Niche Targeting: How to Optimize your Recruitment Strategy

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While designing the recruitment strategy for your institution, specialists take into account different factors such as the profile of desired candidates, talent pipeline, employer branding, recruitment culture, corporate recruitment goals, diversity for the teams, key performance indicators and of course the cost of the entire recruitment process.

The cost of recruiting new talent for your company or new students for your programs is typically divided between:

  1. Advertising and communications: all channels used to communicate the new vacancy or study opportunity. I.e.: Online platforms, internal communication in the company, media purchase, etc.
  2. In-house or outsourced recruitment team: assistants and managers in charge of processing of applicants until the most suitable candidate is found and hired.
  3. Additional expenses: all add-ons to your recruitment effort such as training required relocation and travel expenses, welcome committees and activities, etc.

In order to optimize the cost of recruitment, some institutions opt for targeted advertisement by delivering their message to only the prospective candidates who are most likely to fulfil their desired talent profile. A strategy based on advertising only in niche channels is applied with the aim to generate fewer but more valuable leads to the recruitment process and therefore decrease the expected recruitment team costs.

To recruit based on a niche approach can be challenging but at the same time very rewarding. Some of the advantages of a niche recruitment approach are:

  • Added value to the communication of your offer: as it happens in marketing, by limiting the reach of your advertisement to only the channels which give you direct access to pools of your niche audience, you create a feeling of exclusivity in your prospects. If you are in need of researchers with a very specific discipline focus, the best worded offer you can give to them is a message which addresses your opportunity as “the opportunity of their life” to make their career dreams come true.
  • Higher possibilities to be “the big fish in a small pond”: by advertising in channels which are targeting exclusively your ideal talent, you are more likely to make your offer pop among others. Your specialized program, course, scholarship, job, assistantship etc. can reach a higher level of relevance if delivered only to those to whom it matters.
  • Decrease in recruitment team costs: by advertising to a niche audience you can guarantee a significant decrease in budget for follow-ups and daunting pre-classification of candidates. As an example, if your offer requires only talent with a high knowledge of economics, you can pre-classify your candidates by reducing the chances of getting applicants from other disciplines where the economics knowledge is rather limited.
  • Strong relationships and reputation for future projects: since you are approaching a highly engaged audience in a specific topic or research focus, you will be more likely to be recognized in the future as a key player in the field of your advertised opportunity. If your research institution opens a vacancy or a course in the field of behavioural finance, the candidates who view your opportunity are more likely to remember your institution in the future as a source for materials and expertise in the topic.
  • Tool for employer branding among a specific talent profile: By promoting your offers via a niche advertisement strategy, it is much easier to target your content and deliver value to your prospective talent. If part of your recruitment strategy is to build employer branding, running a parallel content marketing initiative will help you reach two goals during the same time period: new high quality talent for your team and an increase in the reputation of a specific discipline or research area.

As in every approach, there is always a grey side of adopting a niche strategy for your recruitment process. For instance, by targeting only relevant candidates to your offers, you may be missing the possibility to reach candidates by using the audience who are not target group as referrals to their private and professional network. Additionally, you need to be more careful in choosing your target audience since the precision in their definition can lead to a high or low conversion rate of your advertisement.

How to successfully recruit in a niche market

In order to avoid pitfalls while choosing the best advertisement channels for your recruitment process, we recommend answering the following questions:

  1. Does my offer require candidates from only a specific research/study area? If your answer is yes, then an advertisement strategy focused on a niche audience will help you leverage results.
  2. What is the budget and coverage that my team has for follow-up of candidates? It is important to remember that a niche campaign is more likely to deliver fewer but more relevant applications. On the opposite side, a wider targeting will deliver more applications but also require a bigger availability of resources to filter and classify all results.
  3. What is the timeframe to find a candidate? If the time is very limited, recruiters tend to pick a niche advertisement solution due to the need for less follow-ups and pre-classification. On the opposite side, if it is an ongoing recruitment, a wide reach will play a bigger role.
  4. What type of talent pipeline does your institution need? Does you institution need a skills-diversified pipeline or are you more likely to need talent with the same specifications as the profile of the current offer that you want to advertise? Remember that a niche advertising option will deliver to your institution brand awareness and reputation among people with similar skills as the profile of your current offer. If the current recruitment needs are most likely to be sporadic or even one-time cases, it will be probably better to diversify your pool of candidates by advertising to a wider reach.

To choose the most adequate recruitment strategy requires expertise and knowledge of your niche audience(s). Feel free to contact the 11 Academia Networks team for a free consultancy session to design the best recruitment strategy for your institution.

Our mission is to help institutions reach the right target audience, through any and all appropriate channels. By cooperating with 11 Academia Networks, you can be confident that our niche platforms offer you an effective and innovative way to recruit students and staff, and to increase the reputation of your institution worldwide. Check more recruitment news and insights here 

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