Adopt a Mindset of Measurement to Drive Recruiting Performance

Feb 28, 2014

I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.

For many marketers — and recruiters — that famous statement attributed to 19th century department store merchant John Wanamaker is still true, even with all the technology and measurement tools available in the early 21st century. How many recruiters can say they are getting the most out of the opportunities to drive new efficiencies through technology available today?

It is never easy to change old methodologies. However, recruiters have a significant opportunity to adopt best practices from another function that was forced to reinvent its core strategies in the face of technology disruption and changing consumer behavior: marketing. 

With the rise of Google and Yahoo, marketing underwent a tremendous transformation — especially in digital advertising where new economies and efficiencies allowed marketers to reach millions of people at scale. The best online marketers now use performance-based advertising methods (meaning, the advertiser only pays when viewers interact with the ads), for most of their advertising. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, 65 percent of all digital ad spending was on a performance-based pricing model in the first half of 2013. This approach gives marketers immediate feedback on the success of their campaign performance against defined metrics, enabling them to adjust and optimize as they go.

What this means for recruiters is that they need to re-imagine planning, and evolve/transform the post-and-pray model that began in early days of the Internet, when companies shifted their spending from newspaper advertising to online job boards. In this old model, budgets are often set for the year with little consideration for what might occur during the year, and recruitment advertising buys are based on procedure, process, and consistency. 2014 requires a new approach.

Measurement Creates Efficiency

The central questions of planning your recruiting efforts should be: Where do your best hires come from, and how can you reach them more efficiently?

Efficiency equals not only ease of use, but cost effectiveness. As recruiters adopt a more ROI-focused approach, they need to concentrate on performance against key metrics in order to demonstrate how their efforts contributed to the bottom line.

Yet choosing how to allocate recruitment advertising budgets across major job boards, niche job boards, trade publication job boards, and job aggregators can be a daunting task. Adding to this complexity is the growth in mobile Internet use.  (At Simply Hired, we are seeing about one-third of our job seeking traffic now occurring on mobile devices.)

Here are some tips on how to create a more efficient, measurable recruitment advertising program as you enter 2014:

  1. Set Up Tracking. Without tracking, you won’t be able to accurately measure the effectiveness your efforts, so put tracking in place if you haven’t already. Applicant tracking systems have varying levels of accuracy that allow you to track applicant source data. Use URL tracking whenever possible; self-reported data can be unreliable as candidates typically search multiple sources and have trouble keeping track of which job they found where.
  2. Evaluate the Landscape. The job advertising landscape changes often, as do the types of positions you need to fill. Sticking with one or two job boards will limit the amount of people you reach. Evaluate advertising channels based on audience, job type, location, industry, and past experience as well as cost and pricing models.
  3. Experiment. You don’t know if you don’t try. Consider setting aside 20 percent of your budget for experimentation. Try placing a few jobs on a new website, or take advantage of promotions, sales, and free listings. If one new recruiting option nets you a stream of qualified applicants and results in a good hire, by all means, increase the budget allocation toward that site.
  4. Evaluate Performance. Good metrics to consider for each channel are number of applicants, number of hires, cost per hire, and time to hire. The key to optimization is regular review and adjustment, with a focus on cost per hire as the metric with the most impact on revenue. Schedule time in advance to review performance and make adjustments where necessary, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

As recruiting continues to look more and more like marketing, adopting a mindset of measurement can go a long way toward saving you money — and making the recruiting function as efficient as it can be in 2014 and beyond.

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