In a business organization, the marketing team is responsible for cultivating the brand/product/service messaging, determining (and optimizing) the best channels to get that message out to the world, and generating interest from prospective customers. Ultimately, their success (like their counterparts on the sales side) is measured by revenue growth — are we getting a good return on our marketing dollar investment, in the form of new business generation?
Talent Acquisition, though not as fortunate as marketing to be a profit center, operates in a very similar way. Recruiting leaders are tasked with distributing the message (employer brand, job postings, etc.) to their target buyers (candidates) using the most productive channels (sourcing, resume databases, job boards, etc.) A successful recruiter finds great candidates, converts them into applicants, and works to “close” them into new hires (employees) for the company.
Marketing focus on the top end of the funnel — the lead generation and conversion. Digital marketers must craft compelling content to drive traffic (via search and social) to landing pages and “convert” the traffic into leads. Talent Acquisition teams, in most cases, must do the same, so lead generation, or, in this case, candidate generation, is always a top priority, and a good recruiting leader can never have enough sources of candidates for the pipeline.
In most cases, the funnel starts with awareness – getting the word out to the largest potential pool of candidates as possible. Organizations can do this a number of ways. Job boards have been the primary platform for broadcasting but seem to be increasingly ineffective and noisy, so recruiting leaders have had to start thinking about strategic and innovative ways to get the word out.
Many have turned to sourcing tools like LinkedIn, or a candidate sourcing service that handles the initial outbound messaging and attraction. Employee referral programs and employee referral software can be useful here too, especially ones that include a social sharing component (where employees can easily post job openings and career-related content to their social media feeds).
Once the word is out, recruiters must turn their attention to conversion metrics — how many (qualified) candidates actually show up and apply. Optimized career sites have evolved to help in this area; legacy applicant tracking system are notoriously lousy at applicant experience, often making prospective candidates jump through hoops just to share their resume. A simplified method of conversion (a few form fields, not much else) helps to increase the number of interested into the number of actual applicants.
Once you’ve got candidates converted through your career site/ATS, it’s up to your recruiters to do the heavy lifting, engaging and building relationships directly with the candidate. This part of the process, often referred to as “candidate experience”, can often make or break the engagement, and your recruiters have their hands full as they have to navigate through interview scheduling, finicky hiring managers and operational compliance issues.
At the bottom of the funnel lives the offer stage – the recruiting equivalent of a sales proposal. Effective sales teams measure themselves on their “closed/lost” and “closed/won” ratios in their CRM system, do you do the same with your candidate offers in your ATS? A trend of rejected offers may reflect on a poor candidate experience, the wrong kinds of leads (candidates), or some operational deficiencies (often tied to lower-than-market compensation).
Regardless of how talent acquisition leaders structure their candidate funnels, the more they can think like marketers, the more efficient their talent acquisition strategy will be. “Upskilling” is one of the more popular enterprise terms these days, as companies seek to find ways to improve upon the skill base of their existing employees. Taking a queue from that emerging trend, it would behoove TA leaders to invest time working with and learning the marketing side of their business, and find ways to translate some of those learnings to the recruiting side of the house.