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Strategic Market Research: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Recruiting (Part 2 of 2)
Posted By Dr. John Sullivan On October 24, 2011 @ 5:56 am In Advice and How-Tos | 8 Comments
In Part 1 of this series I called out the need for the recruiting profession to embrace and make the business case for using market research to inform and guide recruiting efforts . In this episode, my attention turns to acting on that need.
Every recruiting leader wants top candidates, but the standard approach used by most recruiters simply doesn’t work. A more precise data-driven approach that leverages complete understanding of the attraction factors can give you a competitive edge. Market research can reveal:
Building a market research function isn’t rocket science, but there are certain action steps you should consider when getting started, including:
The job search process — you must understand how top talent goes about looking for an opportunity. Identify the specific steps they take and the timeline that they follow when considering a job change. Also identify who they consult with throughout the process.
Identify channels of influence/communication – use surveys or focus groups to identify specifically where top talent source their information from and spend a great deal of time. You should learn about how top prospects use:
Identify the message that is required to get their initial attention — use your research to identify what a message must look like and contain to ensure that a quick glance at it will get your target’s immediate attention. After developing some sample messages, use a focus group to pre-test them.
Identify what excites top prospects about a job or company — to refine your messaging you must identify what factors about an industry, company, or job excite your target audience enough to drive them to apply, i.e. high pay, job security, interesting work, a green environment, a great location, an opportunity to learn, etc.)
Identify possible “turnoffs” — in addition to understanding factors that excite, you must also identify the factors that are turnoffs. Because you cannot control the information available on the Internet, you must first find out what negatives about your firm and jobs are easy to find, and develop/test “countering messages” to make sure they successfully overcome published negatives.
For not-looking prospects, identify what it takes to get them to enter the job-search process — if you don’t know already, currently employed individuals who are “not active lookers” cannot be attracted using active approaches. If you are targeting individuals who are not actively seeking jobs, it is critical that you identify the specific “triggers” that would excite them enough to enter into job search mode.
Identify the factors that cause top prospects to take the time to apply — it takes a lot more to get a top prospect or a non-job-looker to take the time required to apply for a job. As a result, your research must identify the drivers or factors that will overcome their natural resistance to applying for a job. Once you identify those factors, prepare and pretest your messages to ensure that they drive candidates to take desirable recruiting actions like visiting your website, applying for a position, or making a call to a recruiter.
Identify the best ways to identify potential referrals — because employee referrals produce such a high volume and improved quality of candidate, use your market research tools to identify the best approaches for identifying and selling referrals. Provide that information to your employees so that they can target their referral efforts.
For active candidates, identify where they see job information — although it takes less work to get active candidates to apply, the very best actives have numerous firms in mind. As a result, use your research methods to identify the specific places and locations where your top “active prospects” would likely see and read an announcement of either an open position or a recruiting-related event. You should also consider putting an identifying code, phone number, or unique web address in each message in order to allow you to later identify which ones actually drew the most interest.
Don’t forget follow-up market research — in order to ensure that you “got it right” and to continually improve, gather follow-up source and influence information from a sample of applicants, candidates, and finalists. In addition, always ask new hires during onboarding what factors attracted them, caused them to say yes, and what factors almost caused them to say no. Use this information to refine both your market research and your recruiting process.
Recruiting leaders can learn a lot from competitive fishermen. You cannot even begin to be a mediocre competitive angler without fully understanding the interests, locations, habits and feeding routines of your target — i.e. the trophy fish. You can of course use intuition or luck, but the best competitive fishermen have long ago shifted to the scientific approach, which includes depth finders, temperature gauges, and electronic fish finders.
In the same light, recruiting must move away from traditional unstructured trial-and-error approaches and instead shift toward more scientific and data-driven research approaches. If you are among the majority of recruiting leaders who have hiring managers continually complaining that they are not seeing top candidates, your lack of market research and not “fully understanding your prospects/candidates” may be to blame. As the job-search process becomes more complex and global, you may soon find that there is no alternative other than adopting a market research model in the recruiting function. Don’t wait too long. There simply won’t be time to catch up.
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URL to article: http://www.ere.net/2011/10/24/strategic-market-research-what-you-don%e2%80%99t-know-can-kill-your-recruiting-part-2-of-2/
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 embrace and make the business case for using market research to inform and guide recruiting efforts: http://www.ere.net/2011/10/17/strategic-market-research-what-you-don%E2%80%99t-know-can-kill-your-recruiting-part-1-of-2/
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