In recruitment, as in so many other fields, it can be difficult to separate the innovations from the buzzwords. Things like employer branding, recruitment marketing, recruitment automation, et cetera, all sound nice enough on their face, but how can recruiters and other HR personnel figure out if there’s any substance to them? To really evaluate a new trend or a new concept, you need to find something concrete to use as a yardstick – something like the actual implications a given business practice might have on your ROI.
For recruitment marketing automation (RMA) in particular, a lot of recruiters must be asking themselves how, exactly, it will translate in measurable cost savings. After all, recruitment marketing itself – in which recruiters treat talent acquisition more like marketing, utilizing social media and other content to convert passive job seekers into applicants – is still in its early stages, and automation could be accused of adding an additional layer of complexity. How can automating simple tasks like posting job advertisements on Facebook and Reddit possibly impact your bottom line enough to truly help you get more out of your budget?
In one sense, the answer is simple: time is money, and automation saves time. But, in point of fact, RMA’s potential for saving money and optimizing talent acquisition goes a lot deeper than that.
Employer brand and cost per hire
Let’s consider what some of the biggest factors that drive up costs in recruiting are: first of all, there’s the cost in time and labor of writing and disseminating job ads, screening and interviewing candidates, and eventually making offers and onboarding new hires. Given these factors, speeding up time to hire and time to fill seems like it should be the most direct route to cost savings, and thus the most direct route to an improved ROI. This framework, however, fails to take into account many of the outside factors that can impact the other drivers of recruitment cost: base salary and total compensation.
It might seem like these are, to some extent, dictated more by the market than anything else (with perhaps some consideration given to hiring managers who can drive a hard bargain), but in reality, employer branding can have a huge impact on how much it costs to hire and retain top talent. Studies have shown that employer with a poor reputation (i.e. a poor employer brand) can easily wind up paying higher salaries to make up for it. Similarly, roughly two-thirds of candidates say they'll accept less money than they were expecting if the employer has a stellar reputation.
The upshot here for recruiters should be pretty clear: if you want to maximize your ROI, employer branding should be a top priority. Since recruitment marketing automation is all about getting your employer brand in front of the right audience as quickly and efficiently as possible, this makes RMA a crucial tool for reducing the potential negative effects of a poor reputation. This saves you from paying above market rate salaries, and thus decreases your cost per hire.
Speeding up time to fill
Of course, there is a more straightforward way in which RMA can have a measurable impact on your ROI: improving time to fill. This might seem a little paradoxical, since it does take time to develop employer brand gravity and get qualified candidates into your talent pipeline – but it’s precisely that pipeline that makes recruitment marketing such a useful tool for speeding up the hiring process. Think about it: if you’re using job boards and recruitment agencies to fill your positions as they open, you’re essentially starting your talent acquisition activities from scratch every time you need to hire someone. This means that you’ll have to familiarize and re-familiarize active job seekers with your employer brand and abandon the possibility of catching the interest of anyone not currently seeking out new employment.
If, on the other hand, you’re undertaking a serious recruitment marketing campaign, you’ll be offering up a steady stream of employer branded content – even when you don’t have a position that requires immediate filling. This means that when a position does open up, you won’t be starting from scratch. On the contrary, you’ll have already positioned your business as a potential employment destination among many of your ideal applicants. Crucially, a lot of these folks will be passive, rather than active, job seekers – which means that their interest in your company won’t be based on a need to get hired as quickly as possible, but a genuine interest. This genuine interest, in turn, might cause them to move through your process more quickly.
How to save time and influence people
In some ways, we’ve saved the most obvious source of saved money and reduced costs for last. By saving recruiters the time it would take to perform crucial recruitment marketing activities like targeting, budgeting, scheduling, and posting job ad campaigns – to say nothing of gathering reporting data on those same campaigns – RMA can give countless hours back to recruiters. While this may be the most obvious source of value, it’s also the hardest to quantify. Why? Because the value of any time given back to recruiters depends on how they use it.
If RMA saves a given HR department 10 hours a week (a hypothetical, and potentially wildly conservative estimate), and that department celebrates by spending an extra 10 hours on lunches and happy hours, then your ROI isn’t super impressive. If, on the other hand, they’re able to use that extra time to come up with (and implement) a brilliant new employer branding campaign that boosts your brand gravity and brings in a series of new hires, then you’re likely to have significant positive value to show for your RMA efforts.
The problem of quantification gets even thornier when we introduce things like robotic process automation (RPA) – a technology that has the power to further improve integration between recruitment marketing activities and niche advertising platforms, to say nothing of improved integration between those same activities and the applicant tracking systems that they rely on – into the equation. But, at the same time, the potential upside gets more profound as well. Maybe your HR team saves enough time that they can devote more of their resources to reducing turnover. Maybe they’re able to formalize their interview process in a more optimal way, and even work through interviews and resume reviews more quickly than ever before. In either case, RMA has the power to multiply whatever value – and thus whatever ROI – recruiters and hiring managers were already bringing to the table.
Adrian Cernat is the CEO and founder of SmartDreamers, a platform that helps companies reach high-quality candidates by automating recruitment marketing activities