State tries viral marketing

The State Department tried a new strategy this year to attract a pool of candidates for the Foreign Service written exam. Beginning Feb. 5, recruiters used components of Jobster’s online job search and networking service to get the word out to potential Foreign Service candidates.

The campaign targeted midcareer professionals with diverse backgrounds. Preliminary numbers show that of the 3,059 Jobster subscribers who registered at State’s site, about 20 percent — or nearly 600 people — signed up for the Foreign Service exam. Registration closed March 8, and the department offered the exam a month later.

Rachel Friedland, a marketing consultant at State, is conducting surveys to gauge how well the Jobster marketing components met the department’s recruiting needs, but she said her initial impression is that the campaign was effective.

Jobster employs social networking and viral marketing concepts to tap passive job seekers. “We mean people [who are] working hard every day, who either don’t have time to look for jobs or aren’t necessarily looking for jobs,” said Adam Einiger, strategic account manager for Jobster. Einiger helped State deploy Jobster’s e-mail service.

“People who actively look for jobs only represent 11 percent of the working community,” Einiger said. “Jobster tries to reach the 89 percent who aren’t actively looking.”

Viral marketing takes advantage of existing social networks to spread a message. Jobster uses job seekers and employees to find other candidates with backgrounds that might fit particular job openings, creating a word-of-mouth network of talent that recruiters can tap in the future.

State used Jobster only to manage its e-mail marketing campaign. It did not use Jobster’s online search tools or blog postings.

State’s recruiters sent electronic postcards that gave recipients the option of visiting the careers.state.

gov Web site and registering with the department’s internal job network, joining the Jobster network or sending a similar postcard to a friend.

The latter two options are components of Jobster’s viral marketing approach. When prospective candidates become part of the Jobster network, they become part of a group to which others can send messages. For example, State recruiters can send them a message thanking them for registering and linking them to a Web page where they can sign up for the Foreign Service exam.

“A large part of our successful recruitment strategy is through e-mail,” Friedland said. “We want to expand that and incorporate Jobster into that strategy because Jobster offers that viral component. We reach out to our specific target audiences, and they, in turn, communicate to their friends, their families, their co-workers to see if they [are] interested in those opportunities.”


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