Companies to Spend More on Branding to Find Ideal Candidates

Study shows employers think branding can cut down on unwanted applicants

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer January 3, 2017
Companies to Spend More on Branding to Find Ideal Candidates

Nearly half (48.9 percent) of organizations report they will increase spending on employer branding to make their open positions easier for ideal candidates to find, according to Entelo's 2017 Recruiting Trends Report.

About half of the 741 talent acquisition professionals surveyed by Entelo, a social sourcing and talent analytics software company based in San Francisco, said that employers' inbound recruiting channels need a strategic upgrade.

"Talent acquisition professionals have long appreciated the benefits associated with inbound candidates," said Entelo CEO Jon Bischke. "These direct applicants have done their research on your company, identified with the culture and self-qualified as capable for the role. Inbound candidates require almost no cost from your sourcing team and typically reduce aggregate time-to-fill significantly."

However, recruiters have historically reported inbound applicants as lower in quality than their passive candidate counterparts. "Recruiters often find that active job seekers apply to many companies and multiple roles, not just those that they think are the perfect fit," Bischke said.

Respondents to the survey said that 50 percent of inbound applicants do not meet even the basic requirements for the roles they apply for. "High volumes of inbound candidates mean it's harder to qualify candidates quickly and connect with top applicants ahead of the competition," he added.

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Target Passive Job Seekers]

Using employer branding techniques is one way to remedy that distressing metric. "The strategic branding that differentiates employers has really emerged recently as companies fight to draw top talent in," said Meghan Biro, a nationally recognized talent management and HR tech brand strategist, analyst, author and speaker. "A clear understanding of a company's core values and what 'a day in the life' looks like is resonating with candidates more than ever. It's no surprise that companies are putting more thought and budget into capturing the essence of the organization and effectively marketing those brand messages to attract candidates who would be the best fit for their team."

Additional ways recruiters can strengthen their inbound recruiting processes beyond refining an employer brand include:

  • Simplifying the application process. Make it easy to apply for a job. "It sounds simple, but many systems today are extremely complex and require multiple steps to complete an application," Bischke said. He added that allowing potential candidates to apply quickly and easily from their mobile devices will eliminate friction in the process.
  • Reducing unconscious bias in screening. "By improving awareness related to biases, and leveraging technology to deliberately reduce them, inbound recruiting can be improved," he said.
  • Assessing applicants holistically. "Applicants should be assessed across all potential job openings at your company and aligned with the best fit," he continued. "If a candidate has applied to one job but is actually a fit for another opening, make sure you are able to identify that candidate and take action."

Additional findings from the Entelo report include:

  • Just over half (52.9 percent) of talent acquisition professionals cited e-mail as the channel most commonly used to reach candidates, followed by LinkedIn InMail (24.5 percent) and phone or text (16.5 percent). About 4 in 10 respondents said that e-mail was successful, while 11 percent said LinkedIn InMails are the most effective way to reach candidates. "People who rely on sending InMails alone and attempt to shoehorn a job without any prior relationship or knowledge shouldn't be surprised by continued dissatisfaction and dismal results," said Martin Lee, a partner at Brain Gain Recruiting, a recruiting firm headquartered in El Cerrito, Calif. "Those who strive toward understanding the person at the other end of their outreach will lead in this next generation of sourcing and recruiting."
  • On average, recruiters use nine different social media sites to reach passive candidates and spend 10.4 minutes reviewing each candidate's social media profiles. "Social media is becoming increasingly more important to the talent acquisition process," said Jim Conti, director of talent at Sprout Social, a social media management software company. "Engaging candidates where they're already active is a crucial part of getting your message across and moving candidates through your funnel." 
  • 70 percent of respondents said they collect source-of-hire data, and nearly 50 percent are tracking e-mail open and reply rates. "Recruiters are starting to think and behave more like salespeople and marketers, and technology is enabling them to do so," Bischke said. "The most successful recruiting teams have embraced this approach and built successful data-driven processes that scale with their business and provide long-lasting value."

Kyle Lagunas, research manager on emerging trends in talent acquisition at IDC, a market research company based in Framingham, Mass., agreed. "Data-driven recruiting has become a critical business requirement, evolving how recruiters operate and measure success. We've seen the demand for improved analytics across the board, and we can only expect this to increase in 2017."

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