Emotional Drivers-Why Candidates and Clients Say No….. And Yes!

Emotional drivers? Something a little different today. Have you ever had that experience where a candidate or client chooses to work with another recruitment organisation instead of you?

You are left flabbergasted without any understanding about why this has happened.

Me too.

For them, an ’emotional driver’ is running their decision.

There are many examples of emotions driving our life, business and career choices, and if we are brave enough to look we will uncover more than one random purchase we have made in our business or personal life which when we look back on it we wonder what the hell were we thinking!

Emotional Drivers: The Science

According to Harvard professor and researcher Gerald Zaltman, the answer to all these questions is directly related to the subconscious mind.

Contrary to popular belief, consumers aren’t as savvy as they might like to believe.

For example, while many consumers report comparing multiple competing brands and price points when evaluating a purchasing decision, Professor Zaltman’s research indicates that this is not the case.

Also, by studying consumers’ unconscious physical reactions, he found that what they think or feel often contradicts what they say, too.

This plays out whether we are buying the latest electronic gadget or engaging with a service provider who is going to help build our high performing team or help us get into an organisation that will enable us to propel our career to the next level.

So, why aren’t we truthful about our purchasing thoughts and feelings? Well, a big reason is that unconscious urges often drive us; the biggest of which is emotion.

Emotion is what really drives our purchasing behaviours, and also, our decision making in general.

Antonio Damasio, the famous TED talk speaker, New York Times bestselling author and chair of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, has studied this area extensively over the last forty years. He has found that people whose brains are damaged in the area of the limbic system, located in the temporal lobe – specifically, the amygdala that generates emotions – are incapable of making decisions.

Emotional Drivers: And Your Recruitment Marketing

This idea is so critical because it helps us realise that human beings are not as logical as we might imagine. And understanding this has significant implications when it comes to marketing your recruitment company and selling your brand and service to candidates and clients.

For example, by only marketing the attributes of your recruitment product or service, your results are likely to be below average at best.


Because the mediocre results you receive are due to the fact that you are entirely missing the subconscious, human element in the decision-making process.

Humans are driven by their emotions; in other words, what they ‘feel’. So, if you want candidates and clients to remember your service or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction you have with them.

Easy to do in the recruitment sector where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and how passionate you are about helping them.

Look around you to see examples of emotion-based campaigns being used all the time.

Think for a moment about what is actually being sold in most marketing campaigns.

  • Luxury goods target our feelings of self-worth, acceptance and status in the world.
  • Communication devices excite us by offering a connection to friends, family and a broader network of people.
  • Athletic brands inspire by offering adventure and glory through the act of competition.
  • …And many other products, such as perfume and holidays, target emotions related to love, relationships, and having a good time with our friends and family.

As recruitment marketers, you should still focus on the features of your service, but also sell the lifestyle and the feeling. The key is to highlight the emotional response a consumer will achieve by using your particular recruiting service.

Maybe it’s time to think of reframing the old saying; ‘sell the sizzle, and then sell the steak!’

To achieve the highest emotional response, you should target your market through all of their many different senses.

For example, think about the colours and shapes on your logo and website. Think about the images you use to portray the business and the videos and audio you share with clients and candidates to demonstrate your understanding of their goals.

Most of what drives us all is our subconscious behaviour. But this shouldn’t be perceived as a bad thing. There’s nothing manipulative about helping our customers achieve their desired state of emotion related to their career or business growth.

Products and services are designed to satisfy our customers’ wants or desires, and like it or not; those desires will always contain an emotional component.

Fact: We make purchasing decisions, and many other decisions in our lives too, based on emotional drivers which we then attempt to justify with some level of logic.

Emotional Drivers: Where Could You Start

So, below is a list of the key emotional drivers your candidates and clients are using on a daily basis-start considering these as you develop.

People want to gain:

  1. Health
  2. Popularity
  3. Praise from others
  4. Pride of accomplishment
  5. Self-confidence
  6. Time
  7. Improved appearance
  8. Comfort
  9. Advancement: both socially and in business
  10. Money
  11. Security in old age
  12. Leisure
  13. Increased enjoyment
  14. Personal prestige

They want to save:

  1. Time
  2. Discomfort
  3. Risks
  4. Money
  5. Worry
  6. Embarrassment
  7. Work
  8. Doubts

They want to be:

  1. Good parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters
  2. Creative
  3. Efficient
  4. Recognised authorities
  5. Up to date
  6. Gregarious
  7. “First” in things
  8. Sociable, hospitable
  9. Proud of their possessions
  10. Influential over others 

They want to:

  1. Express their personalities
  2. Satisfy their curiosity
  3. Appreciate beauty
  4. Win others’ affection
  5. Resist domination by others
  6. Emulate the admirable
  7. Acquire or collect things
  8. Improve themselves generally

Useful? This information could completely change your marketing results.



P.S. Understanding your candidates and clients at a different level will be a key driver (excuse the pun) when it comes to your marketing results this year. This along with 7 other vital trends will be key for your marketing this year. You can download our latest report by clicking the link here or the image below.

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