The hard decisions to make when your recruitment marketing campaign didn’t produce the results you wanted

Posted May 22, 2018 by

Do the metrics from your recruitment marketing campaign tell a story of success? Maybe you’re not sure what might indicate success. I invited Katrina Kibben to speak with me and share her insight into helping organizations reach their recruitment marketing goals. Kibben is Recruitment Marketing Consultant at Three Ears Media, and she is also an official SHRM 2018 blogger. She has a fantastic and realistic philosophy on recruitment marketing. She shared some stories about employers she’s seen succeed and others who struggled to find enough of the right candidates. 

What does it take to run a successful recruitment marketing campaign? 

Katrina Kibben: Recruiters have so much going on. I’m finding that many are taking a blanket recruitment marketing strategy approach. That is, the typical big agency comes in and says, “you need more at the top of the funnel. You need more people to come to your website and apply for the jobs.” And they take a blanket approach to that. And I think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with that. Recruiters shouldn’t take strategies [that work for someone else] and apply them as rule for everyone.

Instead, recruitment marketing should operate from the fundamental belief that every person is special and that there is a great person and a great personality for your job. If we take the time to discover that first, we can create great recruitment marketing that will compel the right person to apply, not just a warm body. If you target everyone, you are not targeting anybody.

You have to listen first. When you listen, you compile data, right? It starts with interviewing the best people who have had that job and trying to find what’s similar among all of those people or what’s fundamental to all of those people.

Recruitment marketing personas are important especially for high volume and low retention roles like those in call centers. Those are the roles where if you did something different at the beginning, it could really change your whole business. I love those. And that’s where the personas really fit in is because they give you the strategy. They tell you what to say and how to say it to get the right person.

A campaign to fill a high turnover role

Kibben: I know an organization that has an after school program that goes from 2:00 – 6:00 pm. [They look for] caregivers for kids after school for four hours. That’s a hard role to fill for a few reasons. It’s limited hours, so it’s definitely not full-time. There’s not a lot of potential for it to become full-time. It’s nonprofit pay and it’s working with kids, and some people don’t necessarily like working with kids. These roles turn over rapidly for them. They start with 100 people and they probably turn over between 40 and 60 in a season. We profiled their most successful people—the people who have been there forever and were able to identify retention opportunities. We looked at where these people hang out, and found that all of their best people really enjoy going to breweries on the weekends. So we’re talking about doing some partnerships with breweries to see if we can’t do a hiring event at the brewery.

There should be a lot of education [of candidates]. I think this actually applies to every role, not just high volume. If we told people a little bit more about the job, upfront, real talk, I think that just that alone creates a different experience.

Related: Hiring At Scale? Read our Guide to Writing Job Postings to Attract More Top Talent

Last year’s strategy might not work this year—find something totally new

Kibben: I’m actually seeing people fail purely because they’re doing the same thing they did last year. I had a client who posted a job recently. They hired for this job about a year and a half ago, and they took the exact same approach this year that they took last year. They typically they have over a hundred applicants. This year they had only 27 applicants! I don’t think it’s necessarily the generation, but it’s the reality of the low unemployment. Things are shifting. I don’t know if it’s political or the job market or the economy, but there are lot of things moving right now and it’s happening on the bottom line.

I know one company that does job videos and employer branding videos. They’re great. They changed their apply process completely. They used to have a traditional application on their website where you fill out the form. They tore it all down and changed it, so the first step of the application now is to watch a video and tell them what you noticed about the video as a videographer. You don’t sit there and read and plug your resume in 100 times. You just watched the video and do a quick work sample with some baseline information. Step two, if you made it, was a paid assessment and I think this is a fantastic idea. No matter what industry you work in, companies can have [candidates] do some contract work. This benefits the organization for two reasons. Number one, it means that if they hire this person, they already have a work sample so they can immediately take that to a client and go, here’s how they work. The second piece is that they know if they can do the job. It’s not a resume—they don’t go over all these details and hire the best resume writer. They hired the best videographer. It’s show me, don’t tell me.

What are the hard decisions organizations must face to make their recruitment marketing campaign succeed?

Kibben: I’d say over 100 people have come to me and said “I want a best-in-class recruiting program.” What does that mean? It is a trigger conversation for me because it doesn’t mean the same thing for every person, right? I keep having is telling people flat out that if you want to be best in class, you have to be completely different than everyone else. That doesn’t mean that means you’re the only one in your class. For some reason we sent this lower bar in recruiting where we just do copy-paste and we steal ideas from each other without making them our own or making them special. It’s a real loss. We’re doing the same things we were 50 years ago to a job ad. A job posting concept is exactly the same as it was when people wrote in the newspaper. Quite a few words on a page and hope somebody applies, but it’s just not created creative enough anymore.

Related: Redefining the role of the college and university relations recruiter

One client asked me to look at their career site and tell them what I think. I said, I think it’s generic. I had her name any three companies in the whole world and I pulled up the three and they all looked exactly like the one she had.

Why don’t you do a build your own path website where people can come in and decide the route they want to take to apply to a job? It’s not gamification because it’s not built on things we already know about you. It’s about learning the traditional psychology of your best people. If you want to be best in class, exactly, you have to be the only person in your class.

What should organizations actually be measuring and holding themselves accountable for?

Kibben: There’s not one right answer. You have to know your bottom line. You need to know what the ultimate goal is, what the ultimate outcome is. A lot of people start campaigns without that answer. So long term overall, [choose] five things that matter the most to you that will ultimately tell you that you succeeded short term. Take those five things and you break them down into smaller items. For example, time-to-fill. Change your careers website to improve that. Ask yourself, “What are the three things I’m going to do on my career website that contribute to time-to-fill?” Have a baseline to compare and if you don’t already have that data, go online and find it. If time-to-fill is your thing, go out and find the industry standard, put that as your target and try to cut it down.

If you want to stand out, you have to do something completely different.

This especially resonates with students and grads because they have the desire to really connect with their employers. Organizations need to try to get into their heads and their hearts and not do what everybody else does. They won’t connect well and it creates the expectation for the younger generation that this is just a job. It reinforces what we’ve always been told about work: you just show up, you do what you’re told to do, and then you go home or you find a better job. That’s that’s the expectation you set when you look exactly like everyone else.

How College Recruiter Can Help You Succeed

At College Recruiter, we agree with Katrina that the recruiting needs of every organization is unique and often varies depending upon the year, season and even candidate. One organization may not be generating enough qualified applications and so their need may be to greatly increase the quantity of applications at a low cost per application.

Meanwhile, another organization may be overwhelmed by qualified applications but not receiving enough from diverse candidates. They may be best served by reducing the quantity and increasing the quality of applications by targeting just the diverse candidates.

In other words, a “cookie-cutter” approach doesn’t work. That’s why we established the College Recruiter Difference. You’ll work with our consultative, data-driven client services team that takes the time to understand your needs and then works with you to select a campaign designed to meet those needs. We then implement the campaign to maximize your return-on-investment and follow-up with you to review the outcomes. Because, as Katrina points out, setting goals and measuring your success is key to designing future campaigns.

Once we understand your goals, we use our expertise to recommend the best solutions, which may include a single job posting, an “all you can eat” branding and job posting package, or our new JobsThatScale program. This unique solution starts by determining how many candidates we need to deliver to your career site in order to reach your hiring goals, and ends with a guarantee to deliver those candidates! Sound intriguing?

Whether you’re an employer who wants to hire dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees, we can help you target candidates by school, major, occupational field, year of graduation and/or diversity using targeted email, targeted mobile banner ads or targeted display ad campaigns.

In short, we believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career – and we also believe in creating a great candidate and recruiter experience. You can rely on our interactive media solutions to connect students and grads to great careers with your company.

College Recruiter is the leading interactive recruitment media company used by students and recent graduates of all 7,400+ one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities who are searching for internships, part-time jobs, seasonal work, and entry-level career opportunities. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1,000 companies, federal government agencies, and other employers who want to hire dozens, hundreds, or thousands of students and recent graduates per year.

Katrina kibbenAbout Katrina Kibben: Katrina is a Recruitment Marketing Consultant at Three Ears Media. She helps hiring teams translate their brand into compelling stories that create a better candidate experience and optimize career site conversion. She is a self-described storyteller, tactical problem solver, curious mind and a data nerd. For most of her career, she’s been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand endemic issues and conceptualize solutions for engaging and (hopefully) hiring better people. Today, she takes all of that listening to create recruitment marketing strategies that work at her own company,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters, Industry News and Information | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,