Recruiting Pros Want Technology to Find the Right Candidates

Best practice may be targeting specific candidates instead of blasting job ads

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer April 24, 2017

CHICAGO—Talent acquisition leaders at the 2017 TAtech Spring Congress are searching for technology that will help them spend advertising dollars wisely, build talent pipelines and target the right people.

"We're looking to build our candidate pools and [for] something that will help us track recruitment ad spend," said Rodney Smoczyk, SHRM-CP, director of recruitment for supply chain services provider McLane Co., based in Temple, Texas. He and others spoke as part of a panel discussion Sunday on how companies decide which talent acquisition technologies to buy. "I want to dig deep into what exactly we are getting out of the millions of dollars we spend on job ads. I struggle with that when I go in front of my boss and executives and ask them for more money."

Smoczyk, who took over McLane's talent acquisition department about 18 months ago, is tired of "paying for clicks," a popular performance-based job advertising model where employers pay a fee each time someone clicks on a job ad. 

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"I want to find a good pay-per-application advertising model [where the employer only pays when someone completes the application process]. I can't justify the amount of money we spend for job seekers to just click an ad and move on."

Shaunda Zilich, global employment brand leader at GE, said her team is transitioning priorities from a "push action environment"—spreading the word about GE's transformation from an industrial to a digital company—to a "pull environment"—working to entice people to join the company.

"A lot of that effort is geared to making sure the right candidate is brought in for the job," she said. "I feel that talent acquisition is lagging behind consumer marketing. A decade ago, or more, you could go on Amazon and it would recommend something to you based on your past purchases. We should be doing the same thing with jobs. We should be finding candidates where they are and basing outreach on who they are, not just talking about our companies."

Zilich said that when she arrived at GE about five years ago, she was shocked to learn that the company did not have a candidate relationship management (CRM) tool to organize and track leads. "Everyone had an Excel spreadsheet on their desktop. Coming from marketing, I was blown away."

She believes the best candidates are not the ones who are actively searching for jobs. "We need to find them where they are," she stressed. "We have a new careers site launching, but I'm not even worried about that because I don't think it's the place where we will be getting the talent we're really looking for."

Jim D'Amico, director of global talent acquisition for global chemicals manufacturer Celanese, based in Irving, Texas, is also primarily interested in seeking out the talent he wants rather than sifting through submitted resumes. The technology he's interested in investing in is called IP targeting, which is the process of targeting digital advertising to specific people based on their Internet Protocol address.

"I used it in my last role and got 60-90 percent response rates from it," D'Amico said. "It has changed my life. I can now control real-time advertisement to very specific people, whether it's on their laptop, their tablet or their smartphone, wherever they are."

The Power of CRM

A leading CRM—Concord, Mass.-based SmashFly—figured in two of the panelists' stories. Smoczyk, who said he is very close to signing on with SmashFly, said the tech solution would alleviate his concerns about tracking job advertising spend, build talent communities by turning people who are browsing job ads or careers sites into candidate leads, and help McLane produce special programs and hiring events.

"We have a good brand when people figure out who we are," he said. "We drive a lot of traffic, but we're overburdened by the amount of traffic we have. We're trying to get a handle on the information we have so we can do something with it. With SmashFly, I'll be able to build quick campaigns and track them, so I can see what I am doing with the company's money."

GE's partnership with SmashFly has included collaborating on a recruitment marketing campaign around the company's acclaimed "Millie" television ad, where Millie Dresselhaus, the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering, is treated like a celebrity.

The commercial is part of GE's plan to employ 20,000 women in science, technology, engineering and math roles by 2020 and to have 50/50 gender representation in its technical entry-level programs by that time.

"But a campaign is only as good as its results," Zilich said. "We funneled those leads through SmashFly and were able to tell the sources of influence, which let us know what was working and what was not working. Typically, an e-mail campaign is great if it gets a 2 percent open rate. The first e-mail that went out to identified leads after 'Millie' generated a 75 percent open rate within 24 hours, a 20 percent engagement rate and a 10 percent apply rate. It was insane."

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