Aimée Treasure, marketing manager at VHR Recruitment on international marketing for a technical recruitment organisation
Aimée Treasure (AT): I’m Aimée Treasure, marketing manager at VHR Recruitment.
As VHR’s marketing manager, I manage VHR’s marketing team of seven. My job involves creating and implementing the annual marketing strategy, delivering end-to-end marketing campaigns, reporting on marketing success and ROI, driving VHR’s brand, generating leads and new business, and managing all marketing activities.
AT: VHR is an international technical recruitment organisation operating across 45 countries. We go the extra mile by acting an extension of our clients’ HR departments and delivering end-to-end services that encompass recruiting, onboarding, work permits, logistics and in-work management.
SMP: Who are your target audience and why?
AT: VHR serves the Aerospace & Aviation, F1 & Automotive, Engineering & Defence and Marine industries. Our candidate networks include technical workers and engineers who specialise in these four industries. From board to junior management, VHR is led by former industry practitioners, which ensures a true understanding of our markets and their needs and challenges.
SMP: How did you initially attract users to site, your services and how do you do it now?
AT: When I started in my role in June 2017, VHR had already built up an excellent reputation in its 14 years of business, but our marketing function was small and focused more on advertising and branding. Since then, our marketing team has doubled, we have expanded our reach through national and international PR for the first time, and our focus has shifted to an inbound strategy where we provide content that adds real value to our clients and candidates. Our customers are firmly at the heart of everything we do.
SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at VHR Recruitment?
AT: Recruitment is a heavily saturated market. In the last year alone, 3,900 new recruitment companies were established in London. There are also a variety of companies in the technical recruitment space. To stand out, we strive to project a high quality, clear and consistent brand message at every client and candidate touchpoints. VHR’s status as an ethical recruitment company and the fact that we are international inside and out, our 80 employees originate from over 20 nationalities and speak 15 languages further differentiates us from our competitors.
SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?
AT: In April 2018 VHR received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in recognition of rapid and sustainable business growth across the globe. This March we won the Creative Marketing Award in the Online Recruitment Awards, which was brilliant recognition of the strong market presence we’ve built and the success of our client marketing campaigns.
SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for VHR?
AT: We use a variety of channels to connect with our audience. As a career-focused platform, LinkedIn is our main channel, however Facebook is also very effective at reaching candidates around the world. Our Twitter @VHROfficial channel is great for connecting with leaders in our industries and our Instagram and YouTube audiences are rapidly growing.
SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?
AT: We create and share a number of industry-relevant pieces of content, including job advice, career guides and daily #NamethePlane and #GuesstheCar games, which candidates really enjoy. In the past year we generated 296% more Facebook engagement than our most engaged competitor and grew our LinkedIn audience from 24,000 to 32,000 followers.
SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?
AT: Brexit is a huge challenge for the recruitment sector, not just in the UK but in the rest of Europe too. Many businesses are reluctant to invest in hiring internationally amid the confusion of possible changes to legislation, visas, workers’ rights and trading opportunities, and workers have been deterred from moving to the UK for the same reasons.
To protect our clients and candidates, VHR has expanded our service offering across Europe. VHR is now incorporated in Italy, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland. Our fully compliant and fully regulated companies in these three EU member states provide VHR with multiple gateways into the EU single market, entirely preventing disruption to our clients and candidates regardless of any and all Brexit outcomes.
SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments?
AT: Aside from the huge competition and the industry’s historic reputation, segmentation and accurate targeting are often the most challenging parts of building a recruitment brand. Recruitment companies automatically have two core customer bases – clients and candidates – that are then divided into further segments. Clients can be targeted by industries, job titles and locations etc, but jobseekers don’t behave in the same way as other consumer groups: they don’t want to be pinned down to one industry, location or even skill set, the roles and lives of contractors are changing all the time. This is what they want from a recruitment company. Your brand must attract all these ever-changing groups at the same time, across a variety of channels, without diluting your messaging or your positioning.
SMP: Recruitment and recruiters don’t have the best reputation, especially across online job boards (what do you think this is), what are you doing to address this?
AT: Recruitment is often considered to have a ‘laddish’ and ‘work hard, play hard’ culture dominated by ambitious, driven individuals who are too busy to fully understand the needs, challenges and everyday lives of their candidates. Sometimes hundreds of candidates apply for one role within just a few days, and many unsuccessful applicants are left without feedback or any reply at all.
To address this industry-wide problem, VHR’s recruiters reach out to candidates through video interviews where they discuss the latest market and recruitment trends and collaborate with our marketing team to create best practice guides on the job application process, CV improvements and interview success. We also run a Live Chat service so our candidates can communicate with us instantly, wherever they are in the world and whatever they need.
SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding marketing for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
AT: Sales and marketing don’t often understand each other and end up working in silos, which doesn’t offer the best customer experience. In the past year there’s been an increasing realisation that sales and marketing working together drive the best results: sales best understand their customers and their markets, and marketing have the technical skills to reach these customers and draw them in through targeted content and communications.
In the coming months ‘smarketing’ will take many forms that will start to deliver more inbound leads, improvements to products and services and better customer experiences.
SMP: What are your top five predictions for marketing for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
AT replies with
- Personalisation. True personalisation won’t just mean retargeting ads: marketers will learn more about consumer behaviour through research and data analysis to provide a bespoke experience for each customer.
- Transparency. In a globally connected world where ‘fake news’ dominates, consumers value honesty and integrity more than ever before.
- Instant Engagement. Live video and interactive campaigns will form a core part of the customer experience.
- Human Connections. AI has skyrocketed in popularity, but the human connection is more important to marketing than ever. Customers don’t just want one-way conversations with a robot; they want to interact with brands that truly understand them as individuals and care about their best interests.
- Power to the Customer. Transparency also means consumers understand more about marketing and are increasingly savvy to advertising. Customers will drive changes to marketing content and communications to choose what they want to see, when, where and how they want to see it.
SMP: What are your top overall five marketing tips and why?
AT replies with:
- Don’t be dazzled by the latest technology. Not every channel or system will be appropriate for your business or your customers, so do your research and determine value before you sign up to the newest trend.
- UX is paramount. Listen to your customers and tailor every aspect of your marketing towards their preference and needs.
- Prioritise learning and development. Upskilling your team and helping them progress through their careers is pivotal to continually enhancing your brand and staying ahead of the competition.
- Take risks. Some things will be a fantastic success, and others will fall flat. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas: you learn much more from failure than success.
- Maintain a 360 view. Marketers have so many tasks and so much scope, we’re always in danger of being too close to our projects to see the wider impact of small decisions or changes. Book regular time in with yourself: dedicate a slot in your diary to strategic thinking and take a step back from the every day to really look at the effects of what you’re doing and brainstorm new ideas to challenges.
SMP: What are you top five tips for candidates seeking a job?
AT replies with:
- Your CV is the first impression you give a hiring manager or recruiter. Focus on your experience: what makes you more qualified and capable of doing this job better than anyone else? Include specific achievements to show how you add real value to a role.
- Do your research to show your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in working for the company. Thorough research, not just across the company website and social channels but also getting up to date on their latest news and current projects, will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the company and position you favourably in the eyes of your interviewer.
- Build your brand – Your interviewer and potential new employer will be researching you too. Build up a professional brand across LinkedIn and if appropriate, your own website or portfolio, to show off your skills and evidence your talents before your first interview. Ensure you separate your personal profiles from your professional ones and put privacy settings on your personal Facebook and Instagram accounts to protect the professional brand you’ve built.
- Communication is key to building and maintaining a positive impression throughout the recruitment process. Respond to calls and emails as promptly as you can, and make sure you email your interviewer soon after your interview to thank them – most candidates don’t do this, and a little appreciation goes a long way.
- Be clear on what you want. Understand the reasons why you’re leaving your current role and company, what your priorities are for your new role, and how you want your career to develop in the next few years. Assess job openings against these criteria before you apply, to avoid wasting your time on unsuitable opportunities and ensure you pick the right job for you.
SMP: Best way to contact you and VHR Recruitment?
Now some questions for fun
SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?
AT: My lunch today was falafel – vegetarian, (relatively!) healthy and delicious.
SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?
AT: Work and various projects have meant I can’t volunteer for charity as much as I used to, but I regularly make time to give blood. Only 4% of the UK population give blood, but 6,000 donors are needed every day. Register today to save a life!
SMP: If you weren’t working at VHR Recruitment what would you be doing?
AT: My first passion in life was reading, which quickly gave way to writing stories, poems and articles. If I couldn’t work in Marketing, I would be a full-time novelist or international journalist.
SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?
AT: I travelled to India last Christmas for the first time. It was an amazing experience! The islands close to Tamil Nadu in the South have a wealth of natural beauty, I’ve never seen anything like it.
SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?
AT: After checking my email, the first thing I do is to catch up with my team individually. We go through what they’re working on, any challenges/roadblocks and new ideas to give them a good start to the day.
SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
AT: Healing powers, to cure the incurable and help those in need.