Answering with absolute certainty, sort of

February 15

I've been in the employment marketing business for a while now. (To give you an idea, when I started, our agency had typesetting machines. And production artists really did cut and paste. Thankfully, this was soon followed by indoor plumbing.) From way back then up until today, one question has come up time and time again: how long should I run my recruitment campaign?

I am now prepared to let everyone know that your recruitment campaign should last exactly 215 days.

Unless of course it needs to run longer.

Or shorter.

Like so many other things in employment marketing, this topic has its roots in consumer advertising practices. Company X unveils its newest product with a splashy television and internet ad campaign (usually featuring some sort of talking animal). After a few months of what the company hopes is market saturation, it moves on to print and direct marketing. Eventually, product awareness has reached the desired levels, the company determines its next sales strategy to capture additional market share, and often launches a brand new campaign (featuring an even better talking animal - wow, those Madison Avenue folks are clever).

So if that works for the big product brands, shouldn't it also be the basis for employer brand campaign strategies? Well, now, let's think about that. The biggest difference between the consumer audience and the candidate audience is that the candidate audience is much more likely to be transitory.

With the exception of durable goods, consumer purchases tend to be frequent, so the audience is fairly constant in their need for a particular product or service. Candidates, on the other hand, begin looking for a new opportunity once an event has triggered their behavior. They find the opportunity, or in the case of latent candidates, the opportunity finds them, and then they go into candidate dormancy.

This means the audience for your campaign is always in transition - the people you are marketing to in January are not the people you are marketing to in June. Therefore, overuse of a campaign is hard to achieve.

Those who typically call for frequent changes of a campaign are internal - recruiters and hiring managers who are not the target audience.

So let's consider new criteria for how long your employment marketing creative platform should last. Has there been a significant event in your organization such as a merger or acquisition? Have change management or organizational development initiatives resulted in an improvement of the employment experience? Is the company changing the direction of its product or service offering? Finally, have you been measuring response trends to your campaign to the extent that you can isolate the performance of the creative platform vs. performance of specific media?

Let these be your guidelines for how long your campaign should last. If that doesn't work for you, try every 215 days.

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to email

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