How to Optimize Your Recruitment Marketing Approach

When I was working in-house as a brand manager, one of the marketing department’s key priorities was to “right-size” the business. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it’s a way to optimize the business by focusing time and investment on what performs best. It's also known as SKU rationalization. Product managers review the volume and profitability numbers for production and sales. They outline strategic products and target consumer segments and then layer in market trends and consumer insights.

During our right-sizing exercise, our team reviewed production and inventory reports, syndicated data and market trends to understand the state of the business and the marketplace. We determined which items were best-sellers, strategic products, and cash cows, then built out initiatives to increase sales. Products that had low inventory turns, were highly complex to produce, or experienced consistently declining demand were kept on close watch. Some were replaced by a similar better selling item and eventually discontinued. In other cases, some products — despite lower sales or thin margins — were kept because they offered a strategic benefit to the business. 

As new recruitment channels and technologies continue to emerge — it seems like there’s a new “must-have” tool launching every couple of months — you may feel a bit of strain on resources. You want to optimize your recruitment marketing approach but aren’t sure where to invest your team’s time or budget. Sound familiar? Here is an easy five-step approach to “right-size” your recruitment marketing efforts.

1.) Start with strategy

Revisit your employer brand strategy. It is how your organization brands and markets itself as an employer to attract and retain talent that thrives there. Your employer brand is your north star for all recruitment marketing efforts. (Don’t have an employer brand strategy? We’d love to help.) Next, layer in any relevant key talent initiatives. Take into consideration any initiatives your colleagues in internal communications or corporate marketing are working on and opportunities for alignment. Finally, consider the target audiences or personas that should be kept top of mind.

2.) Collect data

Gather recruitment marketing analytics, performance metrics, and spend data across all touchpoints. Take a holistic look at each step of the candidate journey. The following is a shortlist of places to look: 

  • Career site analytics
  • Source of influence
  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS) analytics 
  • Social engagement and investment
  • Email marketing metrics
  • Job boards
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) analytics and spend
  • Employee referral program (ERP) metrics
  • Online reputation sites
  • Employee advocacy programs

If you don’t have the analytics you need today, or if you’re not tracking performance over time, now’s a good time to start. A robust data set is key to this exercise. If there are insights you don’t have today that would enhance this exercise — ahem, sources of influence or quality of hires — add them to a wish list to tackle at another time. With the immense amount of data out there these days, this step can be overwhelming. So start small and consider breaking things down into bite-sized chunks. (<—Click to tweet this!)

3.) Involve others

Invite internal partners to be involved through the “right-sizing” process and keep stakeholders informed of your progress along the way. Not only is it beneficial to bring different perspectives to the table, those who understand the strategy and have been a part of it from start to finish can also help support you if there is any pushback. Yes, if you decide that eliminating an execution tactic is the right direction to take, receiving pushback is a possibility. Aligning to your strategy, relying on data, and involving a diverse group of people in the process will help you make the most well-informed decisions and create a framework to lean on.

4.) Assess the current state

Keeping the strategy and priorities at the forefront, review the data for your current state: what is working well, what isn’t giving you the results you’d hope to see? If you’re unsure what the numbers mean, or how your performance is trending, tap into your vendors and partners for their insight on opportunities to optimize or ways to alter your approach. You may even consider creating a simple employer brand metrics dashboard, for example taking a stoplight model approach — Continue (Green), Monitor (Yellow) and Phase-out (Red). This is also a great time to sync up with your marketing team on optimization opportunities and to share ideas about creating dashboards.

Be sure to keep a pulse on candidates’ top sources of influence, too. Applicant tracking systems weren’t designed to house data on what was most motivating in a candidate’s decision to apply — but the answer to that question should be a foundational element of your recruitment marketing.

5.) Make a plan

Determine how your insights will inform your strategy moving forward, and decide how frequently will you reassess performance and investment, perhaps annually, biennially or less frequently. Rest assured this is an iterative process, and adding or removing channels is not only okay, it’s also a wise approach to refine your strategy. As new platforms are launched, remember to collect the data for the next review cycle.

It can be tempting to jump onto the latest social platform and recruitment marketing technology, and there’s no doubt that trying new channels can be incredibly beneficial. However, it’s also important to revisit your strategy from time to time with a critical lens to ensure the investment — of time and finances — is there. At the end of the day, resources and budgets are limited and it simply isn’t possible for your employer brand to be authentically present everywhere. You can learn more about this perspective from consumer marketing and why your brand shouldn't be everything to everyone in this post here. If you’re not sure where to get started, you're in the right place.

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out this one: Five Questions You're Not Asking About Your People Data

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