Segmenting Your Careers Website Candidates

Corporate staffing has become firmly established as an online activity, focusing around the corporate careers website. Competitive advantage no longer belongs to the company that uses a corporate website to fulfill staffing requirements. To separate itself from the pack, a company must segment its candidates. Successful website recruiting requires the application of some fundamental principles of successful marketing. A corporate recruiter must understand the company?s staffing needs and how the candidate population segments into distinct groups. With this knowledge, the message delivered to each candidate segment, and the information exchange between candidates in each segment and the corporation, can be customized. College Recruiting as Candidate Segmentation Most of the Fortune 500 already practice market segmentation on the corporate careers website, by dedicating a sub-section of the careers site to addressing the distinct information needs of the college recruit. The material in a college recruiting section typically includes a description of the company?s internship and training programs, career tracks, and possibility of advancement within the company. The image the company projects to college students is carefully tailored to appeal to them. More advanced college sections go beyond slick marketing, and pull information from potential recruits, with interactive forms that are designed to enhance the pre-screening function and begin a virtual relationship with the candidate. Since iLogos Research began tracking this website recruiting best practice, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies with a sub-section targeted at college students has grown from 42% in 2000, increasing to 46% in 2001, and reaching 52% for 2002. Candidate Segmentation Generalized What these Fortune 500 companies are doing to attract and recruit college students generalizes to other segments of the candidate population that are important to a company?s specific hiring needs: MBAs, engineers, drivers, mechanics, logistics specialists, even company alumnae. Important segments of the workforce vary from company to company. It is up to staffing analysts to review carefully the talent needs of a company, to segment the candidate stream into distinct segments, and then formulate a strategy for reaching and marketing to the segments identified, according to the unique needs and desires of each. Best Practices for Candidate Segmentation The careers website best practices that have been the subject of many of my past articles provide a framework to ensure that candidates in a valuable segment become a part of the overall corporate talent pool database. The iLogos best practices are organized around the three basic goals of a corporate Careers website:

  1. Attract
  2. Convince
  3. Capture and process jobseekers

Attract Large companies are experiencing high traffic volumes to the careers website, from tens of thousands to upwards of 250,000 individuals per month and growing. This traffic arrives at the careers home in a largely undifferentiated stream. The challenge is to separate this traffic into one of your key candidate segmentations. Do so by having them self-select. Provide visitors with an immediate and obvious choice to follow a path to an area of content targeted to the candidate segment to which that visitor belongs. Web users scan for information, instead of reading. Provide clear visual cues to visitors with large graphics that link to the segmented areas of content. Many companies target critical segments of the workforce with an easily remembered URL that leads to content developed expressly for that audience (e.g., “mba.company.com”). One Fortune 500 company created two niche portals to attract tough-to-find talent and assigned each portal an easily remembered URL with which to drive pre-segmented traffic to the portal: “www.f500co.com/itcareers” and “www.f500co.com/salescareers.” The company promoted these two niche recruitment sites in print advertising, and in other targeted collateral marketing material. Before the launch of these niche portals, the number of candidates applying online in these two segments was in the single digits. Using an easily remembered URL to drive traffic from offline marketing material to the Web increased that number to 55%. Convince The marketing message you deliver to different candidate segmentations is critical. The message has to be tailored to address the issues that appeal to and motivate members of the target audience. For inspiration, look at the masters of market segmentation, Procter & Gamble. The company provides detailed and targeted career advice to minorities and people with disabilities. In another example, a major airline provides those interested in becoming a pilot for the company with copious material on how to become a successful candidate, including a bibliography of study guides. Be creative with content in order to engage candidates, but also look for opportunities to pre-screen for motivations, competencies, or cultural fit. Capture To capture key data on the careers website, anticipate the needs of each candidate segmentation and provide each with an online application process tailored to those needs. The information requirements for both candidates and recruiters vary across different candidate segmentations. For example, allowing candidates to preserve their anonymity in the initial stages of the hiring cycle may not be appropriate for all candidates, but it is very important to candidates seeking executive or professional positions. Data privacy requirements vary with geography. Make sure that your online application process is able to adjust dynamically to the context. Though a configurable online application process pulls different pieces of information from different candidates according to the context, it is important that the information in stored in a common, structured format, in a unified back-end database. Segment To Get Ahead Market segmentation is a key strategy in successful marketing. Recruiting shares many characteristics and challenges with marketing in general and can benefit from candidate segmentation. It is important to get to know how your candidate pool segments into distinct sub-populations and market to them with a customized message and a customized recruiting process. Designing the careers website to reflect the segmentation of your company’s talent pool provides an important competitive advantage. A careers website that addresses a segmented candidate stream will capture valuable candidates more efficiently, and bring them into a fully functioning candidate relationship management database, where true personalization and targeting of recruiting communication can begin.

Alice Snell is vice president of Taleo Research. The specialty research practice analyzes the best practices and economics of talent management. Taleo Research focuses on critical issues and key trends in talent management that impact organizational performance. Taleo Research is the strategic research division of Taleo, which provides on demand talent management solutions for organizations of all sizes, worldwide.

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