Recruitment advertising continues to be the strategy of choice for organizations looking to drive more candidate flow, better quality applicants, and reach active and passive candidates. With the emergence of many tech players in this space, it’s easier than ever to build efficiency, scalability and value into your recruitment marketing strategy.
But at the end of the day, adopting new strategies and technology, establishing buy-in from executives and team members alike, and investing in a ‘new way of doing things’ all culminates in one central theme – how does this deliver ROI and how can this reduce recruitment costs?
The Challenges of Recruitment Costs
Let’s ‘get real’ for a moment. Here are a few truths about recruitment and recruitment costs in today’s hiring environment:
- Recruiting is hard – the labor market is competitive and job seekers are in control
- Recruitment budgets are finite and can be difficult to prove ROI, particularly when you are using a number of different sources to find candidates
- Finding the right candidates and enough of them is often a humbling exercise in how to overspend budget
- Recruitment costs become inflated when organizations lack control and insight into how their budget is being spent
- Simple inefficiencies in your candidate journey are costing you more than you realize
So how can you overcome these challenges in a way that drives the growth of your organization without tapping out the bandwidth of your recruitment team?
With a carefully planned, well communicated, and fully supported recruitment strategy.
The Foundations of a Recruitment Marketing Strategy
A recruitment strategy is the plan of action that an organization has for the recruitment process, particularly when the organization is planning on hiring to fill a role or roles within a company.
Having a clear strategy for recruitment advertising means you have a ‘game plan’ to address what, where, and how you will attract new candidates to your organization. Additionally, it provides a framework for agility and being able to iterate on the strategy as your hiring needs evolve or as the market and technology changes.
If we look to our consumer marketing friends, as we have for many ideas and innovations in recruitment marketing, we can adopt common marketing strategy and apply it to the function and purpose of recruitment marketing. While there are varied discussions on what components make up a marketing strategy, it really comes down to knowing what you need to accomplish, who you need to reach, what message they need to hear from you, how you will get your message to them, and how you will determine if what you are doing is actually working.
Below we outline common facets of a marketing plan but have adapted them to fit recruitment marketing, so you can ensure you have all the pieces you need to build a comprehensive strategy and plan for promoting your company and its job opportunities.
- Market research – Conducting market research is important because it will help you to determine more of the ‘how’ of reaching prospective job seekers. This could include broader research into labor market trends (i.e. have you seen the US unemployment rate lately??) and understanding more about the geographic areas where you need to promote jobs – is there a lot of competition in the market or for hiring for a certain role? Is there a larger talent pool? Understanding this can help you make more informed decisions about where to promote jobs and the market rates to advertise those jobs – a.k.a., how much you may need to spend in order for job seekers to see your ads. For instance, we know that states with lower unemployment require ad buyers to spend a higher CPC, as it is tougher to attract talent in those markets.
- Target market – Think of your ideal candidate – what skills and characteristics do they possess? Is the job you’re hiring for highly specialized? Are you primarily looking for a lot of candidate volume, or do you need to post jobs on that needle-in-a-haystack, niche or professional site? Considering these factors ensures you make solid choices about where the best places are to find, engage and attract quality candidates to your organization.
- Positioning – What is the perception of your brand in the marketplace? Your employer brand is an increasing value prop for job seekers to understand and can be a differentiator for your organization in the competition for top talent. Your employer brand should be consistent and evident throughout the entire candidate experience. Oh, and don’t forget to manage your Glassdoor rating – our Recruitment Media Benchmark Report research indicates that the higher your rating, the better your apply rate!
- Competitive analysis – When hiring is tough, unemployment is low, and skilled talent is scarce, it is imperative that you understand who you are competing with for that talent and how the employment opportunity you are offering differs (for better or worse). Knowing the ins and outs of your competitors will help you better position your brand and your open roles, and stand out from the competition. Where are your competitors promoting their jobs? What kind of benefits are they offering? (Side note: Appcast’s research also shows that promoting key benefits – not just perks – but more so monetized benefits, can impact candidate flow).
- Budget – Perhaps one of the most important components of building a smart, effective recruitment marketing strategy (that also reduces recruitment costs!) is evaluating and managing your budget. Many of us deal with tight or shrinking budgets – the struggle is real! – but when you do your research, have a clear understand of your goals, and your audience and the market in which you operate, you can ‘spread the peanut butter’ better when it comes to your budget. It also means you can ensure that when you advertise your jobs, you can consider how best to allocate your budget so that you get candidates for all jobs, not just the easy-to-fill roles.
- Marketing tactics – Following closely on understanding your ‘target audience’, ask yourself: “How will I find and attract my ideal candidate?” This is the execution piece of your strategy. Look at all of the research you’ve conducted and goals you’ve identified and then align your tactics such as display advertising, events, direct mail, email, social media, content strategy, webinars, seminars, trade shows, and other activities that will help you gain access to quality candidates. Obviously, for the purpose of this post, we are focused on advertising!
Specifically with recruitment advertising, or any other tactic for that matter, you should always conduct tests. Marketing certainly is an art, but it is also a science, and you may not also get the result you’re looking for on the first try. Try variations on job titles and job descriptions, ad copy and imagery, and where you place your ads, and see what sticks with the audience you’re trying to reach. And remember, not all jobs perform the same – the strategy and tactics of hiring a software developer in Boston will look very different from those of hiring a delivery driver is Omaha.
- Metrics – A strategy is useless without metrics. Metrics are the compass of your strategy that let you know what is working and what isn’t and how you can make improvements. Ensure you have clearly defined success through the lense of your recruitment marketing. Is success based on quality? Time? Efficiency? Budget? That is up to you – but make sure you clearly define that metrics that will guide your strategy, and also ensure you have a mechanism to obtain and analyze data that will fuel those metrics.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, okay, this is helpful, but how does it help me reduce my recruitment costs?
Reduce Your Recruitment Costs with a Recruitment Marketing Strategy
While some of us like an element of spontaneity and adventure in our lives, this is better saved for your next vacation! When it comes to managing your recruitment advertising budget, being thoughtful and organized and methodical about your plan means you minimize risk and maximize results.
Here’s why a recruitment marketing strategy can reduce costs:
Alignment – When you have a solid strategy, you know that every action you are taking is in direct alignment with the tactics you’ve chosen, the plan you’ve developed to execute the strategy and tactics, and the ultimate result you want. Quality candidates. This means there is little room for wasted spend and decisions are based on research, evidence, and data.
Technology – Many facets of recruitment marketing can be fueled, managed, and executed through technology. There are a TON of new and emerging tools that can make your recruitment advertising life way easier by eliminating all of those manual, tedious tasks of recruitment so that you can get back to focusing on people. Technology enables you to recruit faster, better, and on a larger scale, which can reduce costs significantly.
Data – As mentioned earlier, metrics are key to your strategy, and having data gives you deeper insight into what is working and what isn’t. A great example of how this can impact your costs is with respect to your job ad conversion rates (in other words, your apply rate). If I can make a change to my job ad or apply process that increases my apply rate even by a small percentage, it means I am paying less per applicant that I receive. Improving conversion rates is a really simple, effective way to reduce recruitment costs!
Agility – Your hiring needs change. The labor market tightens and expands. Getting left behind and struggling to fill open roles can be a detriment to your cost. It becomes a scramble like last-minute Christmas shopping. You always spend way more than you planned to! Besides the fact that open roles are costing you money, having a plan, technology, and a means to collect data means you can move fast to evolve with change and you have a proven method and evidence for how to adapt your strategy.
Even though the recruitment advertising industry is moving fast and changing quickly, it’s important to invest time in developing your recruitment marketing strategy because it yields a number of benefits, provides the foundation for your recruitment operation, and ultimately when you have a well-oiled machine, you save money.