What to Expect From Your Recruitment Advertising Agency: A Response to Dr. John Sullivan

Jan 21, 2001

As scary as it might sound (just kidding, John and I are friends), I found myself in support of Dr. John Sullivan’s overall premise last week (in his article, “Recruitment Ad Agencies: Most Don’t Get It”), in which he discussed how Recruitment Advertising Agencies (RAA’s) are uniquely positioned to offer guidance and delivery to some of the biggest pain points that companies/HR departments feel. I think we can all agree with Dr. John that there is nothing that has changed the way we recruit more than the Internet. And in many ways, some recruitment advertising agencies (maybe yours) are reluctant to change, still clinging to a pre-information age way of thinking and acting. Some have been too focused on simply getting “ads placed or banners” instead of proactively forming a strategic, measurable program for finding the right employees using the latest technology and methods. However, other RAA’s have begun to morph themselves into the strategic partners that can guide you into the 21st century of Internet recruiting. The one area I felt the good Dr. John may have missed emphasizing was around the HR tools space. Most of Dr. John’s suggestions are rendered less valuable if your RAA can’t recommend, implement, and integrate tools for your Workforce planning and Employment strategy. It’s like an employee referral program where you don’t respond to employee recommendations. It’s worse than doing nothing at all. Imagine your RAA has helped you implement most or all of Dr. John’s suggestions. Then imagine a potential candidate going to your corporate website to check your company out in more detail, and they can’t find the employment section from your corporate home page. Or if they can find it, they can’t easily get information about your company and your open positions or apply for jobs. No matter how much time you might have spent developing referral programs, boomerang networks or branding and PR with your RAA – you’ve just lost a potential candidate. Your RAA should be providing you with tools to help you do this. They have more time, more experience, and more resources to evaluate the software and systems available today on the market. Take advantage of it. They should be able to implement software and systems for you (or at least recommend them!); all you need to do is ask. If your RAA can’t, there are others out there who can. In addition, you need to work together to come up with a recruitment strategy that is fueled by your outreach, workforce plan, and overall business goals. Below are some suggestions on how you may work more effectively with your RAA when incorporating a Web-focus into your recruiting strategy. Outreach

  1. All of your outreach should be driven back to your corporate employment site. All of it. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the biggest opportunity you have to build relationships between you and your candidates. Your outreach is simply the first step in what should be a journey toward a mutual exchange of information. Don’t go to all of the effort to drive them to your website only to have them leave confused and disappointed.
  2. Advertising is a great way to build your brand, but incorporating your website address on all of your ads isn’t enough. Give potential candidates a reason to visit your website – a call to action. Drive them to your website for a game, a quiz, or simply for more information on benefits, salary information, and corporate culture. Let them know what they’ll find when they get there and then deliver it.
  3. Focus groups are a great way to understand your “target market” better. Have your RAA help you to understand and identify your target market. Then, differentiate your company by celebrating your corporate culture in a way that appeals to them in all of your outreach and on your employment website.
  4. Integration with your company’s corporate communications and public relations efforts is an important factor in the success of your recruitment efforts. Your RAA should be giving you ideas on how to incorporate your overall recruiting strategy into your corporate branding and PR efforts (and vice versa). Don’t let your RAA exist in a vacuum. And don’t forget to publicize your successes on your website.
  5. When building your website, assume that the candidates who visit it have never seen any of your other outreach. Don’t make the mistake of excluding information you think they have seen elsewhere. Make any and all information easily available to them.
  6. Always think of your website as an extension of your entire recruitment strategy and outreach efforts (employment branding, university relations, employee referrals, direct advertising, events, etc…). However, don’t stop at simply parroting the same themes and messages on your website as you do in your outreach. You have the opportunity to do much, much more. Newsletters, games, detailed information about the cities in which your company has offices, snapshots of the corporate culture…your RAA should be able to provide you with creative content and ideas on how to use your website to extend and enhance your recruitment efforts.

Your Website Using your employment website as an extension and enhancement of your overall recruiting outreach is essential. Equally important is making sure that you’re able to assimilate and process all of the traffic driven to your site. If you can’t easily capture candidate information from your site, you might as well do nothing at all. Find out from your RAA what technology is best for your company’s website. When evaluating systems, keep in mind that first and foremost, your website should provide visitors with an interactive experience. I like to call this “candidate self-service.” By this I mean features that make it easy for candidates to obtain information about your company and easy for them to provide information about themselves to you. Whatever you choose, make sure that your employment site includes the following features for your visitors:

  1. Make sure you have an easily identifiable link from corporate home page to your careers section. This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many home pages are missing this element. If you don’t have a link, don’t bother!
  2. Provide candidates with the ability to give you more information than just a resume. Candidates should be able to create a profile of themselves. Skills, work environment preferences, and work style all play a significant role in an employee’s success. After all, an employee is never fired because of their experience (unless they lied about it) – usually people are fired because of the wrong skill set for the job or poor work environment/work style matches. If you give candidates the chance to share deeper information about themselves, you can gather richer data and make more educated hiring decisions.
  3. Give candidates the ability to update/change/modify their profile whenever they come back to your website. This encourages repeat traffic and gives you more accurate information about your candidate pool. If visitors have to re-create information every time they come to your site or apply for a job, they’re less likely to do it. The easier you make it for candidates, the more information you’ll get from them. Need I say more?
  4. If you actively recruit college students, give them their own section of your website. Students have special concerns and needs that are different from the rest of your target candidates.

Other features that can make your life and your candidate’s life easier that you’ll want to look out for when evaluating your RAA’s recommendations include:

  • Sending job listings to a friend
  • “One-click” apply for jobs
  • Easily (real-time) customizable content creation
  • Easily updateable job listings
  • Auto e-mail communication (letters, jobs) to candidates
  • Stored candidate job search criteria
  • Candidate e-mail/letter manager

Your RAA can help you with the creation of content on your employment page. Have them take candidates on a journey on your site – tell them a story about your company. And keep the content fresh and dynamic to keep them coming back. Remember that your website is your primary face to your candidates. 75% of potential candidates will visit a company’s website after seeing a listing for an open position – and this number is only likely to increase. All of the programs you implement with your RAA set an expectation among potential candidates. Make sure that your website upholds those expectations and even goes beyond them. Conclusion Remember, it’s up to you to demand more from your agency and to work with them to develop an all-encompassing strategy. Don’t treat your RAA as “order takers” waiting for the next advertising insertion sheet to come in. What they really should be is a business consultant. And even the best outreach and/or recruitment program will fall short of your goals without a way or system to manage it. Task your agency on the same results you have to achieve. I think they are up for the challenge. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>