Recruiting skilled talent and those requiring specialized certifications poses many challenges for employers, especially in industries that face a labor shortage. When your company is also relatively unknown in its industry, attracting talent is even more difficult.
These were the challenges faced by Labcorp in its Madison, Wisconsin location. Its drug development business, formerly Covance, was well known in the Madison area, but after a corporate rebrand to Labcorp, the company wasn’t widely recognized by customers or candidates. On top of that, labor shortages in healthcare made it difficult to find skilled talent for positions in research science and nursing.
Traditional recruiting methods weren’t enough to fill the critical positions that Labcorp had open in Madison. So the Labcorp team went big and bold, launching a multi-channel, 4-month Recruitment Marketing campaign that included recruitment ads on billboards, bus wraps and even print flyers mailed to homes in the area. It was a large campaign that got real recruitment results: an 80% increase in applications and a 54% increase in new hires at the Madison site!
In this blog post, you’ll learn all about this successful Recruitment Marketing campaign from Kelsie Johnson, Associate Director of Employer Brand and Talent Marketing at Labcorp, who shared the campaign strategy at our recent RallyFwd™ Virtual Conference, available to watch on demand. The campaign also won a 2023 Rally® Award™ in the Best Recruitment Marketing Campaign-Large Team category.
Read on to be inspired by Labcorp’s award-winning Recruitment Marketing campaign and discover new approaches that will attract talent to your local career opportunities.
Meet the Expert
Kelsie Johnson is the Associate Director of Employer Brand and Talent Marketing at Labcorp. She’s spent the last 20 years in talent acquisition, starting out as a recruiter and learning the ins and outs of the entire process. From there Kelsie took a role in early talent recruitment, and then found her way to a career in Recruitment Marketing and employer branding. She credits having incredible leaders who were also mentors, teaching her what they knew while pushing Kelsie to develop new digital skills.
Labcorp is a global life sciences and healthcare company that helps doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and patients make clear and confident decisions. The company’s 60,000 employees provide insights and advance science to improve health and improve lives through our unparalleled diagnostics and drug development laboratory capabilities.
A Big Plan to Solve a Local Recruiting Challenge
The competition for talent in Madison, Wisconsin has always been fierce—especially in the life sciences and healthcare arena. With significant local recruiting challenges, Labcorp needed their Recruitment Marketing campaign to achieve several big goals:
- Increase awareness: The Drug Development business’ former name, “Covance,” was well known in the Madison region, but their new name, “Labcorp,” wasn’t as widely recognized.
- Attract skilled talent: Nationwide labor shortages in the healthcare area made it difficult to find skilled talent for positions in research science and nursing.
- Appeal to an entry-level audience: The campaign also needed to target talent appropriate for entry-level laboratory positions.
These were big challenges that Keslie was excited to work on. But before she could begin, Kelsie knew that she would need to really understand the Madison market like a local. So she visited Madison to not only meet with the Labcorp recruiting and hiring team there, but to also see the city for herself and get a true feel for the people who live and work in Madison.
She quickly learned that Labcorp’s talent competitors included Amazon, McDonalds and other companies that you hear about on a daily basis. Keslie said, “We all know that everywhere you drive in the country right now, you see sign after sign saying ‘Apply Now’ and selling their employment benefits, like ‘join today, pay today’. So we had a lot of obstacles in our path to appeal to entry level positions.”
Therefore, in order to develop the Recruitment Marketing strategy for this campaign, they started out with audience research. They found that entry level talent and higher skilled level talent were looking for very different things in their next role. The research showed that entry level talent were mostly interested in benefits and pay and not so much in Labcorp’s mission. But more experienced and skilled talent very much wanted to connect to Labcorp’s mission and the impact that the organization was having on the world.
With these differences in mind, Kelsie worked closely with her team members across Madison and across the company, as well as their agency partners including Pixel Theory, to ensure that the content and creative used in the campaign would really connect with their various talent audiences.
Kelsie explained, “We held a lot of focus groups and conversations with those who were currently in the roles that we were recruiting for. We wanted to make sure that the tagline we went out with to our job seekers had been pressure tested with our own employees. We also consulted with our employees on the photos we were going to feature. There is nothing worse than putting out a campaign with photos that do not match up to what the role actually will be accomplishing once a new hire is in the seat. So once again, we went out to our team members to ask them to identify which photos resonated most with them.”
Because she was not from Madison, Kelsie knew that she needed to lean on the local team when selecting which channels would be used in the Recruitment Marketing campaign, from the bus routes to the radio stations. Getting feedback from employees, hiring managers and recruiters at every single point of the planning process is a key reason why Keslie believes the initiative was so effective. Plus, Keslie notes that everyone was excited to be involved, which helped create more employer brand ambassadors for future initiatives!
Labcorp’s Recruitment Marketing Campaign Strategy & Tactics
With the research done and the Recruitment Marketing strategy agreed upon by all stakeholders, the next step was developing a creative concept that would:
- Highlight the Labcorp brand and mission
- Create awareness and attract a diverse range of talent with varying levels of experience
- Differentiate Labcorp among many other life science companies in the Madison area; and
- Provide a seamless user experience for candidates to easily connect with job posts.
Here is the tagline that Labcorp used for the campaign:
Work that benefits others. Benefits–and pay–that work for you.
It’s a simple message with a lot of candidate research and many hours of teamwork behind it.
Where did Labcorp communicate this message? Pretty much everywhere around Madison during the 4-month campaign! Here’s more information about the different tactics used in the campaign and some of the results achieved:
Billboards – They placed 11 billboards in the Madison area. These billboards received 1.8 million impressions. Kelsie says that just as important is the feedback she heard from her Labcorp team members. Many employees passing a billboard would jump out of their car and walk into fields to snap a photo of the billboard. The campaign clearly brought out employee enthusiasm and pride to see their company represented in the community.
Buses – If you lived in the Madison area during the Recruitment Marketing campaign, you couldn’t miss seeing the Labcorp bus wraps. Approximately 61,000 passengers per day saw the Labcorp messaging.
Print Mailers – Keslie describes this part of the campaign as “old school”. They created a 5×8 flyer and mailed them to 70,000 people living within a 10-mile radius of Madison. The flyers included a QR code so that Kelsie and her team could try candidates who visited the Labcorp website from receiving a flyer. It resulted in 212 job seekers using the QR code, and from that 8% clicked “apply”.
According to Kelsie, using print mailers is absolutely something that she’ll use again in other markets. “Initially, I was a little hesitant on this approach. But once again, it was shown that the more that we can get directly in front of our job seekers, whether that be in their car or in their home, it can really work,” Kelsie said.
Job Boards – For this campaign, Labcorp wanted to rethink their strategy on Glassdoor and Indeed, and it worked. Their ranking increased by 3 spots on Glassdoor, and on Indeed, they moved from number 7 to number 4 for top-ranked healthcare employers. They also saw a 15% increase in candidate views on both Glassdoor and Indeed.
Paid Digital Media – The same images worked well on Google search, receiving 175,000 impressions and a click through rate of almost 10%. In addition, they used programmatic ads which received 2.1 million impressions with a click through rate of 0.68%.
Paid Social Media – For social media, Kelsie tapped into Labcorp’s internal social team to lend their expertise. They ran both Facebook and Instagram ads, receiving 1.8 million impressions with a click through rate of .58%.
Microsite – An important component to Labcorp’s Recruitment Marketing campaign was creating a microsite focused on employment in Madison. This mini careers site, created using Phenom, highlighted Life at Labcorp, featured jobs available in Madison, sections for students and recent graduates – anything and everything that might be of interest to these Madison job seekers.
Employee Referral Program – For this campaign, the Labcorp team wanted to take their already successful employee referral program (ERP) one step further. For 2 of their most sought after positions, the animal tech and study tech roles, Labcorp paid out an extra $3,000 per referral. Kelsie said they used a unique approach to show employees what an extra $3,000 could mean, to make it real for their team members.
“We calculated out that $3,000 would mean 10 months of groceries, a year of gas and even something cool that maybe you always wanted to buy. This really resonated with our team members. We had a 230% increase in employee referrals!” said Keslie.
Each tactic of the campaign contributed to the overall results. Compared to the same 4-month period the previous year, Labcorp achieved:
- 260% increase in careers site visits
- 80% increase in applications, and
- 54% increase in new hires at the Madison site!
As we all know, Recruitment Marketing can include a lot of trial and error, and not everything you do will work. One thing that didn’t work in this campaign was text messaging.
Keslie explained, “I was very surprised by our text-to-hire campaign. We sent almost 12,000 text messages but we only had 287 clicks. This was shocking to me. I thought this would be a much more successful prong of the campaign. But it’s a lesson learned. We absolutely will try SMS again in the future, but we will absolutely not depend on it either.”
Other important lessons learned by Keslie include:
- Know your audience – Candidate and employee research were at the heart of the campaign content and creative, to ensure every aspect of the campaign would resonate.
- Rally your team – Collaboration across departments, including the recruiters and hiring managers, and engaging the local team in Madison ensured they had the right messaging and channels.
- Consider timing – Check if there will be conferences or events happening during your campaign that could draw an even larger audience for your ads or potentially compete for people’s attention (and compete for media space). With Madison located in the northern US, the weather could also have been a factor that might have reduced bus passengers or road traffic.
- Track everything – use tracking links for every piece of content, both organic and paid, to ensure that you can measure and analyze what works and what results in driving the most applications
Finally, Keslie reminds us that this was Labcorp’s largest Recruitment Marketing campaign – they clearly went big and bold – but she says it’s not necessary to start at this scale. Focus on your business and recruiting objectives, prioritize the top 2-3 things that you could do that would make an impact, and ask for budget to start there.
Thank you again to Kelsie and the Labcorp team for sharing the inside scoop on their successful Recruitment Marketing campaign. And congratulations to Labcorp once again for winning a 2023 Rally Award for Best Recruitment Marketing Campaign-Large Team!
If you’d like to hear more from Kelsie about this campaign, watch her presentation on demand at our RallyFwd Virtual Conference.