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Inbound Recruiting: how do the best Business Schools do it?

The Business Schools are in a frantic race for attractiveness.

It's not just about attracting students, but about driving the best applications.

To do this, Schools, especially the top ones, have clearly understood that they need to use Inbound Recruiting to define their  Candidate Personas and generate interest from top student prospects.

We studied the websites of the five top-ranked Grandes Écoles de Commerce, and we found that there are well some things we advocate for an effective Inbound Recruiting strategy.  

These institutions are moving toward a content strategy that is rich and visible to their audience.

They use social networks in an effort to disseminate this content and build their appeal, and seek to implement skillful conversion tools in order to turn a prospective student into an enrolled student.

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What are the Top 5 Business Schools?

Here are the top rankings of Business Schools in France according to Le Figaro Etudiant :

  1. HEC Paris
  2. Essec Business School 
  3. ESCP Europe
  4. EM Lyon Business School 
  5. EDHEC Business School

(For the year 2016-2017, the French newspaper retains four major selection criteria : pedagogical quality, research, international openness and professional integration of graduates.)

Visual Top 5 V3.png

A rewarding content strategy

An Inbound Recruiting strategy relies first and foremost on an Content Marketing effective.

In particular, it allows the Grandes Écoles to put forward their reputation, to establish their notoriety and to show their expertise, by being their own media.

Let's look together at some examples of content produced and distributed by the Top 5 Grandes Écoles on their websites.

HEC Paris, for example, hosts a News Room which has several sections:

  • Press Releases (the audience is informed of decisions made by the administration, new strategic turns, new training courses offered, etc.)
  • Current events (the latest highlights from the School)
  • Publications (articles on topics such as the fallout of the presidential elections for senior executives)
  • Events (calendar of future conferences, awards, etc.)
  • HEC in the press (publications reflecting the School's national and international influence)
  • Rankings (this helps establish the School's leadership in various national and international rankings)
  • Newsletter (internet users have the possibility to subscribe to the "News & Views" Newsletter to follow all the news from HEC, in text and images)

Extract from the HEC ranking

Extrait des classements d’HEC, relatifs aux différentes formations

The ESSEC Business School, highlights its " exceptional faculty " through its Faculty and Research section, divided into several :

  • Faculty Professors and Researchers (the audience can learn about the faculty by viewing their CVs)
  • Research (this section makes it possible to disseminate and promote the work of renowned specialists in their fields, and to highlight the School's involvement with the ESSEC Research Center)
  • Departments (Internet users have at their disposal an overview of the School's 8 areas of expertise)

Presentation of Essec's pedagogical team

Rubrique Faculté et Recherche de l'ESSEC

These efforts demonstrate that Content Marketing has a dual scope: it allows to enhance the value of the institution and promote a know-how. 

However, in Inbound Recruiting, it is not enough to work on attractiveness but also on conversion. To go further in their acquisition strategy, these institutions should therefore equip themselves with the necessary tools (see below).

A stronger presence on social networks

Activity and posting on social networks is also one of the essential recommendations in Inbound Recruiting.

A study recently showed the importance of these channels as 68% of students use social networks to search for the school that would be the best fit for them.

Schools try to juggle these different communication channels by handling each one according to their specificities. It is also important, when trying to get a message across on social networks, to keep its communication target in mind.

  • Twitter is mostly used to relay news related to the institution. Some Schools, ESCP Europe for example, also offer articles on various topics.

Sample tweet from ESCP

L'ESCP est très active sur Twitter

  • Facebook is used differently depending on the School.
    • HEC Paris uses it to enhance its events and get students to react
    • .
    • ESSEC publishes news related to " success stories " of its students' start-ups
    • The majority of these Schools use the " Live " function of this social network to transmit different conferences in real time
  • Instagram is dedicated to photographs. The Schools publish mainly images related to campus life, shots taken during conferences or during associative events.
 EM Lyon's Instagram accountCompte Instagram de l’EM Lyon 
  • LinkedIn is a professional social network. The various Schools highlight their partnerships with companies. By promoting these associations, they present themselves as the keystone between students and their professional future.
Example of a partnership between HEC and AmazonOn its LinkedIn account, HEC Paris highlights its partnership with multinational Amazon
  • YouTube allows Grandes Écoles to use video to address all of their Candidate Personas.  HEC Paris, for example, uses this channel to broadcast videos related to its events, online courses (MOOCs), ideas (HEC Ideas), various degree courses, campus life, etc.

 The HEC Youtube account

HEC Paris YouTube account

All social networks are welcome. HEC Paris has, for example, developed for a day a " geofilter " (or geofilter) Snapchat with his likeness that students could use on the campus of Jouy-en-Josas (78).

Conversion tools to generate student leads 

The conversion tools of a website represent the nuts and bolts of an Inbound Recruiting strategy.

In fact, whether it's the presence of a Landing Page or how to place a Call-to-action, it's important to leave nothing to chance.

The goal is to engage the candidate and learn from their journey through your acquisition funnel.

The Landing Page

Let's take the example of Edhec Business School.

This school's Landing Page follows the rules of Inbound Recruiting well. Clear, sober, it encourages visitors to communicate information to the School. 

We'll only object that a Landing Page isn't supposed to have a navigation menu but we'll overlook that little "deviation"!

A good Landing Page to evaluate an MBA profile

EDHEC Business School landing page


We remind you : to determine your Candidate Personas, the secret is to place the right Calls-to-action (CTA) in the right places.

On the EM Lyon website, for example, we found that next to each training description the student is offered :

  • To download a brochure
  • To create your personal space
  • To submit an application
  • To contact a student at the School

 Example of EM Lyon Call to action

CTA on the EM Lyon website

This last point ("Contacting our students directly") is very interesting because it allows us to build a relationship of trust with the prospective student. Now, trust is a central notion in Inbound Recruiting.

When clicking on a CTA (to download a brochure, for example), the web user will have to fill out a form.

Thanks to this form, which must be precise and relevant, the School enriches its database of student leads. The school will be able to follow up with these undecided student prospects and guide their choice, for example, by using automated emails (Marketing Automation).

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Notre conclusion

By studying the websites of the Top 5 Grandes Écoles de Commerce, we found that in the quest for attractiveness, Inbound Recruiting offers a head start.

There is still work to be done to perfect and optimize this strategic approach, but these leading institutions have clearly understood the value of Inbound strategies and have taken their first steps toward Inbound Recruiting.

Have you thought about implementing a similar approach for your own School?

Feel free to tell us about it in the comments.

Formation IA et Recrutement 

Topics: Inbound Recruiting, Content marketing, Idées, Etude de cas, Inbound Recruiting Grandes Ecoles