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How to Spend Your Recruitment Marketing Budget in 2023

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Profile photo of Lori Sylvia
Written by Lori Sylvia

Whatever Recruitment Marketing budget you end up with in 2023, here’s how you can do the best with the resources you’re given.

How to Spend Your Recruitment Marketing Budget in 2023
5 (100%) 11 votes

The start of a new year brings a new Recruitment Marketing budget for 2023. You may be excited that your Recruitment Marketing budget has been increased this year, or you may be feeling disappointed that you didn’t get approval for the budget you requested. Perhaps you’re still negotiating what your budget will be. Whatever the case, in this blog post I’ll help you make the most of your Recruitment Marketing budget in 2023, whether you’re a solo practitioner or part of a team.

In this blog post, you’ll learn:

  • Benchmarks for the average Recruitment Marketing budget, based on company size
  • How to align your Recruitment Marketing budget to your recruiting funnel and talent acquisition goals
  • Why you must include organic strategies in your Recruitment Marketing budget (and why you must track and measure their effectiveness), and finally
  • Recommendations for spending your Recruitment Marketing budget, whatever resources you’re given

Recruitment Marketing Budget WebinarRally Note: For more guidance on how to develop your Recruitment Marketing budget, including how to gain budget approval for your Recruitment Marketing plan, watch our Rally Webinar: Building a Recruitment Marketing Budget for Any Size.

Industry Benchmarks for Recruitment Marketing Budgets

As you decide how to spend your Recruitment Marketing budget, a helpful first step is to understand how much other employers spend on Recruitment Marketing. Getting data on overall budget size as well as how employers allocate their Recruitment Marketing budget is one of the most common inquiries that I receive from the Rally community. It’s valuable to know what other companies invest in Recruitment Marketing strategies, because it can help you justify your own Recruitment Marketing plan and budget requests.

Fortunately, we’ve got answers! Over 500 practitioners responded to our latest Recruitment Marketing Job & Salary Survey, sharing their budget details in these categories:

  • Recruitment Marketing salaries in-house
  • Recruitment advertising, including job boards, social and digital ads, and events
  • Recruitment Marketing campaigns, programs and activities that don’t fall necessarily under advertising (i.e., other campaigns and programs)
  • Recruitment Marketing technology (but NOT including your ATS)
  • Recruitment Marketing / employer branding agencies, contractors and services

Here’s the average Recruitment Marketing budget, based on company size:

  • Company size 1-500 employees = $62,150
  • Company size 501-2,500 employees = $341,700
  • Company size 2,501-10,000 employees = $718,400
  • Company size 10,001-50,000 employees = $1,231,600
  • Company size 50,001+ employees = $3,274,600
Recruitment Marketing Budget Benchmarks

Recruitment Marketing Budgets by company size, 2021-2022

In analyzing the survey results, I walked away with 4 key takeaways about Recruitment Marketing budgets:

  1. If you work for a small company, your recruitment advertising & marketing budget is probably less than $100,000, and it’s likely that you or someone on your team practices Recruitment Marketing and employer branding part time.
  2. If you work for a mid-size company, your Recruitment Marketing budget is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and most of your spending is on advertising and campaigns, geared towards filling open jobs.
  3. Larger companies spend much more on services as a percentage of their budget, namely agencies that are managing their advertising campaigns and likely providing strategy and creative services around employer branding.
  4. The average budget for Recruitment Marketing salaries don’t go up proportionally to the increase in overall budget. It indicates that most large companies are leaning heavily on agencies for their Recruitment Marketing strategy.

The fourth takeaway is one of the most interesting, I think, because it’s different from how CMOs allocate their Corporate Marketing budgets. According to a Gartner survey of 405 marketing leaders, mostly from large companies, 25% of Corporate Marketing budgets are spent on Labor (i.e., in-house teams). Companies have been building their in-house Marketing capabilities for years, relying on agencies far less compared to Recruitment Marketing.

Anecdotally, I’m seeing more and more large companies following this approach and building in-house Recruitment Marketing teams (some of them with 50+ people). These companies have transformed their recruiting strategies to be brand-based and marketing-driven, versus depending on job advertising alone, and therefore an in-house Recruitment Marketing capability gives them a competitive advantage in attracting top talent.

However your Recruitment Marketing approach compares to these industry benchmarks, use this information as a starting point. The most important data for creating your budget plan will come from within your own company, and that’s what we’ll look at next.

The Importance of Aligning Your Recruitment Marketing Budget to Talent Acquisition Goals

Now that you have industry benchmarks, you may be tempted to base your Recruitment Marketing budget on what other companies spend. But I recommend building your Recruitment Marketing plan and budget based on your company’s hiring goals and where your efforts are needed most.

There are 2 pieces of information to gather:

  1. Your recruiting funnel for 2022
  2. Your talent acquisition goals for 2023

Your recruiting funnel calculates how many candidates you need at each stage of your recruiting process in order to achieve your hiring plan. Think of this as a bottoms-up approach to budgeting. The best way to project your funnel for 2023 is to document what your funnel was for 2022. Rally offers a free Recruitment Marketing Measurement Kit that includes a worksheet and step-by-step instructions for how to calculate your recruiting funnel and conversion rates.

The great thing about funnels is they show the strengths and reveal the weaknesses in your current recruiting and Recruitment Marketing approach. There are only 2 options you will have to get a better result in 2023 than you did in 2022. Option 1 is to attract more people to the top of the funnel, and option 2 is to mprove your conversion rates.

For example, what if a greater percentage of job applicants were qualified? It means you’ll need fewer applicants and fewer leads in your talent database and fewer people in your talent audience who are reached by your employer brand.

Next, you’ll need to know your talent acquisition goals for 2023. Think of this as a top-down approach to budgeting. If there are no goals established yet, ask your leadership these questions:

  1. How many hires do we need to make this year (preferably on a monthly or quarterly basis)? and
  2. What other strategic initiatives will we need to accomplish in 2023?

For example, what are your diversity objectives? Are you trying to decrease turn-over? Do you need to increase certain skillsets?

PRO TIP: Don’t be shy when asking for data about your recruiting funnel and talent acquisition goals. You need this data to do your job! Some data may be hard to get, but gather what you can and then identify where your data gaps are, so that you can plan to solve this going forward. One tool that can help is our Rally® Inside™ Recruitment Marketing platform that enables you to track and measure your entire Recruitment Marketing funnel, from click to apply. Sign up for the free version of Rally Inside here >

Next, to know what budget you’re going to request, ask yourself these 2 important questions:

  1. What specifically will I do using Recruitment Marketing and employer branding strategies to help our talent acquisition team achieve goal X or to make X hires? and
  2. What will I do in 2023 to strengthen our talent attraction and candidate engagement capabilities for 2024 and beyond?

Remember that Recruitment Marketing’s role is not just to help the company make the hires you need now, but you’re playing the long game. You’re putting in motion the company’s ability to attract the talent it needs over the next 5 years. This requires more than simply job advertising, so let’s look next at the importance of organic strategies in your Recruitment Marketing budget.

Why You Must Include Organic Strategies in Your Recruitment Marketing Budget (and why you must track and measure their effectiveness)

Once you have your high-level plan for how you’ll support each talent acquisition goal, and you can see which areas of your recruiting funnel you can impact the most, you’ll create your Recruitment Marketing budget. The important thing to note here is that your organic strategies, the things that are no cost or low cost, need to show up in your budget. Some examples of organic strategies include your Recruitment Marketing content plan, organic social media posts, a careers blog featuring employee stories, and a talent newsletter that provides career advice.

Why add organic strategies as line items in your budget? Because you need to explain why you’re investing your time into these Recruitment Marketing strategies, and what outcome you expect.

I recommend adding line items for each organic strategy or tactic, and show zero cost or minimal cost, as appropriate. Then when you compare organic strategies to paid strategies, you can show how your organic tactics can achieve a strong outcome, possibly at a lower cost per click or cost per applicant. This helps facilitate the discussion about where to focus your people resources – your time is your most valuable resource! 

Recruitment Marketing Budget Template

When building your Recruitment Marketing budget, be sure to include line items for each organic strategy. Your time is your most valuable asset!

Now you might be thinking, well it’s very hard to measure the impact of organic marketing strategies on your recruiting funnel, particularly getting applicants. Actually, it can be done if you have the right tracking in place! This is where a Recruitment Marketing platform like Rally Inside can play a key role in your strategy, because you can know what social and digital marketing strategies work and don’t work to achieve hiring goals, and can focus your valuable time and resources on getting better results for potentially much less than you’re spending on job boards and paid ads.

Whatever tool you use, you must make analytics part of your Recruitment Marketing tech stack, because this is another way that Recruitment Marketing is falling behind our peers on the Marketing team. According to a 2022 CMO Survey sponsored by Deloitte, Duke University and the American Marketing Association, spending on Marketing Analytics has hit an all-time high of nearly 9% of marketing budgets. And they’re predicting that analytics will become nearly 15% of Marketing budgets within 3 years.

2022 CMO Survey

The 2022 CMO Survey found that spending on marketing analytics is at an all-time high, and is projected to grow by 63% in three years.

In the same survey, they found that Marketing teams’ use of analytics to make decisions are at a higher rate than ever before – almost half of all marketing decisions are now based on data. In addition, the CMO Survey, which has been around since 2008, found that Marketing budgets as a percent of the company’s overall budget has risen to an all-time high of 13.8%, driven the pandemic’s acceleration of digital strategies.

It’s no coincidence that as marketers use data to make decisions that their effectiveness improves and they can justify higher investment into marketing, meaning higher budgets. Getting better at Recruitment Marketing analytics is key to building the business case to shift your recruitment strategy too, and to get the budget you need to enable that shift.

Recommendations for Spending your Recruitment Marketing Budget

Whatever Recruitment Marketing budget you end up with in 2023, you’ll probably never feel like it’s enough. But I’ve never met a more resourceful group of professionals than all of you in the Rally community! So let’s look at how you can do the best with whatever budget and resources you’re given.

Here are my recommendations for where to spend your time and budget (remember, your time is worth something!):

If you have no budget or a small budget…

  • Job descriptions (“Why work here”)
  • Careers site (“Why and Who works here”)
  • Social media (lean in and let’s get better together at our Social Recruiting Rally, January 23-27, 2023)
  • Employee generated content / Brand ambassadors
  • Careers Blog
  • Core content assets (evergreen, reuse)
  • Employer reviews (reputation)

Note that these are mainly organic Recruitment Marketing strategies. I’ve seen the impact that these strategies have in attracting talent, influencing candidates to apply and convincing them to accept your job offer. When we look at the Rally Award winners – this is where they differentiate themselves from other talent competitors. They know how to do Recruitment Marketing, not just recruitment advertising.

If you have a mid- to large-size budget, you should add…

  • Employee Value Proposition (you don’t need an agency, you can DIY your EVP!)
  • Candidate experience (may require tech improvements)
  • Paid ads (boost your best organic social posts + job ads)
  • Nurture your talent database (email marketing, talent newsletter >> will require content + a CRM or at minimum an email marketing tool)
  • Conversion Analytics (using tracking to test & optimize which tactics and channels result in applicants)
  • Programmatic job advertising (for high-volume hiring)

As your Recruitment Marketing budget increases, you’ll be in a position to add paid strategies to your organic strategies (not replace, but add!). One of the most important Recruitment Marketing strategies that you can layer on is paid social and digital ads, so that your jobs are found beyond job boards. While you may start this strategy with the help of an agency, knowing how to do social and digital advertising is a critical skill that every recruitment marketer needs.

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Without showing how your Recruitment Marketing plan and budget directly supports the business and committing to delivering tangible results that align with talent acquisition goals, you likely won’t win support for your new strategies or pave the way for your own career advancement.

So as you decide how you’ll spend your Recruitment Marketing budget in 2023, remember to stay focused on what’s most important, be realistic about the resources and tools required (including your time! and don’t be timid about asking for what you need!), and continuously track, measure, analyze and report on your results to your teammates and leadership.

Recruitment Marketing as a strategy is moving to social and digital, it’s leaning into organic tactics that take skills, not necessarily budget – this is the future of attracting, engaging and recruiting talent. And we’ve got your back to help you lead the way! I can’t wait to see what you’ll achieve next year!

How to Spend Your Recruitment Marketing Budget in 2023
5 (100%) 11 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Lori Sylvia

Lori Sylvia

Recruitment Marketing evangelist and community builder. Founder of Rally.

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