivate loyal brand fans

While content marketing is a broad role with numerous areas of expertise involved, it’s vital to thoroughly understand your company’s current marketing goals and the related requirements. In this blog, we will dive deep into the step-by-step approach to hiring a Content Marketer.

What is The Role of a Content Marketer?

A Content Marketer must be deeply passionate about telling your brand’s story to the world. The objective is to educate and nurture the target audience to establish brand authority using thought-leadership and drive more people to buy from you.

As a candidate is expected to be a mediator between the brand and the target audience, they are primarily responsible for planning, creating, and sharing valuable content to grow their company’s awareness and engagement to bring more business.

To be more specific, the role of a Content Marketer requires a perfect blend of creativity and attention to detail in an individual. It’s a balancing role, as they need to ensure creating content that resonates and strengthens business relationships, using strategies that position your business as authentic and problem-solving.

Take a look at the core responsibilities of a Content Marketer that most businesses expect them to take over:

  • Research and Competitor Analysis: The first and foremost step to creating a content marketing strategy is effective initial research. It not only helps a Content Marketer understand the nuances of the industry through competitor analysis but also study and understand the target audience thoroughly.
  • Building Content Marketing Plans: Once the competitor research and target audience analysis is done, a Content Marketer needs to work on the different plans for all the business objectives, targeted channels, segments of the audience, and the bigger marketing strategy. A content marketing plan typically consists of:
  • Specific goals along with a pre-decided timeline
  • Various channels to be targeted for content distribution
  • Types of content to be created
  • Budget for the entire staff, outsourced services, and paid promotion (Collabs and Ads)
  • Creating Editorial Calendar: Creating, managing, and maintaining a content calendar is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a Content Marketer. It is a centralized visual document that enables effective collaboration among the marketing team and helps Content Marketers ensure on-time production and delivery.
  • Content Creation: Once the strategy and calendar have been approved by relevant stakeholders, Content Marketers need to do the on-ground work. This task usually depends on the scale of your company and content marketing strategy. Suppose an organization already has a set of writers, then the Content Marketer doesn’t need to create content by themselves.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Producing quality content that educates your target audience and resonates with them, isn’t enough. You need to optimize your content creation to make it search engine-friendly. While most companies need a dedicated SEO specialist for keyword research and planning, Content Marketers need to closely collaborate with them and should be well-versed in the basics of SEO.

While the practices discussed above are primary responsibilities of a Content Marketer, they also need to be proactive with

  • Content editing and ensuring adherence to a certain style guide    
  • Continous publishing and distributing content
  • Measuring and analyzing performance

How to Hire a Content Marketer: Step-By-Step?

Content marketing has become the key to driving growth for businesses. Unlike a few years ago, it’s not possible now to get away with a one-person team for content marketing. You need deeply trained individuals for specialist roles.

Let’s now dive into the step-by-step approach of hiring a Content Marketer. But before you even source your first candidate, you should have a clear expectation of the skillset and experience to look out for top content marketing candidates.

Top Must-Have Skills in a Content Marketer

Apart from having relevant industry experience, a good Content Marketer must possess the following skills.

  1. Excellent Writing Skills

A Content Marketer’s prior skillset should be writing excellent attention-grabbing content. From long-form blog posts to website copy, ad copies, social media content, video scripts, emails, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, and more – a Content Marketer should be able to adapt to the business’s specific requirements and create quality content.

  1. Audience Research

Identifying user behavior is vital for framing the story in the right direction. So a Content Marketer must know how to identify and analyze the needs and pain points to develop a buyer persona. User research can be performed through social listening, relevant communities, in-person calls with customers, analyzing sales call recordings, and more.

  1. Keyword Research

Creating valuable thought-leadership content isn’t enough. Researching the right set of keywords is an essential skill to further educate your target audience on the Whys, Hows and Whats of your business, and have your website rank on Google.

  1. Data-oriented Content

Content that’s not backed by relevant data points does not build enough trust. Experienced content marketing professionals would always prefer data over hollow claims. No doubt that only data doesn’t help a content piece succeed, but it’s essential..

  1. Project Management, Planning, and Publishing –

A Content Marketer is also expected to break down and analyze the pain points to turn keyword research into content ideas. So a professional must be able to identify and solve content gaps.

Further, they must know how to create a content calendar, decide the different types of content, and choose relevant platforms to publish and schedule marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Promotion

Creating a valuable content piece, for example - an ebook, isn’t enough. Your content marketing team needs to promote it proactively for bringing enough attention and engagement.

  1. Performance Analysis

Setting up goals and plans is one thing, but continuously executing, measuring, and analyzing content performance is another. A Content Marketer should always be monitoring key performance parameters to figure out the upcoming plans with the necessary updates required.

Not to forget - stakeholders and marketing heads need the performance reports regularly. So Content Marketers must be able to collect and comprehend all the data to make it worth presenting.

Step 1: Create a Candidate Persona

Let’s sort out the priorities first, and decide the type of content marketing candidates you want to recruit. From exceptional research skills to storytelling, communication skills, relationship building, audience engagement, and more capabilities must be comprehensively considered. Identify and break down the skill requirements for Content Marketers:

  • What are the educational qualification criteria for the role?
  • How many years and what type of work experience do you want in candidates?
  • What are the specific skill sets you’re looking for?
  • Which industry experience would you primarily prefer?
  • Are there any tools your candidates should be hands-on with?
  • What are some personality traits that will fit your company?
  • Where do they look for a new job?
  • What are their career and life goals?

Forming a candidate persona by answering all these questions would ensure you are not shooting in the dark while sourcing candidates. Further, it helps you determine the traits of the ideal candidate, and plan your sourcing and recruitment strategy further.

Step 2: Document the Role Requirements and Decide on Your Recruiting Process

Next step is determining your role requirements suiting primarily to organizational needs and business goals. A content marketing professional is expected to own the entire content strategy, creation, and distribution. But what about your business’s unique requirements?

You might need someone comfortable with frequently creating long-form content pieces like blogs, ebooks, or whitepapers, or creating engaging video content based on your industry trends.

Talk to various relevant stakeholders for seeking the complete detailed company requirements for the role.

Before you enter the recruitment funnel, outline your talent acquisition process. Identify various strategies, channels, and other informational insights you would need – and maintain a collaborative document.

As you update the tactics and tweak your recruitment process for meeting hiring requirements optimally – keep your document up to date.

Step 3: Prepare a Content Marketing Job Description

Once you have finalized the role requirements with respect to your current content marketing goals and team, you can start sourcing candidates. Preparing the job description is the first task you’ll need to do.

Here are the necessary components you must have in your job description:

  • Job Title: The position you’re looking to fill. For example - Content Marketing Specialist or Content Marketing Manager.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: An outline of the candidate’s day-to-day activities. From ideation to implementation and the impact on the organization, everything should be covered.  
  • Skill Requirements: Skills and abilities a candidate must have to perform the job successfully.
  • Perks and Benefits: The compensation details, perks of the job, and any other benefits.
  • About the Company: Why should a candidate consider working with your company?

Content Marketer Job Description Template


The job of a Content Marketer is to perform competitor research, create user persona, and write plagiarism-free content for blog articles, social media, and the company website. They need to stay updated on the latest SEO techniques.


  • Develop, write and deliver persuasive copy for the website, email marketing campaigns, sales collateral, videos, and blogs
  • Build and manage an editorial calendar; coordinate with other content crafters to ensure standards
  • Measure impact and perform analysis to improve KPIs
  • Include and optimize all content for SEO
  • Contribute to the localization of processes and content to ensure consistency across regions
  • Review and implement process changes to drive operational excellence


  • Proven content marketing, copywriting, or SEO experience
  • Working knowledge of content management systems like WordPress
  • A well-maintained portfolio of published articles, blogs, copy, etc
  • Proven experience of working under pressure to deliver high quality output in a short span of time
  • Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications, Google Suite
  • Fluency in English or any other required language

Soft Skills

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • The ability to handle multiple projects concurrently
  • Strong attention to detail and the ability to multi-task projects and deliverables

Step 4: Source Candidates

Once you have the tailored job description in hand, it’s now time to do the groundwork and source candidates. Create an attractive job post to promote your job across job boards and social channels.

  • Begin with what to expect from the role at your company?
  • Why should candidates apply for the position?
  • Highlight the growth opportunities
  • State the company vision and mission
  • Briefly describe the recruitment process

Prepare an impactful job post and also execute paid job ad campaigns if required. The next step would be promoting your jobs on various job boards and hiring platforms. You can leverage the following platforms for hiring Content Marketers:

  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Instahyre
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Monster
  • GlassDoor
  • CareerBuilder

Not to forget - almost 3/4th of the workforce includes passive candidates, so you cannot miss out on passive talent sourcing as well. Reach out to qualified candidates on communities, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook to offer them suitable opportunities.

Step 5: Evaluate Candidates and Interview Shortlisted Ones

Once you have filtered candidates based on their experience and skills listed on their profile, it’s time to evaluate them deeply. Ask them to create a content strategy for your website, along with a value-adding content piece like a small blog. The topic of the article must fall within the scope of the strategy.

Interview the candidates whose profiles got shortlisted. Keep in mind the parameters covering skills, relevant experience, and personality traits of candidates.

Step 5: Make the Hire

Reach out to selected Content Marketers and communicate about the compensation.

Further, extend your offer letter to all the candidates who have been selected. In the case of passive sourcing, extend to only those who were aligned with you on the compensation and are willing to move forward.

Ensure having a deadline for the joining date and mention the necessary documents required by your recruiting team.

  • Get the required documents and set up the offer agreements with candidates
  • Organize an orientation session for the onboarded candidates
  • Introduce them to the entire team and the marketing teams they will be working with
  • Guide the new candidates about your company management tools and communication channels
  • Provide candidates with forms for benefits and perks like Health Insurance.

Supercharge Your Hiring for Content Marketer with Nurturebox

Inbound candidate sourcing doesn’t work effectively anymore. Do you also find challenges in closing quality candidates through job posts even after spending on ads?

Don’t worry, passive candidate sourcing can be an optimal solution for hiring top content marketing candidates.

Nurturebox is a one-stop talent sourcing and engagement platform which is powered by automation. Here’s how you can source product managers from LinkedIn using Nurturebox:

  • Install the Nurturebox Chrome plugin and sign up.
  • On your LinkedIn profile, start sourcing Content Marketers with boolean searches stating the required experience from targeted locations and including other criteria
  • Add the qualified candidates to your sourcing campaign pipeline with just a click
  • Automate the candidate engagement through email, Whatsapp and LinkedIn direct messages for reaching out and nurturing candidates at scale.

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