Whether you’re getting started in a new Recruitment Marketing or employer branding role this year, or continuing to build out the strategy at your current employer, here’s how you can be sure you’ve got your priorities straight.
In December of 2021, as part of the Great Resignation, I re-evaluated my job satisfaction and found a new opportunity where I could make a bigger impact and work remotely full time. It was an exciting (and slightly terrifying) shift from being a small part of a large team to taking on a new role where I would be entirely responsible for the strategy and execution of all things Recruitment Marketing and employer branding. While this empowerment was refreshing, my time and resources were limited. To be successful in my new role, I would need to be dialed in to the needs of the organization and intently focused on strategies with measurable impact.
Using the approach I’ve outlined below, over the course of my first year, I was able to:
- Reduce Indeed spend by more than half while increasing impressions and apply starts
- Increase career site traffic by 30% while reducing bounce rate
- Increase social reach and engagement, with the top 3 posts on our shared channels being Recruitment Marketing content
- Increase average position and click-through rate in organic Google search results
- Contribute to an increase in applicant and hire volume from associate referrals
- Launch a storytelling platform to collect and share authentic, associate-generated content
Knowing what to focus on can feel overwhelming. The organization’s budget and resource constraints, competing stakeholder expectations, Recruitment Marketing and employer brand maturity, and other factors can make your head spin. You can’t take on everything at once, so how do you prioritize?
Take a deep breath and follow these 5 tips. There are lots of resources and tools to help you, and I’ve recommended several below from Rally Recruitment Marketing and elsewhere that you can tap into right away. You’ve got this!
1. Look for Clues
If you’re getting started in a new role, first understand your employer’s current Recruitment Marketing wish list. Start by looking in your job postings. This is where the hiring manager is essentially telling you what they’d like to prioritize.
What skills do they emphasize? How do they describe job responsibilities? Do they mention how success will be measured?
If they’re talking about job boards, digital advertising, applicant volume and cost per hire, you can bet that cost-efficient job advertising is top of mind.
If they’re using words like reputation management, candidate experience and CRM, it’s safe to assume that they’re thinking about managing and promoting their employer brand.
Quite possibly, it’s a good mix of both.
Ask questions during your interview to gain further clarity:
- How will success be measured?
- What is the number one thing you’d like the person in this role to accomplish?
- How is budget determined? (this helps you understand relative priorities)
Depending on the hiring manager’s grasp of Recruitment Marketing, this wish list may be just what they need, or they may be asking for a “faster horse,” not knowing what is needed to attract and retain the right talent.
Before turning their wish list into your to-do list, get an understanding of their end game. What challenges are they addressing and why does it matter to the organization?
We’ll talk more about understanding stakeholder goals in my next tip that’s all about the importance of good communication.
After evaluating your job postings, another great place to find clues about where to focus your attention is the candidate journey. Look for touchpoints that may be negatively impacting conversion and employer brand perception.
If you’re in a new job, the candidate experience should be fresh in your mind. If not, when is the last time you did a test apply? Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Go through their steps on mobile and desktop devices, and note any area where you encounter friction in the process, are unable to access relevant information or have a negative perception of the employer brand.
Karl Wierzbicki, VP Marketing at Skuid, discussing one of the fixes you can make to your apply flow fixes in order to generate more qualified applicants.
Reference these notes when you later evaluate candidate funnel conversion. Consider how to solve for the challenges you discovered in the candidate journey that correspond to the step(s) in the funnel that you want to improve.
Examining the job posting and assessing the candidate experience is a great way to start compiling your list of potential tactics, but there are additional factors to consider before settling on what to prioritize.
Communication is crucial to determining focus. You can’t create impactful strategies in a vacuum.
To make an impact, you first need to understand what’s most important to the organization and what’s keeping your business partners up at night. Recruitment Marketing and employer brand strategies are impactful when they play a role in achieving the larger goals of Talent Acquisition (TA) and senior leaders.
Build and nurture relationships with your business partners throughout all levels of your organization to gain a solid understanding of their objectives. This includes TA leaders, at least a few recruiters, Marketing & Communications, and potentially even hiring managers or team leaders.
To build trust with stakeholders, you’ll want to prioritize tactics that will quickly show measurable impact to at least one of their highest priority objectives. It will be easier to get buy-in for future budget and resource requests if you can show that you are aligned with their goals and you’re helping them move the needle. Agree on the high-level KPIs that will measure your success, such as cost per hire (CPH), time to find/fill (TTF) or employer review ratings.
Keep in mind that things can change unpredictably. Strategies and priorities are not set in stone.
- Regularly share what’s working, what you’ve learned from the things that didn’t go as expected and how you intend to pivot.
- Stay in tune with your business partners’ shifting priorities and adjust your focus accordingly.
- Discuss any new ideas to support their top initiatives.
Steady communication with your internal stakeholders benefits both you and the company. It ensures that you remain aligned with company objectives, while giving you the platform to show your value and evangelize the importance of Recruitment Marketing and employer branding.
3. Leverage Data
The next step in coming up with your strategy? Look at the data.
Data should be used not only in measuring the success of your tactics (movement of your KPIs), but also in determining them.
By evaluating data from your ATS, CRM, surveys, ad platforms, Google Analytics, social media, employer review sites, and so much more, you’ll find opportunities to optimize your budget, efficiency, reputation, reach and conversion. Here are some tried and true ways that I’ve used data to shape my strategies.
- Evaluating funnel conversion and processing times to determine whether we needed to focus on generating more reach, improving candidate quality or keeping candidates warm between offer and start date.
- Prioritizing reputation management efforts when noticing consistent drops in ratings on employer review sites (especially before launching a large ad campaign).
- Determining future targeting strategies by leveraging historical ATS data, such as previous job titles and locations of successful hires.
- Studying audience demographics, historical content performance and competitors’ benchmark data to concentrate efforts on the top channels.
- Reviewing content engagement metrics in order to prioritize more of what’s working and less of what’s not. If you’re not already using tracking links to understand your engagement data, sign up for a free Rally Inside account. It’s an easy way to get started quickly.
Before I serendipitously stumbled into Recruitment Marketing and employer branding, I spent a good bit of my career as a project manager and then as a product manager, both of which require stellar prioritization skills. In the latter role, I studied and applied the Pragmatic Marketing Framework, which is essentially a systematic way of uncovering and prioritizing market problems to design and market the most relevant product features.
The same principles can be applied to Recruitment Marketing. It is important to research your candidate personas and apply data when marketing your “product” (your jobs and employer brand).
One of my favorite Pragmatic Marketing concepts is rather harsh but useful: “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” New ideas are interesting, but the best ideas are market-tested and backed by data.
The good news here is that, while there are often competing ideas within an organization, data is an unbiased way to reach consensus on the best way forward.
Whether bringing your own ideas to the table or evaluating suggestions from others, look to data to drive objective – not subjective – decisions.
If you’re looking for data to report your performance, Rally’s Recruitment Marketing Measurement Kit gives you all the tools you need to measure and report your effectiveness in advertising your company’s jobs and marketing your employer brand.
4. Make the Most of What You Have
Continuous improvement should always find its way into your strategy. Understanding what you can and can’t solve for with existing resources allows you to prioritize efficiently. Find quick, measurable wins with the tools at your fingertips before determining what you truly need to add to the mix.
You can also look at this as another opportunity to build trust with your business partners. Any organization would be grateful to employ someone who gets the most value from the resources available to them. They’ll also be more likely to trust that they’ll get maximum value from future investments.
Here are a few ideas for taking something your company is already doing and making it better or more efficient.
- Increase organic job posting impressions by refreshing your requisitions at least every 30 days. Create a process to flag your aging reqs and renew them.
- Improve click to apply rates by ensuring that your job postings convey the “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) that resonates with the types of candidates you’re trying to attract. Make sure they include information about company culture and benefits, differentiate you from talent competitors and contain relevant keywords that rank highest in search results. You’ll want to work closely with recruiters and hiring managers if you want to nail the WIIFM and keywords.
- Increase sourcing response rates (and reduce the volume needed from inbound channels) by providing recruiters with email outreach and follow-up templates. Include strong subject lines and links to relevant employer brand content to help them get the most from any talent databases they have access to, including your ATS.
- If you have a CRM, reduce time to fill by keeping your pipeline warm with newsletters and job alerts. If you’re already doing this, evaluate open and click rates to optimize future content.
- Don’t spread yourself thin on social media. Instead, have a solid, consistent presence on the two to three channels where you are most likely to connect with your target audience. You don’t have to recreate the wheel to up your game on social media. Rally Inside offers a free social content calendar and content templates that are proven to be effective, making it easy for you to consistently create the most engaging content across a range of relevant topics.
- Read product releases to identify new features you can leverage, such as niche job advertising from within your ATS. Dive into any FAQs and training offered by the vendor or talk with your representative so you’ll be fully informed of all the bells and whistles available.
- Make the most of your existing channels. For example, do the free boards you’re posting on also offer a resume database or candidate matching? I’ve found that some of the college boards offer this. Let your recruiters know so they can jump in and start sourcing!
- Decrease your content creation burden by knowing where to look for existing content that can be repurposed. Rally’s Content Rescue Course offers an extensive guide as a bonus download.
Rally Note: When you sign up for a free account of our Recruitment Marketing tool, Rally Inside, you get free access to all our Rally Academy courses, including the Content Rescue course.
5. Find Balance
When considering what makes the cut on your potential priorities list, you’ll want to find balance.
There is an inherent duality in Recruitment Marketing (help fill jobs now) and employer branding (position your employer as a great place to work to help fill jobs in the future). As such, your priorities should reflect both short- and long-term strategies, but finding balance doesn’t end there.
To stretch your budget, consider a mix of paid and free tactics in your strategy. You may have to pay for one or two key job boards, digital ads and vendor platforms, but some of the best things in your (Recruitment Marketing) life are free. Consider trying some of these free or low-cost options in parallel with your paid tactics.
- Improve your job posting content
- Implement or improve an existing employee referral program
- Start up an employee ambassador program
- Share recommended content with your company’s employees on LinkedIn
- Create a social media calendar
- Create a Recruitment Marketing Content Strategy
- Refresh the content on your career site and employer profile pages – prior to driving more traffic there
- Respond to employee reviews
By balancing your focus and leveraging paid and free tactics, you can tackle current hiring needs, make the most of your budget, and take steps toward where your company needs to be next.
Build Your Strategy
So, you’ve taken notes on your candidate experience, identified what’s keeping your business partners awake at night, determined your KPIs and reviewed all the data you can get your hands on. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a very long backlog of ideas you want to work on by now.
These are some great building blocks for developing a strong Recruitment Marketing and employer branding strategy for 2023 that is fully aligned with your priorities. Here’s an easy way to take this information and turn it into insights:
- Start by making a list of the current challenges and corresponding opportunities you’ve identified and the estimated cost of each. Reach out to your professional network if you’re looking for some fresh ideas or inspiration. I’ve found that belonging to the right Facebook or LinkedIn group is a great way to vet your ideas and uncover new ones. Facebook’s The Employer Brand Forum is my personal favorite.
- Now, cross out anything that will not directly impact your target KPIs and the ones with unrealistic dependencies. Keep these in your back pocket to revisit as priorities and dependencies change over time.
- Sort your remaining items into categories based on whether you expect to see short-term or long-term results and rank the items within each category by expected magnitude of impact to your KPIs.
- Evaluate the total cost and start eliminating the lowest items on the list that require spend until you’re within your budget (unless you feel you have a strong case to request more budget).
- Now think about bandwidth (yours, the creative team, or anyone else who will need to do some of the work). Is your list ambitious but still realistic? If not, continue to cross off the lowest items on the list until it feels manageable. Aim to spend about 65% of your time on the tactics with short-term impact (filling jobs now) and 35% on longer-term objectives (marketing your employer brand and building talent pipelines).
- If any of your strategies are dependent on other people, make sure those teams or individuals are committed to prioritizing the work on their side, too.
Rally’s Recruitment Marketing Planning Guide & Template can help you bring your final list together into a strategic plan that you can share with your business partners. Be prepared to listen to their feedback and discuss potential alternatives. Regularly provide updates, including metrics, on performance against your plan. Stay agile! Continuously adjust the plan based on shifting organizational priorities, changes to the budget, and of course, based on what you’re learning from your data.
If you use this approach to develop your strategies and tactics, I’d love to hear about your results. Connect with me on LinkedIn so we can collaborate and continue to learn from one another!