What happens to your recruitment marketing if you can’t articulate what kind of candidate you need or define the right metric to gauge your effort?

What happens if you can’t articulate what you actually want? Sometimes you get a surprise, as in: ‘Just get me something that tastes good,’ and you are presented with ‘Brussel Sprouts cooked 7 ways’ (apologies to those brussel sprout lovers out there). Sometimes you get an almost-but-not-quite solution, as in: ‘I need something to protect my hair,’ and you get hairspray instead of a rain hat.

This particular problem – the inability of one party to spell out exactly what they want from the other party – lies at the core of the recruitment marketing industry. Two examples:

  • Quality candidates: Every employer I’ve worked with, in every industry, wants ‘quality candidates’ or ‘quality hires.’ Great! I can understand that – back when I was a hiring manager, I did too. But...how does one define ‘quality?’ Pose this question to an employer, and much of the time you will get these (or similar) responses: ‘Someone that can do the job’, or ‘Someone with the qualifications in the job ad.’ That’s a pretty broad range, eh? There are many jobs that many people can theoretically do, but I suspect the employer would be loath to hire those particular candidates because they had an absenteeism problem, or a drug problem, or a history of skipping from one job to another, or… You get the picture. And matching the ‘qualifications in the job ad?’ Are you kidding me? The average job ad asks for everything but the kitchen sink (if you can, in fact, figure out what it’s saying).

    Jeff Dickey-Chasins aka "The Job Board Doctor", HRExaminer.com Editorial Advisory Board

    Jeff Dickey-Chasins aka “The Job Board Doctor”, Member HRExaminer.com Editorial Advisory Board

Yes, I am painting with a broad brush – some employers actually can define ‘quality candidate.’ For example, “Someone who lives in a 100-mile radius, who has worked in a similar position for at least 3 years, who has these 3 certifications, and who scores 100 or more on this test. And not, we don’t care about background checks or previous employment issues.” Now that’s a definition I can help an employer with! But honestly…these are few and far between. The term ‘quality candidate’ is usually a verbal crutch that HR and hiring managers use to avoid getting into the nitty-gritty – because doing so would take time they don’t have.

  • Numbers: As in, ‘cost per apply,’ or ‘cost per hire,’ or ‘cost per interview,’ or ‘number of qualified candidates,’ and so on. Where did this originally come from? Hey, the finger’s pointing at our industry on this one. Back in the day, HotJobs and Monster and the rest focused on ‘clicks’ and ‘traffic.’ They pounded the importance of these metrics into the minds of generations of HR and hiring managers. They convinced their clients that these metrics were important. Fast forward to now: those old metrics are now ‘new’ metrics, and every year or so, a new metric is pushed out as the key metric for evaluating hiring. OK, things change. But seriously, how often do most employers (or job boards) actually sit down and try to identify which metrics are most important for their specific hiring process? Which metrics tell them ‘hey, this candidate is a great potential hire,’ or ‘hey, this person is going to do great things at our company,’ or even ‘hey, stay away from this candidate at all costs?’ The AI-predictive analytics-big data-machine learning folks will tell you they’ve got the answer. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But in the meantime, employers – your clients – are going to ask for numbers from you that are more than likely not linked to hiring success. And you’ll give those numbers to them. Or else.

So there you go. On the one hand, you have poorly articulated requests from the employer for candidates or data. On the other hand, you have fuzzy and probably not very helpful reports or metrics from the suppliers. What do you think? Are your clients going to get what they wanted? Or will they get a surprise? No easy answers on this one, folks. But at least be aware of the problem! Clarity in communication should be a goal in the recruiting industry – not a ‘that would be nice’ option.

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