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Making The Most Of Your Marketing Agency Relationship — Top Tips For Recruiting Organisations

February 15

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The role of the recruitment marketing agency has changed significantly over the last few years, particularly due to the predominance of technology. Better measurement techniques and a wide range of software services mean the legacy transactional model, which was defined by giving orders to agencies, minimal transparency, limited engagement with candidates, ownership in silo and little or no accountability, is no longer effective, especially in a market affected by recession.

A strategic model needs to replace this legacy, one where objectives are clearly defined, agreed upon and responsibilities shared. Such a model not only provides fewer opportunities for waste and transparency of effectiveness, but also ensures that your recruitment practices (in terms of candidate attraction, retention and employer brand perception) are up to date and that future requirements are understood and planned for well in advance. The following steps show you how to move to this model.

Analyse current recruitment practices and costs throughout your organisation

Fully understand how people are recruiting across the board, why methods are chosen and what the average spend per hire is. Also review levels of retention. Even low cost hires are a false economy if they don't stay for a while. Are recruitment consultants being used unnecessarily? Where is money spent on media? Gather as much statistical data as possible, to include a list of suppliers currently used for recruitment related activities, spend per supplier and number of placements this spend results in as well as the retention of these. This information is the basis upon which to define success moving forward.

Engage all recruitment owners

Ignore recruiters within the business at your peril. Big changes will more often than not be required and it will be far easier to get backing for these if you are fully inclusive from the offset. Organise workshops to allow all recruiters to discuss their challenges, find similarities and understand what is trying to be achieved overall; e.g., to reduce the dependency of using third-party resourcing suppliers. Also use this engagement to understand future requirements.

Create a partnership with your recruitment marketing agency

Your recruitment marketing agency (if you use one) should be able to advise on a range of items such as most appropriate channels to market — building and managing your employer brand, which technologies are most suitable for purpose, etc. Most recruitment marketing agencies will also be able to assist with the selection and build of supporting components where needed (websites, social media channels, etc.) and the effective management of campaigns, including setup, ongoing management and optimisation. Treat the agency as a consultative partner, rather than a supplier you simply give orders to.

Standardise processes

Recruitment is a costly activity and benefits greatly through standardisation of processes; e.g., the steps through the application process, how advertising options are identified and chosen, creative consistency and templating in order to ensure consistency with brand and how success is measured. The act of standardisation itself will highlight inefficiencies in existing processes and provide immediate opportunities for refinement. It will also make changes much simpler in the future.

Adopt technology and self-service

Understand the technology options that can assist recruitment and brand-building initiatives. Listen to the suggestions made by your recruitment marketing agency even if you have not used these routes before. Efficacy can be proven through past experience with other clients in similar industry sectors. Try to move as much of the recruitment process online and ensure that controls are in place to ensure that statuses — e.g., for applications, are regularly updated throughout the recruitment process — this will give far more meaning to ongoing analysis. Use response-based advertising mechanisms, e.g., search engine marketing and other pay-per-click advertising, and embrace the social and professional communities/networks that already exist on the web as well as the highly targeted opportunities they offer. Look at options for self-service, such as posting job advertisements to job boards directly from your e-recruitment software and talent pooling functionality. This reduces delay and allows you to spend more of your budget on strategic development rather than 'take and place' activities.

Clearly identify objectives and benchmarks for success

Some objectives are obvious; such as a reduction in cost and time to hire, but other objectives may exist that are equally important; e.g., improving brand perception, meeting diversity requirements or even winning awards. Define what these are in terms of short- and long-term goals, bearing in mind that they may change due to circumstances such as the economy. Factor in tolerance to account for such situations. Also be aware that setting an objective such as winning an award for innovation, for example, may not result in the most cost effective route to hire.

Regularly monitor, measure and modify

Adoption of technology facilitates end-to-end measurement of recruiting activity. Don't rely on statistics supplied by media vendors themselves, as many will use differing methods of measurement, which may be geared toward proving they have worked well. Instead, tag and track advertising inventory to allow an accurate assessment of the worth of media choices and creative executions, standardised across all channels used (including offline advertising, through use of vanity URLs, QR codes, etc.). Keep an eye on trends and patterns that emerge and act in real-time to eliminate non-performers so that your return on investment is maximised.

Define performance-related terms with your suppliers

A true partnership model includes accountability of all parties involved. Your recruitment marketing agency will develop a strategy based on the objectives identified. Agree reasonable expectations of this strategy, based on elements such as a measurable reduction in cost-per-hire, improved brand perception (number of mentions, tone, etc.), shorter time to hire, volume of recruits, etc. Align remuneration with tangible achievements, perhaps on a sliding scale. Nobody wants to end up short-handed, but rewards based on achievement can prompt suppliers to develop more robust strategies and ultimately — work harder for you.

Ensure adequate resource is available and utilise retainer-based services

HR departments are frequently short on resources and moving toward a strategic model often requires a more hands-on approach. Where resource is not available for purposes such as brand monitoring and management, statistical analysis and awareness of the latest trends in recruitment marketing — consider utilising your agency to perform these tasks on your behalf, using a retainer-based charging model. For example, exploiting social media has many potential benefits, but only if your presence is current and your audience constantly engaged. Your recruitment marketing agency can perform regular updates on your behalf; e.g., posting to fan pages and feeds, uploading new content such as video, effective resume mining; e.g., using LinkedIn, etc., as well as providing regular heuristic analysis, alerting to any remarkable activity and providing ongoing recommendations.

Key Points

  • Include, understand and align the needs of all recruiters in your organisation
  • Plan for the future, not just for now
  • Utilise online and software services for attraction, retention, brand management, talent pooling and ongoing monitoring
  • Create a true partnership with your recruitment marketing agency — seek their advice in a consultative manner and implement retainer-based services to assist where internal resource availability is limited
  • Measure everything and increase accountability through adoption of performance-related payment
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