Me and My Arrow: Recruiting in the Digital Age Part 2

Me and My Arrow: Recruiting in the Digital Age Part 2

If you missed last month’s introduction to my arrow, this fall I’m devoting the blog to helping search teams make savvy decisions about where and when to invest their recruitment dollars in the digital age. We’re diligently following my Return on Investment Arrow – a handy little continuum you can use to map out a hiring strategy that is focused on what makes sense, and not the latest craze.


Step 3: Let’s Start Investing in Talent Acquisition

Last month, we discussed the first steps 1 in an ROI-focused recruitment strategy, including promoting internally and leveraging employee referrals. I also touched on the importance of a system to track applicants (ATS). Before we continue down the Yellow Brick Arrow to Job boards and Social Media , it’s worth delving more deeply into ATSes, to explain why they are such an effective tool in your recruiting arsenal.

Your ATS may be a dinged-up metal filing cabinet, or an elaborately-gridded white board – but I hope not. A good ATS is much more valuable than the outdated systems it replaces. Today, an ATS doesn’t just act as a virtual filing cabinet – valuable itself, given good search and filter functions – but it can actually move the needles on your recruiting efforts. A good ATS is like flipping a switch and flooding the room with lights: Without a lot of labor on your end, it dramatically improves your situation. Beyond tracking candidates, an ATS automates the process of publishing your available positions — to your website, to free and paid job boards, and to social media – and manages these postings.

Applicant Tracking Systems run the gamut in cost, from super-cheap to super-expensive. Enterprise-level versions can cost $40K per year and up — but others come more cheaply. Midrange programs range from about $300 to about $1,000 per month.

But these fancy-sounding programs aren’t only for the big dogs. It’s actually the smaller organizations, with their more limited staffing hours, where an ATS can make the biggest impact. How small? From an ROI perspective, you need an ATS if you regularly hire ten to twelve people a year, and/or have 100 resumes in your files. At either threshold, it becomes too labor-intensive not to have an ATS. Leave the white board for brainstorming and Pictionary, and the time-consuming work of posting and tracking to the machines.

Step 4: Calibrate to Job Boards in the Digital Age

If you take a look at my arrow, it may not surprise you that career fairs fall at the end of the ROI continuum. They are expensive to produce and attend, and you’re forcing yourself to compete with every other participant, in the possibly less-than-ideal milieu of a school gymnasium.

You may have been more surprised to see that posting to job boards is smack in the middle, yielding only a mid-level ROI, on average. After all, posting to such boards is pretty cheap: Costs range from Free!!! to $35 on Craigslist to several hundred dollars on LinkedIn. A lot of hiring managers end up posting on such boards because snagging even one candidate seems worth the price of admission.

But, they can add up if you just start posting willy-nilly – and it might be a lot harder to net a good candidate than you think.

There are two cases in which it makes sense to post to your basic, generalized job boards (Monster, Craigslist, Idealist): If you are a big brand, like Coke or Google; or if you are advertising for an entry-level or administrative position. Otherwise, most candidates will never find your posting.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on job boards altogether. You just shouldn’t use them heedlessly. Be smart: First, by investing in an ATS that does the work of searching out, posting to, and keeping up with various boards for you. Yes: this is why I belabored ATSes. They are what make job boards a cost-effective recruitment tool.

Second, choose your target boards wisely. Not all boards are created equally, and choosing based on what makes sense for your particular search will result in an increased ROI.

For example: Post away on free boards if you’re not using valuable staff time to do it. Your ROI is a lot likelier to be positive if the investment is zero! But take it a step further and seek out the highest quality/lowest investment boards. For example, college job boards are often free, but can yield high-quality candidates, and not just for entry-level jobs: Alumni often check such boards, in addition to recent grads.

When it comes to posting on paid boards, shell out only for those that are offering you something worth paying for, such as highly-targeted boards. These boards segment geographically, by industry and by background and skills sets. You’d be surprised at how granular particular job boards can be, and the more granular, the better for your ROI.

You might also pay for a job board offering built-in screening functions. Wading through an onslaught of resumes is not a costless proposition, even with an ATS helping you manage them. Features to consider include customizable screening questionnaires and automatic resume filtering and ranking. These features may well yield a higher ROI than a free service free-for-all.

Digital job boards are an important tool in your recruitment quiver – they just needed to be thoughtfully used to ensure a positive ROI. When we next talk, we’ll move to the final few steps of our ROI-focused recruitment strategy. Get ready to explore the exciting world of fishing – seeking out your ideal candidates on social media. Check back for my advice on developing candidate profiles, building upon your social media networks and reeling in the perfect applicants.