How the recruitment advertising industry has transformed

Date September 2, 2015

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker, (attributed) US department store merchant (1838 – 1922)

I suspect that this has been true for the past 100 years! When I first started my long and illustrious career in advertising I put recruitment advertisements in the regional and national press (although I was involved in a couple of innovative TV recruitment campaigns).


That wasn’t as dull as it sounds – they were truly a work of art crafted by skilled typographers. The York Evening Press was still working on hot metal typesetting which meant that we had to have metal blocks made for our client Shepherd Construction – at a cost of £100 + and sent them off in a jiffy bag. There was no room for expensive typo’s in those days.

We didn’t really need to target our ads – Thursday was recruitment day so we would book our ads in the Daily Telegraph with a 6 – 8 week lead time – and wait for the CV’s to come flooding in. Anyone who has worked with me will have heard these stories, along with sending BMJ ads on a telex machine and spending many a happy Friday morning proof checking them, sending ads via a fax machine to our office in Soho Square where a motorbike dispatch driver delivered them around London and all over West Yorkshire delivering ads which hadn’t arrived in the post!

For many years the end product was the same, an ad in the paper, but technology moved on – no more telex machines, typographers, metal blocks, fax machines and in came Mac operators and ISDN lines. I have to say many of the Mac operators lost those lovely typography skills and typo’s could be changed in minutes so we lost a real art. In the meantime the newspaper industry put it’s head in the sand and continued to live off the cash cow which was recruitment advertising.


Fast forward twenty years and look how things have changed! The industry became fragmented and for a time it was difficult to know where your candidates were, hence the growth of the job boards. However for the first time we are in a position to know just where your candidates are and how to target them.

Social recruitment

Advertising jobs in our modern day has become an art in itself.

With social media dominating time spent online and 31 million people in the UK logging in to Facebook up to 14 times a day there’s a very good chance your next candidate will be on there. Sophisticated targeting and tracking options, along with a cost per click payment model enables you to track candidate activity on your website.

Recruiters no longer solely rely on expensive job boards and newspaper ads, instead LinkedIn (the world’s largest professional network which holds the largest database of candidates) has taken the prime position for most. To add a little perspective; LinkedIn has over 35- million members, 40% of which check it daily and 85% of people that make hiring decisions will check you out on LinkedIn before inviting you for an interview – is your profile 100%, well written and compelling?

Let’s not forget peer to peer referrals which remains the most powerful form of advertising – we’ve personally seen evidence of this time and time again when promoting opportunities, especially when advertising jobs on Facebook. People are keen to share opportunities with their friends and when advertising Production Operative roles for Mars we noticed people sharing and tagging their friends with comments such as ‘my husband works here and it’s a great place to work’ thus massively increasing the reach and engagement of the ad.

If you’re a good employer offering opportunities and want to discuss how you could use social advertising please contact us for a consultation.