Will 2017 mark the end of recruiting as we know it? A lot of people seem to think so, with of course many of them being in the rising “recruitment marketing” sector. In November Recruitrics, which supplies a “recruitment marketing analytics and optimization” platform, predicted this will be the year when “recruitment marketing takes its rightful place as top dog in HR and talent acquisition.”
New HCM technology, the company says, has made recruitment marketing tools like programmatic buying, in-depth end-to-end analytics, retargeting, employer branding and job slot optimization “readily available HR and talent acquisition professionals.” So, “there’s no reason HR and talent acquisition professionals shouldn’t look forward to recruitment marketing, during a time that many are calling a war for talent.”
Certainly, with January’s unemployment rate coming in at 4.8 percent, employers began 2017 facing a fiercely competitive labor market. As is often noted, that’s a challenge for corporate leaders as well as HR, for without workers who can excel in a world of rapid technical and business change, companies risk losing their edge. As SmashFly Technologies notes, half the Fortune 500 has disappeared since 2000. That kind of puts things in perspective.
SmashFly’s Recruitment Marketing Report Card says 34 percent (172 companies) of the Fortune 500 scored an A or B on their use of recruitment marketing. That’s 27 percent higher than the previous report. At the same time, 32 percent fewer companies scored D or F. Of the high-scoring companies, 76 percent used some kind of recruitment marketing technology in addition to their applicant tracking systems, compared to 42 percent last year. That’s an 80-percent increase.
SmashFly’s ax to grind here is obvious: It offers a recruitment marketing platform and related services. And its findings aren’t all that surprising. For several years, organizations have been toying with marketing-like tactics to raise their brand-awareness–not as providers of goods and services, but as employers. To do it, they’ve been using digital marketing tools like search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, social media and mobile friendly web sites to identify and engage with candidates, and hopefully hire the right ones.
“The nation’s largest organizations are getting more sophisticated–and becoming more successful-by integrating digital marketing, content marketing, mobile and social into their recruiting strategies,” SmashFly CEO Mike Hennessy said in a press release. He called recruitment marketing a “rapidly emerging discipline” that attracts candidates to employer brands as well as jobs.
SmashFly sees the biggest opportunity to be in creating content and messaging customized to different job areas, such as engineers or sales professionals. Its report notes that such communications increased only 4 percent last year, despite the promise that comes with customizing a company career site to workers in the most demand.
More ‘Evolution’ than ‘Revolution’
Companies like Recruitrics, SmashFly and others make a good case and certainly seem to have momentum on their side. But it’s important to keep that “momentum” in perspective. While it certainly seems more technical solutions are available to improve the identification of candidates and help both recruiters and HR stay in closer touch, the move toward technology-assisted recruiting seems more like an evolution than a revolution.
Building an employer’s brand is only a part of the process, after all, and the impact of even the best branding efforts has its limits. A few years ago, Zappos was so convinced of the strength of its employer brand, it eliminated job postings and created Zappos Insider, a talent community from which it would make all hires. It was an interesting approach that required an awful lot of work on the part of candidates. Essentially, they had to begin networking with the company before they even knew if there was an appropriate job available. Today, job postings are back on the Zappos career site.
Successful recruiting involves a number of different elements: sourcing, relationship-building, employer-branding, screening and, ultimately, conversations where the individual candidate and the hiring manager decide whether or not to give a full-time employment relationship a try. SmashFly and its competitors have invested a lot of thought and time–and thus, money–into educating companies about how they can improve both the time and expense involved in recruiting and hiring. SmashFly told Fortune that one of its customers, CH2M, added 150,000 potential candidates to its pipeline, saved itself about $750,000 on job advertisements, and its cost-per-hire to $4,300 from an average of $10,000, according to SmashFly.
While it’s been clear for sometime that HR practitioners and recruiters need to become more technically adept and understand at least the basics of data use, executives should consider how well-versed their teams are in marketing’s intricacies as well before committing to any kind of recruitment-marketing strategy. One can’t assume that the investment involved stops at the implementation of a technology solution and training on how to use it. Effective marketing requires mastery of skills that aren’t currently baked into HR. The implications involved with strategy, support, campaign design, execution and measurement all need to be considered before an organization begins to consider what technology is best to support their recruitment marketing efforts.
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