Writing For The 8 Second Attention Span: Recruitment Marketing Toilet Talk

Katrina Kibben Communication, HR & Marketing, Mobile Recruiting, Recruitment Marketing, Science, Social Media, Social Media and Talent, Social Recruiting, Talent Acquisition, Talent Strategy

A few weeks ago in the airport bathroom, I overheard a conference call taking place in the stall next to me. Cringe. I hate that. Are you so important that you have to pee during the call? I get if you’re at home. You really need to go, so you put yourself on mute.

But remember, I said I overheard her. She was, in fact, leading the call.

This is an aside and traveler rant, but hear me out. Why did you plan a meeting when you knew you were going to be at the airport? I really wish people would treat the airport a whole lot more like a library than a place where they’ve abandoned their moral compass.

Sorry, I’m back.

So, as I’m listening to her play buzzword bingo about performance reviews and go-getters, I think to myself, “you could just read emails on your phone like the rest of us, lady.” I mean, really.

Toilet Talk: Most People Read Your Recruitment Marketing On The John.

Just admit it. You take your phone in the bathroom to read while you go. You’re not alone. No shit–according to a new survey, about 75% of Americans admitted to using their mobile phones while in the bathroom.

Pun intended.

With that said, it’s probably safe to assume that at some point candidates have read your recruitment marketing on the toilet.

And that’s about as much time as they’ll ever spend reading the content you spent weeks creating.

Out of kindness, I will avoid the obvious pun about how all that content is pretty crappy to make this far more critical point: we have to consider a candidate’s ever-shrinking attention span when we write.

In 2000, Microsoft clocked the average attention span at 12 seconds. In 2018, that number actually went down to 8 seconds. We lost a quarter of our attention in less than a quarter century. Something has to change.

So, if you have 8 seconds–how are you going to change your recruitment marketing to stand out?

  1. Start making it about them. You need to stop leading the conversation with corporate propaganda. Make candidates think, “that’s me.”
  2. Create a unique recruiting voice. If I can take some part of your content and plug it into a competitor’s site without having to change much more than a name, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Use real pictures. If they’ve seen that picture on their current employer’s marketing materials, they’re already bored. P.S. This one is particularly impactful on marketing and design hires.
  4. Stop guessing. Know how you can tell when someone is bullshitting you? Right. Candidates knew when you do it, too, in what you write and what you say.
  5. Do something different. This is probably the most obvious advice but think about this. Remember when you were a job seeker, and you hated the cold email? Did you hate not hearing back? Don’t do what you hate. Be a little different.

That’s all I’ve got–now go make the most of your 8 seconds.