Excite Applicants by Boldly Providing Promotion, Pay, and Retention Info

If you need to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting, consider proactively revealing detailed information covering the attraction factors that applicants care the most about, including pay, development opportunities and promotion, and employee retention rates.

Now before you prematurely reject the idea of revealing previously strictly kept information, realize that with a little work this information is, in fact, findable on the Internet. Yes, individual potential applicants can already find most of this information about your firm and job on the Internet (e.g., Glassdoor).

And rather than being a crazy idea, if you talk to your own marketing team, you will find that it is a foundation principle of marketing that you must sell your targets on the specific factors that they care the most about. Unfortunately, those in recruiting and HR routinely violate this marketing principle by purposely withholding information on these attraction factors … presumably, out of some unproven fear that honesty and transparency will somehow raise their employee costs or that it will open the firm up to raiding by other firms.

In contrast, I encourage recruiting leaders who need to be disruptive to realize that the competitive recruiting landscape, third-party information availability, and applicant expectations have all changed dramatically. Recruiting leaders should also learn from the product side of their own business, where firms that try to sell products to consumers on Internet sites like Amazon have now discovered that failing to provide a broad range of information covering each of the key “purchase decision factors” will simply drive customers to buy elsewhere. So, if your current recruiting approach isn’t working, why not add transparency and provide applicants with specific information covering each of their top “job attraction factors.”

An Illustrative Example — The Impact of Revealing Job Promotion Rates

A dozen years ago research by the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas revealed that it was losing early career management and professional staff to the much higher starting salaries offered by hotels in New York City. However, things changed when research revealed that due to their rapid growth, the new-hire promotion rates in Vegas were so high that entry-level professionals could reach management levels nearly three times faster than if they started working in New York.

The positive results from publicizing its “speed of promotion” advantage were breathtaking. MGM Grand even posted a billboard on the Las Vegas strip trumpeting its extremely high promotion rates in order to gain a competitive recruiting advantage. Prior to this research, no one knew that rapid promotion rates were so important to applicants and that much higher eventual salaries after five years would overcome any initial resistance as a result of low starting salaries. The lesson to be learned is that an attraction factor like promotion rates for a job (i.e., the average number of years between promotions) that isn’t even calculated at most firms can, if it’s publicized, turn into a competitive recruiting advantage.

First Identify and Then Provide Information on the Key “Job Attraction Factors”

Rather than an intuitive approach, conduct candidate research surveys to identify which attraction factors have the highest impact on getting top prospects to apply. These high-impact attraction factors will be different between job families, and their priority ranking will vary between top performers and average applicants in the same job family. The key job attraction factors that most firms should consider providing upfront information on are listed below. The attraction factors that are likely to have the most significant impact on new applications are listed first.

  • Reveal details about the hiring process — A recent Futurestep survey found that the No. 1 thing that applicants desire to know more about are details covering your recruiting process. So, reduce any potential anxiety that might prevent potential applicants from applying by providing details about your hiring process. Your firm should follow the lead of firms like Blackberry and Kiwi.com and reveal the goals for each of the steps of the interview process and what to expect during each one. Also, consider proactively revealing details like the time from interview to hire and the percentage of applicants who have historically qualified for interviews. Remember if you don’t proactively provide detailed information about the hiring process, you essentially force potential applicants to find out what others are saying about it on company review sites like Glassdoor.
  • Compensation — Money is ranked No. 1 by many applicants. The starting salary range for this job would be vital information to provide. But in a broader sense, you could reveal other compensation information, including the average industry pay percentile that your firm pays out. Other possible comp information might include the frequency and the amount of the average pay raise and the average bonus payout as a percent of salary. Applicants who are concerned about pay equity might want to know the multiple that the CEO’s pay exceeds that of the lowest-paid employee.
  • New-hire retention rates — If your employees stay for a long time, potential applicants will likely assume that the company has a good work environment. Perhaps let applicants know the average tenure of new hires in this job family or the overall average employee tenure at the company. Firms might not realize it, but employee turnover rates for most large firms are already available to applicants on Payscale.
  • Employee development — The best hires want to grow and learn continually. Reveal the average number of hours that employees spend in training at your firm or the average dollar amount spent on the development of each employee per year.
  • Promotion rates — Applicants who are focused on moving up in the organization will want to know the percentage of employees that move up one level each year. And how many levels will the average new hire in this job family likely move up during their first five years at the firm?
  • Awards and recognition — Everyone wants to work for a winner. Highlight whenever your firm has won product, environmental, industry, or “best place to work” awards.
  • Profile the team — Everyone wants to work on a team populated with great teammates who he or she can learn from. So, provide a brief profile highlighting the team’s accomplishments and successes. Give an overview of the members of the team (without their names) highlighting their average education level, years of experience, and other impressive factors. And finally, because everyone wants to know something about their future boss, a profile of team leadership may also be appropriate.
  • Diversity rates — Many individuals want to work in a diverse team environment. Highlight the percentage of the team or the total workforce that is made up of women and minorities.
  • Other miscellaneous information to consider — The Futurestep survey further revealed that the No. 2 interest factor of potential applicants was corporate philanthropy, and the No. 3 interest factor was details on the corporate culture. So rather than only providing flowerily language, instead provide specific tangible examples that illustrate how your firm is different. Providing specifics on benefits like vacation days, healthcare coverage, and 401(k) matching can also be beneficial in increasing applications.

A Pilot Test May Reduce Resistance

Even though providing information that potential applicants care about makes logical sense, you still need to be prepared for a great deal of resistance from hiring managers and those in HR who resist any major change. Reduce that resistance by running a pilot test, where you provide additional information in just one job family. Assess the impact of the added information by measuring the increase in the number and the quality of applications in the targeted job family. Once you succeed, continue surveying potential and actual applicants to identify additional areas where provided information would increase their likelihood of applying. And finally, continually track the recruiting materials and the corporate career site of your talent competitors, in order to identify additional areas where they are already providing detailed information.

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Final Thoughts

To thrive in the highly competitive world of effective recruitment marketing and employer branding, firms must learn to boast or brag about their best attraction features openly. And of course, revealing detailed information is even more important if your firm leads the industry on any of the highly ranked attraction factors. The first step is for recruiting leaders to realize that there is nothing unethical or illegal about publishing this formerly withheld information. It simply requires the courage to disrupt the status quo.

 

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Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.